Hezbollah leader claims resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister was imposed on him by Saudi Arabia.
By Elad Benari – Arutz Shev
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday that the previous day’s resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, had been “imposed” by Saudi Arabia.
“It is clear that the resignation was a Saudi decision that was imposed on Prime Minister Hariri. It was not his intention, not his wish and not his decision” to quit, Nasrallah said in a televised address, according to AFP.
Hariri, whose father held the same position and was assassinated in 2005, on Saturday unexpectedly announced his resignation in a broadcast from the Saudi capital.
He cited the “grip” of Hezbollah ally Iran on the country, and also said he feared for his life.
“We did not seek this resignation,” said Nasrallah, whose movement has been a part of Hariri’s government for almost a year.
The Hezbollah chief did not directly address the accusations levelled by what he called Hariri’s “very hard” speech, saying only that these were “a matter for Saudi Arabia”.
Hariri had accused both Iran and Hezbollah of seeking hegemony in the region.
Nasrallah questioned the timing of Hariri’s announcement at a time when “things are proceeding normally… in the heart of government” in Lebanon.
The resignation sparked fears that Lebanon — split into rivals camps led by Hariri and Hezbollah — could once again descend into violence.
But Nasrallah on Sunday called for “calm, patience and waiting until the reasons become clear” for Hariri stepping aside.
The Hezbollah leader also questioned why Hariri gave his resignation speech from Saudi Arabia.
“Is he at home? Will they let him return? These are legitimate concerns,” he said, referring to a purge of princes, ministers and businessmen in Saudi Arabia in an anti-corruption operation which took place just hours after Hariri’s resignation.
Nasrallah said Hariri was expected in Lebanon on Thursday “if they let him return”.
Riyadh considers Hezbollah, a close ally of Saudi regional rival Iran, to be a terrorist organization.
Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have a historic rivalry in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly called on Iran to stop its “meddling” in the affairs of the kingdom’s neighbors.
Iran has fired back, accusing Saudi Arabia of trying to “drag the entire region into confrontation”.
Nasrallah on Sunday played down the risks of conflict between rival camps in Lebanon or with Israel.
“Do not listen to alarmist speeches … do not worry, there is nothing to worry about,” he said.
“We will react responsibly and calmly… we are concerned about the security” of Lebanon, Nasrallah added.
On Israel, he said the Jewish state “will not embark on a war against Lebanon unless it is guaranteed a quick, decisive and inexpensive war.”