Lebanon News

Jumblatt hails Assad speech, says address will bolster Syrian unity and stability

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt hailed Thursday a speech made by Syria’s President Bashar Assad the day before, saying it “opens positive horizons” for reform.

In a statement issued by his media office, Jumblatt underlined that Lebanon’s security stems from that of Syria. “[Assad’s speech] opens new horizons if it is seriously implemented,” he said. “The speech will bolster Syrian national unity and internal stability.

Pro-democracy protests across Syria this month turned violent, claiming the lives of more than 60 people, according to rights groups.

Addressing Parliament in Damascus Wednesday, Assad blamed foreign conspirators for the turmoil but promised reforms.

Jumblatt also slammed Lebanese groups that he said were wagering on the spread of chaos in Syria. “Those anticipating that events in Syria will take a turn for the worst should be aware that the security of Lebanon stems from the security of Syria and vice versa.”

Echoing Jumblatt, Minyeh MP Ahmad Fatfat said the state of affairs in Syria has direct repercussions on the situation in Lebanon

The Future Movement official said Assad’s speech was intended for the Syrian domestic arena. The Future Movement denied this week it was fueling unrest in Syria.

“We have to watch the impact of the speech,” Fatfat told a local radio station. “Whatever happens in Syria, whether negative or positive, will reflect on Lebanon.”

But Hezbollah’s Sheikh Naim Qassem reassured visitors Thursday that the Syrian regime and people were in “good shape,” adding that attempts to spread chaos in Syria would fail.

“[Syria] will emerge stronger through popular cohesion and planned reforms,” Hezbollah’s number two told visiting delegations from Beirut headed by former MP Adnan Araqji.

Marjayoun-Hasbaya MP Qassem Hashem, a Baath Party official, said Assad’s speech “is a clear reflection of the will of the Syrian people.”

The coordinator of the March 14 General Secretariat, Fares Soueid, said Lebanon has suffered from external meddling in its political affairs, thus the March 14 alliance would not interfere in the internal affairs of other states.

For his part, former President Emile Lahoud described Assad’s speech as “courageous and frank,” and warned against attempts to stir sectarian tension in Syria, while former Beirut MP and pro-Syrian politician Nasser Qandil praised Assad’s speech but said the demands of most of the Syrian protesters were legitimate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 01, 2011, on page 2.




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