Will Hariri’s resignation cause political vacuum in Lebanon again?
Hariri announced his resignation on Saturday in a televised speech on Al Arabiya news channel over fears of assassination.
“We cannot accept that Hezbollah’s weapon will be directed against the Lebanese and the Syrians,” he said. He also added, “The evil that Iran sends to the region will come back at it... Iran's hands in the region would be cut off,” Hariri said.
Hariri’s resignation speech
Hariri was chosen as the Lebanese prime minister in December 2016. He added in his resignation letter that the current atmosphere in Lebanon is similar to the situation that prevailed before the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik el-Hariri in 2005.
Rafik el-Hariri held office from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 until his resignation in 2004.
Rafik el-Hariri’s billboard in Lebanon
However, on February 14, 2005, a year after he quit as leader, explosives were detonated as his motorcade drove past the St. George Hotel in Beirut.
On Saturday, Al Arabyia News reported that an assassination plot against Saad el-Hariri was thwarted several days ago in Beirut.
Lebanese security sources denied in a statement released on Saturday of there being any source of news about Hariri’s assassination attempt in Lebanon.
Hariri’s coalition, which took office last year, grouped together nearly all of Lebanon’s main parties, including Hezbollah. It took office in a political deal that made Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, president.
Hezbollah (Party of God) was founded by Lebanese Shiites in 1982 after Israel invaded Lebanon. With Iranian help, the group organized the country's Shiite minority into a national force with its own militia, TV station, parliamentary bloc and cabinet minister, while resisting national and international calls to disarm, Washington Post reported in 2006.
Lebanese’s presidency reaction
The Lebanese presidency media office said on Saturday that Hariri had called President Michel Aoun from outside Lebanon to inform him of his resignation.
Aoun is waiting for Hariri to come back to Lebanon to discuss the reasons behind his resignation, the statement added.
مكتب الاعلام في رئاسة الجمهورية: الرئيس عون ينتظر عودة الرئيس الحريري الى بيروت للاطلاع منه على ظروف الاستقالة ليُبنى على الشيء مقتضاه— Lebanese Presidency (@LBpresidency) ٤ نوفمبر، ٢٠١٧
The resignation was announced when Hariri was in Saudi Arabia, in a surprise decision to most Lebanese. His decision has plunged the country into uncertainty amid regional tensions.
According to the Troika ruling system in Lebanon, the post of prime minister in Lebanon is reserved for a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system. The constitution requires Aoun to nominate a candidate with the greatest support among MPs.
Hariri’s last days before resignation
Hariri met Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top adviser on international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, on Friday, and then he travelled to Saudi Arabia.
“Iran protects Lebanon’s stability and government and hails its independence,” Velayati stated that forming a coalition government is a great success for the Lebanese people, LBC Europe reported on Friday.
Saad Hariri met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday to discuss bilateral relations and regional matters, a statement from Hariri’s press office reported.
في كل مرة نلتقي بسمو ولي العهد محمد بن سلمان تزيد قناعتي بأننا والقيادة السعودية على وفاق كامل حول استقرار ولبنان وعروبته pic.twitter.com/ZBrwGjfiau— Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) ٣١ أكتوبر، ٢٠١٧
Al-Hariri trends Twitter
Hashtag #SaadelHariri ranked the world wide Twitter trends on Saturday with more than 40,000 tweets. Reactions of Twitter users were wide-ranging. Some opposed this step, as Lebanon cannot handle such a decision right now, and others agreed that it is a must to stop the Iranian intervention in Lebanon’s domestic issues through Hezbollah.
#سعد_الحريري— Sara (@saforlife) ٤ نوفمبر، ٢٠١٧
You would have done the same if your life was threatened! Stop being hypocritical! You didn’t even capture his dad’s murderer!
@saadhariri prime minister saad el hariri your submits resignation is unacceptable at all Lebanon and Lebanese people needs you .— Juliana (@juliana_keyrouz) ٤ نوفمبر، ٢٠١٧