Saad Hariri Quits as Lebanon Prime Minister, Blaming Iran
By pushing out Mr. Hariri, analysts said, Saudi Arabia could deny Hezbollah a credible Sunni governing partner — an attempt to isolate it and deny it the fig leaf of a national unity government.
“They concluded that Hariri was serving as more of a cover for Iranian and Hezbollah influence than as a counterweight to them,” said Rob Malley, a former special Middle East adviser to President Barack Obama and the vice president of the International Crisis Group.
Yet the resignation also shows how few options Iran’s opponents have. Without Mr. Hariri in power, the United States and Saudi Arabia lose their main partner in the Lebanese government.
Across the political spectrum, analysts and officials said the resignation ushered in new dangers. If the next government is more pro-Hezbollah, they said, that could lead to devastating sanctions. It could even increase the chances of a new war with Israel, which would see added justification for its argument that there is little distinction between Hezbollah and the Lebanese state.
Mr. Hariri even raised the specter of internal violence. He compared the atmosphere in Lebanon now to the days before the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, saying he believed his own life was in danger. “I sensed what’s being woven in secret to target my life,” he said.
Mr. Hariri’s father was killed when his motorcade was bombed on Beirut’s seafront. Several Hezbollah members are being tried in absentia in a special United Nations-backed tribunal in The Hague, although the militant group has denied involvement in the assassination.
Saad Hariri became prime minister in late 2016, in a compromise deal after Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, became president, ending a two-and-a-half-year political deadlock.