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Lebanon will never be an “Iranian province”: Hariri

Former prime minister of Lebanon, Saad al-Hariri, said on Sunday Lebanon would never be an “Iranian province”, in a speech in Beirut on the 11th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Rafik al-Hariri.

“Lebanon will not be, under any circumstances, an Iranian province. We are Arabs, and Arabs we shall remain,” said Hariri.

“The country will not be governed by Damascus, Tehran or any other country … as long as we are armed with our Constitution,” Hariri said during a 37-minute speech.

The Lebanese politician who heads the March 14 political alliance that was forged in the aftermath of his father’s assassination, attacked the Lebanese Hezbollah a proxy of the Iranian regime, for fighting for the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

“Some decided to engage in battles in the wrong regions,” he said, hinting at Hezbollah.

Hariri publicly confirmed for the first time that late last year he put forward a proposal for Suleiman Franjieh, an ally of Hezbollah and friend of Assad, to fill the post of president that has been vacant for 21 months.

But he questioned whether his political rivals really wanted an end to the crisis that reflects wider paralysis in Lebanese government.

“We are sincere. We want a president of the republic. We want to be rid of the vacuum. We have paid the price at home and abroad,” Hariri said.

But addressing his rivals, he said: “Please go to the parliament and elect a president, unless your real candidate is the vacuum.”

Hariri, who made a surprise return to Beirut early Sunday, has been living in self-imposed exile between France and Saudi Arabia since April 2011 over security concerns.