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Hariri Vows Not to Buckle to Hizbullah

Lebanese PM promises to stand for new term in office, says will not buckle to Hizbullah's pressures over his father's assassination tribunal.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/21/2011, 1:15 AM / Last Update: 1/21/2011, 1:11 AM

US State Department

Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, vowed on Thursday that he will not buckle to Hizbullah and will stand for a new term in office, after foreign efforts to mediate the crisis in the country failed.

AFP quoted Hariri’s televised address in which he said that “A constitutional process is under way and we will accept its results despite intimidation on the street and elsewhere. We will go to the parliamentary consultations organized by the president on Monday and I remain committed as a candidate, in line with my parliamentary bloc's decision.”

Hariri accused Hizbullah of seeking his political demise and of rejecting any proposed compromise to break the current political impasse in the country. His comments came on the same day that Turkey and Qatar abandoned their efforts to break the deadlock and a day after Saudi Arabia did so as well.

“(Our) efforts resulted in a working draft that takes into account political and legal demands to resolve the current crisis in Lebanon based on the Syrian-Saudi initiative,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani, said in a statement Thursday. “But given certain reservations, (we) decided to suspend efforts in Lebanon for the time being and to leave Beirut in order to consult with (our) leadership.”

The tension in Lebanon is due to a dispute over the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is probing the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri (Saad’s father). The prosecutor of the STL submitted a sealed indictment in the case this week, and it is now being reviewed by a judge. Hizbullah expects its members to be implicated by the tribunal, and has time and time again accused Israel of being behind the assassination.

AFP reported that the Syrian-Saudi initiative which Turkey and Qatar tried to promote calls, in part, for Lebanon to disavow the STL probe and Hizbullah, in exchange, would provide guarantees concerning its weapons arsenal and other issues.

Saad Hariri said, however, that the Qatari and Turkish mediation efforts had failed because of Hizbullah’s insistence to prevent his return as premier.

“They put aside all other solutions... and demanded only that Saad Hariri be prevented from once again becoming premier,” AFP quoted Hariri as saying.

He also warned that Lebanon stood at a decisive juncture which could plunge the country into an abyss. “We will not resort to the streets because from the onset we have chosen state institutions,” he said. “One single drop of Lebanese blood is worth more to me than all power.”

Last week, Hizbullah’s ministers walked out on Lebanon's unity government, leaving Hariri without a coalition. The Shiite terror group's representatives, who left the coalition as Hariri met with U.S. officials, had the support of 11 of the 30 Cabinet members, giving it the power to bring down the government.