|Jumblatt welcomes return to 'war and chaos' in Lebanon
|Gunfire reported near berri's home in ain al-tineh
Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblatt launched a scathing verbal barrage at the opposition Sunday, targeting both Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and his political ally, Change and Reform Bloc leader MP Michel Aoun.
Jumblatt welcomed "war and chaos" if the opposition desires it, dubbing the rival camp "tools" in the hands of the "most despicable people" in reference to the Syrian regime. He warned the opposition that the parliamentary majority "will not remain arms crossed" if the presidential vacuum and political assassinations continued.
He added, however, that "if they [the opposition] want peace, the March 14 Forces are ready for that as well."
Parliamentary majority leader MP Saad HaririSaad-Hariri-Profile Sep-07 struck a similar note in an interview on Future TV late Saturday, stating that while March 14 does not desire confrontation, "we will not stay hands tied."
Jumblatt accused both Hizbullah and Aoun of preparing the ground for Syria's return to Lebanon by using "false nationalist and pan-Arab slogans."
"Whatever your potency and whatever mercenaries you protect, train and fund, we will not be afraid, we will not kneel and never think for once we will allow the return of [Syrian] tutelage," Jumblatt said.
"If you think we will stand arms crossed, you are imagining things," Jumblatt said. "If you want chaos, we welcome chaos. If you want war, we welcome war. We have no problem with weapons and no problem with rockets, we can take the rockets from you," Jumblatt said. "We may have to burn everything, but our existence, our honor, our survival and Lebanon are more important," he added.
Referring to opposition leaders, Jumblatt said that all the "dwarfs" who are assailing Bkirki and Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir with their "spiteful arrows," will emerge empty-handed. "They are students of the great resentful killer in Damascus, so little wonder at what they do, but Bkirki will remain above all those mercenaries," he added.
Hours after Jumblatt spoke, heavy shooting was reported near Speaker Nabih Berri's residence in the Beirut neighborhood of Ain al-Tineh. Witnesses said two assailants on a motorcycle fired into the air. Shortly thereafter, shots were also reported near an office of the opposition Democratic Party in Aley. No further details were available when The Daily Star went to press.
Regarding the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon to try suspects in the slaying of former Premier Rafik Hariri, Jumblatt said Saudi Arabia had pledged to provide the money still needed to create the court. He added that the tribunal was coming and justice would be done.
"As for the mothers, sisters, fathers and relatives of the gang of four officers," Jumblatt said, referring to the four former security chiefs who have been detained without charge over their possible involvement in the Hariri killing, "they will cry tears of blood when the hangman's rope is put up for this gang."
During a visit to Tripoli, Hariri called on the Lebanese to go to Martyrs Square in Beirut on Thursday to honor the memory of all the fallen martyrs of Lebanon and to affirm that the Lebanese will adhere to the path taken by his father.
"Our road ahead is clear and the challenges before us are many. We will face them and we will continue on despite the obstacles that they introduce day after day and we will continue to build the state, its institutions and restore confidence in our economy," Hariri said.
He also announced a donation of $52 million from his family in the name of his father for development, education and healthcare projects in the North.
In an interview on Future Television Saturday to mark the third anniversary of his father's assassination, Hariri said that if there is national will, the political crisis can be resolved without foreign interference.
"We don't want a confrontation. But if we are dragged into one, we will not stay hands tied," Hariri warned, adding that Israel and Syria alone benefit from such a confrontation. "Is this what the opposition wants?" Hariri asked.
Gunfire rang out in Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon as soon as Hariri's interview began. Supporters brandishing posters of Hariri cheered and danced in the streets of Tripoli. Hariri called on both Christians and Muslims to go to Martyrs Square on Thursday "to defend Lebanon so it is not assassinated again."
"The March 14 forces can attract Arab and foreign investment as well as get international help for Lebanon. What can [the opposition] do for their country?" Hariri asked. The majority leader described Sfeir as "Lebanon's conscience," adding that attacking spiritual leaders was "disgraceful."
Hariri said the United Nations "was doing an honest and transparent job" in setting up the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon to try suspects in the slaying of his father. Hariri added that "a ruling will be issued. I expect to get justice from the international tribunal." He also said that he was certain of Syria's involvement in his father's killing.
"We will continue rebuilding Lebanon and we will achieve our goal of a free, independent Lebanon despite the obstacles," Hariri vowed.
Responding to Jumblatt's diatribe, Hizbullah's MP Mohammad Raad said the opposition remains steadfast despite the insults and fear-mongering by the ruling coalition and the "great lies" with which the March 14 forces were making baseless political accusations.
"Every time we reach a solution that ensures real partnership, the US intervenes to scuttle it," Raad said.
Also responding to Jumblatt's speech, Hizbullah's resigned Labor Minister Trad Hamadeh told The Daily Star Sunday that the "right and eloquent" response to such a speech is to remind everyone of the opposition's principles: national accord, civil peace, stability, partnership in government, and using democratic means to resolve crises to avoid strife.
"This kind of speech is designed to mobilize their supporters, but it's dangerous for the country," Hamadeh said, urging the ruling coalition to resort to more sensible and reasonable language.
"At last year's commemoration [of Hariri's assassination] they used such fiery speeches during the rally, not before. You can never build a country by threatening to go to war," Hamadeh said.
Change and Reform Bloc leader MP Ibrahim Kanaan, in a televised interview Sunday, asked: "What does Jumblatt want, to launch a war? Are these the words of Rafik Hariri and is this a speech that unites the Lebanese to come together to commemorate what united the Lebanese?"
Kanaan said that Hariri had previously announced his support for allowing the resistance to keep its weapons until a "comprehensive settlement is reached in the region," but said that Jumblatt's speech scuttled all that Hariri said in the past.
The Daily Star