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Lebanon PM resigns, rejects Iran’s ‘over-extension’

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned on Saturday, claiming that it stemmed from a “rejection of Iran’s political over-extension in the region”.

“I declare my resignation from the premiership of the Lebanese government, with certainty that the will of the Lebanese is strong,” Hariri said in a televised statement from the Saudi capital Riyadh.

He stressed that the “country would be able to overcome political influence exerted by internal and external forces”, Xinhua news agency reported.

Hariri blasted Iran’s interference in the region, arguing that the “Islamic Republic has a desire to destroy the Arab world and has boasted of its control over the decisions of Arab capitals”.

“Iran’s hand would be cut off,” Hariri said, adding that “Lebanon would not play a role in destabilizing the region”.

He also implicated Hezbollah in what he views as Iran’s race to regional domination.

“Hezbollah was able to impose a reality in Lebanon by force of arms and their intervention causes us great problems with our Arab allies,” he said.

Hariri also drew a comparison between the political situation in Lebanon today and in 2005.

“The atmosphere in Lebanon is similar to the situation before the assassination of Rafik Hariri,” Hariri said, adding he had feared for some time that he might be assassinated.

“When I took office, I promised you that I would seek to unite the Lebanese, end political division and establish the principle of self-sufficiency, but I have been unable to do so. Despite my efforts, Iran continues to abuse Lebanon,” he said.

“Lebanon is a great country, governed by laws and protected by one Army and their weapons. We reject any weapons outside the legitimate authority of the Lebanese state. I thank all those who worked with me and placed their trust in me,” Hariri added.

His speech was widely broadcast on local television stations.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese Resistance group which had forced Israel to move back from the occupied Lebanese territories in 2000.

(With inputs from IANS)