Fearing Assassination, Lebanon's Prime Minister Resigns

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrives for a mass funeral of 10 Lebanese soldiers abducted in 2014 and killed by ISIS in Yarzeh near Beirut Lebanon Sept. 8 2017

During the address, Hariri said he feared an assassination plot and accused Iran of meddling in the region.

CGTN's Yasser Hakim confirms Saudi intelligence convinced Hariri that his life could be in peril if he traveled back to Lebanon.

"Hezbollah was able to impose a reality in Lebanon by force of arms, and their intervention causes us great problems with our Arab allies", he said.

Hariri's "repetition of unreal and baseless accusations... against Iran show that the resignation is designed to create tensions in Lebanon and in the region", Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said. But it's been an uneasy partnership between Hariri, who heads a Sunni-led camp loyal to Saudi Arabia, and Hezbollah, which represents a camp loyal to Shiite Iran.

Hezbollah, established in the 1980s, is a paramilitary and political organization originating in Lebanon's Shiite population.

Hariri became Lebanon's prime minister in 2016 in a deal that also brought in Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun as the country's president.

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Hariri's coalition, which took office past year, grouped almost all of Lebanon's main parties, including Hezbollah.

Middle East expert Fawaz Gerges told CBC News Saturday that tensions could turn violent.

His first stint as prime minister came in 2009 but was only slightly longer than his most recent, lasting just 19 months, and failing in 2011 after ministers aligned with Hezbollah resigned while Hariri was in Washington DC meeting the then-US President Barack Obama.

"The Saudi Arabia-Iranian rivalry now is going to play out on Lebanon's streets in the next few days and next few weeks".

It was not immediately clear who might succeed Hariri, Lebanon's most influential Sunni politician.

In a pointed speech, Hariri suggested that he feared for his life and said the atmosphere in Lebanon is similar to the one that existed before his father, the late prime minister Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in 2005.

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Mr Hairi said Hezbollah's policies have put Lebanon "in the eye of the storm".

He was elected after Mr Hariri endorsed him for president, based on an agreement that he would make him as prime minister.

He said Hariri "probably caved in to the demands of the Saudis".

"I announce my resignation from the post of prime minister", Hariri said in a speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia by the Al-Arabiya news network.

His wife Lama Bashir-Azm, who is of Syrian origin, and their three children have stayed in Saudi Arabia during his time in Lebanon.

Hariri left Beirut for Saudi Arabia on a "work visit" on Friday, his office said in a statement, the second trip in less than a week. The Lebanese government includes Hezbollah members.

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