Hariri warns of 'more violence, war'

In 'LA Times' op-ed, Lebanese PM advocates Arab peace initiative.

hariri washington 311 (photo credit: AP)
hariri washington 311
(photo credit: AP)
The overwhelming majority of Arabs and Muslims have tried to make peace with Israel, but the Arab peace initiative fell on deaf ears, Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri said in a special opinion peace published in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
"The result was more war, more violence and more death, fostering more rage, frustration and despair. And now I can almost hear the heinous criminal minds that orchestrated terrorist attacks in New York, London and Madrid telling us all, 'If you liked the past 20 years, you're going to love the next 20!,'" he wrote. 
Hariri, who became Lebanon's prime minister in June 2009 at the end of a long political process and an even longer blood-ridden conflict between the country's many rival political factions, referred to the growing influence of fanatics and extremists among the populations of the region.
"Frustration and tragedy ... have replaced the failed peace," Hariri opined. "It has proved too easy to find desperate people who will do desperate things, and extremists have gained an ever-growing audience among Arabs and Muslims by asking one question: What have the moderates, the defenders of a negotiated settlement, ever achieved?"
Lebanese PM calls Washington a 'foremost power'
To the uninitiated, Hariri explained that the Arab peace initiative offered Israel peace and recognition in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state and withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, including the return of the Golan Heights to Syria and the Shab'a Farms to Lebanon.
The problems of the Middle East, he said, had become a "global problem, and global problems call for global solutions and global leadership." He cited the United States and its president, Barack Obama, as the "foremost power" capable of moving the process along. Hariri met with Obama in Washington on Monday to discuss regional issues, with Obama stressing that Hizbullah's refusal to disarm and Iran's continued defiance and noncompliance contributed to Middle Eastern instability.
"President Obama understands well that extremism feeds on injustice," Hariri said. "He also recognizes that despair can be exploited to serve sinister agendas. We applaud his determination to restore credibility to the Middle East peace process."
Like Jordanian King Abdullah, Hariri warned that there was a short time frame in which to act to end the Israeli-Arab conflict, going on to suggest the Security Council and the Quartet (the UN, the US, the EU and Russia) as possible arbiters in the race for a final-status agreement. "Reaching a settlement in this manner may carry risks, but the cost of continued failure is much greater," he concluded.