Political dynasties and family politics: the rise and fall of Lebanon's Saad Hariri - TAHA KILINÇ

Political dynasties and family politics: the rise and fall of Lebanon's Saad Hariri

Saad Hariri, one of the most prominent figures on the Lebanese political scene, announced in a recent statement that he has completely withdrawn from political life and will not stand as a candidate in the parliamentary elections to be held in May. 

Speaking with a shaky and emotional tone in front of the photograph of his father, Rafik Hariri, Saad invited his family members who are engaged in politics to take a similar step. “I’m convinced there is no room for any positive opportunities to Lebanon due to the Iranian influence, our indecisiveness with the international community, internal divisions, and sectarian divisions. I made all kinds of concessions to prevent civil war in my country. In fact, I lost my personal wealth for this cause, I fell out with some of my foreign friends, many of my allies in Lebanon abandoned me, I even lost my brothers,” he said.

Saadeddin Hariri inherited his father Rafiq Hariri's political legacy after he was assassinated in Beirut on February 14, 2005, and served as the prime minister between 2009-2011 and 2016-2020. 

Hariri, who was under the influence and pressure of the Saudis from the outside, faced the solid defense of Iran and Hezbollah inside. Saad Hariri's ruling processes had become completely chaotic after bringing France into the mix, and thus the young politician finally failed to please anyone. 

Hariri's second term as prime minister was also overshadowed by an incident in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia: During his visit to Riyadh in November 2017, Hariri, who suddenly appeared in front of television cameras and announced that he resigned from his post, in his decision, he particularly emphasized the heavy pressure he faced from Iran and Hezbollah. 

However, it was soon revealed that Saad Hariri was forced to make the statement in question by the Saudis, and even his cell phone was confiscated and he was physically beaten. 

Hariri, who withdrew his resignation after he was allowed to return to Lebanon, said that "exactly what happened in Riyadh" would remain under wraps, and virtually confirmed all allegations about the subject.

The Hariris, like their counterparts in various countries across the world, are a family that got involved in politics en masse after a charismatic pioneer paved the way. With the end of the bloody civil war (1975-1990) that devastated Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, who set out to rebuild the country from the ground up, served as prime minister twice between 1992-1998 and 2000-2004. 

Hariri, who had very strategic ties with Saudi Arabia in many ways, in the process experienced increasing tensions with Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, leading up to his death. The killing of Hariri in the heart of Beirut also led to the withdrawal of the Syrian army and intelligence from Lebanon, which had settled in the country using the civil war as a pretext. However, the vacuum left by Syria was instantly filled by Hezbollah, so nothing had actually changed in terms of Iran's hegemony in Lebanon.

The Kennedys in the U.S, Gandhians in India, Bhuttos in Pakistan, Hariris in Lebanon… While the members of these families, who have been involved in politics in different regions and on both ends of the political spectrum, are on the one hand rewriting their countries’ histories, and on the other, have a common denominator in facing tragedies and assassinations. US President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated on 22 November 1963, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was killed by her bodyguards on 31 October 1984 in Delhi, Rajiv Gandhi, who became prime minister after his mother and who faced the same fate as her when he was killed on 21 May 1991, Pakistan Prime Minister Zülfikar Ali Bhutto, who was executed on April 4, 1979 after being overthrown by a military coup, and Benazir Bhutto, who followed in the footsteps of her father, became prime minister and later died in a bomb attack on December 27, 2007, and Rafiq Hariri, and the assassination that put an end to his life…

Reading the recent histories of countries through family politics and political families offers a fresh perspective. Human stories also help us make more sense of the complex and intertwined trajectories of these countries.


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