Sunday, July 3, 2011

Qabbani: STL should not be dragged into politics

Hezbollah leader refuses to hand over Hariri suspects

Hassan Nasrallah defies UN-backed tribunal's arrest warrants for four Hezbollah members wanted for 2005 assassination
    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah rejects indictments by UN-backed special tribunal for Lebanon
    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah denounced the investigation into the murder of Lebanon's prime minister as a plot by Israel and the US. Photograph: Reuters TV
    Hezbollah's leader has vowed never to turn over four members of his Shia militant group who have been indicted in the 2005 murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. In a defiant speech, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said that "even in 300 years" authorities would not be able to touch them. In his first comments since the indictments were announced on Thursday, he promised that the country would not see a new "civil war" linked to the findings of the UN-backed tribunal. But Saturday's assurance came with a tacit warning that peace in Lebanon depended on the government not pushing ahead with the arrests. Nasrallah denounced the six-year investigation as a plot by Israel and the US and said it was "an aggression against us and our holy warriors". Bursts of celebratory gunfire and fireworks erupted in Beirut immediately after Nasrallah's comments. Hezbollah, which gets crucial support from Iran and Syria, has denied any role in the killing. The accusations that Hezbollah – the most powerful political and military force in Lebanon – had a role in the 2005 Beirut truck bombing that killed Hariri threatens to plunge the country into a new and violent crisis. Nasrallah, however, sought to allay such fears and said there would be "no civil war in Lebanon". "This is because there is a responsible government in Lebanon that will not act with revenge," he said. Hezbollah has amassed growing political clout in the government this year. It toppled the previous administration in January when the then prime minister, Saad Hariri, refused to renounce the tribunal investigating his father's death. The new prime minister, Najib Miqati, who was Hezbollah's pick for the post, issued a vague promise on Thursday that Lebanon would respect international resolutions as long as they did not threaten the civil peace.More...

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