Mon, Nov 29, 2010 | By Crethi Plethi
Turkish PM Erdogan: Hizbullah Not Involved In Rafik Hariri Assassination
The Lebanese daily Al-Safir reported on Monday that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not believe Hizbullah is connected to the 2005 Rafik Hariri assassination. Rafik Hariri was then Lebanese Prime Minister and is the father of the current Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, who is on an official visit to Iran.
“No one can think that Hizbullah has a connection to the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The organization even supports a Syria-Saudi Arabia initiative to ease the tension,” Erdogan said during a press conference after returning to Turkey from his last visit to Lebanon.
“Hizbullah says that it is the spirit of resistance in Lebanon and even goes as far as to use the term ‘martyr al-Hariri,” Erdogan added.
During his visit to Lebanon, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with a Hizbullah delegation including Loyalty to the Resistance bloc leader MP Mohammad Raad at the Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel in Beirut on Thursday evening.
It seems that Erdogan made his remarks to support Hizbullah’s position in the Lebanese political arena. A weakening of Hizbullah’s influence in Lebanon following an indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) could disturbe Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah’s joint struggle against Israel.
The leader of the Shiite militant group Hizbullah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, said yesterday that evidence believed to be held by UN investigators implicating his militant group in the death of the former Lebanese prime minister is worthless. He also dismissed the investigation as “a dangerous [Israeli] project that is targeting the resistance.” The militant Shiite group has said it will not accept any accusation against any of its members, and warned of the repercussions of such an outcome. During his speech, the resistance leader questioned the neutrality of the court, saying the United Nations Security Council is an instrument in the hands of Washington.
Erdogan’s visit to Lebanon was an attempt to calm the severe political tensions stemming from a United Nations-backed tribunal into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. At the start of his visit to lebanon, Erdogan stated: “Should any signs of war surface in Lebanon, God forbid, Turkey and other countries in the region will do everything they can to prevent that war,” he said.
On Wednesday, a senior Hizbullah official hinted at the militant group’s involvement in the 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the first indication of the sort expressed by a member of the organization since 2005. “Even if the organization did murder Hariri, that’s no reason to destroy Lebanon,” the London-based daily A-Sharq al-Awsat quoted Lebanese MP Walid Sakaria as saying.
A special report by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) apparently based on extensive leaks from within the tribunal found Hizbullah and one of the ex-premier’s top security officials deputies to have been directly involved in the assassination. The report named one of the suspects fingered by the UN commission investigating the murder: Wissam Hassan, today Lebanon’s intelligence chief, who at the time was Hariri’s chief of protocol.
The documents obtained by CBC indicate that Hassan has very close ties with senior Hizbullah officials, including Hussein Khalil, one of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s top aides.
This weekend, Lebanese Armenians protested over Turkish involvement in Lebanon. During a demonstration on Martyrs’ Square in Beirut slogans were chanted such as “the Lebanese have not forgotten Turkey’s bloody history in the region,” and “Erdoğan should bow before our martyrs.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Tehran said, “as long as the Zionists continue to exist, Lebanon needs the forces of resistance led by Hizbullah which is supported by Iran.” Sa’ad Hariri stated that Lebanon will not endorse sanctions on Iran and stated that Beirut supports Tehran’s right to maintain nuclear technology for civilian purposes.