THU 2 - 7 - 2020
Date: Feb 15, 2020
Source: The Daily Star
Hariri buries settlement with Aoun, blasts Bassil
BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri launched a scathing attack against former foreign minister Gebran Bassil Friday and put an end to the political settlement that led to Michel Aoun's election in 2016.

In a prelude to Hariri’s speech, which marked the 15th anniversary of the assassination of his father and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a video explained who was behind Lebanon’s failed economic policies.

On Valentine’s Day 2005, a Mitsubishi Canter carrying a massive bomb detonated in front of St. Georges hotel in Beirut, meters away from a convoy that was carrying Hariri. The explosion left a crater in the middle of the city, killing the former premier along with 21 others and injuring countless bystanders many of whom sustained lasting physical and psychological wounds.

Following the return of Aoun to Lebanon in 2005 from self-imposed exile in France, his Free Patriotic Movement took aim at the Hariri family and policies.

"Some people are still trying to chase [Rafik] Hariri and blame him, from 1990, for the economic crisis that Lebanon is in today," Hariri said in an implicit reference to Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, which is now headed by Bassil, Aoun's son-in-law.

Referring to Bassil, Hariri said that there was only one person who did not want to see the protest movement represented in the political field. “I say to him ‘You wasted half of the presidential term and registered collapse in the country in your name. Congratulations.'"

Ye Hariri said that he and Aoun had mutual respect for each other, but "every time we wanted to agree on something, I had to [deal with two presidents]." Hariri was often asked to reach an understanding with Bassil before a solution was agreed on in many political issues.

Hariri said over the last two months many rumors surfaced that Saudi Arabia, the United States, China and other countries did not want him around anymore. "We are to stay," Hariri shouted in a stern tone.

Thousands of supporters of Hariri gathered in the streets surrounding Hariri’s Downtown Beirut residence to hear Hariri's speech.

Hariri also took aim at Iran and its regional policies. "Iran's cash payments solve one [political] party's, not a country's," Hariri said.

Following Hariri's speech, Bassil said that their paths would cross again in the future. "Whatever you do or say, you cannot reach us ... and I won’t accept to be like you,” Bassil said.

Claiming that a national interest will reunite the two men in the future, Bassil said it would be more difficult for Hariri. “But the difference [for us] is that the path will be longer and more difficult for you,” he tweeted.

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