(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb BEIRUT
): Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Wednesday that he “openly and proudly” supports the uprising of the Syrian people, one day after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah repeated his support for the Syrian regime.
“If Hezbollah openly supports the Syrian regime, we openly and proudly support the Syrian revolution and the Syrian people,” Hariri told his Twitter followers.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from Hariri’s Future bloc said that Nasrallah’s speech and rare public appearance were aimed at boosting the dwindling morale of his supporters since his regional allies “are falling” and after the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which the party had strongly opposed.
“He felt that there was a need to boost the morale of his supporters after a Cabinet, which his party dominates, had financed the tribunal,” Minieh MP Ahmad Fatfat told Future News.
“What’s more important in Nasrallah’s speech was the [part] on Arab affairs,” Fatfat said. “He will clearly fight by the side of President Bashar Assad and his regime and he accuses the [Syrian] opposition of treason, which is clear interference in Syrian affairs.”
Following a rare and short public appearance Tuesday, Nasrallah said that his group was continuing to arm itself and would stand by Assad who is facing a popular uprising nearing its ninth month.
“Our forces have increased and so have our arms day after day,” Nasrallah said in a video link on the occasion of Ashura, one of the holiest occasions in Shiite Islam which marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.
“This resistance and its weapons will continue to exist and your conspiracies as well as your psychological, political and intelligence wars will not destroy us,” Nasrallah told crowds at a packed stadium in the southern suburbs of Beirut.
Thousands of men dressed in black applauded as Nasrallah yelled: “The resistance in Lebanon, with its weapons and mujahideen, God willing, will continue to exist. We will hold onto our arms … our weapons do not rust. They are being upgraded.”
Fatfat said that Nasrallah had torpedoed dialogue when he refused to discuss the party’s arms.
Beirut MP Serge Torsarkissian, Fatfat’s colleague in the Future bloc, commented on Nasrallah’s statement that Hezbollah’s arms would not rust.
“We say that arms will rust because when they are not used domestically, what will they be used for? To launch a war against Israel, this is unrealistic,” he told al-Jadeed TV station.
During the appearance, Nasrallah, speaking from an open-air podium, told the cheering crowd: “I wanted to be with you for a few minutes … to renew our pledge with [Imam] Hussein who stood at this day alone in the face of 30,000 individuals.”
Nasrallah said his public appearance was a message to those who believe they can intimidate Hezbollah.
“We tell all those who bet on scaring us or threatening us that we are the companions of Imam Hussein, who says he will never be humiliated,” he said before he was whisked out of Al-Raya Stadium in the southern suburb neighborhood of Sfeir.
A good section of Nasrallah’s speech was devoted to Syria, saying that while he supported reforms, he would “stand by a regime that has stood by the resistance for a long time.”
“There are some who don’t want civil peace or stability and want to destroy Syria. There are some who want to make up for their defeat in Iraq and their inevitable loss in any change in the situation in Syria for the benefit of Israel,” Nasrallah told the packed stadium in reference to the U.S.
“What some seek for in Syria is not reforms … but an Arab regime which is ready to rubber stamp anything for the U.S. and Israel,” he said.
He also slammed the Syrian National Council, the main anti-Assad opposition group, for seeking to “destroy” Syria while moving closer to the U.S. and Israel.
“The so-called Syrian National Council, formed in Istanbul, has a leader, a university professor by the name of Burhan Ghalioun who said a few days ago that he wants to cut ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas if they [Syrian opposition] were able to change the regime and take over power in Syria … they are trying to present their credentials to the Americans and the Israelis,” Nasrallah said.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an interview with Ghalioun in which he said “Our relations with Iran will be revisited as [will those of] any of the countries in the region, based on the exchange of economic and diplomatic interests, in the context of improving stability in the region and not that of a special relationship. There will be no special relationship with Iran.”
He said breaking the exceptional relationship with Iran after the fall of the Syrian regime would change its relationship with Hezbollah.
Speaking to a local radio station, West Bekaa MP Amin Wehbe, from the Future bloc, said that Nasrallah was mobilizing his supporters “which is understandable in these circumstances when he feels that his allies are falling under the pressure of people who are demanding freedom, and particularly in Syria.”
Wehbe said he was pained that Nasrallah congratulated the Libyans and other Arab people for their revolutions and victories “but when speaking about Syria, he behaved as if the Syrian people do not have the right to enjoy freedom.” He said that Nasrallah had overlooked the fact that NATO had supported the Libyans to oust late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
On local matters, Nasrallah touched on the issue of “false witnesses” in the case of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Nasrallah said the issue had caused tensions in ties between Lebanon and Syria and called on the government to address the divisive topic.
“There is a need to resolve the issue of ‘false witnesses’ and that of the four officers who were jailed,” Nasrallah said, referring to the four generals who were held without charge for nearly four years before the STL probing Hariri’s assassination ordered their release.
The Hezbollah leader also reiterated his support to the Free Patriotic Movement’s demands to the Cabinet.