Nasrallah: Saudi Arabia forced Lebanese PM to resign

Bahrain ordered its citizens in Lebanon to "leave immediately" Sunday after the country's prime minister resigned in a sudden televised address, citing Iranian meddling in Lebanese and regional affairs.

"The sudden resignation of Mr. Hariri and his statement in another country is not only surprising and regrettable but is also an indication of his playing a game designed by those who want ill for the region, and the victor of this game is not Arabic or Muslim countries but the Zionists", Qassemi said.

Asharq al-Awsat reported Hariri was caught off guard by the assassination attempt, as he had been seeking a modus vivendi with Hezbollah.

As U.S. and Saudi Arabia sought ways to curb Iran's growing influence in the region, Hariri has come under pressure to distance himself from the militant group which has sent thousands of troops to neighboring Syria to shore up President Bashar Assad's forces.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun will not accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to Lebanon to explain his reasons, palace sources said on Sunday, delaying for now the politically hard consultations over his successor.

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Hariri's bombshell resignation - even close aides seemed unaware of the announcement - ushers in a stage of deep uncertainty and potential instability.

A resignation would thrust Lebanon back into the arena of regional rivalry between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, an ally of Hariri, and Shia Muslim Iran, which backs Hezbollah.

"Lebanon is a fragile country". Mr Hariri is Lebanon's most influential Sunni politician. This is an indication that the resignation was designed to create tension in Lebanon and the region.

Al-Hariri placed the blame squarely on Iran and Hezbollah.

"This aggression endangers not only Israel but the entire Middle East".

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"We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of martyr Rafik al-Hariri", he said Saturday, referencing his late father who was killed in 2005, according to Reuters. Hezbollah denies any involvement. The report said due to the "serious" security threats against him, Hariri would not likely return to Lebanon. But Hezbollah fighters poured into Syria, angering Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon's prime minister Saad al-Hariri gestures during a press conference in parliament building at downtown Beirut, Lebanon October 9, 2017.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, has been serving as prime minister since December 2016.

Hariri abruptly returned to the kingdom again on Friday after a meeting in Beirut with Ali-Akbar Velayati, foreign adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.

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  • Ryan Wade