Saad Hariri announces the "suspension" of his political activity before the legislative elections in Lebanon

The former Prime Minister and the most prominent Sunni leader in Lebanon, Saad Hariri, announced on Monday that he “suspended” his political activities and refrained from running for the upcoming parliamentary elections, because he was convinced that “there is no room for any positive opportunity.” Lebanon under Iranian influence, international confusion and national division.

This step comes after a series of setbacks that Hariri suffered financially and politically in the past few years, and in light of a severe political, economic and financial crisis that has paralyzed Lebanon for two years.

The departure of Hariri and his current, according to analysts, would leave a void in the Sunni arena, of which his current is the most representative.

Al-Hariri, 51, who entered politics after the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, announced in a brief speech he delivered from his home in downtown Beirut, "suspending my work on political life and inviting my family in the Future Movement (which he heads) to take the same step." . He also stressed, "not to run for the parliamentary elections and not to submit any nominations from or on behalf of the Future Movement."

On the justifications for his decision, Hariri, who had strong Saudi support before his relationship with Riyadh worsened, which accused him of not confronting Hezbollah, the most prominent political and military force in Lebanon backed by Iran, said, “There is no room for any positive opportunity for Lebanon in light of Iranian influence and international confusion, national division, sectarianism, and the wear and tear of the state.”

After entering politics, Hariri led the anti-Syrian "March 14 Forces" team, which was helped by Hariri's assassination and the anger of the street that followed, by achieving a major victory in Parliament that contributed to the expulsion of the Syrian army from Lebanon after nearly thirty years of its presence there.

But the "March 14 forces" have since weakened. Hariri, who has always emphasized the "moderation" of his political current, sought to coexist with Hezbollah, which is backed by Tehran.

Hariri has headed three governments since 2009. He submitted the resignation of his third government about two weeks after the start of the popular movements against the political class on October 17, 2019. Despite his appointment again on October 22, 2020, to form the government, he was unable to complete his mission on the Signed popular resentment and sharp political division.

In the last elections in 2018, which consolidated Hezbollah's influence, the size of Hariri's parliamentary bloc declined by about a third, and some attributed the decline in his popularity to political concessions he made, justifying them by maintaining civil peace.

In his speech on Monday, Hariri said, “There is no doubt that the prevention of civil war imposed settlements on me,” adding, “This was the reason for every step I took, as it was the reason for my loss of my personal wealth, some of my foreign friendships, many of my national alliances, some comrades, and even brothers.”

Hariri’s tense relationship with Saudi Arabia constituted a turning point in his political career, and on November 4, 2017, Hariri announced his resignation as prime minister from Riyadh, saying: “He wants to create a (shock) that opens eyes to Hezbollah’s negative role and its repercussions on Lebanon, because of its interference. In regional conflicts with the support of Iran, in a move that shocked the Lebanese. His opponents at the time considered his resignation "Saudi".

Reports stated that Saudi Arabia, where Hariri remained, after announcing his resignation for days, detained him against his will. Hariri then returned to Lebanon after French President Emmanuel Macron intervened with Saudi officials, and he also retracted his resignation.

At the conclusion of his speech on Monday, Hariri, who could not hold back his tears, repeated a phrase that his father, Rafic Hariri, sealed a statement issued on October 20, 2004, after his reluctance to form a government at the time, in which he said: “God Almighty entrust this beloved country Lebanon and its good people.”

The decision of the Future Movement leader comes months before the parliamentary elections scheduled for next May, which many see as an opportunity to bring about change, even if slight. However, the repercussions of the economic crisis and the explosion of August 4, 2020, which destroyed a large part of Beirut and killed more than two hundred people, gradually contributed to the frustration of the Lebanese. Today, about eighty percent of the population lives below the poverty line, thousands have emigrated, and the majority of the Lebanese are focused on securing their basic needs and are not interested in politics.

"Hariri's reluctance may pave the way for a Sunni boycott of the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary elections, which are likely to be postponed," said Maha Yahya, director of the Malcolm Care-Carnegie Middle East Center.

Yahya believes that this matter "will constitute a confirmation of the vacuum in the Sunni political leadership, especially if other Sunni politicians adopt Saad Hariri's decision," without ruling out that major political forces in the country will resort to a demand after this decision to postpone the elections.

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