Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Nation & World

Assailing Iran, Lebanese prime minister quits

RECOMMENDED READING


BEIRUT, Lebanon — Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon said Saturday that he had quit his post, blaming Iran for interference in Arab affairs and throwing his country, already awash with tensions and regional rivalries, into deeper uncertainty.

Hariri, speaking in a televised address from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, condemned Iran and its growing power and influence in the region. He also assailed Iran’s Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, the Shiite militia and political party that is part of the national unity Cabinet he led.

"Wherever Iran settles, it sows discord, devastation and destruction, proven by its interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries," Hariri said, adding that Iran’s "hands" in the region "will be cut off."

The surprise announcement — which shocked even his own staff — was an ominous sign of the escalating regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, analysts said, indicating the growing dominance of Iran and Hezbollah as well as the Saudis’ increasingly assertive response.

Lebanese and regional analysts, whether supporters or opponents of Hezbollah, said it appeared that Hariri had been pressured to resign by his patrons, the Saudis, as they and the United States ratchet up efforts to counter Iranian influence. The resignation came after weeks of sharp American and Saudi condemnations of Iran, including from President Donald Trump, and new U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah.

By pushing out 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 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.

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.

Comments
President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list

President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list

Sexual misconduct by powerful men has all but taken over the news, with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and senatorial hopeful Roy Moore, R-Ala., among the politicians on this growing list.President Donald Trump vociferously...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucking his party, Trump defends Roy Moore’s denials (w/video)

Bucking his party, Trump defends Roy Moore’s denials (w/video)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump broke with leading Republicans Tuesday and voiced support for Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers and has seen his campaign’s prospects imp...
Published: 11/21/17
Trump’s visit to Florida met with protests over immigration decision for Haitians

Trump’s visit to Florida met with protests over immigration decision for Haitians

South Florida community leaders Tuesday decried the Trump administration’s decision to return nearly 60,000 Haitians to their quake-ravaged homeland, calling it "heartbreaking" and "shameful" while vowing that their fight has just begun."We all know ...
Published: 11/21/17
Macron takes Europe’s center stage while Merkel falters

Macron takes Europe’s center stage while Merkel falters

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron looks like the last, best hope to salvage a unified Europe, as Britain drifts away and Germany bogs down. The role of knight in shining armor is one Macron relishes, whether he’s standing up to President Donal...
Published: 11/21/17
FBI: Border agent’s death a ‘potential assault’

FBI: Border agent’s death a ‘potential assault’

DALLAS — An FBI official said Tuesday that the bureau is investigating the death of a Border Patrol agent and severe injuries to another as "potential assault," but he wouldn’t rule out that they could have been hurt in some other way. Special Agent ...
Published: 11/21/17
Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years

Robert Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who once vowed to rule for life, resigned on Tuesday, succumbing to a week of overwhelming pressure from the military that put him under house arrest, lawmakers from the ruling party and oppositi...
Published: 11/21/17
Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys and takes a shot at Obama

Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys and takes a shot at Obama

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wielded his pardon power Tuesday to spare a pair of turkeys from the Thanksgiving roaster, joking that he would also let last year’s turkey pardons stand despite his penchant for overturning Obama-era orders. In a ...
Published: 11/21/17
Michigan Rep. John Conyers acknowledges sex harassment settlement

Michigan Rep. John Conyers acknowledges sex harassment settlement

DETROIT — Longtime Michigan Rep. John Conyers acknowledged Tuesday that his office settled a harassment complaint involving a former staffer but said he "vehemently" denies the allegations against him. His office "resolved the allegations" ... "for a...
Published: 11/21/17
CBS fires Charlie Rose, PBS severs ties after sexual misconduct claims

CBS fires Charlie Rose, PBS severs ties after sexual misconduct claims

NEW YORK — CBS News has fired Charlie Rose, and PBS has ended its partnership, after several women accused the veteran newsman of sexual misconduct.PBS’ announcement that it was terminating its relationship with the host came an hour after CBS News a...
Published: 11/21/17
Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe president for ‘smooth transfer of power’

Mugabe resigns as Zimbabwe president for ‘smooth transfer of power’

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe resigned as president Tuesday after 37 years in power, as parliament began impeachment proceedings against him."My decision to resign is voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of th...
Published: 11/21/17