Erdogan: Turkey won't let Lebanon slide into civil war

Turkish PM's statements come ahead of Beirut visit; Hizbullah MP says "even if we killed Hariri, we have no interest in destroying Lebanon."

By JPOST.COM STAFF
November 24, 2010 12:26
2 minute read.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 
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Hours before visiting Beirut on Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government would do everything it could to prevent war in Lebanon, AFP reported.

Speaking to the Lebanese paper As-Safir on Tuesday, Erdogan said that "should any signs of war surface in Lebanon, God forbid, Turkey and the other countries in the region will do everything they can to prevent that war."

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According to the report, he added that he does not wish to see the country experience another civil war, saying, "Today we stand by Lebanon as we always have."

Over the course of his visit to Lebanon, the Turkish prime minister was expected to meet with Lebanon's president Michel Suleiman, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri, and was scheduled to visit several Turkish-sponsored projects in the country.

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Erdogan's visit comes as the UN Special Tribunal in Lebanon (STL), which has been investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, begins to wind down. Hizbullah is widely expected to be implicated by the tribunal, and has openly declared that it will "cut off the hand" of anyone who tries and arrest a Hizbullah member in connection to the case.

Responding to a CBC report from earlier in the week that said the Hariri Tribunal will implicate the group, Hizbullah MP Walid Sukarriyeh accused the report's authors of trying sow discord, Lebanon's Nahar reported.

Sukarriyeh said, "Even if Hizbullah killed PM Hariri, there is no interest in destroying Lebanon," the report said.

Syria and Saudi Arabia have been engaged in efforts to prevent an outbreak of violence following the eventual release of the STL's indictments. Saudi Arabia is a strong supporter of the Sunni, western-aligned Hariri government. Syria is a long time supporter and patron of Shi'ite Hizbullah.

On Wednesday, Syrian sources told Hizbullah-aligned Al-Ahbar newspaper that Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's hospitalization in the United States is hurting the chances of the two countries successfully reaching an accord with the Lebanese factions. The sources also blamed the United States for "sabotaging the emerging agreement."

Also on Wednesday, Israel's inner cabinet, the Septet, was scheduled to meet in order to discuss the upcoming STL report.

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