Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Despite the campaign that is being waged against Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the pressure that he is under from his own political team with regards to his “excessive positivity towards Syria…without receiving anything in return” as well as the pressure that he is under from the opposing team for “not granting the necessary concessions [to Syria]” sources close to Hariri denied to Asharq Al-Awsat that he has any plans to “resign or withdraw [from office].” The sources stressed that any such step would result in a “critical [power] vacuum.”
The sources, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, stressed that Hariri “does not regret any positive step he has taken towards Syria because he has done so in the belief in joint [Syrian – Lebanese] relations.” The source added that Hariri “believes that what he has begun is correct and he will continue with this and not back away from it, and if this does stop – as is the case now – he will learn lessons from this. Hariri does not believe that any words or statements issued will hamper this relationship.”
The source stressed that Hariri “may ask questions…but he will not apply the brakes to this [Syrian – Lebanese] relationship.” The source, who is close to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, also confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the positivity of this issue depends upon the response of the Syrian administration” whilst denying “all the rumors about Syrian deadlines, demands and conditions as being unfounded media speculation.” The sources stressed that “it is costly for Hariri [to stay in power], however it will be a disaster for the country if he resigns.”
For his part, Lebanon First bloc MP Iqab Saqr referenced the positive attitude taken by Hariri with regards to “politically acquitting Syria following political accusations [of involvement in the assassination of Rafik Hariri], and his rehabilitating Syria via his statements to Asharq Al-Awsat.”
MP Saqr confirmed that the Lebanese Prime Minister is committed to his principles and to reviving Syrian – Lebanese relations, adding that “the three Lebanese strategic demands have not been met. Whilst the aggressive media campaign by Syrian-funded politicians and media figures against Prime Minister Hariri, the Future Movement, and the March 14 Alliance has carried on, and the Syrian media has even participated in this campaign as well as Syrian leaders including Syrian Prime Minister [Mohamed] Naji al-Otari.”
He added “Hariri provided what he had to and more…and each time he extended his hand [to Syria] they would rebuff it.”
A massive truck bombing in Beirut killed Rafik Hariri and 22 others.
A U.N. tribunal is investigating the case but has not issued indictments yet. There is speculation it may accuse Syria or Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group in Lebanon that Syria supports. Both have denied involvement.
There are fears in Lebanon that if indictments name Hezbollah, it could lead to violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.