Rome: Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri said in remarks published on Thursday in the French magazine Paris Match, that he fears Hezbollah’s military role in regional conflicts will end up costing his country dearly.
But Hariri also stressed he was optimistic that a way to end the political paralysis gripping Lebanon following his November 4 resignation is being worked out.
Hariri said his resignation was meant to let the world know that Lebanon cannot tolerate the Iran-backed Hezbollah group meddling in the affairs of Gulf countries—a reference to Yemen, where the kingdom is fighting Iran-backed Al Houthi militants.
Hezbollah also openly fights on the side of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Syria’s civil war while Saudi Arabia backs the opposition trying to unseat him.
“I wanted the world to understand that Lebanon can no longer tolerate the interferences of a party like Hezbollah in the affairs of the Gulf countries, where 300,000 Lebanese live,” Hariri said. “We must not pay for the actions of Hezbollah.”
He hinted that there were no plans to discuss the disarming of Hezbollah, since the militant group has not used its weapons on Lebanese soil.
Hariri went on to say that he believes that Damascus wants him dead. “I have a lot of enemies, extremists and the Syrian regime. The latter has issued a death sentence against me. They accuse me of interference in their country,” Hariri said.
Hariri, who has made the same accusation in the past, says the regime in Syria was behind the 2005 assassination of his father, former premier Rafik Hariri, in a car bombing on the Beirut seafront, a charge denied by Damascus.
“He (Al Assad) has not won. It’s president Putin and Rouhani who have won” with the military forces they had committed to the conflict in Syria.
The premier, who has called for Hezbollah to “disassociate” itself from conflicts such as Syria where it has fought alongside Al Assad’s forces, said: “It is in Lebanon’s interest that these (Hezbollah’s) arms not be used elsewhere.”
Hariri’s resignation, announced while he was in Riyadh, stunned the Lebanese and raised suspicions that it was orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, his main backer. Both Hariri and Riyadh flatly deny the accusation. He later returned to Lebanon on November 21 and put the resignation on hold.
In a tweet late Wednesday, Hariri predicted that he may formally rescind his resignation next week.