Saniora before STL: Syria Promised us 'New Lahoud' if We Accepted Extension

W300

Head of the Mustaqbal bloc MP Fouad Saniora started on Monday giving his testimony at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, focusing on the ties between former Premier Rafik Hariri and the Syrian regime during the 1990s and early 2000s, as well as the influence the Syrian security apparatus wielded on Lebanon.

He said before the trial chamber at The Hague: “The Syrian regime sought to extend the term of then President Emile Lahoud, promising us that a 'new Lahoud' would emerge in the aftermath of the constitutional amendment.”

The debate over the extension of Lahoud's term in 2004 was among the factors that led to the strain in ties between Hariri and the Syrian regime, headed by President Bashar Assad.

His extension required a constitutional amendment in Lebanon, which Saniora said he opposed.

He said that Hariri received “the order to extend Lahoud's term from Assad during a meeting in August 2004.”

“Assad stated that Hariri would accept the extension or he would break Lebanon on his head,” said the former premier before the STL.

Saniora revealed that he refused to attend a cabinet session two days later in August aimed at tackling the extension.

“I received a telephone call from my wife and Wissam al-Hassan urging me to attend the session in order to avoid appearing that I was abandoning Hariri,” the MP revealed.

He acquiesced to the demands in spite of his rejection, adding that the extension “almost made me retire from politics.”

“The Syrian intelligence pledged that we would be faced with a different Lahoud than the one we had to deal with so far if we accepted the extension,” he continued.

“We however did not sense any change in his behaviour after the extension and Hariri contacted head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh to address the issue,” said Saniora.

The head of the Mustaqbal bloc remarked that Hariri sought to reconstruct Lebanon and build a strong Lebanese state, which he said threatened the Syrian regime that aimed to maintain its grip over the country,

This prompted it to wage campaigns against the slain premier aimed at tarnishing his image.

This campaign was wielded by the Syrian security apparatus, as well as its Lebanese allies, Saniora explained.

“Hariri had many enemies and whoever reviews the history at the time would realize very well who they were,” he stressed.

“Lahoud had animosity towards Hariri, but he was not the only one,” he stated.

Saniora was then pressed by Trial Chamber Judge David Re to name officials that were pressuring Hariri, to which he replied: “Several officials were responsible and I cannot name them all.”

He was then asked to name whom he thought were responsible to which Saniora responded that these officials include figures who were part of the security apparatus, as well as journalists and politicians.

He was asked who the main source of the incitement against Hariri was, to which he replied: “There was deep cooperation between the Lebanese and Syrian apparatuses.”

“The Syrian apparatus wielded more power over the Lebanese one, while the Lebanese apparatus had greater spite,” he revealed.

“Ghazaleh was head of the Syrian apparatus at the time, while Major General Jamil al-Sayyed was head of the Lebanese apparatus,” he explained.

“Neither him nor Ghazaleh had animosity towards Hariri, but the respective apparatuses used them to their ends,” he stated.

“Ghazaleh wielded more power because he represented the Syrian side and he was the visible tool in Lebanon of the Syrian regime,” said Saniora.

“Ghazaleh used to refer his reports on Lebanon to officials above him. I have not met them, nor do I wish to meet them, but I have heard of them. They are part of the circle just below Assad,” he remarked.

Addressing the October 2004 assassination attempt against MP Marwan Hamadeh in 2004, Saniora stated: “Hariri believed that it was a message against him, but he still told all who warned him that they would never dare harm him.”

“I cannot identify who was behind the assassination attempt. I can say that it was a political stance and I can only wonder who was capable of such an act,” he continued.

“Hariri believed that those responsible for the security system where behind the attempt against Hamadeh's life, but he didn't have any evidence,” noted the MP.

“The attack against Hamadeh cannot be a random one, but given the circumstances at the time, it was aimed at intimidating us,” he explained.

Earlier, Saniora had stated that “Hariri's ties with late Syrian President Hafez Assad differed than those with President Bashar Assad.”

He spoke of the “strong grip” the Syrian security apparatus had on the Lebanese government at the time, adding: “Nothing could be done without the regime's approval.”

He gave an example of how he sought the nomination of current MP Ghazi Youssef as parliament speaker, but the regime opposed it.

