Former Prime Minister and Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri told CNN during an interview on Thursday, that without a president for the [Lebanese] republic, and without a functioning government, Lebanon cannot function amid challenges,
“All I want is to fill the vacuum,” Hariri said, highlighting efforts to protect Lebanon from neighboring unrest. “We don’t want Lebanon to turn into a second Syria. We want to rescue Lebanon.”
Accordingly, he voiced fears that Lebanon would turn into a war arena. “ISIS would love to come to Lebanon; we are fighting it and we will keep fighting it and al-Nusra Front.”
“In the end, if there isn’t a president for Lebanon and a new government, Lebanon cannot survive while facing all those challenges,” he stressed.
Hariri explained that the presidential post was still void because of Hezbollah, whom he depicted as ” as proxy of Iran.”
“Why are [the Iranians] making Hezbollah ban MPs from electing a president?” he wondered.
“Hezbollah is playing the role of Iran’s agent and this is deplorable; because Lebanon cannot bear animosity towards any Arab country, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“The Kingdom has offered a lot to Lebanon throughout the history of ties between the two countries, and spent billions of dollars in Lebanon, especially following July 2006 War; it has always played a positive role. And, it did not create militias in Lebanon, while Iran did,” he added, in reference to Hezbollah.
Besides, Hariri said he believed there was a political decision as per which Hezbollah should drag Lebanon onto the regional arena. “I think this is the main problem.”
Here is the text of the interview:
Question: What’s your take on the Tehran embassy attack?
Hariri: I think the Foreign Minister of Lebanon, who is close to Hezbollah, took a decision that is not supposed to be taken. I think Lebanon should have stood by Saudi Arabia because it is something that is not acceptable by all means. Even Iraq, which is very close to Iran, took that position and approved the decision in the Arab League, but unfortunately we did not take the right decision.
I believe that when it comes to Arab unity we should have a clear decision in the government about that. Khamenei himself came out and condemned these actions and I do not see why Hezbollah in Lebanon and the foreign minister here took such a position.
Question: What do you think it reveals?
Hariri: It reveals that Hezbollah is being played as a proxy of Iran and this is unfortunate because Lebanon cannot sustain a policy against any Arab nation let alone Saudi Arabia. We believe Saudi Arabia has done so much for Lebanon throughout the history of the relationship between the two countries. If you think of how many billions of dollars Saudi Arabia spent in Lebanon especially after the war in 2006. Saudi Arabia has been playing positive. It has never built a militia whereas Iran has built a militia called “Hezbollah”.
Question: This puts you in a particularly difficult situation because you lobbied incredibly hard with Riyadh for a number of years in order to raise the billions in military aid for the Lebanese army. Do you concede that the criticism from Saudi Arabia that this money, whether directly or indirectly, will end up with Hezbollah …
Hariri: No, I think the Lebanese Army has shown throughout history, even in the civil war, that every single weapon it owned never went outside the army. I think it is the political decision, where Lebanon is being taken by Hezbollah on the regional side, and I think this is the main problem that we have.
Question: The politicians in Lebanon are failing the people, whomever the people support and you agree with me. Why did you, some months ago, agree to support a pro -Hezbollah president?
Hariri: Because I thought you know, let’s go and mix the cards on the table, let’s turn the table around. Let’s say to the people who are opposed to a member of March 14 to be president, it’s fine we go to March 8, we chose a president close to that political agenda and we will go to parliament and we will elect a president. All I wanted to do is to fill the void. For me, it is better to have a president with who I have some problem than a total void in the presidency.
Question: Is it Iran that holds the keys for the presidency?
Hariri: Today we do not have a president because part of the parliament, which is Hezbollah, is not going down to the parliament. We have a problem with the quorum. Iran had elections a few days ago, so why can’t we have elections, like normal people? Why can’t we go to the parliament? Why are they stopping Hezbollah from letting members of Parliament elect a president?
Question: What happens next, if this political vacuum continues?
Hariri: We are trying to keep Lebanon safe among all the problems that are happening in the region. We do not want to turn Lebanon into Syria. We want to save Lebanon.
Question: Do you see this possibility?
Hariri: I am afraid it could happen. I mean ISIS would love to come to Lebanon, We are fighting it. We will keep on fighting it, we will keep fighting Jabhat al-Nosra, but in the end if you do not have a president, a new government and all that, Lebanon cannot function as it is to faces all these challenges.