Lebanon News

Hariri says Assad committing atrocities

In this Monday, Feb. 14, 2011 file photo, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri gestures to supporters in front of the grave of his father slain Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, in Beirut, Lebanon. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star, File)

BEIRUT: For a fourth day in a row, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri took part in a live Q&A session on his Twitter account Monday in which he blasted President Bashar Assad for what he described were “massacres” committed under his leadership, saying change was needed in Syria.

Hariri also expressed his belief that Lebanon under the present government headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati would fail to fund its share toward the court probing his father’s assassination.

“Before answering questions I want to condemn what happened today in Homs and the atrocities that Assad is committing,” Hariri, under the Twitter name of @HaririSaad, wrote in his first tweet Monday night, referring to recent reports by activists that troops loyal to the Syrian leader had moved into a residential district of Homs after six days of tank bombardment.

Describing the events as “a massacre,” Hariri warned that the Arab League should “move quickly” lest faith in the organization should falter.

Hariri’s live Twitter session came hours after a statement from his office ruled out the possibility that recent posts under @HaririSaad on the popular social network were other than from the Future Movement leader himself.

“The press office of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri would like to point out that the only Twitter account that PM Saad Hariri uses to tweet, personally and directly, with his followers is: @HaririSaad,” the statement said Monday.

Hariri, who fielded questions for some two hours, acknowledged he was a vocal critic on the subject of Syria and said he would continue speaking out against Damascus as “this regime must be faced no matter what and changed.”

Hariri, who had sought to mend ties with Damascus during his term as prime minister, said the Syrian leader was unlikely to change his strategy in dealing with the crisis in his country.

“Let’s stop lying to ourselves that he will change or make reforms. This is not going to happen and his massacres are on the eve of Eid [Al-Adha],” Saad Hariri said.

Protests against the rule of Assad have raged since earlier this year. The U.N. says over 3,000 people, mostly civilians have been killed in the crackdown by Damascus. Syrian authorities deny targeting civilians, blaming the deaths on "armed gangs" who are part of  a conspiracy targeting the country.

Hariri also expressed his belief that his successor would fail to fund Lebanon’s share toward the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which in late July indicted four members of Hezbollah, a key player in Mikati’s government that has voiced outright rejection on the controversial matter.

In answer to a tweet that read: “do you expect that Najib Mikati will carry out his promises to the financing of the court or whether he would yield to Hezbollah,” Hariri responded: “let’s see, I think he won't finance the tribunal.”

When asked by another tweeter what scenarios he expected would follow should Lebanon fail to fund its share, worth $32 million, Hariri said: “he [Mikati] says he will resign. I doubt it but there will be consequences on [the] people and I hope not on Lebanon.”

Hezbollah denies involvement in the assassination of Hariri's father and says the Hague-based court is part of a "U.S.-Israeli project" aimed at targeting the resistance group and sowing strife in the country.

On other domestic issues and future steps he intends for Lebanon, Hariri said his Future Movement had achieved a lot of reforms but that it needed to do more. “This is an ongoing process," Hariri added.

Hariri also said he would seek for more women to be included in future electoral lists and expressed a desire for a rapprochement with former Tripoli MP Mosbah al-Ahdab, whom he had a falling out with during the previous election.

“We would love to have Mosbah with us,” Hariri said when asked if he would promise to include Ahdab in the 2013 general elections campaign.

As in previous live sessions that have run for five consecutive days, Hariri said he would be back in the country, “sooner [rather] than later.”





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