The Special Tribunal for Lebanon
In August 2010, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah presented “intercepted Israeli reconnaissance footage” and “the recorded confessions of Israeli spies” at news conference in Beirut to support his claim that Israel was responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The aerial footage, taken by Israeli unmanned drones, showed the same route taken by Hariri’s motorcade on the day of the assassination, suggesting that the ex-PM was being pursued.
Nasrallah’s revelations were compelling but, unfortunately, they were ignored by the western media except for the Christian Scientist Monitor which compiled the information in an article titled “Is Hezbollah right that Israel assassinated Lebanon’s Rafik Hariri?”
Here’s an excerpt from the CSM:
“Israel has the capability to carry out this type of operation, such as Hariri’s assassination and the other assassinations that targeted Lebanon during the past few years,” said Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, adding that Israel’s motive was to cast the blame on its enemies, Syria and Hezbollah. (“Is Hezbollah right that Israel assassinated Lebanon’s Rafik Hariri?”, Christian Scientist Monitor)
Nasrallah’s damning evidence is especially important now that the prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has issued his draft indictments. (On Monday) For now, the contents are being kept secret, but it’s widely expected that members of Hezbollah will be charged in Hariri’s murder. Nasrallah has warned that he won’t allow members of his militia to be arrested, so if warrants are issued, fighting will surely break out. Already, many schools in Beirut have been closed and Lebanese security forces have been put on high alert.
At the same time, the Obama administration has been working behind the scenes to influence key members in Lebanon’s government to support the US-Israeli position. In fact, Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry summoned US Ambassador Maura Connelly to explain why she had met with Lebanese lawmaker Nicolas Fattouch over the weekend. It appears as though the US is meddling in the country’s internal affairs in an effort to discredit Hezbollah. Connelly has not yet explained what she was up to.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is supposed to be an “independent” investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Nasrallah has dismissed the STL as an “American and Israeli project” designed to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. The STL has culled all information that does not comply with its primary objectives. Thus, the fact that more than 100 people in Lebanon have been arrested in the last year “on charges of collaborating with the Mossad… including one who said his Israeli handlers instructed him to delude the late prime minister into thinking Hezbollah was out to kill him (Hariri) and so allow the agent to alter the route Hariri’s motorcade would take that fateful February day”, or that Lebanon’s “telecommunications network had been infiltrated by Israel, compromising all its communications” (“The Hariri Assassination: All Eyes on Lebanon”, Ranni Amiri, CounterPunch) will undoubtedly be omitted from the investigation’s final report.
Here’s more from Ranni Amiri’s article:
“According to the Lebanese daily As-Safir, Qazzi confessed to installing computer programs and planting electronic chips in Alfa transmitters. These could then be used by Israeli intelligence to monitor communications, locate and target individuals for assassination, and potentially deploy viruses capable of erasing recorded information in the contact lines. Qazzi’s collaboration with Israel reportedly dates back 14 years. (Note–Charbel Qazzi was head of transmission and broadcasting at Alfa, one of Lebanon ‘s two state-owned mobile service providers.” (“The Hariri Assassination: The Role Of Israel?” Rannie Amiri, CounterPunch)
So, the question arises: Who had the communications systems, aerial drones and explosives capable of killing Hariri? Who knew the route of his motorcade? Who had the motive?
And why is Israel’s chief of staff, General Gabi Ashkenazi, making predictions that the political situation in Lebanon will progressively deteriorate following the STL’s indictments? Here’s a clip from the political theatrics website:
“The Israeli Chief of Staff told the Knesset’s Foreign Committee that “with lots of wishes and a little bit of information” the situation in Lebanon will probably deteriorate following the issuance of an indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)…
Although the date of issuing the indictment has not been set yet, Ashkenazi predicted it will be in September and insinuated that it will implicate Hezbollah. The Israeli general’s comments were seen as momentous particularly that he made them in front of a committee involved in Israel’s strategic policies.” (“Merlin” Ashkenazi Wishfully Predicts Deterioration In Lebanon In September”, politicaltheatrics.net)
So, why is Ashkenazi speculating on the STL indictments way back in July 2010, and why would he bring it up at a meeting devoted to “Israel’s strategic policies”? Does this explain why there are reports of increased military activity on Israel’s northern border? Is there a broader strategy to use the indictments to resume hostilities between Israel and Lebanon?
And why is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton so deeply involved in the activities of a so called “independent” tribunal? Clinton put the kibosh on a Syria-Saudi team that was trying to find a resolution between the rival factions in Lebanon’s ruling body. Why? And why did she preemptively torpedo the S-S negotiations and tell “Saudi King Abdullah and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that the U.S. would reject any settlement at the expense of the UN tribunal.” Saad Hariri has reluctantly acquiesced to Clinton’s demands, but what does that mean? Should we assume that Clinton cares more about finding out who killed Rafik Hariri than his own son?
The loose ends and unanswered questions abound. The case that’s being made by the STL may seem convincing, but there is an equally cogent narrative that supports Hezbollah’s position. Here’s how British politician George Galloway summed it up in a speech in Edmonton in November 2010:
“I believe, and I don’t know anybody who is objective in this matter who does not believe, that Hezbollah are absolutely innocent of this crime, and it is time that the tribunal looked to the people who benefited from this crime…..in Israel.
“Any law student here knows, the first thing you do when confronted with a crime is ask the question, cui bono, who benefited?
“Did Syria benefit from the killing of the Sunni leader in Lebanon? Syria lost everything.
“Did Hezbollah benefit? Would Hezbollah benefit from destroying forever the respect and admiration that the Sunni Muslim population, not just in Lebanon but throughout the Arab and Muslim world, had towards them? No! They would lose everything.
“But Israel gained everything from this crime. It deepened the schism between Sunni and Shia in Lebanon. It deepened the schism between Sunni and Shia throughout the Muslim world. They plunged Lebanon into absolute chaos, and may do so again in the next few days and months.
“If this tribunal issues this indictment and anyone seeks to implement it, there will be war in Lebanon and there will be war almost certainly between Israel and Lebanon, and all of us will be dragged into it one way or another.” (“Galloway unedited: ‘Special Tribunal for Lebanon’ should have asked ‘who benefited?'”, rabble.ca)
Is that the goal, another war in Lebanon to create the “New Middle East” that Bush and Condi used to opine about? It’s too soon to say, but it’s not looking good.
Mike Whitney can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.