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Subject ASSAD: Blaming Hezbollah for Hariri murder "will destroy Lebanon", Syria could be forced to intervene on behalf of Hezbollah
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Assad: Blaming Hezbollah for Hariri assassination will destroy Lebanon
Syrian President calls for an end to the murder investigation of the former Lebanese premier, claiming that it threatens Lebanon's stability. 'We will protect Hezbollah.'

Syrian President Bashar Assad called Saturday for an end to the International Court of Justice's investigation into the murder of former Lebanese President Rafik Hariri, claiming that the court has turned into an albatross for Lebanon and threatens its stability.

According to a report in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, Assad warned against pointing accusatory fingers at Hezbollah regarding the murder of Hariri and claimed that doing so could very well bring about the destruction of Lebanon.

Another factor behind the concerns in Lebanon is that any turmoil within this country could expand into conflict with Israel, which fought a month-long war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006.
Some in Israel fear Hezbollah could lash out at them if indicted. Some Lebanese worry the indictment could give Israel fodder to justify a new assault on the heavily armed guerrilla force.

"People here are reading this as, this is raising the risk of an Israeli war sometime in the future," Salem said.

The Saudi and Syrian pressure on their Lebanese allies doesn't guarantee an indictment against Hezbollah will go quietly, warned Fadia Kiwan, a political science professor at Beirut's St. Joseph University.

"This could ignite the streets," she said. "Politicians are now using a quiet language and trying to calm down the situation, but the problems are in the streets."

[link to www.haaretz.com]
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