Hariri marks Feb. 14 anniversary in mass rally in Beirut


Thousands of people gathered in the Lebanese capital Wednesday to commemorate the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and urge his son Saad to make a political comeback.

Waving the pale-blue flags of Saad Hariri's political party the al-Mustaqbal Movement, the crowd clapped and cheered as he paid his respects at his father's tomb in central Beirut.

“I want to thank all the people who came from everywhere in Lebanon and I want to tell them that wherever I may be I will stay by their side and with them,” Hariri said.

“Everything is better when it takes place at the right time and Saad Hariri shall not abandon the people,” he added.

“Tell everyone that you have returned to the arena and that the country cannot function without you. The country’s pulse is here, so preserve this pulse, preserve the country, and we will stand by you,” Hariri went on to say.

Hariri had arrived a few days ago from the UAE and held a series of political meetings in Beirut.

"We want Saad Hariri to return to Lebanon, so that security and stability return," said Dina Hleihel, 55, a supporter who was present at the rally.

Hariri was thrust into the political limelight following the February 14, 2005 assassination of his father.

Ever the reluctant politician, he resigned as prime minister after unprecedented nationwide protests broke out in 2019 demanding the wholesale overhaul of Lebanon's political class.

In 2022, he announced he was leaving politics and boycotted a parliamentary election that year.

Mahmoud Hammoud, 32, also at the rally, told AFP that "today, all of Lebanon wants Saad Hariri to return to politics, because he can save Lebanon and garner international support."

Despite now living in the United Arab Emirates, Hariri, who returned to Beirut on Sunday ahead of the anniversary, is still considered the country's main Sunni Muslim leader.

Once enjoying strong support from Saudi Arabia, Hariri's relationship with the regional heavyweight deteriorated over the years as the kingdom accused him of being too accommodating to pro-Iran Hezbollah.

The Sunni community, long a major political force which under Lebanon's delicate sectarian power-sharing system conventionally holds the post of prime minister, has been sidelined and beset by divisions since Hariri's self-imposed exile.

Political life in Lebanon as a whole has been paralyzed for months, with deep divisions between the powerful pro-Iran camp and its adversaries.

The country has been without a president for more than a year, while a caretaker government is at the helm as Lebanon navigates a crushing four-year economic crisis.

Rafik Hariri, a towering figure, was killed in a suicide bombing targeting his armored convoy.

The attack killed 22 people and injured 226.

In 2022, a United Nations-backed court sentenced two Hezbollah members in absentia to life imprisonment over the huge 2005 truck bombing.

Comments 3
Thumb galaxy 14 February 2024, 15:20

what a loser!

Thumb gebran_sons 14 February 2024, 18:06

SERIOUS TALK 11b: REFLECTION! Where would Lebanon be today if Rafiq Hariri was not assassinated by Hizbollah? Hariri who made Beirut the envy of the Arabs and magnet for investment & western firms attracted by freedom, liberalism and superior education, healthcare, and banking… all today destroyed by Hizbollah and puppets. How many Shia would support Hizbollah if Gulf nations refused to rebuild Dahie & South after 2006 War? That was Iranian war to occupy Lebanon for a rocket base for its nuclear nirvana & Arab hegemony! Saudi & Gulf nations must make clear those who armed & radicalized Hizb & Lebanese Shia and caused tens of billion in economic damage to Lebanon and the region must pay for rebuilding it. Hizb & Hamas have stabbed Saudi and Gulf in the back. Any compromise will insure permanent Lebanon occupation by Iran Foreign Legion and worsening misery! Wake Up!

Thumb gebran_sons 14 February 2024, 21:04

As we commemorate the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, we should also remember the recent remembrance of Tueni, Shateh and dozen other victims of criminal Hizbollah and its assassins. For years I’ve written Nassrallah & Netanyahu are two sides of same coin, match made in hell, addicted to arms and destruction, needing each other to stay in power. Hizb/Netanyahu are plotting to save themselves and torpido regional peace by redeploying Hizb arms & rockets behind Litani giving Netanyahu reason to stay in power instead of facing international tribunal for war crimes. It is critical for US, France, Gulf and all know that we want Hizb complete disarmament as no regional peace is possible without it and without Nassrallah & Netanyahu brought to justice for their crimes.