Lebanese PM Resigns as Tensions Rise

The Lebanese Prime Minister attempted to resign this past weekend, and is now allegedly under house arrest.

On Saturday, PM Saad al-Hariri made a televised announcement of his abrupt resignation, citing fears of an assassination plot as the reason.  His father, former PM Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in 2005.

In his announcement, Hariri mentioned the threat posed by Hezbollah, a powerful Shi’a religious group and political party with some Iranian financial backing in Lebanon.  Hezbollah was formed in response to Israel’s invasion of the country in 1982, and was at least in part responsible for Israel’s withdraw.

He went on to assert “Iran has a strong desire to destroy the Arab world,” and cautioned that “Iran’s hands in the region will be cut off.”

Hariri made the announcement from Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, rather than from Lebanon. Many are pointing to this as an indication of the Saudi connection to his resignation.

A pro-Hezbollah news source has since reported Hariri is being held under house arrest in Saudi Arabia, though Hariri’s aides have denied the reports and say the former Prime Minister has flown to the UAE.

The President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, is required to accept the resignation in order for it to become official, and Aoun has so far refused to accept Hariri’s announcement.  If he does accept it, the Parliament would appoint a new Prime Minister, though many of the qualified candidates have shown no interest in the position.

Tensions are high in Lebanon as citizens are unsure what will come next.

As of Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has said that Saudi Arabia has declared war on Lebanon and Hezbollah, and continues his claim that Hariri is being held in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have both denied involvement in Hariri’s resignation.