Jan. 24 (UPI) — Saad Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon, announced Monday that he would withdraw from politics.
“I’m convinced there is no room for any positive opportunities to Lebanon due to the Iranian influence, our indecisiveness with the international community, national divisions, and sectarianism,” Hariri said in a televised address.
“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, who took over leadership of the Future Movement party after the 2005 assassination of his father, has been one of the most influential politicians in the country. However, his support has waned over criticism that he has not done enough to limit the power of Hezbollah, the militant group and a powerful political party backed by Iran, or combat the escalating economic crisis in Lebanon.
“What I cannot bear is that a number of Lebanese now consider me to be one of the members of the ruling class that caused the disaster,” Hariri said during the address, according to Lebanese news outlet Naharnet.
He added that his efforts regarding “preventing civil war” led him to make concessions and deals that cost him his “personal fortune, some foreign friendships, a lot of national alliances and even some comrades and brothers.”
Imad Salamey, associate professor of Middle East affairs at the Lebanese American University, told Al Jazeera that Hariri had “lost domestic ground” and would likely be unable to win an election if he ran.
“He is running against a very strong Syrian-Iranian alliance in the country and therefore given up,” Salamey said.
Hariri said during the address that members of the Free Movement party would continue to “remain in service of our people and country” despite abstaining from future elections, including parliamentary elections which will be held in May.