The regime also rejected Youssef's nomination in the 2000 parliamentary elections and wanted Hariri to name Hizbullah candidate Mohammed al-Berjawi on his list, revealed Saniora.

Syria also wielded its influence in how Hariri formed his government in 1997, continued the MP.

It sought to impose three ministers of its choice on the premier, but Hariri rejected the names.

He held a long meeting with Hafez Assad during that time in order to “explain to him that the political and security conditions at the time were not suitable for the appointment of those figures,” explained Saniora.

“Hariri sought my appointment along with Bahij Tabbara and Samir al-Jisr instead,” he stated.

“Efforts were being made to completely link Lebanon to Syria through the Syrian security apparatus and its Lebanese allies,” remarked head of the Mustaqbal bloc.

Earlier, Saniora had spoken of how he met Hariri, saying that they knew each other as acquaintances at the same school in the southern city of Sidon where they both hail from.

They became closer when they joined the Arab Nationalist Movement in the early 1960s.

“I enjoyed strong ties with Hariri and we always spoke frankly with each other,” added Saniora.

“Hariri and I had common financial interests, but we were also concerned with the interests of the people and improving their daily lives, which was dear to the former premier,” he emphasized.

“Hariri was keen on Lebanon and he sought to cooperate with me and several others to improve the country” in the wake of the 1975-90 civil war, he continued.

The STL is tackling the assassination of Hariri in a major bombing in Beirut on February 14, 2005.

It has so far indicted five Hizbullah members in the crime.

It kicked off its trial in 2014 and has so far listened to the testimonies of several witnesses.

Testimonies in 2015 have been focusing on the political aspect of the assassination and Hariri's ties with Syria. A number of lawmakers and journalists have given their accounts on the matter.

M.T.

Y.R.

Comments 54
Thumb _mowaten_ over 5 years

I don't care about Sanioura's gossip and fairytales, I'd rather have have him tell us about the 11Bn$ that went missing "without a trace" from government budget under his tenure.

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

Hey Mo wati n , Whatabot taking him to court for you accusations? Then we will all follow you, ok?

Thumb barrymore over 5 years

"knowing full well that courts do not function in lebanon,"
But when the courts are prosecuting your political opponents and accuse them of terrorism or whatever, then according to you it is fair and just and in those instances the courts function yes?

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

Because you don't like to tell us where are, the, accused hiding, let them proove rhey are not the ones that did it. But you know they are, not innocent as long the are running away.

Thumb thepatriot over 5 years

momo you don't know what you're talking about. You are talking about budget deficit... do you know how much "went missing" under the mikati government?

Thumb _mowaten_ over 5 years

lol patriot here to prove us once more how ignorant he is.
it was no deficit, it was spending that was unaccounted for, and not in the budget law voted by the parliament.

Missing helicopter over 5 years

HA spent more money on the Harriri assassination operation than Lebanon is spending on the STL (it takes mucho dinaro to plan such an operation and cover your tracks).
The difference is HA money was to commit a crime, the STL money is to uncover the criminal.

Thumb eagledawn over 5 years

reallymowaten? any proof for that or are you just here to post empty propaganda?
baseless slander by the mouthpiece and his GF....lol your slander never stops does it? keep repeating it, maybe someday you'll even believe it yourself. Hysterical comment, your hate for Saniora is making you say a lot of BS.
'in a world where everybody cheats, the righteous is seen as the outlaw'- andre flamethrower gide.
lol gotta love your powerful arguments, you really must be a smart one.
proof, ya flamethrower, is the only thing standing between you and credibility..
elaborate... give names, and prove he did it, flamethrower.

Thumb -phoenix1 over 5 years

Mowaten, you shouldn't, you oughtn't, you mustn't and wouldn't would you? Do you really care about anything else that is not spewed by yellow or orange tongues? According to you, you would reuse even the holiest of books if it's not written by your peers or those whom they employ. Come old chum, take that much needed break.

Thumb Mystic over 5 years

No phoenix, we are just starting to not care about your spewing. Your writing appearance is getting more and more Geagea by the day.

Thumb amatoury114 over 5 years

he lives in lebanon but doesn't mean he doesnt own property elswehere ya mhazzab ...tirbeyet shawere3

Thumb liberty over 5 years

@mowaten
and we don't care about your filthy propaganda and hatred for anything that is lebanese and non-iranian.

