LEBANON: Syriac Patriarch Mor Bechara Boutros al-Raï sends urgent advise to PM-designate Hariri

BKERKÉ, Lebanon – In his weekly Sunday sermon Syriac Maronite Patriarch Mor Bechara Boutros al-Raï send some clear and constructive advice to Saad Hariri, the newly appointed Lebanese Prime Minister designate. His Holiness advised to hurry up the formation of a new government, warning him to not let himself be drawn into secret bilateral agreements and falling into a quagmire of sectarian and party interests and quotas.

According to the published sermon on the Patriarchate’s official website, Mor Bechara Boutros al-Raï respectfully called on Hariri to “go beyond the conditions of the political groups and their counter-conditions, avoid the swamp of interests, and the quotas and appetite of politicians and sectarians, while the people are innocent.” His Holiness asked Hariri’s full commitment to the Lebanese constitution; “only adhere to the provisions of the Constitution and the Charter, only work on measures and requirements to rescue Lebanon, … and show eligibility and loyalty to the homeland, where knowledge is combined with experience, and competence with political independence.”

The Patriarch also explicitly stressed the importance of the role of Christians and their sacrifices in the construction of Lebanon. On the role of Christians in Lebanon, His Holiness said, “Do not put Christians behind. Remember what your late father used to say: “The country does not walk without Christians.” This is an intelligent and wise attention. The Christians do not compromise on Lebanon, it is their single and only homeland. They sacrificed a lot to make a home for all, and they are still sacrificing.”

Hariri is facing historic challenges to restore Lebanon to its constitution in letter and spirit, to its Charter, and to its natural fundamental identity as an active neutral state, Patriarch al-Raï said. Lebanon is committed to building its full internal sovereignty with its army and military forces, based on the rule of law and justice. “A neutral state that is active in promoting the meeting and dialogue of cultures, civilizations and religions, and in defending human and peoples’ rights, especially Arab ones. It is an active neutrality state that avoids entering into regional and international alliances, conflicts, and wars. This active neutrality is the guarantor of internal unity and of economic, financial, developmental and social stability and advancement.”

The Syriac Maronite Patriarch’s urgent advice come after the completion of binding parliamentary consultations, chaired by Lebanese President Michel Aoun (Free Patriotic Movement, after which Saad Hariri (Future Movement), son of the murdered former Prime Minister and construction entrepreneur and billionaire Rafiq Hariri, was installed as PM-designate to form a new Lebanese government.

This is Saad Hariri’s third term as Prime Minister. His appointment has been criticized because of his big interests in business and banking and, although not being affiliated with Iran-proxy Hezbollah, at least an enabler of Hezbollah policies during his terms at the head of the government.

Whether Hariri is able to drag Lebanon out of the swamp remains to be seen.