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'Don't Play with Fire', Nasrallah Tells Those 'Betting on STL'

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday warned parties allegedly “betting on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon” against “playing with fire,” as he called for postponing the thorny debate on Lebanon's ties with Syria until after the formation of the new government.

“Some March 14 circles are saying that the main reason behind delaying the formation of the government is that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will issue its ruling in September and that there will be a new situation in the country to capitalize on,” Nasrallah said in a televised address marking the ouster of jihadist groups from the outskirts of several eastern border towns.

“The STL does not mean anything to us at all and its rulings are of no value regardless whether they are condemnation or acquittal rulings,” he added.

“To those betting on the tribunal: do not play with fire. Period,” Nasrallah warned.

The STL Trial Chamber has scheduled oral closing arguments in the Rafik Hariri assassination case for the period between Sep. 11 and Sep. 21. Four Hizbullah operatives are being tried in absentia over their alleged role in the killing.

The STL Prosecution has recently submitted a “Final Trial Brief” that explains the links between Hizbullah and the supposed assassination squads and draws attention to meetings and phone calls between senior Hizbullah and Syrian officials prior to the February 2005 attack.

Separately, Nasrallah warned against creating “new obstacles” in the government formation process.

“We are still betting on internal dialogue regarding government formation but time is running out and quick efforts must be exerted to address the situation,” Nasrallah cautioned.

“Let us postpone the debate over the relation with Syria and the ministerial policy statement until after the formation of the government,” he urged.

Nasrallah also noted that “claims that Hizbullah is now in control of Lebanon's decisions are aimed at pinning the blame on the party for all the current situations,” while pointing out that “the relation between Hizbullah and President (Michel) Aoun is a relation of trust.”

“No one of us imposes his policies and orientation on the other,” Nasrallah added.


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