Thumb the_roar over 5 years

$320 million STL ....conclusive evidence...ready for it?

"'Drumroll'"

More hearsay ...damn more hearsay....$320m & no real evidence after 10 years? best they can do is "hearsay".

Worth every cent of the $320 million dollars the Lebanese paid...wouldn't you all agree?

lol@ the Big STL & the bigger $320m worth of Hearsay stories.

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

So they should let this go and people that, did this should not be found?

Thumb the_roar over 5 years

Where did you see me say, they should let it go & not find the killer?

freedomarch, you have lost sight of the issue.

If there is conclusive evidence that HA killed Harriri, the I will be first to denounce them & support their downfall.

But allow me to tell you why I laugh at the STL.
1st..it has spent $320m & now they are asking for the same amount again...for what? not one piece of concrete evidence.
Hearsay has been their strongest card.
2nd.. When Lebanon allows a trial by media, it smells of conspiracy.
3rd... When Lebanon spends not $320m but $1m to investigate who killed Bachir Gemayel, then I'll believe Lebanon is after the truth.
Until then you go cry for Hariri & have kangaroo courts who are laughing at you by taking your money & after 10 years telling you they need more money & have some hearsay testimonies to back it all up.

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

Why ? For speaking the truth that you seem to lack?

Thumb _mowaten_ over 5 years

LOL @ the "truth". Is it true just because he says so? Or because you're hearing what you want to hear?

Thumb barrymore over 5 years

The truth is not what Seniora says, it is what mowaten says the truth is.

Thumb Mystic over 5 years

Mr. Saniora is a good definition of corruption.

Default-user-icon jaafar ibn iblees (Guest) over 5 years

is that a martyred corrupt iranian terrorist familia in techno color in your avatar?

Missing mohammad_ca over 5 years

Apparently, according to March 8 idiots, unfounded lies spread by almanar and other bogus media outlets carry more weight than evidence scrutinized and presented by internationally recognized independent investigators.

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

Good for you: wahab is your man? What a gentle nan to take, inspired by an follow! Good luck. ;)

Default-user-icon mahdi firuz berhouz (Guest) over 5 years

hahahaha! My boss just used your comment to show us how to prove a point in a debate. He refers to you as the King of debate. Somesing Anazar flamesrower!

Thumb cedar over 5 years

The STL is required. It will show Syrian inhumanity and other human rights issues. But i think that It needs to start with Bachir Gemayel, and other Christian leaders and find out who killed them first, as a matter of 1st priority before any others.

I think its a conspiracy against the Christians in Lebanon to turn it Muslim. The STL will find more evidence of that then it ever will with Hariri

Thumb cedar over 5 years

I respectfully disagree. If its not up to me to determine any conclusions, then how can you sir, then make your own determination that no lebanese hands were at play for Bachirs assassination? and regardless Justice is Justice lebanese person behind it or anyone else who might be behind it. It simply clarifies the larger objectives and who is really pulling the strings in Lebanon and what they are looking to do. Its more important to look at the christian leadership being assassinated and other things with land rights.

Thumb cedar over 5 years

The STL is required. It will show Syrian inhumanity and other human rights issues. But i think that It needs to start with Bachir Gemayel, and other Christian leaders and find out who killed them first, as a matter of 1st priority before any others.

I think its a conspiracy against the Christians in Lebanon to turn it Muslim. The STL will find more evidence of that then it ever will with Hariri

Thumb cedar over 5 years

flamethrower, so what if habib shartouni was lebanese... its not about who actually pulled the trigger or did the actual dirty work, its about who gave the orders to do it, and who gave the people who gave the orders their orders. Thats when you find the truth

Default-user-icon + oua nabka + (Guest) over 5 years

anyone who dealt with the tyrant hafez assad is like him a monster
god bless democracy

Thumb saturn over 5 years

How was the caviar at lunch break, Mr. Saniora? Wonderful. Now keep on telling the story of Ali Baba and who might have whacked him. One of the forty thieves you are, no? Good, good.

