Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad al-Hariri announced his resignation on Saturday, accusing the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah of plotting to assassinate him. In a televised statement from an undisclosed location in Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Sa’ad al Hariri declared that the situation in Lebanon has deteriorated to a similar climate that prevailed before the assassination of his father, the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, in a car bombing that was attributed to Hezbollah supporters. Prime Minister al-Hariri also took the opportunity to condemn Iran for its ongoing interference in the affairs of the Arab world, declaring that the Lebanese peoples will rise-up to confront the Iranian threat and that of its allies, to assure that it will fail in its efforts to control the entire region. Al-Hariri said, “I want to say to Iran and its followers that they are losing in their interference in the affairs of the Arab world, our nation will rise up as it had done in the past and cut off the hands that wickedly extend into it in the same way it was forced back onto you in Bahrain and Yemen, it will be forced back onto you in all parts of our dear nation and the evil will return to its perpetrator,” he declared.
In response to the announcement by the Lebanese Prime Minister and the allegations levelled at Iran and Hezbollah, the leader of the Iranian-backed militia Hassan Nasrallah claimed, in a televised statement, that al-Hariri’s resignation was a decision dictated to him by Iran’s arch rival, Saudi Arabia. Nasrallah also took the opportunity to urge Lebanon’s citizens to preserve sectarian calm and warned them against any political escalation in response to al-Hariri’s move. He said, “This information (resignation statement of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad al-Hariri) gives us a clear conclusion, that the resignation was a Saudi decision dictated to Prime Minister Hariri, so he was forced into it. The resignation wasn’t his intention, desire or decision,” the Iranian-backed Hezbollah leader warned.
On the streets of Beirut, Lebanese residents voiced mixed feelings on the latest developments, warried about a deteriorating situation that may lead to dangerous consequences. One resident of Beirut said, ”Our situation now is that we need people to stand up for us. Instead of moving forward we are moving backwards and this man is taking us backwards.” Another resident voiced concern stressing, ”For sure it is going to go from bad to worse because Hariri was helping the country greatly, he was helping prevent wars against the country and to prevent terrorism but unfortunately, he has resigned, I don’t know why, maybe pressure from Saudi Arabia, or because Hezbollah refuses to drop its arms,” she said.
Meanwhile in Israel, senior officials told TV7 that they are closely monitoring the situation in the country’s northern neighbor, while stressing that it was due time that the Lebanese leadership in Beirut would act against Iran’s dangerous interference. The officials echoed a statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stressed in an interview yesterday to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, that the resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister was a wake-up call to Iran’s attempted take-over of the Middle East. Netanyahu said, “You just heard (Saad al-) Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon, resigning. He said basically it’s because Hezbollah took over, which means Iran took over. And I think this is a wake-up call for everyone. It says what the Middle East is really experiencing. It’s experiencing the attempt of Iran to conquer the Middle East, to dominate it and subjugate it. And I think when Israelis and Arabs, and it’s all the Arabs and the Israelis, agree on one thing. People should pay attention. We should stop this Iranian take-over,” the Israeli leader said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also took the opportunity to once again reiterate his warning of the reality on the ground across the chaotic region, in which where-ever the Islamic State is ousted, the Islamic Republic moves in and establishes itself militarily. The Israeli leader asserted, “As ISIS (Islamic State) moves out, Iran moves in. But they want to bring their air force there, right next to Israel. They want to bring Shi’ite and Iranian divisions right next to Israel. They want to bring submarines and military vessels right into the Mediterranean, right next to Israel. So, we will not let that happen, we will resist it,” he warned.
The interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu was made before he returned to Israel.