Lebanon economy, pound not in danger from Hariri exit

Lebanon economy, pound not in danger from Hariri exit

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has resigned, saying in a televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia that he feared for his life, while also fiercely criticising Iran.

CGTN's Yasser Hakim confirms Saudi intelligence convinced Hariri that his life could be in peril if he traveled back to Lebanon.

Riad Kahwaji, head of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said the decision also shows that Saudi Arabia will not accept the current political structure in Lebanon, where a pro-Hezbollah president is tilting the balance of power in favor of the militant group.

"The evil that Iran spreads in the region will backfire on it", he said Saturday.

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.

Hariri was appointed prime minister in late 2016, leading a 30-member government that included Hezbollah. The nation was without a cohesive government and leadership for almost two years.

Hezbollah is a vital ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war the Damascus regime is waging against the Islamic State group and armed opposition movements.




"There is a real danger that the tensions between the Hariri-dominated faction and Hezbollah-dominated faction could easily escalate into an armed confrontation", said Gerges, who is chair of contemporary Middle Eastern studies at London School of Economics.

Hariri said Hezbollah's policies have put Lebanon "in the eye of the storm".

Hariri said the atmosphere in Lebanon is quite similar to the period leading up to the assassination of his father, Rafiq Hariri, in 2005.

After his father's death, Hariri went on to the Future bloc (al-Mustaqbal), which draws its support mainly from the country's Sunni population, and which later formed alliances with other parties from across Lebanon's communal divide. His attacks on Hezbollah come on the heels of new US sanctions on the group that many fear will negatively affect the Lebanese economy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hariri's resignation and his accusations against Iran should serve as a "wake-up call" to the world about Tehran's ambitions. "Despite my efforts, Iran continues to abuse Lebanon." he said. "I'm confident that the will of the Lebanese is stronger and they will be able to defeat hegemony from inside and outside", he said.

He said Hariri "probably caved in to the demands of the Saudis".

Hariri left Beirut for Saudi Arabia on a "work visit" on Friday, his office said in a statement, the second trip in less than a week.

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