Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has resigned from his office during a trip to Saudi Arabia in a surprise move that plunged the country into uncertainty amid heightened regional tensions.
In a televised address from Riyadh, Mr Hariri launched a vicious attack against Iran and the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah for what he said was their meddling in Arab affairs, stating that “Iran’s arms in the region will be cut off”.
He then accused Tehran of spreading chaos, strife and destruction in the region: “The evil that Iran spreads in the region will backfire on it.
“Wherever Iran settles, it sows discord, devastation and destruction, proven by its interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.”
The surprise announcement – which shocked even his own staff — was a clear sign of the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The Prime Minister’s resignation has opened up a chasm of uncertainty in Lebanon.
It’s still unclear why he announced his decision in Saudi Arabia which left even his own MPs bewildered.
But the move will be seen through the lens of the great Shia-Sunni divide that’s fuelling much of the violence across the Middle East.
It’s pitted the Sunni power, Saudi Arabia, against the Shia power, Iran – with both sides backing and influencing different players in the region.
In Lebanon, the Saudis support Mr Hariri while Iran backs the Hezbollah.
In recent years, Lebanon has largely been spared the violence seen elsewhere in the region, especially in neighbouring Syria.
But with this shocking resignation, many Lebanese citizens will now fear that their country is firmly in the crosshairs of the two regional superpowers.