Saad Hariri insists Syria sending militants claiming to be Al-Qaeda

Posted in Broader Middle East | 14-Feb-06 | Author: Majdoline Hatoum| Source: The Daily Star (Lebanon Edition)

BEIRUT: Saad Hariri, son of slain Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, said Monday Syria was sending militant radicals into Lebanon, and claiming they belonged to Al-Qaeda. "We are not that stupid, we know that the militants infiltrating the Lebanese borders from Syria are the same militants the government of Damascus has been sending to Iraq for the past three years under the claim they belong to Al-Qaeda," he said during an interview with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI).

Hariri, who returned Sunday to take part in the commemoration of his father's assassination Tuesday, said Lebanon did not want to instigate any problems with Syria.

"It is time for us Lebanese to rule ourselves, and we are only asking to be given the chance to do so," he said.

He added accusations against him of paving the way for a Western plan aiming at changing the regime in Syria were untrue.

"We don't want to have any problems with the ruling regime in Syria," he said, and added: "W just want them to leave us alone to rebuild our country."

Hariri also called on the Lebanese people to participate heavily in his father's commemoration, which he said should be a uniting day for all Lebanese.

"A year ago, we suffered from a very hideous crime, the murder of Hariri, and this crime made the Lebanese people realize the rights of their country was not in their hands, and that it was the time for us to be the masters of our own decisions," he said. "This day should be a day that unites all Lebanese, and I believe they will show their loyalty tomorrow," Hariri said.

When asked if he would ever forgive the assassination of his father, Hariri said he hoped God will give him the power to eventually do so "if the one responsible for the crime was Lebanese."

"But if he is not Lebanese, I don't think I will be able to forgive," he said. "What gives a foreigner the right to assault us in this dreadful way?" he asked.

Hariri also said in case there is a Saudi initiative to ease tensions in relations between Syria and Lebanon, it would be a positive one, and would not come at the expense of the truth behind his father's death.

"Saudi Arabia can never sell Hariri's blood, and they have declared several times that any initiative can never marginalize the results of the international probe into my father's assassination" he said.