Lebanese Figures Criticize Bassil’s Demand for Syria’s Return to Arab League
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri responded Sunday to Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil’s demand that Syria returns to the Arab League, saying the Lebanese government must distance itself from regional conflicts.
"The position of the government on the recent military developments on the Turkish-Syrian border is expressed in the statement issued by the Foreign Ministry and nothing else," Hariri indicated in a press release.
During the Arab Foreign Ministers Extraordinary Meeting in Cairo last week, Bassil said: "Isn't it time for Syria to return to the Arab League?”
Syria’s membership has been suspended since 2011 over its crackdown on anti-regime protesters.
However, Hariri said the policy statement has not mentioned Syria's return to the Arab League, and therefore, Lebanon should respect the dissociation policy.
“Lebanon is committed to Arab consensus regarding the Syrian crisis,” the Prime Minister’s statement said.
But Bassil disregarded the PM’s objections, saying late Sunday that he “will visit Syria so that the Syrian people return to it … and because I want Lebanon to breathe with its sovereignty and economy."
In an address to Free Patriotic Movement supporters, the FM threatened to “overturn the table” on opponents of President Michel Aoun if they continued to block his attempts to improve the worsening economic.
Bassil’s calls to end the suspension of Syria’s Arab League membership have drawn criticism from political figures opposed to the Syrian regime, and praise from its allies.
Hassan Murad, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said Bassil’s demand comes at the right time.
However, Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumjian said that the FPM leader’s position expresses his own personal views as head of a party and not the Lebanese government’s stance.