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Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri Resigns; Criticizes Iran

Saad Hariri

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has announced he is stepping down, saying he feared for his life.

Hariri made the announcement in a television address on November 4 from Saudi Arabia, where he is currently on a visit.

In his speech, Hariri said the atmosphere in Lebanon was the same as when his father, the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in 2005.

Saudi-owned broadcaster Al-Arabiya, citing unnamed sources, reported that an attempt on his life was thwarted in Beirut a few days ago.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim and loyal ally of Saudi Arabia, accused the Lebanese Hizballah group and Iran of fomenting unrest in the Arab region.

"Hizballah is Iran's arm, not only in Lebanon, but in other Arab countries," he said in the speech broadcast on Al-Arabiya.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the resignation is a plot by the U.S., Israel and the Saudis to foment tensions in Lebanon and the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hariri's resignation was a "wake-up call to the international community" to take action against "Iranian aggression."

Hariri was appointed prime minister in late 2016 and headed a 30-member national unity cabinet that included the Shi’ite militant Hizballah.

The government has largely succeeded in protecting the country from the effects of the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, AP, and AFP