Lebanon relieved by Hariri’s calm declarations on live TV

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri
Updated 14 November 2017

Lebanon relieved by Hariri’s calm declarations on live TV

BEIRUT: The live TV appearance and on Sunday night of Saad Hariri, who resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister on Nov. 4, has put the Lebanese people at ease.
After the interview, statements made by Hariri’s adversaries about his being under “house arrest” were refuted and replaced by statements welcoming his stances and anticipating his return, which he promised would be “in two days.”
“They tried to disparage Hariri’s resignation by focusing on the way he resigned and distracting everyone from his demand to maintain Lebanon’s self-distancing policy and keep the country out of Arab conflicts,” Antoine Zahra, member of the Lebanese Forces’ parliamentary bloc, told Arab News.
“They also slammed the Lebanese Forces for supporting Hariri,” he added.
“It turned out that Hariri, who tolerated the intolerable, is looking for ways to ensure the political settlement’s success while his adversaries exploit it to get Lebanon further involved in the region’s conflicts.”
Zahra described what happened through the campaign against Saudi Arabia as “burying one’s head in the sand.”
He said: “In a tone different from the one he used in his resignation statement, Hariri said he was keen to achieve a settlement but it required two parties, and that he had put personal efforts into it and endured continuous personal attacks as well as on the settlement which would lead Lebanon to a deadly phase. How can Hezbollah’s hostility toward the rest of the Arab world be coated? Hezbollah is punishing the Lebanese people by measures that are, at the least, choking the country’s economy.”
“There are no constitutional restrictions on Al-Hariri’s resignation from abroad,” he explained, and then asked: “Do the ministers’ resignations from Rabieh (President Aoun’s former residence when he was head of the Free Patriotic Movement) count as constitutional while Al-Hariri’s doesn’t?”
Zahra predicts that Hariri will be re-assigned upon forming the next government because “political powers have no other candidate to negotiate re-settlement on its original basis after the new mandate.”
According to a statement released by the media office at Baabda Palace, President Michel Aoun commented on remarks made by Hariri, which indicated that the political settlement still stands and that he has the option of retracting his resignation. “I am pleased that Al-Hariri will return soon to Lebanon and I’ll be waiting to discuss with him the reasons behind his resignation, the circumstances surrounding it and other topics of concern that need to be addressed,” he said.
Aoun also hailed the coherence between the Lebanese people, “which has protected national unity and proved to the rest of the world that Lebanon is a sovereign and independent country.”
Lebanon’s political authorities were quick to comment on Hariri’s statements through tweets that expressed how they eagerly anticipated his return to Lebanon.
Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, said: “There is justice in the retraction of Hariri’s resignation.”
Walid Jumblatt, head of the Democratic Gathering bloc, said: “Despite all the difficulties, obstacles and pitfalls, Sheikh Saad will always be the man of the settlement, the man of dialogue, and the man of the state.”
Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces party, said the political settlement could still be saved if the government committed to its self-distancing policy and if Hezbollah withdrew from Syria and from regional conflicts.
The State Minister for Combating Corruption, Nicolas Tueni, said Al-Hariri’s praise of the president and his stances, his commitment to finding a constitutional solution with the president, including the possibility of retracting his resignation, and his firm stand for the political settlement were all evidence that national consensus and brotherly unity in Lebanon had triumphed.
Talal Arslan, leader of the Lebanese Democratic Party and an ally of Hezbollah, said: “Hariri’s interview boosted my belief in the necessity of insisting on his return to Lebanon. I salute him and would like to tell him that his protection and the protection of his family are as important as the protection of Lebanon, its people, its unity, and its dignity.”
MP Ibrahim Kanaan, secretary of the Change and Reform bloc, which is an ally of Hezbollah, described Hariri’s return as “the key to all political options and constitutional solutions.”
The Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, continued to receive figures in solidarity with Hariri in Dar Al-Fatwa.
He told his visitors that he felt relieved after listening to Hariri’s live interview in his second country, Saudi Arabia, during which he refuted all rumors and interpretations that had spread in Lebanon and the world and said he was with his family and brothers in Riyadh.

Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 16 June 2019

Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province


BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.