Hariri: Jumblatt Wandered ‘Slightly from the Straight’ with Syria
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri said his ally, Druze leader Walid Joumblatt "wandered slightly from the straight" by calling for less Syrian involvement in Lebanon, a London-based daily said Thursday.
"Jumblatt wandered slightly from the straight regarding this issue" in his address to parliament on Friday during a five-day debate that led to a vote of confidence for the Hariri government, he told Asharq al-Awsat.
Hariri reiterated that the Syrian military "presence is one of the basic elements that guarantee Lebanon's internal stability."
"The Syrian presence in Lebanon was and still is a Lebanese internal need before being a regional need in light of the continued Israeli aggression against Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian and Arab rights," he said.
Jumblatt had criticized in parliament Hariri's government policy statement, which considered the Syrian military presence as "necessary, legal and temporary."
The Druze MP called for a redeployment of the 35,000 Syrian soldiers in Lebanon and an end to Damascus' interference in Lebanese internal political affairs.
Hariri noted that the Druze leader and his 16-member parliamentary block had given their vote of confidence to the new government, which include three ministers close to Joumblatt.
Jumblatt's speech triggered a wave of harsh criticism from pro-Syrian Lebanese MPs and angered Damascus to the point where he and his political allies were declared persona non-grata in Syria.
Hariri said Jumblatt's conflict with Damascus was "doomed to whither away in the end because of their old strategic alliance."
"This strategic alliance sometimes allows Jumblatt a margin for political maneuvers without leading to a breakdown" of their relations, said Hariri.
Jumblatt, formerly considered pro-Syrian, had joined mostly-Christian MPs in asking for the redeployment of Syrian troops who have been in Lebanon since 1976, a year after the outbreak of the 1975-1990 civil war – BEIRUT (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)