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Saad Hariri gives awkward new interview that many believe was staged

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | November 13, 2107

When Saad Hariri appeared on Saudi state-run Al Arabiya television last week to deliver his “resignation” as the Lebanese Prime Minister, many felt that Hariri, who is also a Saudi citizen was being forced to resign by the Saudi regime.

Several obvious inconsistencies were present in the original “resignation” speech. First and most strangely, he read a speech that was written in a Gulfi dialect of Arabic and instead of using familiar Lebanese terminology, he used Saudi terminology which is largely foreign among Lebanese viewers.

Secondly, his resignation from foreign soil is not only incompatible with Lebanese legal procedure, but it is highly unusual in any context.

Finally, as Hariri owns his own television channel, Lebanon based Future TV, it was considered strange that his speech was exclusively broadcast on a Saudi state-run network.

Further evidence which emerged led Lebanese President Michel Aoun to join with other Lebanese parties including Hezbollah, the Amal movement and some members of Hariri’s own Future Movement to say that Hariri had been kidnapped by Saudi authorities and is being held against his will.

Last night’s interview from Saudi Arabian soil on Hariri’s Future TV was designed to assuage the fears that Hariri is a political hostage, but the interview left many more questions than answers.

Of the many perplexing answers Hariri gave, when asked why no one is able to contact him, he stated that it is because he is in “personal meditation”. This answer however, proved deeply unsatisfactory as even close personal colleagues have had no way of contacting Hariri, in spite of his high profile.

Also, while he assured the cameras that he is a free man and will come to Lebanon in a “matter of days” this vague timeline has led many to think that the statement was forced. Furthermore, when he said this, a shadow of a man was visible in the broadcast, with some indicating that Saudi handlers were putting pressure on Hariri to stick to a script even in the midst of the interview which Future TV’s representatives refused to confirm was live.

While continually gulping down glasses of water, Hariri appeared flustered and at one point even appeared to break down in tears.

While Hariri’s assertions that Hezbollah and “the Syrian regime” intend to kill him, claims which have not been supported by any evidence and which have been roundly debunked by the politically neutral Lebanese security services, Hariri’s body language rather than his seemingly Saudi authored statements, were the talk of Arabic social media in the aftermath of the puzzling interview.

When it comes to Hariri’s future there are several possible options.

1. Hariri remains in Saudi and Lebanon moves on 

In many ways, this is starting to look like the most realistic option. While Hariri claims he will return to Lebanon, this statement has been met with near universal scepticism. In other words, until people see it, they won’t believe it.

On the surface, this may still be an acceptable solution for Lebanon. While many predicted that the fragile multi-party Lebanese coalition government would collapse upon Hariri’s “resignation”, in reality, Lebanese parties from across the political spectrum, with only some scant exceptions, have remained committed to the coalition and rule of law in Lebanon. The mature response of Lebanese politicians was not something that Saudi Arabia and other who may have been behind the forced “resignation”, such as Israel, may have accounted for.

If Hariri does not return in the near future, Beirut’s relations with Riyadh will be deeply strained, but this might also have an unexpected positive effect of helping Lebanon to protect her sovereignty and national dignity with more strength than in previous years.

2. Hariri comes to Lebanon and causes trouble 

Hariri indicated in his interview that he may rescind his resignation if groups like Hezbollah commit to remaining neutral in conflicts such as the Syrian war against terrorism. This demand is unrealistic, unacceptable to Hezbollah and not practical for Lebanon as Hezbollah’s aid of the Syrian Arab Army in the fight against terrorism, has helped secure Lebanon from attacks by Takfiri terrorist groups. This is something that is acknowledged either openly or privately by Lebanese of many sectarian stripes.

If Hariri does return and attempt to sow discord in the coalition by effectively waging a pro-Saudi sectarian political war, this could in fact lead to political instability in Lebanon that thus far has been avoided.

However, if he did return and try to force Hezbollah out of the coalition with ridiculous demands, it would once and for all, expose the fact that Hariri was lying about fears for his safety at the hands of “Hezbollah, Iran and Syria”. After all, someone returning to Lebanon to ‘take on’ Hezbollah isn’t afraid, but is arrogant.

