Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Debkafile: Riyadh Pressing PM Saad Hariri to Step Down - Assad Says Hariri Right Person for Stage: Syria Doors Open to Him

Debkafile: Riyadh Pressing PM Saad Hariri to Step Down

26/10/2010 In a sudden U-turn, Saudi Arabia has called on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to step down to pave the way for a pro-Syrian government, Israeli military intelligence website Debkafile reported.

The Saudis demanded Monday for Hariri to immediately step down and make way for an administration dominated by pro-Syrian ministers and Hezbollah, Debkafile quoted its Middle East and Beirut sources as saying.

The resignation call comes days after Hariri told US Deputy Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman that he was under Saudi pressure to leave office and that he was about to give into the Saudi king's demand, the Israeli site noted.

Debkafile's sources, however, predicted that a pro-Syrian PM in Lebanon would annul the Special Tribunal for Lebanpn and blame the killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on Israel - which would ignite a war between Lebanon and Israel.

Meanwhile, sources close to Hariri denied to pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat that he has any plans to resign or withdraw from office, stressing that such step would result in a "critical power vacuum."

The sources, who spoke to the Arab daily on the condition of anonymity, stressed that Hariri "does not regret any positive step he has taken towards Syria because he has done so in the belief in joint Syrian – Lebanese relations." The source added that Hariri "believes that what he has begun is correct and he will continue with this and not back away from it, and if this does stop – as is the case now – he will learn lessons from this.

Assad Says Hariri Right Person for Stage: Syria Doors Open to Him

26/10/2010 Syrian President Bachar Assad described Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri as the right person for the period Lebanon is currently going through, stressing that Hariri is capable of overcoming the problems under the present circumstances.

Speaking to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Assad denied there was any dispute between him and Hariri. "The gateways of Damascus are open to him," he said.

Assad also denied that Lebanese politicians who recently visited Damascus raised the issue of a government change. He stressed on a state-to-state relationship with Lebanon, urging the various Lebanese parties to resort to dialogue.

Asked about the latest visit made by the head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblatt to Syria, Assad expressed his satisfaction with the latter’s stances, noting that the Progressive Socialist Party leader has returned to "the Walid we used to know in the past."

The Syrian President, meanwhile, expressed belief that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is a Lebanese affair, adding that Damascus has no idea when the indictment in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri would be issued. "In Lebanon, talk about the indictment looks as though the decision will be issued in an ordinary crime, when the decision is related to a national crime and in a country divided along sectarian lines would wreak havoc and destruction for everybody and could destroy the country," Assad warned.

Assad said that inter-Arab relations require bilateral relations, coordination in various fields, and reflecting these relations on existing issues to improve the Arab situation. He pointed out that there is currently a new Middle East that has more awareness on the public level that adheres to resistance as a right to defend countries and rights, in addition to being aware of the necessity of good relations among other nationalities in our region.

The Syrian President expressed hope for forming an Iraqi national unity government as soon as possible, one that contains all forces and is capable of protecting Iraq's unity and stability, establishing good relations with neighboring countries, and limiting reliance on the US presence in order to reach its complete withdrawal from Iraq.

He warned against the vacuum in Iraq, noting that every day that a vacuum exists will cost more as time goes by, affirming that Syria stands at equal distance from all Iraqi sides and is against all separatist forces.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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