Pro-Western Lebanese leader appeals to Iraq’s grand ayatollah for help

Our exclusive sources report that Lebanon’s pro-Western Sunni majority leader Saad Hariri resorted to the unheard-of step of a secret visit to the Iraqi town of Najef to seek the help of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. He was desperate to check the Hizballah leader, Hassan Nasrallah’s meteoric rise to power in Beirut.
In another development, debkafile‘s military sources disclose that Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak’s visit to Washington, scheduled for this week, was indefinitely postponed. Jerusalem was informed that the Washington-Tehran rapprochement, revealed first by DEBKA-Net-Weekly, is so advanced that no administration official would be available to hear Israel’s concerns regarding Iran, Syria and Hizballah.
A senior administration official told debkafile Thursday, July 17, that this was an unfortunate time for an Israeli minister to come to Washington to discuss these matters.
Israel’s prisoner exchange deal with Hizballah has turned out to have damaged Israel and given Hassan Nasrallah a massive prestige boost in Lebanon and the region. An alarmed Hariri flew to Baghdad on the day the exchange took place with an SOS for prominent Iraqi Shiite clerics to save Lebanon’s Sunni communities from harm at the hands of the Shiite Nasrallah’s Hizballah.
The Lebanese Sunni politician was received on his arrival by Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. He then traveled in a heavily secured convoy to the Shiite shrine city of Najef to meet Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most esteemed doctrinal scholar in the Shiite world, whom not even Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Nasrallah would dare defy.
Our sources disclose that Hariri appealed to the grand ayatollah for a guarantee of protection for the Sunni community’s rights in Lebanon.
This step is unprecedented, especially on the part of a Lebanese politician who until recently was one of the most prominent pro-Western figures in the Middle East. Hariri evidently saw no other way of controlling the damage to Lebanon in the wake of new US-Iranian understandings. He was therefore willing to chance life and limb to make the journey to the Iraqi Shiite domain in search of help against Nasrallah’s brutal bid for dominance.

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