09/07/2010, 00.00
LEBANON - SYRIA

Saad Hariri: Syria did not kill my father

by Paul Dakiki
The statement in a comment published by a Saudi newspaper. A complete turnabout: the accusations against Syria in 2005 led to the formation of a strong movement in opposition to Damascus (led by Saad) resulting in the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanese soil. Perhaps Syria is aligning with the Arab front, abandoning Iran.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri says that he was wrong to accuse Syria in the murder of his father Rafik five years ago. In a commentary published yesterday in the Saudi newspaper (published in London) Asharq Al-Awsat, he confirms that the accusations against Damascus were motivated by politics.

“At some point, we made a mistake," he says "At one stage, we accused Syria of assassinating the martyred premier. That was a political accusation, and that political accusation is over…,There is a (UN) court that is doing its job, and we for our part must reassess what happened”.

Hariri's son's statements represent a complete change of track. Rafik Hariri was killed in a bomb attack in Beirut February 14, 2005, which killed 22 others. Saad and his allies have always accused Damascus of being behind the attack. The death of Rafik and international criticism generated a strong opposition (led by Saad) to Syria, which in April 2005 resulted in the withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon after nearly 30 years of military occupation

The preliminary investigation of a UN international tribunal - established in 2007 - had shown that relatives of Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, along with Lebanese intelligence services were implicated in the death of the late premier. But so far it has not cited any individual suspect.

Meanwhile relations between Lebanon and Syria have improved to the exchange of ambassadors and the launch of some programs of economic cooperation. Saad himself has visited Syria at least three times during his tenure last year.

In recent months, rumors have emerged that some members of Hezbollah were involved in the murder of Rafik. Hezbollah in Lebanon are supported by Iran. Observers speculate that the change in Saad Hariri’s attitude to Damascus will facilitate its alignment with the Arab front (dominated by the Saudis), as opposed to the front dominated by Iran.

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