Lebanon`s Hariri proposed Brotherhood replace Assad: WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks cables unveiled by a Lebanese daily on Friday revealed that outgoing premier Saad Hariri wanted Syria isolated and its leader replaced with the Muslim Brotherhood and exiled former officials.

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2011, 00:40 AM IST

Beirut: WikiLeaks cables unveiled by a
Lebanese daily on Friday revealed that outgoing premier Saad
Hariri wanted Syria isolated and its leader replaced with the
Muslim Brotherhood and exiled former officials.

The release of the cables by WikiLeaks` Arabic-language
partner Al-Akhbar comes days after Damascus accused a member
of Hariri`s Saudi-backed Sunni Future Movement of arming and
funding anti-regime protests in Syria that broke out
mid-March.

In the cable filed by the US embassy in Lebanon on August
24, 2006 -- 10 days after the end of Iranian- and
Syrian-backed Hezbollah`s devastating war with Israel --
Hariri urged the international community to isolate Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad.

Hariri also warned US officials of trouble in Lebanon
should the international community fail to isolate Assad
through sanctions.

When asked who could fill the void in the event of the
toppling of the Assad regime, Hariri replied by "talking about
sectarian demographics in Syria," Al-Akhbar said.

He then proposed a partnership between the Muslim
Brotherhood -- currently banned in Syria -- and former Syrian
officials such as Abdel Halim Khaddam and Hikmat Shehabi,
according to the cable.

Shehabi is a former Syrian army chief of staff.
Khaddam, formerly Syria`s vice president, resigned in
2005 after Syria pulled its troops from Lebanon before going
into exile and voicing criticism of Assad`s rule over Beirut.

Damascus was forced to pull its troops out of Lebanon in
2005 following a 29-year presence.

The withdrawal came in the face of massive international
pressure over the February 14, 2005 assassination of
ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, Saad`s father.

Syria has denied accusations it was involved in the
killing.

Al-Akhbar also quoted Hariri as comparing the Muslim
Brotherhood to moderate Islamists in Turkey, saying they were
open to the participation of Christians and women in power and
would support peace with Israel.

Lebanon and Syria have not signed peace treaties with
Israel and remain technically at war with the Jewish state.

Unprecedented protests demanding the end of 48 years of
emergency rule and sweeping reforms erupted in Syria mid-March
and continue to spread across the Baath-ruled country.

Syrian state television on Wednesday aired "testimonies"
of three people saying they had received funds and weapons
from lawmaker Jamal al-Jarrah to fuel a wave of protests
against the ruling Baath regime.

Jarrah has denied the allegations.

PTI