Local, international communities welcome Hariri’s interview
BEIRUT: Lebanese and international politicians welcomed Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s first public appearance since he announced his resignation more than a week ago, despite the premier’s continued stay in Saudi Arabia.
After Hariri left the door open to withdrawing his resignation, the Future Movement praised his televised appearance and the positions he took during it.
The bloc issued a statement following a meeting voicing its “great comfort” with Hariri’s announcement that he would return to Beirut “within days.”
The movement, which is headed by Hariri, also lauded his appearance as that “of a true statesman, similar to those great statesmen Lebanon has known.”
Read by MP Ammar Houri, the bloc’s statement reported that “he drew a clear plan ... as to what is needed for Lebanon to exit the game of regional and international axes, especially Lebanon’s commitment to the policy of dissociation.” The bloc added that it rejected Iranian interference in Lebanon and in Arab countries’ domestic policies.
Confirming its loyalty to Hariri, the bloc said it was “fully supportive of the positions Hariri took, including calls for national dialogue.”
Earlier Monday, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea also expressed a hopeful attitude after Hariri’s interview, saying: “It is still possible to salvage the political settlement if the government commits itself truly and effectively to the policy of dissociation, especially in regards to Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria and the crises of the region.”
Geagea has been one of the few politicians to have openly supported Hariri’s resignation as opposed to those who have called for the prime minister’s return and hoped that he would rethink his decision.
Kataeb Party leader MP Sami Gemayel said Monday that he hoped Hariri would swiftly return to Beirut “in order to translate his beliefs on Lebanese soil, be it constitutional steps or political ones.”
Gemayel added: “We hope he will make the decisions from Lebanon and not from any other place.”
The leader of the self-declared opposition to Hariri’s Cabinet said the one thing that drew his attention during Hariri’s interview Sunday was the prime minister’s withholding of information.
“For us, the beginning is to know what this secret information is because it concerns the future of all Lebanese people and we hope to find out all the circumstances,” Hariri said, without elaborating.
Gemayel added that he supported Hariri’s calls for a new political agreement “because the old agreement turned over the nation to others” – making an apparent reference to Hezbollah.
Gemayel said that one way to begin building the nation was to focus on dissociating Lebanon from crises in the Arab world.
Denying that there were demands for Hezbollah to turn over its weapons “tomorrow,” Gemayel said a road map needed to be laid out in order for the group to turn over its weapons to the state and “for the state to regain its sovereignty.”
The Kataeb Party leader said Lebanese people were “tired of living on a timer and being afraid of tomorrow and the future of their children.”
Meanwhile, members of the international community continued to voice their support for Lebanon and their objections to the country being turned into a ground for proxy wars.
Speaking to reporters at the European Union Foreign Affairs Council, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said his country would work to counter some Iranian actions that are disrupting the region.
“There will obviously be discussions on the Middle East more widely, the stability of the region and everybody wants to see, for instance, a sovereign and independent Lebanon.”
Qatar’s foreign minister meanwhile commented that the recent crisis in Lebanon was a “sensitive” situation, “especially due to its many different sides.”
Sheikh Mohammad bin AbdelRahman al-Thani said: “It is imperative that there be no interference in [Lebanon’s] domestic affairs.”
Separately, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said Monday that efforts made by President Michel Aoun and the international community had stabilized the crisis precipitated by Hariri’s resignation, but did not resolve the problem.
Speaking to CNBC, Salameh said that the efforts of local and international officials, and “the vision of the outgoing prime minister,” had fallen short of ending the political upheaval occasioned by Hariri’s shock resignation announcement, broadcast from Riyadh on Nov. 4.
Salameh’s statements came following warnings issued by prominent credit rating agencies over the last week that the turmoil stemming from the prime minister’s resignation could have a negative impact on Lebanon’s economy.
Fitch Ratings said Friday that the resignation might strain the Lebanese banking system.
“A prolonged political crisis would again test the resilience of deposit growth and diaspora inflows into the Lebanese banking system, which are key to government funding,” the Fitch report said.
Moody’s Investors Service also noted Tuesday that Hariri’s sudden resignation could have a major impact on the political and economic scene in Lebanon.
Hariri’s interview has dominated newsstands.