Lebanon’s Hariri vows he won’t give in to ‘threats’

BEIRUT — Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has vowed not to give in to ‘threats’ in a television interview, after his Hezbollah rivals ramped up rhetoric against a UN-backed probe into his father’s murder.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sun 14 Nov 2010, 6:51 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:12 AM

‘Nobody can threaten me to force my hand. I don’t act according to this logic. I don’t give in to threats,’ Hariri told the Arabic-language service of Russia Today ahead of a two-day visit to Moscow from Monday.

‘I’m ready for calm and constructive dialogue, but if someone comes to me and puts a knife to my throat and tells me how to work, this is unacceptable, Lebanon is not like that,’ he said, according to a transcript of the interview provided by his office.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned on Thursday that his powerful Shia group would ‘cut off the hand’ of anyone who tried to arrest any of its partisans over the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri.

His comments were the latest in an increasingly heated campaign Hezbollah has launched to fend off an anticipated accusation by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon against its high-ranking members in connection with the killing of Hariri and 22 others in a Beirut bombing on February 14, 2005.

Saad Hariri accused Syria of his father’s murder in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, at a time when Syria dominated Lebanon politically and militarily. He later dropped the accusation.

In his interview, Hariri described Lebanon’s relationship with Syria as ‘excellent,’ while cautioning that arrest warrants that Syria’s judiciary has issued against people close to him were ‘illegal.’

Leaders of regional powerhouses Syria and Saudi Arabia, which back Hezbollah and Hariri respectively, have met several times in an attempt to stem tensions in Beirut.

Western countries have stepped up their backing for the tribunal, with the United States announcing a 10-million-dollar donation to the court and both Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Senator John Kerry visiting Beirut.

Analysts have warned the standoff could lead to the collapse of the government and a repeat of the 18-month political deadlock that degenerated into deadly clashes and brought Lebanon close to civil war in May 2008.

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