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Khamenei and Hariri…and the beautiful gypsy! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The pressing question that must be asked today is: will the new Lebanese government be capable of fulfilling the admittedly specific demands of protecting Lebanon, and ensuring that the country does not find itself subject to complete Iranian and Syrian control, and this is not to mention Hezbollah? In order to find out the answer to this question, let us look at the following story.

A well-informed Iranian source informed me of an incident that took place between Supreme Leader of Iran Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and then Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, during his most recent visit to Iran. According to the source, Hariri informed his advisers at his residence in Tehran about his desire to speak frankly with the Iranian Supreme Leader about the danger that Hezbollah’s arms represent to Lebanon. The Iranian source told me that “Hariri forgot that in Iran, walls have ears.”

So, when Saad Hariri met with the Supreme Leader, along with 8 Lebanese ministers – including a Hezbollah affiliated minister – as well as dozens of Iranian official, Khamenei began by telling Hariri “let me tell you about my viewpoint on Lebanon.” He said “in my youth I read the novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ by French author Victor Hugo, in this novel there is a beautiful girl named Esmeralda who dances in Paris’s clubs…everybody was enamoured by her and wanted her, even by force, and so she carried a small razorblade in her pocket to defend herself.”

The Supreme Leader of Iran then said “Lebanon is like Esmeralda, Lebanon is the temptress of the East, and many are captivated by her and want to take her, even by force, and the Islamic resistance is Lebanon’s razorblade!” This is what Khamenei told the then Lebanese Prime Minister whilst smiling calmly.

Hariri directly responded to this, saying “Your Eminence, the resistance is nothing new to Lebanon, and it has had many faces, first it was an Arab resistance, then a Palestinian resistance, then it became leftist, and now it has the face of Hezbollah and is being called the Islamic resistance.” Exhibiting clear signs of nerves, Hariri added that “we in Lebanon, your Eminence, are afraid that Esmeralda will cut herself with this razorblade.” He then concluded by saying – and this is the crux of the matter – that “it is true that Lebanon is the temptress of the East, indeed we believe that Lebanon is more beautiful than Esmeralda, because this beautiful gypsy Esmeralda is fictional, whilst Lebanon is real.”

My source, whose story was confirmed by another source that attended this meeting, said that when the interpreter began to translate what Hariri said from Arabic into Persian, the Supreme Leader of Iran raised his hand to indicate to the interpreter that he need not translate this. Following this, Khamenei gestured to Hariri [that the meeting was finished], and then the then Lebanese prime minister thanked him, and that was the end of the meeting. After they had left the meeting hall, and the door had been closed, one of the [Lebanese] ministers accompanying Hariri said in an audible voice “Oh Sheikh, I want to kiss you…!”

Therefore, so long as Khamenei is acting as the protector of Hezbollah, and the only ally of the al-Assad regime, how can a [Lebanese] government that was formed by Syria with Iranian aid guarantee the security of Lebanon, and ensure that the country is not transformed into a province affiliated to the Wali al-Faqih [Guardian of the Jurists]? The Supreme Leader of Iran seemed to resent Hariri’s review of the history of Lebanese resistance, so what would have happened if Hariri – after he told the Supreme Leader of Iran that Esmeralda is a fictional character – had added that the beautiful Gypsy temptress is nothing more than a literary trope invented by a French poet and that according to the Holy Quran, “the Poets – it is those straying in Evil, who follow them” [Surat Ash-Shoura, Verse 224]. Paris today is a center for law and freedoms; when one thinks of France one thinks of perfume, such as Coco Chanel, rather than the French military machine!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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