What Hariri’s Resignation Means for Lebanon

An Escalation From Riyadh

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the governmental palace in Beirut, October 2017. Mohamed Azakir / Reuters

On November 4, 2017, Saad Hariri announced live on Al Arabiya satellite television that he had resigned as Lebanese prime minister.

Very few saw it coming, although it wasn’t entirely unexpected. After all, it’s not as if Hariri was overjoyed presiding over a government under the control of his archrival, Hezbollah, the Lebanese political-military party accused of killing his father, Rafik, in 2005. He wasn’t. But for him to quit now, in the absence of obvious triggers and in such a mysterious fashion, has left Lebanon’s political class—even his own entourage and popular base—scratching their heads.

That Saad told the world about his decision from Riyadh, not Beirut, was particularly revealing. It means that Saudi Arabia, which politically supported and bankrolled the Hariris throughout most of Lebanon’s post-civil war history, is readjusting its policy in Lebanon to more effectively weaken Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia’s standing in

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