Hariri refuses to visit Syria and meet with Assad. ‘Not now and not in the future’


HaririLebanese Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri reportedly told his political party this week that he refuses to visit Syria and meet with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the pro Syrian regime website Al-Masdar News reported on Saturday 

Citing Hariri’s speech to the Future Movement on Tuesday, the Middle East Monitor reported that the Lebanese premier refuses to travel to Syria and meet with Assad.

Al Masdar which is usually referred to as the ” unofficial  Syrian government news  outlet” added that Hariri’s   action “may cost him his job”.

“It is impossible that I visit Syria, not now and not in the future… and if Lebanon’s interest requires so, then you could find someone else,” Al-Masdar  quoted Hariri as saying

Last December Hariri charged that the Syrian regime which he blames for his father’s assassination also wants him killed, in an interview published  in French magazine Paris Match.

Hariri assessed  in the interview that the regime’s military successes against rebels in the Syrian conflict were victories for presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani rather than Bashar Assad.

Sunnis rally behind Hariri

Hariri, his allies, as well as his foes from the Sunni sect have warned against attempts by some parties to circumvent the authorities of the premiership amid a deadlock in government formation.

The stalemate is a result of bickering among several parties on their ministerial shares, a dispute that has culminated into hints that Hariri should be set aside and President Michel Aoun should name another premier-designate.

Free Patriotic Movement leader caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is  president Michel Aoun’s son-in-law, has also hinted on the formation of a majority cabinet, which some parties viewed as an infringement on Hariri’s authorities.

Speaker Nabih Berri’s hints that he could call for parliamentary meetings despite the absence of a government, has also pushed Hariri’s foes such as former Prime Minister Najib Miqati to warn against such move.

Sources close to Miqati told Asharq Al-Awsat that some parties are attempting to infringe on the powers of the prime minister.

“Miqati holds onto the Constitution …. No party has an interest in amending it,” they said, warning that “doing so would have negative repercussions.”

Lebanese Forces officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, told the newspaper that attempts to infringe on Hariri’s authorities would lead to sectarian tension and put further hurdles to the government formation efforts.

Several parties have accused Bassil of seeking to give his FPM veto power in the government.

Grand Mufti Abdul Latif Darian reiterated on Friday that the premier-designate is the only person entitled to form the government in consultation with the president.

He called for a cabinet of “trust,” stressing that Hariri was not solely responsible for the stalemate.

The post of prime minister is reserved for a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon’s sectarian power sharing system.