Lebanese prime minister suggests he fears for his life, resigns

Lebanese prime minister suggests he fears for his life, resigns

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri unexpectedly resigned on Saturday in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia, saying he feared for his life and accusing Iran and its proxies of destabilizing his country and the region.

"The atmosphere in Lebanon is similar to the situation before the assassination of Rafik Hariri", Hariri said, adding he had feared for some time that he might be assassinated. "I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life", Hariri said, referring to his father.

The 47-year-old Sunni politician's resignation comes less than a year after his government, to which Hezbollah's political wing belongs, was formed.

He was elected after Mr Hariri endorsed him for president, based on an agreement that he would make him as prime minister.

His resignation left the country reeling - even Hariri's staff was taken by surprise - and Lebanese could do little other than speculate about why he had quit.

Hariri inherited his father's political influence. But just before 4 p.m., the party announced it was canceling the demonstrations.

Hariri was appointed prime minister in late 2016, leading a 30-member government that included Hezbollah.

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Under a power-sharing system that helped end Lebanon's 15-year civil war, the president must be a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker a Shiite. "To the extent that it gets the final say on how Lebanon's affairs are run".

Hezbollah, which rose to prominence fighting the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon, is the strongest because of its powerful militia. "I will continue to call for dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Iran".

In a speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia by the Al-Arabiya news network, Hariri accused Tehran of "creating a state within the state". Hundreds of Iranians, including dozens of generals belonging to the Revolutionary Guards Corps, have died in the conflicts.

They said they were now waiting for Mr Hariri to return to Lebanon to clarify the circumstances of his resignation and proceed accordingly.

"Iran has a grip on the fate of the region's countries..." While Riyadh supports the Syrian opposition, Iran and Hezbollah are main backers of Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime.

The United States has stepped up sanctions on Hezbollah in recent weeks, and President Trump has declared that his administration wants tougher policies on Iran and has criticized the landmark nuclear deal reached with Iran under President Barack Obama.

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