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Q & A with Leader of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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(Q) What is the purpose of your visit to Saudi Arabia this time?

(A) The purpose of the visit is to hold consultations with the Saudi officials, led by King Abdullah, and stress the importance of implementing the remaining clauses of the Al-Taif Agreement, which was sponsored by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1989 and according to which Lebanon managed to end civil war, live in stability, and embark on development and reconstruction. What is required now is the implementation of the remaining clauses of the Al-Taif Agreement, represented by establishing diplomatic relations with Syria, drawing the border line between Beirut and Damascus, particularly in the Shab’a Farms, and dealing with the issue of Palestinian weapons outside the refugee camps.

(Q) What were the results of your consultations with the political leadership in Saudi Arabia?

(A) The issue is not one of results. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented these ideas in its initiative seven months ago and we unanimously accepted these ideas in our national dialogue. What remains to be done is that the Arab world, primarily Saudi Arabia, should tell the other side (Syria) that these clauses must be implemented.

(Q) Would the Syrian Army have pulled out of Lebanon had it not been for the assassination of Al-Hariri?

(A) The Syrian Army was forced to leave Lebanon under the pressure of the political, media, and popular campaigns that followed the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

(Q) What are the latest developments of investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri?

(A) International investigation has its mechanism in dealing with the issue. An international court will be set up. We in Lebanon have reached agreement with the United Nations to set up this court. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and big powers like France and the United States support the idea. We will see what happens.

(Q) You said in previous statements that you were threatened with physical liquidation. Are there still such threats against you?

(A) I have not only been threatened. There is a bad and fearful atmosphere in Lebanon. We hope to be able to build the country, control our services, and send the army to the South.

(Q) Do you think Resolution 1559 was fully implemented?

(A) Resolutions 1559 was not fully implemented. There are areas in Lebanon from which the Syrians have not pulled out. Also there is interference in some Lebanese affairs by sending weapons and ammunition to Lebanon. The issue of the Shab’a Farms also remains unresolved.

(Q) You called on President Emile Lahoud to step down. Do you think he has failed to manage the crisis?

(A) We as a political parliamentary bloc mainly objected to extending Lahhud’s term. When we objected to this extension, assassinations began with the attempt on the life of Minister Marwan Hamadah and then the assassination of Al-Hariri and other bloody incidents.

(Q) But Lahoud’s term was finally extended.

(A) Yes, his term was extended by force. We do not consider him a legitimate president. We need to have a new legitimate president who is elected by the Lebanese.

(Q) Are you satisfied with the Khartoum statement on the Syrian-Lebanese file?

(A) No, we want the clauses which were unanimously approved to be implemented. These are related to diplomatic relations, demarcation of the Shab’a Farms borders with Syria, and collection of Palestinian weapons that are present outside the camps.

(Q) Do you think the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are penetrated by the Syrian intelligence?

(A) Forces loyal to Syria have influence in some camps.

(Q) Do you still call for disarming the resistance?

(A) The South has been liberated and these weapons must be incorporated into the Lebanese Army.

(Q) What about the Shab’a Farms?

(A) The Shab’a Farms are linked to the issue of border demarcation. If the Syrians draw their borders, let them then liberate them. If Lebanon draws the borders, we will then see how we can regain Shab’a.

(Q) How do you view the current security situation in Lebanon?

(A) The security situation will remain bad as long as there are areas the government cannot enter.

(Q) How do you view President Mubarak’s statements on the Shiites’ loyalty to Iran?

(A) I cannot say all Shiites in the Arab world are loyal to Iran. There are Shiites in Lebanon and other parts of the Arab world who bear allegiance to their countries and their Arab identity. At the same time, there is a large political extension by the Islamic Republic of Iran that tries to use the Shiites in purposes that are not in the interest of the Arab world.

(Q) Do you think Iran poses a demographic threat to Lebanon?

(A) We do not want Iran to use Hezbollah in Lebanon to serve its interests. We want Lebanon to be an independent, pluralistic, and sovereign country. We will not interfere in the affairs of other countries, including Iran.

(Q) Do you see signs of an Iranian interference in Lebanon?

(A) Yes, Hezbollah is a faction that is politically linked to the Republic of Iran.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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