Hariri to Return to Lebanon 'Whatever the Challenges': Problem is Not Fatal Mistake in Arsal but Fatal Arms across Lebanon

Former Premier Saad Hariri said in a speech marking the 8th anniversary of ex-PM Rafik Hariri's murder that he will return to Lebanon to take part in the elections “whatever the law, the challenges and the risks," noting that "the problem is not a fatal mistake in Arsal," but rather the "fatal arms widespread across Lebanon."

“This is the eighth year, and you are resilient, committed to faith in the state and in legitimacy, loyal to Rafik Hariri’s cause,” Hariri said, addressing March 14's supporters in a nationally televised address.

“It's the eighth year, and the legacy of Rafik Hariri is March 14. A date, larger than all parties, the history of a nation that will not die. Do not abandon it. Do not back down on its principles. Do not fail the martyrs, and do not hand Lebanon to the traders of sectarianism, corruption and 'defiance',” Hariri added.

“They tried by all means. By politics, terrorism, murder, money, weapons. They tried to eliminate March 14, but they failed. They set up traps, planted explosives, assassinated leaders, blew up neighborhoods and houses, organized coups, and created strife, but they did not succeed and will not succeed,” the ex-PM vowed.

He noted that “the blood of Rafik Hariri and the blood of March 14’s martyrs is stronger than them all.”

“It is stronger than the 'parties of weapons,' and stronger than the schemes of (Syrian President Bashar) Assad and (Syrian security chief Ali) Mamlouk to sabotage Lebanon,” Hariri added.

Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau head “Wissam El Hassan uncovered them, so they killed him. Prior to that, (Intelligence Bureau officer) Wissam Eid uncovered them, and they also killed him,” Hariri said.

The ex-PM noted that “March 14's martyrs, from Rafik Hariri to Bassel Fleihan, to Wissam al-Hasan, did not fall for parliamentary seats, or for electoral laws, or for the premiership, or any seat in power,” describing them as “the martyrs of sovereignty, freedom and coexistence, not the martyrs of conflict over political gains.”

Hariri stressed commitment to “the approach of moderation and to doing the impossible to preserve Lebanon's unity and coexistence among all its components.”

He noted that it is “shameful to replace the state with the sect, in politics, security, defense, administration, judiciary, economy and even lifestyle.”

“When Rafik Hariri was martyred, the flags of sects fell and the Lebanese managed to expel Assad's forces through their Lebanese flags. But unfortunately some people prefer to lower the Lebanese flags and hoist the flags of sects again, but Lebanon will always come first,” Hariri emphasized.

Commenting on the issue of sectarian tensions over the electoral law, Hariri said: “It is no coincidence, brothers, sisters and friends that concerns and fears were raised on the eve of elections and became a material in the race for votes.”

“I assure you today that I'll be by your side in the next electoral battle, whatever the law, the challenges and the risks, on the basis of a national political project that refuses to compromise on the state,” he added.

The former premier said “the problem of weapons in Lebanon, the illegal weapons in all their regional, internal, sectarian, family, jihadist and takfiri functions is the mother of all problems in Lebanon.”

He added that “the biggest predicament is that Hizbullah cannot see Lebanon without the military and security structure built by Iran over the last thirty years. The predicament of the State that coexists with a military mini-state over a jungle of illegal weapons. The weapons of all groups and parties of all sects, from Hizbullah’s weapons to Fatah al-Islam’s weapons and the weapons of their likes.”

Turning to the issue of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing the assassination of his father, Hariri said the tribunal is “progressing and the criminals will receive the punishment eventually.”

“But is it possible that Hizbullah continues to bury its head in the sand and refuses to see the state of anxiety, alienation and division that exists in the Islamic arena as a result of its refusal to hand over the suspects. Is it possible that Hizbullah refuses until now to hand over the accused in the assassination attempt against (MP) Butros Harb?” Hariri added.

Four Hizbullah members have been named suspects by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Beirut truck bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others on Feb. 14 , 2005.

The party denies the charges and has refused to hand over the suspects.

Noting that “Bashar Assad’s regime will inevitably fall,” Hariri called on Hizbullah to make “concessions.”

“I don’t call for any concessions to be made for March 14 or al-Mustaqbal Movement or Saad Hariri or this or that sect. I am calling for concessions to be made for the Lebanese State, for the constitutional legitimacy, for the law, for justice, for the military and security apparatuses, for coexistence and for Lebanon’s message,” he added.

Referring to Hizbullah's controversial arsenal of weapons, Hariri said that “today, every Lebanese is able to see that the problem is not a fatal mistake in (the Bekaa town of) Arsal, the problem lies in fatal weapons widespread across Lebanon, because there is a mini-state more powerful than the state.”

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