The 50-year-old, propelled onto the political scene after the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, in 2005, announced his decision during a brief speech delivered in Beirut.
This announcement comes after a series of financial and political setbacks in recent years, while Lebanon is hit by the worst socio-economic crisis in its history.
I suspend my participation in political life and invite my political family within the Courant du Futur to follow my path, he said, calling on his party not to present candidates in the legislative elections scheduled for May.
Mr. Hariri lamented that there is no
no positive possibilities for Lebanon in the shadow of Iranian influence in the country, disorder on the international scene, internal divisions, sectarianism and state disintegration.
Saudi Arabia was once Mr Hariri’s main regional ally, before their relationship deteriorated in recent years, with Riyadh believing it was too soft on the powerful pro-Iranian Shia movement Hezbollah.
The tenseness of his relations with Saudi Arabia was a turning point in his political career.
On November 4, 2017, Saad Hariri announced his resignation from Riyadh, denouncing Hezbollah’s negative impact on Lebanon.
His announcement sparked outrage in Lebanon, even among his opponents at the time who denounced a Saudi-dictated decision and accused Riyadh of holding him back.
Saad Hariri left Riyadh more than two weeks after his resignation and an intervention by France.
A heavyweight in Lebanese politics, Hezbollah is armed and financed by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s great regional rival, and is the only Lebanese faction to have kept its weapons after the civil war (1975-1990).
In Lebanon, a subscriber to repeated political crises, Mr. Hariri has already led three governments. Since he first came to power in 2009, he has gradually earned a reputation as a man of compromise.
He submitted his third resignation about two weeks after the popular protests against the political class began on October 17, 2019.
Despite his appointment on October 22, 2020 to form the government, he was unable to complete his mission due to popular resentment and political divisions.
In the last elections of 2018, which consolidated Hezbollah’s influence, the number of seats in Mr. Hariri’s parliamentary bloc fell by about a third.
Avoid a civil war
Some have linked his decline in popularity to political concessions he made, which he said were aimed at preserving civil peace.
There is no doubt that in order to avoid a civil war I had to compromiseSaad Hariri said.
This concern guided all my steps, caused me to lose my personal fortune, as well as certain friends abroad and many allies, even brothers, he added.
Heir to the real estate empire built by his father, Mr Hariri is the head of the construction giant Saudi Oger – today riddled with debt. He is accused of having dismissed or stopped paying thousands of employees: the drop in oil prices, Saudi Arabia’s main recipe, has radically reduced major construction projects in the kingdom.
At the end of 2019, Saad Hariri announced the suspension of the Future TV channel, more than a quarter century after its creation by his family.