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Hezbollah says Saudi Arabia forced Lebanese PM to quit

Hezbollah says Saudi Arabia forced Lebanese PM to quit”

The government was formed late last year in a political deal that ended years of deadlock, and last month it produced Lebanon's first budget since 2005.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun will not accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to Lebanon to explain his reasons, palace sources said on Sunday, delaying for now the politically difficult consultations over his successor.

Born in Saudi Arabia, Hariri was running the family's vast Oger construction firm in the kingdom when his father was assassinated in February 2005.

"With [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad clearly having survived the challenge posed by Saudi-backed rebels, the Saudi leadership may hope to move its confrontation with Iran from Syria to Lebanon". Hariri, in a televised speech, said there was a plot to kill him, and accused Hezbollah and its Iranian backers of sowing strife in the Arab world.

A top Saudi official rejected accusations by the pro-Iranian Hizballah movement that his government forced Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to announce his resignation over the weekend.

The resignation marks the end of a shaky Shia-Sunni political alliance forming the government, which has somewhat managed to keep away the violence battering neighbouring Syria.

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Hariri, who is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, alleged in a broadcast from an undisclosed location that Hezbollah was "directing weapons" at Yemenis, Syrians and Lebanese. Apparently Saudi Arabia is getting a lot more serious about this, and President Trump seems to be all for it.

That's a lot of countries to be at war with. Al-Hariri's surprise decision has led to concerns that Lebanon could end up with violence or even economic collapse.

But in the view of Hebrew University scholar Yusri Hazran, it is doubtful that the Saudi gambit will succeed in really setting back Hezbollah, because it is simply too powerful in Lebanon.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been at odds as the regions main rivals. All of Hariri's statements attested to the continuation of his future plans as prime minister.

Saudi Arabia's influential Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan, who met Hariri in Riyadh this week, echoed the language of the Lebanese politician saying in a tweet: "The hands of treachery and aggression must be cut off". He has postponed a visit to Kuwait and directed military and security agencies "to maintain stability", it said.

Moreover, the UN has a longtime peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon "UNIFIL". "If the Saudis are right and it limits Hezbollah and Iran, Israel will gain".



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