Lebanon and the crisis of accusation
The U.S.-backed tribunal probing the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is bracing itself for the release of an indictment which is likely to charge some members of Hezbollah in connection with the 2005 assassination.
The newly-appointed Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), Herman von Hebel, said on Thursday that he expects the court's prosecutor Daniel Bellemare to send a draft indictment to the pre-trial judge for confirmation " very very soon."
Despite speculation that the pre-trial judge may point the finger at several top members of the Lebanese resistance movement, many can see through the legal sham that this move is more of a political stunt.
Hariri's assassination five years ago in Lebanon was one of the most complex political hits in the history of the Middle Eastern country.
The Arab world, Lebanon, and indeed the region have witnessed many similar assassinations of political figures but never before has the United Nations felt obliged to set up a tribunal to investigate these hits.
Many international lawyers deem the formation of such international tribunals contrary to the civil and national rights of countries due to the ambiguities surrounding the jurisdiction of such legal inquiries.
Hariri's assassination was a tragic occurrence but an international court's decision to take incumbent political and intelligence officials to court is a violation of the country's sovereignty.
On the other hand, due to the complexity of the assassination, the real perpetuators of this crime are still roaming free and have not yet been identified.
Political observers and security analysts have noted special circumstances that suggest the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel's spy agency, Mossad, may have been involved in the bombing.
These suspicions center on the fact that the United States and Israel have mastered the art of simulating historical recurrence and reaping political gain from the imitation.
In its early days, the tribunal focused on accusing political and security figures in Lebanon and Syria. A misjudgment that came to light four years later when those arrested were proven innocent.
These political sidings of the Hariri tribunal stoked the tensions in the already charged political climate of Lebanon, expanding rifts and reigniting mistrust.
Two influential political movements --the March 14 coalition led by Hariri's son and incumbent Premier Saad Hariri, and the March 8 movement led by Michel Aoun --began playing the blame game, heaping accusations at one another.
Regional players joined the game and used the opportunity to nurture this discord, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt going so far as seeking to elbow Hezbollah out of the political stage.
In five years since the tribunal was set up, Saudi Arabia has spent some 500 million dollars in financial aid to the court.
Egypt also played a part and focused a discriminatory political and media attention on the March 14 movement with the aim of politically isolating and angering Hezbollah.
These interferences led to the current vulnerable and complex state of Lebanon; a situation that can only become more difficult should the tribunal go through with the farce of accusing Hezbollah.
The persisting belief in Lebanon reflected in the media fear that the country may fall back into civil conflict should the indictment be issued against Hezbollah.
The potential summons looming over certain influential Hezbollah figures would be synonymous to the exclusion of this bloc from Lebanese politics. This move could have serious repercussions for the country and the region's security and internal tension. The political and security system of Lebanon and the interference of regional and extra-regional powers in the country's affairs are pushing the nation toward a bleak horizon.
Efforts to resist this fate must include all political factions in the country. At the slightest sign of turmoil inside Lebanon, Israel, still recovering from the stinging defeat of the 33-day war in 2006, will move to invade the country.
This potential aggression could leave its mark on the Middle East and start a wave of terrorist attacks, opening a new chapter of insecurity.
However, despite the pessimistic outlook for Lebanon's politics, Syria has launched a series of positive moves in order to quell the looming crisis.
Syrian President Bashar alAssad's trip to Paris and his meeting with his French counterpart Nicholas Sarkozy could be analyzed as a measure to soften the blow of the Hariri tribunal's plans to accuse Hezbollah and other Lebanese politicians. In Paris, Assad urged all political factions in Lebanon to set aside rifts and refuse to be influenced by the potential move by the U.S.-sponsored SLT.