3. Hariri comes to Lebanon and resigns in disgrace 

Hariri’s star which was never particularly big and which in any case relied on the legacy of his more experienced father, is tarnished in Lebanon, perhaps beyond repair. Unless he were to come to Lebanon and denounce Saudi for kidnapping him, something which at this point seems unlikely given the amount of personal business Hariri conducts in Saudi (albeit with many purged Princes), he may be seen as more of a disgraced political liability than a ‘returned hero’.

The reason that most Lebanese are demanding his return is not a sign of support for Hariri’s policies, let alone his apparently subservient attitude to the Saudi regime, but because the kidnapping of a Prime Minister by a foreign power, is a matter of principle and national dignity.

If Lebanese and wider international pressure results in a return of Hariri, Lebanon will have won a moral victory, but Hariri himself will still be widely seen as something of a “loser”, to borrow Donald Trump’s favourite epithet.

Because of this, Hariri may find that his career in front line Lebanese politics may be incredibly diminished when he returns, at least in the immediate future. The leader of the Future Movement, is in this sense, already a thing of the past, in spite of his youth.

Conclusion: 

Saad Hariri’s interview was likely staged and the “freedom” he claimed he had was almost certainly an exaggeration at best, if not an outright lie. Because information from Saudi is so scant, only Hariri’s departure from Saudi Arabia will provide the penultimate evidence of his alleged freedom or perhaps better put, the end of his captivity.

The coming days may reveal more about Hariri’s true condition, but for now, the infamous interview has left the world none the wiser when it comes to what Saudi Arabia is actually doing to the effectively deposed Lebanese Premier.

November 13, 2017 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Lebanon: A new political alliance on the horizon?

Al-Akhbar | February 18, 2014

Yesterday, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP Michel Aoun announced that he mediated between Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, and the leader of the Future Movement (FM), former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which coincided with the restoration of security and political channels of communication between Hezbollah and the FM.

Is Lebanon witnessing a new political scene based on a five-party alliance in the government that can manage a truce, which would in turn allow the election of a new president?

In 2005, the four-party alliance excluded the FPM which had won an unequivocal majority of the Christian vote in the parliamentary elections. The new alliance includes, in addition to Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, the FM, the FPM’s Change and Reform bloc, the Phalange Party and the Progressive Socialist Party. Based on the sectarian considerations governing Lebanese politics, the sectarian representation in this alliance appears to be complete. This five-party alliance seems to have become a reality, as an increasingly positive environment seeps out little by little.

Aoun announced yesterday that he mediated between Hezbollah and the FM, and specifically between Nasrallah and Hariri. In addition, a step was taken in the same direction yesterday, prior to Aoun’s announcement, when the head of Hezbollah’s Liaison and Coordination Unit, Wafiq Safa, visited the new Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi at his apartment in Achrafieh.

The official goal of the meeting was to offer congratulations to Rifi for his ministerial appointment, but the form the meeting took gives it additional significance. In addition to Rifi and Safa, the meeting was attended by the head of the Internal Security Force’s (ISF) Information Branch, Colonel Imad Othman and director of the ISF Operations Room, Colonel Hussam al-Tannoukhi.

According to political sources, Tannoukhi – who is on good terms with the leaders of both Hezbollah and the FM – arranged the meeting which relaunched the security and political communication back channels between the two sides. This back channel had maintained contact between both parties until Rifi’s retirement and the rising political tension between Hezbollah and the FM.

While at Rifi’s home, Safa called the new interior minister, Nohad al-Machnouk, and congratulated him on his new post. Political sources said that this “positive environment comes as a follow-up to the efforts that resulted in the formation of the new government and can be relied upon to carry the government through future political junctures such as the ministerial statement and the presidential elections.”

In a related matter, Aoun confirmed that he met both Hariri and Nasrallah, explaining: “Whoever wants to conduct mediation to bring disparate parties closer together has to talk to everyone, that is why I met both of them.”

When asked if his willingness to accept Rifi as interior minister during consultations on government formation angered Hezbollah, Aoun replied: “I was not present during the distribution of ministries and I am not the prime minister charged with assigning ministers to the various ministries. There was a difference of opinion between Hezbollah and the FM on this issue. To form the government, we suggested a kind of solution based on exchanging posts.”

