Hariri reiterates he will soon be back in Lebanon

Saad Hariri. (Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2017
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Hariri reiterates he will soon be back in Lebanon

BEIRUT: In his second tweet in less than 24 hours, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri confirmed again that “he is doing really, really well and he will return to his beloved Lebanon soon, as he had promised.”

Hariri’s stay in Riyadh for the 12th day after the announcement of his resignation from there has raised many questions in Lebanon, although Hariri had insisted in a televised interview broadcast live on Sunday that he wanted “his resignation to be a positive shock.” Hariri said the main reason behind his resignation was that “Iran and Hezbollah seized control of the Lebanese state.”

“We are living in circumstances that are similar to what prevailed before the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in 2005, and I sensed that something was being plotted to target my life,” he said.

Hariri’s older brother said he supports his brother’s decision to step down over the growing demands and actions of Hezbollah. In a statement from Bahaa Hariri’s office sent to The Associated Press, he accuses Hezbollah of seeking “to take control of Lebanon.” He also expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia for “decades of support” for Lebanon’s national institutions.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun raised many questions about Hariri staying in Riyadh and not returning to Lebanon, adding that Lebanon had “taken all the necessary measures to secure the return of Prime Minister Hariri.”

Aoun called on the media to “contribute to the consolidation of national unity that was plainly manifested during the last few days.” In the framework of his consultations with political, national and economic actors, President Aoun told the president and members of the National Audiovisual Council and the owners of audio-visual media outlets, whom he received in Baabda’s Presidential Palace yesterday, that “the prime minister is being detained in Saudi Arabia for no reason and his return should be undertaken with dignity.”

Aoun reiterated that “he rejects Hariri’s resignation as long as the Lebanese PM has not returned to Lebanon, because he later has to fulfill his national duties toward his country in which he was appointed as prime minister. Everyone knows that Prime Minister Hariri is a person who fully bears his national responsibilities and it is not usual from him to commit such mistakes.”

However, President Aoun tried to lower the level of his speech’s intensity through a statement issued by former minister Elias Bou Saab after his visit to Aoun on Wednesday night. Bou Saab said that “the reason that led the President to take these positions about the PM’s detention in Saudi Arabia, stems from his keenness on the return of Prime Minister Hariri to fulfill his political and constitutional duties.”

Bou Saab, member of the Change and Reform bloc, formerly led by Michel Aoun, said that the President told him that he was keen on “protecting and preserving the Lebanese-Saudi relations from any chaos or disorder, especially as President Aoun considers that what happened to Hariri could be exploited to harm the Lebanese-Saudi relations.

“In this context, I would like to confirm that President Michel Aoun is very keen on protecting, developing and strengthening the Lebanese-Saudi relations, especially as his first official visit during his tenure was to Saudi Arabia,” Bou Saab said.

He said that Aoun “had called on the Saudi Chargé d’Affaires, Waleed Bukhari, to provide some clarifications about Hariri’s situation, circumstances of resignation and his stay abroad. Six days have passed and President Aoun has not heard back from Saudi officials, and thus the mystery about Hariri’s situation is increasing and so are the rumors about his fate.”

MP Okab Sakr, member of the Future Movement parliamentary bloc, said: “I appreciate the position of President Aoun and Lebanese leaders who are worried about PM Saad Hariri. However, he is not detained. He is in his house in Riyadh with his family, and this is something he reiterated several times.”

Sakr stressed in a statement that “Hariri will be back soon — really soon — to Lebanon and he did not set a date for his return for security purposes.”

“He can take his private jet now and fly back to Lebanon, but his return is being arranged on the political and security levels with Saudi Arabia, to avoid any negative repercussions in Lebanon,” Sakr said.

MP Fadi Karam, member of the Lebanese Forces bloc tweeted: “They insist on focusing on Hariri’s return because they had escaped their sovereign responsibilities. They object to the Saudi interference in Lebanon, conveniently forgetting the wickedness of the Iranian interference in all Lebanese issues. We can clearly see who needs to be set free.”

Mufti of Tripoli and the North Sheikh Malek Al-Chaar said that “everything addressed to PM Saad Hariri, and especially what is being said about his situation in Saudi Arabia as if he was detained or exiled, aims to target the Saudi Kingdom.” He stressed “the need to address the reasons behind Hariri’s resignation instead of its timing and place, and as soon as he gets back to Lebanon, he will reveal everything.” Chaar thought that Hariri said things as they were, during the televised interview.

The Mufti said that “the strongly worded statements against the Kingdom are not expressing their concern about Hariri’s dignity as much as they aim to make people forget about the reasons that led to the resignation. This is not in the interest of the Lebanese people. They should be thinking about the reasons behind the resignation calmly and wisely without challenging others, because we want to build a state and not to fight one another.”


Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

Updated 21 March 2019
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Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

  • Turkish president has threatened to "send home in coffins" visitors from Australia, New Zealand
  • Aussie and NZ leaders want Turkey to explain the "vile" and "offensive" remarks

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned on Wednesday for “vile, offensive and reckless” comments after last week’s Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

Australia summoned the Turkish ambassador in Canberra to explain the remarks, and New Zealand dispatched its foreign minister to Ankara to “set the record straight, face to face.”

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after he shot dead 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdogan, in election campaign rallies for his AK Party, urged New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the killer pay if New Zealand did not.

He said anti-Muslim Australians who came to Turkey would be “sent back in coffins, like their grandfathers at Gallipoli,” and he accused Australian and New Zealand forces of invading Turkey during the First World War “because it is Muslim land.”

But an international affairs scholar in Riyadh said Erdogan’s comments should not be taken as representative of Muslims. 

"He is a propagandist and an unpredictable politician,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “He keeps saying these things and then he issues an apology. Right now, he is making these incendiary comments to win elections.”

It was inappropriate behavior for a head of state, Al-Shehri said. “Which president would use such language and issue these kind of comments?”

In his speech, Erdogan said that the Gallipoli peninsula campaign in 1915 was in fact an attempt by British colonial forces to relieve their Russian allies. The attack was a military disaster, and more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand forces were killed. Thousands of people from both countries travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services, and the anniversary is marked on Anzac Day every April 25.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn.” Morrison described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile.” He accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at Gallipoli carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets ... after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her deputy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, would travel to Turkey to seek clarification of Erdogan’s comments. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.