BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt dismissed a recent pro- President Bashar Assad rally in Downtown Beirut that took aim at the Druze leader, firing back at his detractors by accusing Syria of adopting Zionist policies.
Separately, Jumblatt met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London, where the two held discussions on Syria which the U.K. official described as having been “useful.”
“We will not be dragged into responding to some of the Shabiha who raise pictures and posters that reflect nothing but their bankruptcy while events have demonstrated their backing of Israeli policies in contrast to slogans of rejectionism they have chanted for decades,” Jumblatt said in his weekly interview with Al-Anbaa newspaper to be published Tuesday.
“We will respond in our own way by turning to modern history and the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the continuous attempts by the Baath regime to [hijack] Palestinian decision-making,” he added.
Hundreds of demonstrators, some in support of Assad and others in opposition to him, faced off in Downtown Beirut Sunday. At the former rally, Jumblatt was pictorially compared to late Israeli military leader and politician Moshe Dayan. Fayez Shukr, the head of the Baath in Lebanon, also verbally compared him to Dayan during the rally.
“Have some forgotten that [late President] Hafez Assad did not recognize the existence of Palestine to the south of Syria and that he was the one who introduced this idea into Syrian history textbooks that were used in schools for years and years, and that this dovetails with Zionism's refusal to recognize Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people?” Jumblatt asked.
“And can we forget that Assad the father, while he was defense minister before he and his colleagues seized power, had arrested the national Palestinian figure Yasser Arafat in 1966?” he added.
The PSP leader said more examples would be given on a weekly basis showing the falseness of the Syrian regime's claims that it maintains a rejectionist policy, and would reveal “the truth of their political assassinations and their taking advantage of [political] positions to achieve Israeli aims.”
Jumblatt contrasted the pro-Assad rallies with those in support of Syrians calling for reforms.
“Through the continuation of the Syrian revolution with commitment and persistence by the Syrian people struggling for their freedom and dignity, it can be seen that the civilized, exemplary demonstrations that we participated in were calm and responsible in support of the Syrian people in their distress and in the face of the daily killings.”
Jumblatt reiterated his earlier description of events on the ground in Syria, saying “genocide” was occurring in some parts of the country.
“It is within the rights of Lebanese to express their solidarity with the Syrian towns and villages that are being bombarded every day ... and where the people are facing a genocide,” he said.
Separately, Britain’s foreign secretary described a meeting with the PSP leader on the situation in Syria as “useful.”
“I had a useful meeting today with Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese Druze leader, to discuss the situation in Syria,” Hague posted on his Twitter account.
A PSP statement said Jumblatt had met Hague in the presence of Rt. Hon Lord David Howell, minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and that “they discussed developments in the Arab and Middle East region.”