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The New Arab

'Western intelligence' warned Hariri of assassination plot, while Lebanon leaders urge calm

Hariri shocked Lebanon by resigning as prime minister on Saturday [AFP]

Date of publication: 5 November, 2017

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Lebanon is still left in a state of confusion following Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's surprise resignation this week, although debate rages about an alleged assassination plot.
Western intelligence reportedly tipped off former Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri about a plot on his life, leading to his surprise resignation as premier on Saturday.

Sources told Saudi newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat that it was Western intelligence agents who warned the Lebanese prime minister about a planned assassination.

"[They] revealed that he had received Western warnings of an assassination attempt that was prepared against him," the newspaper claimed.

It also said that Hariri would remain outside the country to minimise the threat to his life.

Saudi Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan also claimed on Saturday that there was "confirmed information" of a planned attempt on Hariri's life.

Hariri's resignation was all the more shocking due to the manner in which he stepped down.

Following a visit to Saudi Arabia earlier in the week, Hariri returned to the kingdom where he announced his resignation.

The unorthodox step of resigning publically and outside the country has led to rumours of a foreign hand in his decision to quit.

Hariri also claimed that his decision was in part due by the growing influence of Iran in Lebanon, a key regional rival of Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has been a long-time ally of the Sunni politician and his father Rafic, who was assassinated in a bomb attack in 2005, which has been blamed on Tehran-backed Hizballah.

Hariri said in his resignation speech that he feared the same end as his father and that his life had come to resemble the Rafiq's final days before his death.

Lebanon's intelligence agency said it has no knowledge of a plot on Hariri's life.

In Lebanon, political leaders have urged calm with parliament speaker and Amal leader Nabih Berri urging restraint and asked rival political factions to reach a consensus on Hariri's successor.

President Michel Aoun has also said that not accept Hariri's resignation until the prime minister returns to Lebanon.

Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah is due to deliver a speech to supporters on Sunday.

Lebanese politics has been known to be highly factionalised with rival parties often based on the religious identities of their members.

Iran has denied Hariri's claims that it interferes in Lebanon or planned to assassinate the prime minister blaming "unfounded anti-Iran accusations by the Zionist regime (Israel), the Saudis and the Americans".

Iran's Foreign Minister Bahram Qasemi said in a statement that Hariri's resignation aims to "create tension in Lebanon and the entire region".

Bahrain has meanwhile warned citizens against travelling to Lebanon citing fears of rising political tensions.

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