BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday launched a scathing attack on Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, accusing the Hezbollah secretary-general of sacrificing Lebanon in the interests of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran.
Hariri, whose comments came shortly after Nasrallah delivered a speech in which he vowed to keep his fighters in Syria, also stood firm on his party’s condition not to participate in any future government until Hezbollah ended its military involvement in Lebanon’s neighbor.
“Hezbollah chose to sacrifice Lebanon's sovereignty and its national unity for the sake of Bashar Assad's regime and to appease the Iranian leadership's decision to protect this regime,” the head of the Future Movement said, according to a statement from his office.
In his second public appearance this week, Nasrallah vowed earlier Thursday to keep Hezbollah fighters in Syria so long as the threat of jihadists in the war-torn country remains.
In May, Nasrallah acknowledged that his group was supporting forces loyal to Assad against rebels seeking the Syrian leader’s ouster, in a move widely condemned internationally and in Lebanon.
Lebanon officially adopts a policy of disassociating from developments in Syria and in 2012 rival political leader agreed to the “Baabda Accord,” a pact that calls for neutralizing Lebanon from regional crises, particularly the war next door.
Addressing thousands of Shiite pilgrims in Beirut’s southern suburbs on the occasion of Ashoura, Nasrallah also rejected Thursday linking Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria with the Cabinet formation.
Hariri conditioned late Wednesday the participation of his party in the next government with a pull out by Hezbollah from Lebanon’s neighbor.
On Thursday, Hariri reiterated his refusal to provide Hezbollah political cover for its presence in Syria by joining the next government and said it was shameful that the Ashoura commemoration had turned into an occasion “to gloat about support for the unjust regime against the oppressed people.”
“Just as Nasrallah affirmed and repeated his commitment to the war in Syria ... we also affirm that we will not offer Hezbollah any forms of national legitimacy for its reckless policies that have dragged Lebanon into the heart of this regional storm,” Hariri said.
“Hezbollah can flex its muscles on Lebanon ... as well as the Syrian people and their revolution with the power of Iran, its money and arsenal ... but it cannot from this day on impose on the Lebanese conditions to participate in political life,” he added.
Hariri and his allies in the March 14 coalition have also rejected a Cabinet lineup that would grant each rival coalition veto power in the next government.