Thumb blablablablabla over 5 years

Thinking about those that were stolen from their properties in Solidere and those that got poor through illegal taxes, while RH wealth passed from 3 billions in 93 to 16 billions in 2005, I can't but laugh at that sentence from Saniora: “Hariri and I had common financial interests, but we were also concerned with the interests of the people and improving their daily lives, which was dear to the former premier,” he emphasized.
Interests of the people? REALLY???
Oh and i Did not know that the mourabitoun were pacific in Saida LOL LOL LOL

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

It is the best thing that happened to Lebanon, you prefered it distroyed.

Missing coolmec over 5 years

Anonym
I can tell where a good portion went during the construction of our airport. I was told made 22 Bill $$$ A small pipe that normally cost $2 or $5 went for $87.00 Rafic Hariri had to pay bachar to keep him happy. At the same token Rafic Hariri ripped off all the former land owners in the old Beirut. He practically bought one of the most expensive real estate for 1 cent to $10,000.
I give you an example. My family got paid $20,000 in stocks while the property was worth then $6 Million. so....

Missing coolmec over 5 years

ooops missed and correcting:
....construction of our airport. I was told Bachar ,ade 22.....

Thumb joebustani over 5 years

bless anyone person, entity, brigade, organization or country that inflicts extreme pain, suffering, death or destruction upon the terrorist sectarian iranian militia and its supporters wherever they maybe.

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

Nice way to be part of Aouni (doubt it) or hiz zbeleh. SHADES OF SHAMEFUL terrorist.

Missing coolmec over 5 years

@50shades
No need for such foul language dude. Please respect this forum and the people on this site. Make your points and elaborate your point of view in a polite and civilized manner please
I thank you in advance

Thumb stainlessteal over 5 years

Give the DJ a BJ.

Thumb ex-fpm over 5 years

because "samleb" is a shia from hezbollah, that's why.

Missing peace over 5 years

as i pointed out: attacking sinioura is easier than the content of his speech....

Missing peace over 5 years

sure it is fairytales sure... easy to say, easy to write...

but argumenting why you resort to simplistic conclusions is too much to ask your empty brain i guess....

Missing peace over 5 years

thanks for the entertainement... fools are always entertaining... keep up the good work samlesb....

Missing peace over 5 years

lol, you are so funny.... keep it up, and thx for the laughs you provide here....

Missing peace over 5 years

and thank you for showing the intellectual level of M8ers....

Thumb amatoury114 over 5 years

@ sam50zebshades u should not be on this site .....take ur lak of civility elswehere

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

Look atthese low life fake account iranian rep public followers,...The Low Lifers, the Aouni trolls joining tyeir brothers in crime to hit on What? Defending what? The crimes of syrian and iranian hiz zballeh scum? Be ashamed of what you follow and say. APPLY YOU WORS and actions tou yourselves and see wow low you are.

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

Ohh really Do you have exact info mr smart? Let us all see your list starting of what time he got assets and from where ...Idiots like your bosses think all people are like them.

Thumb freedomarch over 5 years

I really feel how radicalized forces are against us whether Islamic da3ish or nusra threats or Iranuan syrian Regimes. Both are filled with hate and backwardness.

Missing peace over 5 years

you are right anonymetexas and we have a specimen here... no arguments just spite and insults as they cannot reason and hold a line of arguments... out of frustration for their lack of intelligence we can all see what the result is! LOL

Missing peace over 5 years

sure anonymetexas... anyone pretending to hold a phd wouldn't be here insulting left and right and pretending to be smart...
have you read any comments of the thing here giving any arguments proving sinioura is telling lies? none...
all his rants just prove that the thing here only has a diploma from kindergarden... and even i think children from kindergarden are more intelligent....
i think his PhD stands for PotHead Delirium......

Thumb liberty over 5 years

@anony
this samleb is either mowaten or flamethrower or their accomplice the_roar. Probably they are one and the same anyway.

Missing peace over 5 years

lol

Thumb amatoury114 over 5 years

any phd candidates should not use the foul language u are using, at least respect the title ur going to get!!!

Thumb westernlebanese over 5 years

samleb youre the only traitor here... you are selling our country to assad and iran. are you denying that syia and its regime dont interfere in our national interest? you piece of **** houthi iranian

Missing helicopter over 5 years

Samleb might be Sami Issa (Hasan Habib Merhi) with multiple girl friends and lavish lifestyle. Crime does pay, but for how long?