Lebanese politician cites ‘impossible Iranian influence’ as he withdraws from politics

Former prime minister quits politics ahead of elections, slams Iran for meddling in Lebanese affairs and making positive change untenable.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

One of Lebanon’s most prominent lawmakers retired from politics on Monday in a dramatic televised address, ahead of primary elections slated to take place in May.

“I’m convinced there is no room for any positive opportunities for Lebanon due to the Iranian influence, our indecisiveness with the international community, internal divisions, and sectarian divisions,” said Saad Hariri of the Future Movement party, who once served as the prime minister of the embattled country.

“I’m suspending work in political life and so is the Future Movement. And I’m not running in the elections, nor will the Future Movement,” Hariri added.

“We are staying in service of our people and nation, but our decision is to suspend any direct role or responsibility in ruling, representation, or politics in the traditional sense.”

The bombshell announcement from Hariri comes as the nation grapples with an unprecedented financial crisis and the collapse of its banking system, with more than 70 percent of the population now living under the poverty line.

Widespread blackouts and fuel shortages have added to the chaos, with record numbers of Lebanese nationals attempting to emigrate abroad.

Due to the sectarian allotments embedded in the Lebanese political system, which reserves parliamentary seats for parties classified as representing the interests of Shia, Sunni, Christians, Druze, and other sects, Hariri’s Sunni Future Movement party has long dominated the political landscape.

Hariri, a dual Saudi-Lebanese national, has long been backed by the Gulf kingdom during his political career. He first entered politics after his father, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in 2005 while serving as Lebanon’s prime minister.

While no one was ever officially held responsible for the elder Hariri’s murder, it’s widely believed that it was carried out by Hezbollah operatives.

The younger Hariri’s exit from the political sphere leaves a vacuum in Lebanese politics, which some fear may be filled by Hezbollah and other Iranian assets.