Published: 2017-11-06 20:38
Last Updated: 2017-11-07 09:42
A seemingly satirical website, “Free Saad Hariri,” has emerged following the Lebanese Prime Minister’s surprise resignation in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
The website depicts a photo of Hariri along with the title “Free Lebanon’s Prime Minister from the Saudi Arabia jails!” and a time counter showing how long it had been since he resigned.
The site is reminiscent of a billboard Hariri displayed in Beirut, counting down the days waiting for justice after the 2005 assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri, a former prime minister.
Hariri resigned two days ago, attacking Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran and its ally Hezbollah in a televised address. He said that his life was in danger and accused Iran of meddling in the region, causing "devastation and chaos."
The move was widely considered as having been planned by Hariri’s patrons, the Saudis, as a means to isolate Hezbollah by collapsing Lebanon’s national unity government.
Following the announcement, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, called for “patience and calm” in Lebanon, seeking to quell fears over the future of Lebanon’s stability.
He went on to accuse Saudi Arabia of enforcing Hariri’s resignation.
“It was definitely a Saudi decision that was imposed on him,” said Mr. Nasrallah. “It was not his will to step down.”
Iran’s foreign ministry adopted a similar tone, describing the resignation as a “plot jointly designed by Saudi Arabia and Israel.”
Meanwhile, Lebanese Justice Minister Salim Jreissati indicated that President Michel Aoun would await Hariri’s return before accepting his resignation, saying “the resignation must be voluntary.”
Hariri, perhaps in an attempt to quell rumors that he was arrested by the Saudis, posted on Twitter for the first time since his resignation speech, posing with the new Saudi ambassador to Lebanon.
بعد أداءه للقسم أمام خادم الحرمين الشريفين سررت بلقاء سعادة السفير السعودي وليد اليعقوب pic.twitter.com/f7M0Bpf14L— Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) November 5, 2017
Hariri’s resignation has effectively brought an end to the coalition government he had led since December 2016, which included Hezbollah and Hariri’s Sunni factions. His shock departure is expected to increase instability in Lebanon, which has been the stage for escalating rivalries between Saudi Arabia and Iran