BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri Wednesday said he did not condone Hezbollah’s armed offensive in northeast Lebanon’s Arsal outskirts.
Hariri, speaking to The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, added that he preferred to see the Lebanese Army conducting the operation against the militants entrenched in the mountainous border area with Syria.
He also renewed his call for the international community to support Lebanon in addressing the challenges presented by the number of Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon.
“In a world incapable of accommodating refugees, Lebanon, [a country] of 4 million people, hosts 2 million refugees, [therefore it is] providing a public good to the world,” Hariri said, adding that “the world at large is invited to help and maintain this model, an asset to the region and to the world.”
There are 1 million Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR in Lebanon, although the Lebanese government places the total figure at closer to 1.5 million. Lebanon has repeatedly asked for assistance from the international community to face the challenges of hosting the refugee population, including renovating the country’s poor infrastructure.
“Now comes the part where the international community needs to live up to its responsibilities and shoulder the burden with us,” Hariri said.
Hariri also vowed his government will “jumpstart inclusive economic growth, maintain fiscal stability, and mitigate the impact of displaced Syrians,” asking for international support.
Hariri also praised the uniqueness of the Lebanese community in the Middle East as “a model of a society anchored in moderation and denying extremism a foothold,” despite the country’s “imperfect” ruling system.
“Lebanon offers a model of resilience, creativity and initiative,” Hariri continued, adding that “Lebanon’s democratic – certainly imperfect, yet democratic – system also offers a model ... Lebanon is an asset to the region and to the world,” he said.
Lebanon’s confessional democracy is often gridlocked when faced with the conflicting demands of rival political parties.
In 2016, after the majority of parties agreed on electing President Michel Aoun, the country ended a two and a half year presidential vacancy. A new electoral law was endorsed after months-long deadlock, and a state budget was endorsed 12 years after the last public fiscal plan was produced.