Lebanon economy, pound not in danger from Hariri exit

FILE Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri gives a speech during the opening ceremony of the second

Following Hariri's decision to step down, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the resignation should be a "wake-up call" to the worldwide community to the threat posed by Iran's regional ambitions, which he said endanger not only Israel but the entire Middle East.

The leader of Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had forced Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to resign, and called for calm and patience in Lebanon.

Hezbollah was founded with Iranian support in 1982 to resist the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and has since emerged as a regional power in its own right.

Hariri had said there was a plot to kill him, and accused Hezbollah and its Iranian backers of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Nasrallah said he would not comment on accusations levelled against Hezbollah by Hariri, describing his resignation announcement as a Saudi statement.

GCC member states banned travel to Lebanon in 2016 after Lebanon's Foreign Minister refused to condemn mob attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran. Hariri became Lebanon's prime minister in 2016 in a deal that also brought in Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun as the country's president.

Hariri's resignation was expected to sharply raise tensions in a country where politics have often been overshadowed by those in its much larger neighbor, Syria.

The country's political divisions led to the assassination of Hariri's father Rafik in 2005.

A United Nations -backed tribunal has indicted five Hezbollah members for the killing but the group denies any involvement.

The sudden resignation could throw Lebanon's government back into crisis.

He added that Hariri resigned from Riyadh for security reasons. Thamer al-Sabhan said in an interview with a Lebanese TV station on Saturday that there were "threats against the prime minister and the kingdom is keen for his security".

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