BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri launched a scathing attack on Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Thursday, accusing him of endangering Lebanon through the party’s actions over the years, including the sending of fighters to Syria.
“What Lebanon is facing at present approaches the brink of existential danger and threatens Lebanon’s message and the values of cultural and religious diversity. This has made me sound the alarm, to reach the ears of all Lebanese without exception, especially those groups who classify us as adversaries and sometimes charge us with treason or dependence on the outside,” Hariri said in a written address to the Lebanese people.
“Our nation, dear Lebanese, is in danger. This is the truth that all religious, sectarian and political groups should contemplate and reflect upon the original sources of this danger.”
Hariri, who has blasted Hezbollah’s heavy involvement in the 26-month-old civil war in Syria, said the party was once more putting the fate of the nation in danger at “a critical juncture” with policies that jeopardize coexistence, democracy and Islamic unity.
“And when we say the fate of the nation we do not mean one side or sect, but a threat to everyone without exception,” he said. “None of the Lebanese groups, whether Sunni, Shiite, Druze or the Christian sects combined, can be kept away from the [slippery] slope that Hezbollah seeks to drag Lebanon toward.
“ Hezbollah has unilaterally decided to breach every tradition, law and rule that govern national life among the Lebanese; it has arrogated to itself, as a party and an armed sectarian group, the rights of states in taking fundamental decisions without any consideration for the sensitivities of the groups it lives among, which constitute at the very least ... 50 percent of the Lebanese population,” he said.He added that Hezbollah had managed to accomplish such a feat through its “unprecedented intimidation” as a result of its arsenal.
The Future Movement leader said Nasrallah had usurped the state and its institutions and allowed Lebanon to become involved in the Syrian conflict.“Nasrallah has [transgressed all norms], deciding to be the head of state, supreme commander of the armed forces, head of the executive branch – allowing the borders to be opened for thousands of fighters to take part in the Syrian war – and the legislative branch for issuing fatwas for defending religious sites and resistance regimes beyond the border,” Hariri said.
“This is not a caricature of the political reality in Lebanon but a blatant and painful truth of the situation of the Lebanese state, which for years has suffered under the conditions and terrorizing acts of Hezbollah.”
Hariri said Hezbollah had over two decades polarized the Shiite sect, “drowning it in the delusion of power over others in order for it to serve as an armed auxiliary for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard” and spearheaded an Iranian-led policy aimed at a number of countries in the Levant.
“This policy asks Lebanon’s Shiites to be the fuel of an endless, absurd war. It also wants Lebanon to become an arena for defending the regime of Bashar Assad, with front lines that will not be confined to the sects in Lebanon, especially if we spot the strategic dimensions of Iranian policy in the Arab Levant and the signals that are being sent regarding the advanced position of Hezbollah in this policy,” Hariri said.
He added that Hezbollah was tasked with redrawing the political map of the Levant, covering Iraq and Jordan in addition to Lebanon and Syria.
“To accept Hezbollah’s project simply means that there will never be a Lebanese state. And that this state will remain hostage to the party and above it, to the Islamic Republic of Iran, forever and ever,” Hariri said.
Arguing that Hezbollah has ruined relations between Sunnis and Shiites and soured Lebanon’s ties with Arab countries, he said there was “nothing more urgent” than to confront Hezbollah’s policies “with all forms of national solidarity.”
He said Hezbollah was trying to convince the Shiite community that its “weapons are for protecting the sect, that Hezbollah has succeed in establishing the first army of its kind for Shiites in the east” as evidenced by the group’s military activities in Syria and Iran’s support.
“We might not be able to convince the wide audience of our Shiite brothers otherwise, but we cannot accept [Hezbollah’s actions] under any condition ... based on our conviction that the party’s claims on this matter ... are historic lies,” he said. “We believe there are within the Shiite community voices and wisdom that ... can refute this dangerous and insane course that Hezbollah has taken.”
Hariri said he and his allies had attempted to resolve the issue of Hezbollah’s arsenal through agreeing on a national, Lebanese defense strategy but the resistance group had now moved to justifying its weapons through expanding its fight into Syria and the Levant.