President of Universal Syriac Union Party Ibrahim Mrad discusses repercussions of Saad Hariri’s withdrawal from political life

BEIRUT – Ibrahim Mrad, the President of the Universal Syriac Union Party, said that the announced retirement from political life by former Lebanese Prime Minister and Future Movement founder Saad Hariri’s came as a result of the great turmoil in his internal and external relations. Mrad indicated that Hariri’s resignation would probably not be the end of his political life, but described his decision as a political “earthquake” that will have repercussions for the Sunni street in Lebanon and for the power balances of the entire Lebanese political system.

In a statement to Syriac radio station Suroyo FM about the impact that Hariri’s retirement would have on Lebanon’s future, Mrad said that there are many speculations about Hariri’s motives for suspending his political work, but that his retirement came as a surprise move unexpected by Hariri’s political opponents and even for some of his allies.

USUP President Mrad added that Hariri took a proactive step given his personal circumstances, the conditions of his Future Movement party, and the great turmoil in his internal and external relations, especially with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He further stated his opinion that Lebanon’s Sunni community would suffer the most from his withdrawal. The Future Movement holds 20 seats in Lebanon’s parliament, where it heads the March 14 Alliance in which it is joined by the Syriac Maronite Lebanese Forces and the Druze Progressive Socialist Party. The expectations for this year’s parliamentary elections in May are that the party will lose seats.

Mrad pointed out that the vacuum at the leadership level is worrying, expecting that several forces seeking to seize Hariri’s parliamentary seats, whether from among his allies or from the Sunni allies of Hezbollah, will benefit from Hariri’s absence. 

Mrad ruled out the possibility that Hariri’s choice would be the final culmination of his political life, indicating that Hariri is entering a new, uncertain phase of his life.

The Sunni Future Movement party is a strong opponent of Iran’s long arm in Lebanon, the Shia Hezbollah militia. Mrad believes that Hariri has “paid the price” for his choices on the Lebanese, Arab and international arenas, as he made several political settlements and he linked the conflict with Hezbollah to the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon – which was specifically specifically set up to try those who murdered Saad Hariri’s father and former Lebanese prime minister, the late Rafik Hariri – all of which gave Hariri zero results.