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Hariri tribunal

ICC exonerates Syria?

The International Criminal Court has published the names of four suspects indicted in Hariri’s assassination. All of them belong to Hezbollah.

Contrary to widespread expectations, the tribunal has not yet charged any Syrian official with the murder, though it was created specifically to punish Assad for his blatant intrusion into Lebanese affairs. This push for exoneration could only have come from the White House, which used Assad as a mediator in its talks with Iran. Washington’s power over the ICC is also evident from the fact that the Obama administration has promised Gadhafi that the ICC charges against him will be revoked if he abandons power. Instead of the tool of international justice, the ICC is mostly used for blackmail.

Obama’s cozy relations with Syria are not affected even by the fact that Assad is the lynchpin of international heroin trade.

Who supports Hezbollah in the Hague?

The Hariri tribunal has announced yet another delay for its indictment—this time because it allegedly has gotten some new information.

A delay of several months would allow Hezbollah to establish a pro-Iranian government in Lebanon. The move seems to be a part of Obama’s understanding with the ayatollahs. He did not prevent the dissolution of Hariri Jr’s government, and in fact signaled his approval for the Hezbollah government by promising US aid to the Lebanese army.

Lebanon: how the West lost

Najib MikatiSurprisingly, Hezbollah has amassed a majority bloc in the Lebanese parliament and is about to form a new government without Hariri. We expected this development in the 2009 elections, but not now. The difference is due to paralysis of Western players who failed to bribe as many MPs as did Hezbollah. It used to be that the Saudis took care of such jobs in the Lebanese parliament, but this time the Saudis scaled back their usual intervention, frustrated by America’s failure to squeeze Syria out of Lebanese politics and Iran out of the race for Middle East hegemony.

So the West lost Hariri Sr in the assassination, and Hariri Jr in the dissolution of the impotent government whose crisis the United States and France provoked with their unnecessary tribunal.

Curiously, the billionaire Hariri is being replaced as the PM by another billionaire, Mikati. Which shows a bigger problem for the West: Hezbollah got sufficient financial sources among local businessmen and cannot be moderated through Syria. The West has now a short window of opportunity to befriend Hezbollah while it can act with relative independence from Iran. Failing to do so may result in a much stronger Hezbollah, Iran’s independent partner.

Hezbollah’s government has also inherited a Lebanese army beefed up by the US aid.

Lebanon: what will the West do?

Nasrallah and HaririBy unwittingly pursuing the Hariri tribunal, Western powers have caused themselves a serious problem which they should have predicted.

Hariri Jr.’s relatively pro-Western government has been dissolved, and he won’t be able to form a new one without Hezbollah. Syria and Saudi Arabia stopped whatever small cooperation they had been providing on Lebanon. Lebanese Druze were forced to choose between Syria and the West, and they chose a reliable partner—Syria.

But the biggest problem will come when Hezbollah bosses are indicted for Hariri Sr.’s assassination. The verdict will effectively label Hezbollah a terrorist organization when to all purposes it has transformed itself into a political party. Instead of continuing to drag Hezbollah into the mainstream—the only way to disengage Lebanese Shiites from Iran—the West will be forced to ostracize the terrorist group. The problem will become completely unsolvable if Hezbollah refuses to deliver its people for prosecution, and the Lebanese government will be slapped with international sanctions.

The US already threatened to withhold its aid to Lebanon if Hezbollah forms a new government. An empty threat that is. The US aid to Lebanon is small compared to Iranian donations to Hezbollah. The US provides aid even to Hamas government in Gaza, albeit with some weasel wording.

The best solution would be to suspend the trial without canceling it.

The West Bank scenario unfolds in Lebanon

Hezbollah pulled out of the government in expectation of indictment by the Hariri tribunal. The move only confirms that Hezbollah has transformed itself from a terrorist group into a political party. For a militant group, it would have made sense to remain in the government and disregard the tribunal’s verdict. A political group, on the other hand, cares about its image more than power or money, so Hezbollah prevented PR fallout from the verdict by staging a PR coup of its own. And so Hezbollah the political party brought down Hariri’s government to deflect the upcoming indictment.

