Syrian President Bashar Assad said during meetings over the weekend with Saudi King Abdullah and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman that the role of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's investigation into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri must be ended because the court has become a burden on Lebanon that is threatening the country's stability.
According to the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar, Assad warned that if a finger is pointed at Hezbollah for being behind the assassination, this may result in the destruction of Lebanon. Assad said that in the past the court had blamed Syria, a claim later proven to have been baseless, but nearly destroyed Lebanon and the entire region, and now the same scenario is being repeated against Hezbollah.
The report says that Assad clearly relayed his views to the Saudi King, who is known to have a great deal of influence on the Hariri family, and the former prime minister's son, Sa'ad, who is now prime minister himself. Assad made it clear that not only will Hezbollah oppose the court's decisions, but will also fight against them.
The newspaper quotes Assad as saying that the court's role was to find those responsible for the murder, however its current mandate has become to strike at the resistance forces - a euphemism for Hezbollah - and against countries that are not part of the pro-American camp. Assad said Syria will not allow the undermining of Lebanese resistance (Hezbollah ) since this is a red line that cannot be crossed.
There were no reports of disagreement having been expressed by the Saudi king, however he did express doubt as to the possibility of stopping the activities of the court since the issue is an international one.
The Lebanese are waiting for Tuesday, when Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah will address the issue of the international court and its accusations.
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