Middle East

Hariri urges more assertive French role in Syria crisis

In this June 12, 2009 file photo, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during an interview at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon. (Grace Kassab/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri urged France in comments Wednesday to exert greater effort to end the bloodshed in Syria.

“The current regime in Syria is certainly going to fall,” Hariri, who is expected to meet French President Francois Hollande Wednesday evening at the Elysee Palace, told Le Monde.

“But what is important is preventing [the regime] from carrying out genocide against the [Syrian] people.”

According to Hariri, the longer it takes Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power, the more damage will be caused, making reconciliation that much more difficult.

“The Syrian people are winning, [but] we wish that less blood would be spilled; this is where the international community has a moral obligation to intervene,” he said.

Hariri maintained that a diplomatic approach to the unrest in Syria has not borne fruit. “There should be some kind of intervention,” he said.

He went on to say that France has a key role to play, adding that it should lead the coalition of countries “that are allied with the Syrian people, as this will ensure that it plays a very big role in the region.”

“There is currently a big debate about safe zones, which cannot be established without the consent of the United Nations Security Council,” Hariri said.

“If France convinces its allies to meet the needs of the Syrian opposition, this would be a win-win situation for France,” he added.

Hariri, who has been residing outside Lebanon since June 2011, said that all those who were betting on the collapse of his political career were “mistaken.”

He also slammed Hezbollah, accusing the party of sending Lebanese fighters to Syria to fight alongside government forces.

“Hezbollah is implicated in every way in the fighting in Syria,” he said. “Even if they deny it, I think they are sending Lebanese to Syria.”





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