We reiterate our view that a Hezbollah coup is unlikely. Nasrallah knows that Israel would be only too happy to use that as a pretext to bomb his arsenal of 60,000 rockets.

More likely, the Lebanese government will follow the path of Fatah: a technically illegitimate government continues to operate as long as a new government cannot be formed.

Hezbollah aims higher

Debka reported that Hezbollah representatives were spotted in London fishing for an international criminal lawyer to defend their operatives before the Hariri tribunal.

That seems to confirm our analysis that Hezbollah aims to take over Lebanon by acting as a political force rather than as a terrorist organization. Otherwise, it would make no sense for Nasrallah to betray his operatives to a show of international justice.

Is unrest brewing in Lebanon?

Many commentators predict major Hezbollah riots if the Hariri tribunal finds the terrorist group guilty. We do not share that conviction.

Such riots would have been probable six months ago. But now the verdict is old news, and its effects are fully digested. The tribunal may also water down its decision. Syria has been warned sternly, and Iran has been placated by Hariri’s submission.

There will be no putsch in Lebanon following the Hariri verdict.

Hariri bows to Iran

As an international tribunal was poised to accuse Hezbollah of assassinating his father, Hariri Jr paid homage to the ayatollahs. During his stay in Iran, he reportedly asked them to restrain Hezbollah. Yet, why would Iran do that?

To keep his government safe from Hezbollah riots, Hariri will have to offer Iran the same wide-ranging concessions he offered to Syria.

The price of keeping a somewhat pro-Western government in Lebanon is giving that country away to Syria and Iran. And Hariri is turning into their puppet.

Hariri and Ahmadinejad

Lebanon: Hezbollah this way or that way

Assassination of Rafic HaririHezbollah is conducting exercises, preparing for a takeover of Beirut in case the international tribunal implicates the group in Hariri’s murder. The Lebanese army is weak and heavily infiltrated by Hezbollah, and thus stands no chance against it. Lacking firm support from Israel, Druze will not oppose Hezbollah, at least not until the terrorist group tries to extend its control over Christian and Druze areas.

The Saudis and Syrians are pushing Hariri Jr. to step down and thus effectively dissolve the tribunal. Should he do so, Hezbollah will immediately fill the power vacuum with one of its puppets.

The idea of the Hariri tribunal was misconceived. It relied on the assumption that the West and the Saudis would be able to enforce the tribunal’s decision—an impossible outcome. What was the point of the tribunal? Was it to ostracize Hezbollah? The group is not ostracized for its involvement in international terrorism, so who cares about the assassination of an ex-PM? Shaming Hezbollah into retreat? Absurd. Teaching Hezbollah a lesson by jailing its top brass? The perpetrators were released from detention well before the trial.

The West merely staged a show trial, and in doing so created a government crisis in Lebanon, which brought that fragmented country to the brink of an Iranian takeover.

Lebanon terminated Hariri murder trial

Just days before international tribunal was to convene, a Lebanese court released the three suspects on $330 [sic] bail. Another victory for Hezbollah and Syria.

Syria joins US, Israel denying international justice

Syria refused to shed its national sovereignty by cooperating with the UN tribunal established to investigate assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. There is – nor could be – any firm evidence to connect Syria to the assassination, though Syria clearly benefited from Hariri’s death.
Israel and the US likewise refused cooperation with International Criminal Court because of its prejudice and encroacing on Israeli and American national sovereignty.

02 June 2007 Posted in Syria

Assad says peace with Israel impossible, continues military buildup

near the Golan Heights. Speaking to Syrian parliament, Assad insisted on “land for peace” approach: Israel gives away land and Syria grants Israel peace. Alternatively, Israel can occupy Damascus and trade it for peace with Syria.
Assad also refused to submit any Syrian citizens to jurisdiction of the international tribunal set in Lebanon to investigate Hariri’s assassination.

12 May 2007 Posted in Syria