January 11, 2007 Special Dispatch No. 1419

Sa'd Al-Hariri: ‘Iran is Playing a Dangerous Role in Lebanon’

January 11, 2007
Lebanon, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 1419

In aninterview with Algerian TV, Sa'd Al-Hariri, chairman of the Al-Mustaqbal faction in Lebanon and one of the leaders of the March 14 Forces, accused Hizbullah of being a militia taking orders from Iran. Al-Hariri, son of assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, claimed that the Lebanese opposition's decision to take to the streets of Beirut had been made based on instructions from Syria and Iran, and with the aim of preventing the establishment of the international court to rule on the Al-Hariri assassination.

The following are excerpts from the interview, as it appeared in the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal. [1]

Hizbullah is Implementing an Executive Order from Syria and Iran

In the beginning of the interview, Al-Hariri said: "In our opinion, the goals set by Hizbullah are goals [serving] regional [Middle Eastern powers], and they are unconnected to the domestic [Lebanese] arena... How will the third [of seats in the government, which Hizbullah is demanding] be for the sake of participation in decision making, when [in fact] [Hizbullah] takes for itself the exclusive right to carry out a serious operation - such as launching a war against Israel or abducting soldiers at any moment - when the state's [government] [is completely ignored] in the decision making?..."

In answer to a question on the chances of a breakthrough in the current impasse between the government headed by PM Al-Siniora and the Lebanese opposition headed by Hizbullah, Al-Hariri said: "They [Hizbullah] say that in principle they agree to the international court. But every time the subject was discussed in the government, or was supposed to be raised for discussion in the government, their ministers left... The first time they left, and the second time they resigned, in a way that was clear and could not have been interpreted [otherwise]. If they were really interested in the international court, they would have remained another two days for the discussion of this [matter] in the government. I personally gave them guarantees, from myself and from Prime Minister Al-Siniora, that we would discuss the topic of the [international] court for one day, two days, or three days, and would [then] discuss any [detail] they wanted regarding the court's fundamental statutes, and find a solution for [whatever they have a problem with].

"But their real problem is that the Syrian regime is not interested in an international court. With the end of Israel's war on Lebanon, [Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad said clearly that the March 14 Forces were an Israeli product, and that after the divine victory achieved [by Hizbullah in the war] there should be a political coup against the March 14 Forces. There is an executive order that came from outside [Lebanon], and the Hizbullah leadership and Syria's allies in Lebanon are seeking to implement the orders from Syria and Iran."

Hizbullah is a Militia - Everything It Has Comes from Iran, and It Does Not Make Its Own Decisions

In answer to a question about the Lebanese opposition's claim that Al-Hariri was being pressured by the U.S., Al-Hariri said: "To those who are leveling these false accusations, I say that Sa'd Al-Hariri does not receive money from the Americans. On the contrary: [Members of the opposition] are the ones who get money, from Iran. There is no doubt that their decision [making] is not in their hands. They accuse us of being a militia - [but it is they who] are a militia. Look at what happened in Beirut - they came to Beirut, demonstrated there, and destroyed homes and cars. [Their] aggressive operations were carried out openly, before the eyes of the Arab and Islamic world, and before the eyes of the Lebanese [citizens].

"We have never done Hizbullah any harm. After the war, Hizbullah invented the matter [of accusing the March 14 Forces] of treason, and accused whoever it wanted. It appointed itself judge and attorney-general, accusing others without any [evidence]. It forgives whoever it wishes, and convicts whoever it wishes. It determines what funds are pure and what funds are impure. Everything from Iran is pure funds, while the funds [from the Arab countries] are impure... The brothers from Hizbullah must understand that Lebanon is not run by a single group [meaning Hizbullah] [who wants to rule] Lebanon as it sees fit...

"We saw what happened in Gaza because of the abduction of the Israeli soldier [Gilad Shalit]. Didn't the Hizbullah leadership know what might happen [following its abduction of the two Israeli soldiers]? Sometimes they claim to have exposed [an Israeli] plot that was slated to be carried out, and that the Israelis had wanted to start a war in September [2006] or in some other month. Sometimes we suddenly hear from them... that the March 14 leaders went to the U.S. and incited [it] to start a war against Hizbullah. They never stop making accusations and inventing conspiracies and charges of treason...

"They say that they agree to the establishment of an international court... but when we come to the implementation [stage], they flee, their ministers resign, and they take to the streets. They [may] take to the streets, but they will not succeed in toppling the government. How will they escalate [their actions]? By organizing strikes? They may do that, but that way they will paralyze the country. Hizbullah brought Lebanon into the war... and today they are bringing Lebanon into economic crisis, and disrupting the people's work, and the markets - and the Lebanese are emigrating from the country."

Iran is Creating a Sunni-Shi'ite Rift

Later on in the interview, Al-Hariri attacked Hizbullah's decision to take to the streets, and also criticized Iran: "Is it allowed [to put] a government house under siege by Hizbullah? They say that other [political] forces are participating with Hizbullah in [this siege], [but] this is not true. The Hizbullah leadership made the decision [to take to the streets] based on orders from Iran. This is unacceptable. [The Lebanese] must think [first about] Lebanese [interests]. As a political faction, we [i.e. Al-Mustaqbal] cannot overcome Hizbullah and Hizbullah cannot overcome us. This also goes for the rest of the political factions.

"The message of this country is coexistence, and we must live in coexistence. Lebanon is a small country, but its message is a big message, [namely] that Lebanon is a country of coexistence, moderation, democracy, freedom, and respect for the opinion of the other. What is happening today [in Lebanon] is disrespect for the freedom and opinion of the other. It is an attempt to impose a policy that is foreign... The rift that Iran is creating between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites is forbidden. Iran is playing a dangerous role in this matter, and I have sent [Iran] a message via its ambassador [in Lebanon], telling them that they are playing an extremely negative role."

[1] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), December 15, 2006.

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