Saad Hariri, Former Lebanese Prime Minister, Quits Politics

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Saad Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon and one of its most prominent politicians for nearly two decades, announced on Monday that he was leaving political life amid a grave economic crisis that the country’s leaders have failed to stem.

He said he would not run in upcoming parliamentary elections and urged his political party, the Future Movement, not to run either.

“I am convinced that there is no room for any positive opportunity for Lebanon in light of Iranian influence, international confusion, national division, sectarianism and the withering of the state,” Mr. Hariri said in a televised address.

Mr. Hariri’s departure opens a void in Lebanon’s political system, which is based on complicated power-sharing formulas and deals among multiple parties and sects.

Since Mr. Hariri took over leadership of his party after his father, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a car-bomb blast in 2005, he was widely seen as the top representative of the country’s Sunni Muslims, one of Lebanon’s three largest religious sects.

He also often acted as a bridge between Lebanon and the wealthy countries of the Gulf, specifically Saudi Arabia, which long backed him politically and supported Lebanon economically.

But that relationship frayed in recent years as Mr. Hariri proved unable to use his position to limit the power of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed political party and militant group that is Lebanon’s most powerful military force.

And when tens of thousands of Lebanese poured into the streets in 2018 calling for the ouster of the leaders they accused of having driven the country into the ground through corruption and mismanagement, Mr. Hariri was among those scorned.

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