BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt slammed Monday a visit by a senior Iranian security official to Lebanon while Syrian people are being killed by the Iranian-backed regime of President Bashar Assad.
Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, who arrived in Lebanon Monday on an official visit, held talks with President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati on bilateral relations and developments in the region, particularly the 17-month uprising in Syria.
The talks also covered Iran’s preparations to host the Non-Aligned States’ Conference at the end of August.
Hariri said the Iranian official was unwelcome in Lebanon at “this sensitive stage during which the Syrian people are facing the worst types of massacres and destruction at the hands of the Bashar Assad regime and its foreign protectors.
“The visit is against the interest of the Lebanese people who stand by their brothers in Syria, and against the unified Arab position that calls upon Bashar Assad to step down and demands that the Iranian regime stops meddling in the Arab affairs in general – the Syrian and Lebanese affairs in particular,” Hariri said in a statement.
He said Jalili’s visit raised suspicion about its objectives at this particular time, which followed Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem’s visit to Tehran and warnings by Iranian political and military leaders against attacks on Syria.
“In any case, Iran should know that all these threats and suspicious moves will not delay the fall of its ally Bashar Assad, and one of the most recent announcements of this fall was the defection of the Syrian prime minister [Monday],” Hariri added.
For his part, Jumblatt also slammed Jalili’s visit, saying the Iranian official should focus attention more on issues facing his own country than on those affecting Lebanon. “It would be better for Mr. Jalili to [concern himself with] the internal affairs of his own country, where some areas witnessed a popular uprising known as the ‘chicken uprising’ as a result of what poor people are suffering from,” Jumblatt said in an article published in the PSP’s weekly newspaper Al-Anbaa Tuesday.
He jokingly said that the price of chicken in Tehran has become more expensive than rockets, adding that Iran should focus on its own problems rather than “distributing its military arsenal here and there.”
Jalili praised the wave of Arab Spring uprisings in the region, calling it “an Islamic awakening” that provided an opportunity for resistance movements.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Sleiman at the Beiteddine Palace, Jalili highlighted the role of the Lebanese resistance in liberating territory from Israeli occupation. “Bolstering the resistance provides a big chance for confronting Israel’s ambitions,” he said.
In a statement issued after meeting with Berri at Ain al-Tineh, Jalili said Lebanon has been turned into “a star and an example to be followed in the resistance field at regional and world levels.”
Referring to the popular uprisings that have led to the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in some Arab countries, Jalili said: “Among the blessings of this resistance is the Islamic awakening we have seen in the region. We consider this awakening as a very appropriate opportunity for the resistance.”
“Today, we see that the United States’ allies who kept silent in the past on the treacherous Israeli attacks on Gaza’s residents are no longer in the positions of power,” he added, referring to Egypt’s ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
“As a result of this Islamic awakening, we see that the will of people in this region undermined and destroyed the pillars of these regimes that were either agents of, or subservient to, Israel and America,” Jalili said.
“Today, there is no longer Mubarak or [ousted Tunisian President Zein al-Abiddine] Ben Ali. No doubt, this matter has dealt a severe blow to the Zionist enemy,” the Iranian official added.
Jalili also visited the grave of slain Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh at a cemetery in the Ghobeiri neighborhood, south of Beirut, where he laid a wreath and recited a Quranic verse. Jalili was expected to meet Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah during his visit. He attended an iftar banquet Monday night organized by the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon on the occasion of Jerusalem Day as Tehran intensifies its campaign to support the Palestinian cause.
On the bilateral front, Iran has offered to provide arms to the Army and build power plants to boost the deteriorating electricity infrastructure in Lebanon.