Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday the previous day’s resignation of the country’s premier Saad Hariri had been “imposed” by Saudi Arabia.
“It is clear that the resignation was a Saudi decision that was imposed on Prime Minister Hariri. It was not his intention, not his wish and not his decision” to quit, Nasrallah said in a televised address.
Hariri, a protege of Riyadh, on Saturday announced his surprise resignation in a broadcast from the Saudi capital.
He cited the “grip” of Hezbollah and its ally Iran on the country, and also said he feared for his life.
“We did not seek this resignation,” said Nasrallah, whose powerful organization has participated in Hariri’s government for almost a year.
The Hezbollah chief did not directly address the accusations levelled by what he called Hariri’s “very hard” speech, saying only that these were “a matter for Saudi Arabia.”
Hariri, a two-time premier whose father Rafik held the same position for years and was assassinated in 2005, accused both Iran and Hezbollah of seeking hegemony in the region.
Nasrallah questioned the timing of Hariri’s announcement at a time when “things are proceeding normally… in the heart of government” in Lebanon.
Hariri was reportedly informed of a plot to assassinate him by Western intelligence agencies, leading him to flee the country and resign from his post.
Hours after announcing he would step down, the Saudi television station Al-Arabiya reported an assassination attempt on Hariri was thwarted just days before he resigned.
Citing sources close to Hariri, the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat reported Sunday the Lebanese premier was informed of the plot by Western intelligence. The report said due to the “serious” security threats against him, Hariri would not likely return to Lebanon.
The daily did not provide any further details on the alleged assassination attempt.
Along with Iran and Syria, Hezbollah was responsible for the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father.
The Saudi-owned daily also said Hariri believed he was being used as a cover by Iran and Hezbollah to “lead the country towards great adventures where he will be a pawn to cover up their actions.”
Following Hariri’s decision to step down, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the resignation should be a “wake-up call” to the international community to the threat posed by Iran’s regional ambitions, which, he said, endanger not only Israel, but the entire Middle East.