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Hezbollah Calls on Hariri to Publicly Apologize to Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s comments to Asharq Al-Awsat remain an ongoing issue of debate, particularly with regards to his comments about the presence of individuals who misled the investigation into the assassination of his father former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, damaging relations between Syria and Lebanon. However Hezbollah has come out to say that “acknowledging a mistake is not sufficient, because what is required is to re-correct what has happened and issue a public apology to Syria.”

Hezbollah’s Foreign Relations chief, former MP Ammar al-Mousawi said that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s comments to Asharq Al-Awsat represent “an acknowledgement rather than an apology, and this is nothing more than the beginning [of what needs to be done].” Al-Mousawi stressed that “acknowledging a mistake is not sufficient, because what is required is to re-correct all that has happened, otherwise I do not know how we can build a nation in the event of an apology not being issued to Syria.”

In response to this situation, a senior governmental source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “comments and statements are being issued by political parties or politicians regarding the position of Prime Minister Hariri; [however] this does not mean that they are speaking on behalf of Syria or the Syrian presidency.” The source added “we do not believe that there are conditions in place that will allow us to understand whether the statements made by Prime Minister Hariri are sufficient or insufficient to correct the relations between Lebanon and Syria. The Prime Minister is convinced with regards to what he said in his interview to Asharq Al-Awsat and he has reiterated this. All the operations to mislead and deceive the investigation in the wrong direction had negative effects and were costly, particularly with regards to how this damaged Lebanese –Syrian relations, and this includes the [actions of the] false witnesses.”

The governmental source also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “there have been many attempts to mislead the investigation from the early hours following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, as well as later attempts to try and guide the investigation in different direction. These had negative effects on the tribunal, the truth, the investigation, and Lebanese – Syrian relations, however what is more important is the damage that this caused. Even if it is confirmed that injustice took place, this does not mean that the work of the tribunal will stop or be suspended until the issue of false witnesses is judicially resolved.”

The governmental source added that “Prime Minister Hariri is completely convinced with regards to what he said about the presence of figures that misled the investigation, and he is not defending these misleaders, he is also convinced with regards to what he said about the political accusation being directed towards Syria in order to damage relations between the two countries. This is something that Prime Minister Hariri concluded a while ago when he communicated directly with President Bashar al-Assad and this is not something new, and what he said to Asharq Al-Awsat was agreed by him in terms of the way he made this announcement and its timing, but this does not include conditions being placed on what he said [with regards to whether this is sufficient to repair Lebanese – Syrian relations] or for his words to be taken out of context.”

In response to a question as to whether Prime Minister Hariri’s positive attitude towards Syria stems from his newfound conviction that Syria was not involved in his father’s assassination or whether this is in response to Saudi– Syrian rapprochement, the governmental source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “there can be no doubt that 2005, and the following phase, incited the positions, not just the positions of politicians, but the majority of Lebanese. However time – on one hand – and the changes that have taken place in Lebanon and the Arab world, the situation in 2008, and the Doha Summit, have established a new situation in Lebanon, bringing in a national unity government, however without a doubt the Saudi– Syrian rapprochement has had the greatest influence in the rapprochement of Lebanese – Syrian viewpoints, as well as in shifting the Arab scene and the changes in the Lebanese position over the past two years.”

MP Ali Hassan Khalil of the Liberation and Development bloc, who is also the political aide of Lebanese Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, praised the “courageous position shown by Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri” adding that ” his withdrawal from his previous position [towards Syria] is an expression of his political experience, recognizing the need of restoring and developing Lebanese – Syrian relations as this is in the interest of both countries.”

A member of the Democratic Gathering bloc in Lebanon, MP Antoine Saad said that “Syria was accused of killing former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as part of politics, and Prime Minister Saad Hariri rejecting Syria becoming embroiled in this issue is also political.” He added that “the international tribunal is being used politically and for political aims.”

For his part, MP Nehme Tohme, also of the Democratic Gathering bloc, praised Prime Minister Hariri’s initiative “that is characterized by courage and patriotism, and will form safety and security for Lebanon and its relations with Damascus, and strengthen the internal scene in Lebanon in the face of threats.” He also said that “the Saudi – Syrian umbrella protects Lebanon from threats and establishes stability.” He also confirmed that “the president of the Democratic Gathering, MP Walid Jumblatt, is playing the role of strengthening the internal front through his contacts and consultations with other relevant parties to reduce risks and curb political escalation and initiate dialogue.” Tohme also called on “all parties without exception to be rational and calm because incitement and escalation will not allow us to reach anywhere.”