Le­banon and the cri­sis of ac­cu­sa­tion

The Pak Banker - - Editorial5 - Has­san Hanizadeh

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.

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