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Mikati urges world to isolate Lebanon from Syria crisis

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati delivers a speech before the U.N. General Assembly. (The Daily Star/HO)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned that the protracted crisis in Syria threatens civil peace the Middle East and said the world must isolate Lebanon from the Syria crisis.

"The crisis in Syria threatens civil peace and stability in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon, which requires the international community to exert great efforts to reach a political solution between the Syrian parties to stop the spiral of violence that claims hundreds of innocent victims every day,” Mikati said in his address to the U.N. General Assembly at midnight Thursday.

"It is the duty of the international community to neutralize Lebanon from the turbulent situation now and assist it to flourish and spread its [prosperity] throughout the Middle East,” he urged.

He also called on “the world to look at Lebanon as a beacon of hope and a message of freedom and pluralism, and as a chance to secure the safest and shortest way for a democratic, healthy and prosperous Middle East.”

Mikati stressed that “Lebanon adheres to the disassociation policy [from Syria unrest], but not in terms of the human duty toward Syrian refugees."

He underscored Lebanon’s commitment to U.N. resolution 1701 and called for more world pressure on Israel to withdraw its troops from the Lebanese border village of Ghajar and Shebaa Farms.

Turning to the anti-Islam film which sparked violent protests across the region, Mikati said Lebanon denounces insults to any religion and stressed the need for building confidence through dialogue among cultures and civilizations.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mikati called for world recognition of the state of Palestine to “correct historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people.”

“No stability in the region without a Palestinian Spring,” he said, in reference to the Arab Spring or the wave of demonstrations and protests calling for democratic change in the Arab world.

He believed the "Palestine Spring" would come when Palestinians gained their rights to self-determination.

Mikati, however, said he believed that people of the Arab world are “eager for change through peaceful means and not through violence.”

He pointed out that “peace – coupled with freedom and justice – can provide security and stability to our world and put an end to tyranny, extremism, terrorism and peoples’ domination.”

“The legitimate aspirations of the peoples can only [be achieved] through peaceful transition and dialogue away from the cycle of violence and foreign intervention,” he argued before urging the international community to come out with an economic, cultural and developmental roadmap to help Middle East countries to cope with the change.

Lastly, Mikati called on the U.N. Security Council to “reconsider its restructure and its powers.”

He said the UNSC should also “expand to become more just and democratic as it takes into account the political and economic realities of the new world by increasing the number of its members and allowing small countries to participate in the membership.”

In remarks published Friday by pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, Mikati denied the presence of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon, saying that he has received confirmation with regards to the issue.

“There is no presence of Iran's revolutionary guards in Lebanon,” Mikati said, referring to remarks made by the top commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard in which he said that he had sent some Guard members to Lebanon and Syria.

“We have received confirmations from all sides that the question posed to one of the security officials was about the past and that his talk focused on the presence of Iran's revolutionary guards in Syria but he did not touch on their presence in Lebanon,” he added.

Mikati also voiced certainty that Hezbollah would not involve Lebanon in the Syria crisis, reiterating that the resistance party agreed on the Baabda Declaration which stipulates that Lebanon remain at a distance from regional and international conflicts particularly in its neighbor.

“I am certain that Hezbollah will commit to this declaration and will not allow Lebanon to be involved in any matter that does not concern it directly unless it is an attack on Lebanon,” the prime minister said.

“And we will not provoke Israel so that it would interfere in Lebanon's matters,” he added.

Mikati also called for an honest, Arab role to stop bloodshed in Syria but “not an Arab intervention.”

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani called Tuesday for an Arab intervention force to be sent to Syria to end the violence in Syria during his speech to the 67th General Assembly at the U.N.

 

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