Sat, Nov 27, 2010 | By Crethi Plethi
Saad Al-Hariri Seeks Iranian Help To Prevent Violence If Tribunal Indicts Hezbollah Members
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, heading a high-ranking delegation, arrived at International Mehrabad Airport, Tehran on Saturday to start an official visit to Iran. He was welcomed by the Housing and Urban Development Minister Ali Nikzad.
Al-Hariri was officially welcomed in a ceremony at Saad-Abad Presidential Complex by first Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. His visit takes place following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Beirut in October when some 17 deals were inked by the two states and he is scheduled to talk with senior Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his first official visit to Iran.
A former head of the Iranian mission in Beirut said that the current visit to Iran by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is aimed at finalizing the agreements made between the two countries during President Ahmadinejad’s October visit to Lebanon. Speaking to FNA about the visit, Former Caretaker of Iran’s Embassy in Beirut, Mohammad Irani, recalled President Ahmadinejad’s October visit to Lebanon, and noted, “Several economic agreements were signed during the (Ahmadinejad’s) visit and Hariri will finalize them in his trip to Tehran. That is an effective step forward with regard to the expansion of economic ties between the two countries,” he noted. Irani further described Iran as a “major actor” in Lebanon, and added, “Essentially, balance in the region, Lebanon in particular, is to a large degree unimaginable without foreign actors among them the Islamic Republic of Iran.” [Fars News Agency; nov 27, 2010]
A Lebanese ministerial source says that the Hariri visit is connected to the upcoming release of the report by the UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. It has been widely rumored that members of Hizbullah will be indicted for Hariri’s murder, a move that would greatly threaten stability in Lebanon. “This visit is important because of its timing, when Lebanon is in crisis because of the expected indictment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” the source said. “The Iranians will try to reconcile points of view between Hizbullah and Sa’ad Hariri,” the source said. The source added that Sa’ad Hariri would support Iran’s “development of nuclear capabilities for civilian and peaceful purposes,” in exchange for help in pacifying Hizbullah. [JPost; Nov 27, 2010]
Hariri seeks Iran’s help to prevent political tensions turning violent if a U.N.-backed tribunal indicts Hizbullah members for killing his father. Western diplomats have said that the tribunal could indict members of Hizbullah, which is backed by Iran and Syria, by early next year for the 2005 bombing which killed former premier Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others. Lebanese politicians fear the indictments could prompt confrontation and possible violence between the Shi’ite Hizbullah, which has denied any involvement in Hariri’s killing, and allies of the Sunni prime minister. [Reuters; Nov 27, 2010]
A 2008 political crisis led to street fighting between Hizbullah and supporters of Hariri, who is backed by the West and Saudi Arabia, and analysts warn that indictments against Hizbullah could spark worse violence. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has urged all Lebanese to boycott the tribunal and vowed to block the arrest of any of his members. He has also called on Hariri to repudiate the tribunal, which he described as an “Israeli project.” [Reuters; Nov 27, 2010]
Yesterday, in an interview with official Iranian news agency IRNA on the eve of his visit to Teheran, Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri denied accusing Hizbullah of assassinating his father. The Lebanese prime minister accused Israel of posing the greatest danger to the region, PressTV reported. Earlier on Friday, in an interview with The Washington Post, Hariri slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying that he “does not believe in peace.” “There is no leadership in Israel,” he said. “At one point you had [Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin who wanted peace. He’s the one who believed in the peace in the region, but Netanyahu doesn’t believe in peace.” During the interview Hariri accused Netanyahu of being “somebody who is not willing to talk about real peace in the region.” [JPost; Nov 26, 2010]
Iran hopes expansion of ties between Iran and Lebanon will definitely strengthen the resistance movement and will deliver another blow to Israel after Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon and Hizbullah strongholds in the south of Lebanon.