Regarding concerns over the ministerial appointments of Machnouk and Rifi, especially since the Interior and Justice ministries could facilitate the work of terrorists and takfiris, Aoun argued “this issue is handled by the judiciary and the government as a whole and does not rely on the authority of one or two ministers.”

Akhbar Al-Yawm News Agency revealed that a family dinner was held Thursday evening at Aoun’s home in Rabieh and it included FPM minister Gibran Bassil and the director of the Future Movement’s presidential office, Nader Hariri. The obstacles that were still facing the formation of the government were overcome at this meeting.

In addition, information emerged in the past few days that Bassil traveled to Saudi Arabia last week where he met Saad Hariri.

February 18, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Benefits from the Shatah Assassination?

By RANNIE AMIRI | CounterPunch | January 3, 2014

The burial of former Lebanese Finance Minister Mohammed Shatah next to assassinated ex-premier Rafic al-Hariri in Beirut’s Muhammad al-Amin mosque was as striking and deliberate in symbolism as the towering structure itself.

Last Friday’s assassination of the Hariri family’s senior advisor and one-time U.S. ambassador was by similar method: a massive car bomb detonated under his convoy as it drove through the heart of Beirut’s upscale downtown district. As if to purposefully underscore the parallels and frame the post-assassination narrative, it also occurred just a few hundred yards from the site where the billionaire Hariri was murdered in February 2005.

Just as after Hariri’s killing, the calculated recriminations of the March 14 coalition, led by the Future Movement, came fast and furious. Blame was laid squarely at the feet of Hezbollah. March 14 supporters were quick to point out that the crime took place less than three weeks before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL; the U.N.-established court tasked with investigating the Hariri assassination) was set to open proceedings against four accused Hezbollah members.

The shoddy STL investigation, relying heavily on telecommunications data wholly compromised by Israeli intelligence and their captured agents, has been previously discussed.

Did the masterminds of the Shatah assassination hope the Lebanese population would turn against Hezbollah, already facing strong rebuke for its intervention in Syria by March 14 politicians (despite that the latter have implicitly lent support to radical takfiri elements involved in the Syrian conflict since its earliest days)?

As with all political upheavals in Lebanon, the question that must be asked is, “who benefits?” Does Hezbollah? Although Shatah was a stalwart March 14 operative who decried Hezbollah’s role in Syria, he was nevertheless regarded as a relative moderate. But the increasingly virulent sectarian discourse of those on the fringes of this political alliance (and many at its center) and the cover they have extended to extremists like fugitive Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, cannot be ignored. Beirut after all, is still reeling from recent twin suicide car bombings at the Iranian embassy followed shortly thereafter by the assassination of Hezbollah senior commander Hassan al-Lakkis. On Thursday, innocent Lebanese civilians were again victims of a car bomb detonated in the Haret Hreik neighborhood of Beirut’s Shia-majority southern suburbs, known as the dahiyeh.

“Moderate” Sunni politicians like Shatah are viewed as expendable, for their killing only serves to polarize the wider Sunni community by inciting sectarian hatred and thereby marginalize more reasoned voices. Even Lebanon’s Grand Mufti was not spared as he was accosted after mourners’ passions were stoked by Sheikh Ahmad al-Omari, the cleric who delivered the sermon at the funeral of a young man also killed in the assassination. As Al-Akhbar reports, “Omari attacked Hezbollah, describing it as the ‘party of the devil.’ He called on the Shia to ‘disown’ Hezbollah ‘if they are true believers,’ and stressed the ‘patience of the persecuted Sunni sect is running out.’”

Again, does Hezbollah achieve any gain, political or otherwise, with Shatah’s demise?

The irony is that the inflammatory rhetoric and policies of March 14 parliamentary bloc members have led to the exponential growth of radical forces in the country. One only has to recall how former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Bahia Hariri and others insinuated the Lebanese Army was responsible for provoking Salafist cleric al-Assir’s armed forces to launch an attack against them this past summer in Sidon, killing 18.

