World Bulletin / News Desk
Leading Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri vowed on Friday to tackle sectarian extremism in his sect but said Hezbollah must end its involvement in Syria if Lebanon is to avoid being drawn into a "sectarian holocaust".
Citing the example set by his father Rafik al-Hariri on the ninth anniversary of his assassination, Hariri said moderation must win out as Lebanon faces violence fuelled by the Syria war and a political impasse that has left it without a government.
"We will confront incitement and dubious calls to drag Lebanese, particularly the Sunnis, into crazy wars with no use other than to pull Lebanon into a sectarian holocaust," he said.
Hariri was speaking to his supporters from an undiscolsed location abroad via video link. He has in the past cited security reasons for staying outside Lebanon.
Hariri's comments were a firm reassertion of his leadership over a Sunni population where the influence of groups has started to grow because if the Syria conflict.
"As the Future Movement rejects the example of Hezbollah, we reject the example of ISIL and Nusra, and any call to embroil the Sunnis in Lebanon in the war between Hezbollah and al Qaeda," Hariri said.
"Confronting terrorism requires a quick decision from Hezbollah to get out of Syria," he added, describing participation in the Syria war as the greatest threat to Lebanon's stability and coexistence between its Muslim sects.
"WE ARE THE MODERATES"
Hariri heaped criticism on Hezbollah, saying it had embroiled Lebanon in "foreign wars" and split the nation. But addressing the hawks among his supporters, he said his father would not have wanted tit-for-tat killings.
"We are the moderates," he said.
Backed by Saudi Arabia, Hariri is still considered the country's most influential Sunni politician. His remarks follow Saudi Arabia's Feb. 3 decree threatening to jail any citizen who fights abroad.
Hariri left Lebanon shortly after the government he led was toppled in 2011 when Hezbollah and its allies withdrew their ministers.
"It is one of the most important speeches he has given since the eruption of the Syrian war," said Nabil Boumonsef, a columnist at the newspaper an-Nahar, describing his call for moderation as "very important" for the domestic audience.
The war in Syria has contributed to the political impasse that has left Lebanon without a government for 10 months.
The latest attempt by Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to form a government was delayed on Friday due to differences between Hezbollah and Hariri over his nomination for interior minister, a senior political source said.Last Mod: 15 Şubat 2014, 12:44