Wednesday 21 February 2018

Hezbollah accuses Riyadh as PM quits

Politics of fear: Former Lebanese PM Saad al-Hariri, whose father, Rafik, was assassinated by a Hezbollah car bomb in 2005. Photo: Reuters
Politics of fear: Former Lebanese PM Saad al-Hariri, whose father, Rafik, was assassinated by a Hezbollah car bomb in 2005. Photo: Reuters

Laila Bassam in Beirut

Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group has accused Saudi Arabia of forcing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to quit, and called for calm in an effort to contain the political crisis unleashed by his resignation.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, urged Lebanese citizens against any political escalation in response to Mr Hariri's surprise declaration on Saturday, which he made from Saudi Arabia.

Mr Hariri had said there was a plot to kill him, and accused Hezbollah and its Iranian backers of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Okab Sakr, an MP with Mr Hariri's Future Movement, denied the decision had been imposed on Mr Hariri.

Speaking in a televised address, Mr Nasrallah said: "The resignation was a Saudi decision dictated to Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and was forced on him."

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, a political ally of Mr Hariri, is locked in a bitter tussle for power across the Middle East with Shi'ite Iran and its allies, including Hezbollah.

Mr Nasrallah said he would not comment on accusations levelled against Hezbollah by Mr Hariri, describing his resignation announcement as a Saudi statement.

Mr Hariri's resignation toppled a coalition government that included Hezbollah, thrusting Lebanon back into political crisis.

Irish Independent

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