Son of the late prime minister and Future Movement head Saad Hariri also did not waste any time in essentially blaming the victims themselves for Thursday’s attack: “They are at the same time victims of [Hezbollah’s] involvement in foreign wars, particularly in the Syrian war.”

The northern city of Tripoli and the Ain al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon have provided extremist groups with safe refuge. Details have now emerged pointing to a possible link between those in the camp and recent events.

Just as in Iraq, moderate Sunni politicians have been singled out for assassination by takfiris who seek to exploit their spilled blood, provoke co-religionists into committing crimes against civilians and stir a simmering sectarian pot.

Who are the likely perpetrators behind Mohammed Shatah’s assassination and the dahiyeh bombing?

The very same ones the U.S. and Saudi-backed March 14 coalition have emboldened.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia Set for Lebanon Comeback

By Nasser Charara | Al-Akhbar | April 2, 2013

Following the Lebanese prime minister’s resignation, Saudi Arabia has been working behind the scenes to boost its presence in Lebanon. Here’s a look at how the kingdom views a future Lebanese government.

During the two-year tenure of Najib Mikati’s government, Saudi Arabia, to some extent, kept its distance from Lebanese affairs. Yet one question remained largely unanswered: Did Mikati take office with a green light from Saudi?

Throughout the lifespan of the previous Lebanese government, all attempts by Sunni Lebanese leaders to get answers failed miserably. Today, as the country searches for a new government to replace Mikati’s outgoing cabinet, Lebanon is once again a hot topic in Saudi Arabia’s corridors of power.

Despite all the reported affirmations that Saudi will let Future head Saad Hariri name a candidate for the post, Arab and Lebanese sources say that Riyadh has a special agenda.

As part of that agenda, Saudi has resolved to make a comeback in Lebanon, in accordance with a formula that mimics the former role of Syria. In other words, the kingdom would not act as a party to the internal conflict, but rather as a “referee,” managing and helping resolve crises among Lebanese factions.

According to the sources, it is possible that in the coming days Lebanese figures from different sects will visit Saudi to discuss solutions to the present crisis. The same sources maintain that though it was Riyadh – in addition to Washington – that instructed Mikati to resign, Saudi Arabia is in favor of him returning to preside over the future government. The goal, the sources claim, is to form another government led by Mikati, but under a different set of alliances and conditions.

In short, Riyadh wants Mikati to return to lead a government not dominated by the March 8 coalition, especially with the Free Patriotic Movement controlling the lion’s share of cabinet portfolios. From the Saudi point of view, Mikati would help safeguard the moderate-centrist ground in the political spectrum.

Designating Mikati to form a cabinet again would also alleviate the March 8 and 14 polarization. This would produce a “moderate” and religiously diverse bloc, bridging the gap between Hezbollah and the Future Movement – the source of most Sunni-Shia tension.

To successfully see its bid through, Riyadh is betting, among other things, on President Michel Suleiman adopting a strong stance in favor of its scheme. Furthermore, Riyadh is acting based on the assumption that Hezbollah wishes to defuse Sunni-Shia tension.

While leaving the door open to discussions, Saudi prefers to see Mikati form a government that is neutral in appearance. In this vein, Suleiman reportedly intends to stand his ground on several issues, like holding the 2013 general election within the constitutional deadlines.

Behind closed doors, Suleiman shares Riyadh’s view that Mikati is the best choice for prime minister, as he has shown an ability to manage the political game despite its complexities.

Another item on the Saudi agenda, which also happens to be Mikati’s signature stroke, is the dissociation policy over the conflict in Syria. The policy remains desirable internationally, despite recent reservations.

More than ever, Riyadh is enthusiastic about Lebanon’s dissociation approach. For one thing, Saudi is rumored to be planning a gradual withdrawal from the quagmire in Syria. The same sources reckon that Damascus is aware of this recent shift in Saudi attitudes, but that it remains cautious.

It is worth noting that Riyadh, throughout the previous phase, had postponed tackling the situation in Lebanon, waiting instead for the dust to settle in Damascus. But the sources believe that Saudi has finally decided to stop putting its Lebanon policy on hold.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment