Lebanon News

Hariri blasts Nasrallah over Saudi accusations

Nasrallah speaks on the eve o Ashoura in Beirut, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Wednesday dismissed as “pipe dreams” accusations by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah that Saudi Arabia was blocking the formation of the government while awaiting the outcome of Syria’s war and talks between Iran and world powers.

“Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has made a series of stances; the least to be said about them is that they are pipe dreams that have nothing to do with facts and truth, but are only illusionary and made-up ideas aimed at concealing the main reason obstructing the formation of the government,” Hariri said in a statement.

“It seems that Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah is either held captive by a circle of illusions and unfounded information or he likes to throw political dust to blind Lebanese public opinion on the core reason [for our opposition to join Hezbollah in a government] which we have repeated dozens of times,” he added.

“We will not be Hezbollah’s partners in a government that covers its participation in fighting against the Syrian people or one that covers its violation of the national consensus reflected in the Baabda Declaration,” the Future Movement leader said.

In a speech earlier, Nasrallah said that a 9-9-6 Cabinet lineup was the only plausible formula. He said Saudi Arabia had asked its March 14 allies to block the formation of a government in which Hezbollah was represented.

“An acceptable formula ... the possible and realistic one that preserves the rights of all sides ... is the 9-9-6 formula,” Nasrallah said in a rare public appearance at a gathering in the Beirut southern suburbs to mark Ashoura.

“There is a regional decision made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is urging the March 14 coalition not to form a government now,” he said. “They had asked it to form a government excluding the March 8 coalition and Hezbollah, but it [the March 14 coalition] can’t do so. So now they told it not to form a government and to wait.”

Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia was asking the March 14 coalition to wait for the outcome of the Syria crisis, hoping for the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, Hezbollah’s ally.

But Nasrallah said that in recent weeks, developments on the ground in Aleppo and Damascus’ suburbs saw the Syrian army gaining the upper hand.

“If there is someone in a certain place in Lebanon, the region or the world waiting to win in Syria in order to allow the formation of a Cabinet in Lebanon, I tell him: You will not win in Syria,” Nasrallah said. Saudi Arabia is a major backer of the Syrian rebels.

The Hezbollah leader said that after Saudi Arabia lost hope for a favorable outcome in Syria, it asked the March 14 coalition to wait to see the result of negotiations between Iran and the West.

“[They were told] that these negotiations could result in eliminating Hezbollah, so wait ... don’t form a government in which Hezbollah is represented,” Nasrallah said.

After a round of talks in Geneva last week yielded no results, representatives of Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany are set to meet again on Nov. 20 in an attempt to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program.

“Do some Lebanese and regional powers expect that Iran will come to Lebanon and ask Hezbollah to abandon its national obligations, national rights, country, and hand over the country to the other group [March 14 alliance]?” Nasrallah said. “Whoever knows Iran and Hezbollah knows that these are pipe dreams ... this never happened and will not happen.”

Nasrallah said that in case an agreement was reached between Iran and the world powers, his party and its allies would emerge stronger locally and regionally.

But Hariri said that the March 14 coalition would never join Hezbollah in a political process that gives cover to its participation in Syria’s war, even if Hezbollah and Iran manage to crown Assad “an eternal president on the skulls of the Syrian people.”

“For us, the issue is Lebanese par excellence and has nothing to do with developments in the field in Syria or with the legend of Iranian-American negotiations. There is a party with its own state that makes war and peace decisions and we will not recognize this state and we will not accept that the Lebanese state provides cover for it from now on,” Hariri explained.Nasrallah said that Hezbollah’s allies, Syria and Iran, had never let the party down, unlike the allies of the March 14 coalition. “Should I count how many times your allies abandoned you?” Nasrallah added, recalling how the U.S. had canceled its plan to launch a military strike against Syria in September.

Nasrallah warned that a regional war would be the only alternative should negotiations between world powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program fail.

“People of the region, people of the Arab world, people of Arab Gulf states ... what is the alternative for an agreement between Iran and the world powers? The alternative is regional war,” said Nasrallah, an ally of Iran.

“Israelis, and whoever can collaborate with them, know well that they can start a war in a certain places but they cannot limit it to that place,” he added, as cheering crowds frequently interrupted his speech.

Nasrallah said it was very unfortunate that, like Israel, some Arab states strongly opposed an agreement between Iran and the West.

Nasrallah called on supporters to defy security threats and take part in marches organized by Hezbollah the following day to commemorate Ashoura, which concludes Thursday.

“Ashoura tomorrow is different than all previous years ... we have to be clear: There is a security threat,” Nasrallah said.

“Nothing, other than God’s will, neither danger, nor explosions, bloodshed nor rigged cars will prevent us from [marking the death of] Imam Hussein,” Nasrallah said.

Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have planned commemorations in Beirut’s southern suburbs and other areas for Thursday to commemorate Ashoura, which marks the killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, by the army of Umayyad Caliph Yazid in 680 A.D.

Nasrallah also said Hezbollah was ready to combat Israel’s spying activities if the state failed to do so.

“We, the resistance are ready. If the Lebanese state wants us to do anything we can do, we will do it,” he said.

“If the state is unable to do anything, let them tell us. The resistance can do a lot to confront Israeli espionage,” Nasrallah said.

Lebanon will file a complaint before the U.N. Security Council over the recently discovered listening posts installed by Israel along the southern border with Lebanon

Nasrallah will deliver another speech Thursday, addressing a gathering in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 14, 2013, on page 1.




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