Syrian President Bashar Al Assad with Qatari Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace in Damascus yesterday where they discussed the current political turmoil in Lebanon. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Two explosive sound records of caretaker Lebanese prime minister Sa'ad Hariri broadcast by a Lebanese TV station on Saturday could add to tensions in Lebanon ahead of consultations on forming a new government and the release of the UN tribunal's indictments in the Rafik Hariri assassination case.

New TV, which is close to the opposition, aired an audio tape in which Hariri is speaking with Zuhair Siddiq, a former Syrian military officer and tribunal witness, whose credibility was later questioned.

Siddiq's testimony led to the detention of four Lebanese generals in the assassination case. Hariri has earlier denied any meeting with Siddiq.

Hariri's press office immediately condemned the airing of the tape and said it was taken out of context. According to the office, the meeting was held following a request by UN investigators attempting to convince Siddiq to come back to Lebanon and participate in the investigation.

The audio tape broadcast on Sunday night by the same television station, also revealed a meeting between Hariri and detective Lajmi Mohammad Ali in July 2007. In the tape, Harriri is heard calling Syrian officials "bloody killers", openly accusing Syria of killing his father and slamming not only Syrian President Bashar Al Assad but even some of his allies.


The audio tape contains conversations between Hariri, Siddiq, Wissam Al Hassan, chief of Lebanon's police intelligence and Gerhard Lehman, UN assisting investigator.

Hariri addresses Siddiq saying there is no doubt that Syria is behind the assassination, but encourages Siddiq to cooperate with the investigation and provide solid evidence to Arab states and other countries to make a case against Syria.

Al Hassan suggests that Siddiq accuse a Lebanese Muslim extremist group Ahbash, which is allied with Syria, to be involved in the assassination.

After the conversation was aired, the station reported that UN investigator Seirge Brammertz, in a report dated August 3, 2006, accused Siddiq of having lied many times and being mentally unstable.

Hariri stressed on Sunday that his recorded statements to international investigators in which he criticised some figures were made several years ago during "well-known political circumstances".

However Hariri apologised personally to all of his friends, who were verbally attacked during those years. Among the figures slammed by Hariri is former Lebanese prime minister Najeeb Mekaty whom he describes as a backstabber. Hariri also accuses Maher Al Assad, the Syrian president's brother of pushing him [Bashar] to assassinate Rafik Hariri.

Hariri describes Al Assad as having psychological problems and being arrogant. He describes Asaaf Shawkat, Syria's head of military intelligence as being a killer "just like" Mohammed Bin Nayef, Saudi Deputy Interior Minister in charge of Counter-Terrorism.

Hariri also criticises Talal Salman, the owner of Lebanon's Al Saffir newspaper and a number of other prominent Lebanese journalists, and describes good relations between Hezbollah and his late father.