If There Weren't An Impossible-To-Follow Conspiracy Theory, It Wouldn't Be Lebanon
Our pals at the National Review will be pleased though unsurprised to learn that Rafiq Hariri was actually done in by our oldest enemy! From the article "Why France killed al-Hariri":
Accordingly the French tried to establish a strong opposition to both Hariri and Lahoud with its own man in France, Michel Aoun. But on Wednesday, February 9th, the exiled former army commander was informed that he would not be allowed back into Lebanon until May—after the parliamentary elections. Thus the delay of his trial by the Lebanese government was a deliberate ploy by the U.S. to thwart any potential French aspirations. This also came when after only a few days prior Aoun had held talks with the Beirut candidate and member of the Christian opposition Qornet Shehwan and the Gathering's Gebran Tueni to discuss opposition alliances for the elections. Stated Aoun, "We are definitely making efforts to have a joint opposition list in Achrafieh, Beirut, with Tueni, in addition to nationwide lists with all the opposition." Thus it was apparent that the French were planning a serious attempt at retrieving some influence within Lebanon. In an indirect response to this attempt Condoleeza Rice commented during a Paris News conference on Saturday February 12th, "It is not acceptable that Syria would continue to be a place from which terrorists are funded and helped to destroy the very fragile peace process in the Middle East or to change the dynamics of events in Lebanon." The latter part of this comment was a clear warning to the French not to interfere within Lebanon's internal situation…but the French had other ideas.
Al-Hariri's assassination by France was aimed at preventing the American plans for a U.S. loyal opposition group and instead paving the way forward for a French faction to take the lead in the fight against the U.S. Lahoud government. Only days after the assassination former prime minister Gen. Michel Aoun audaciously announced from France, that he would return from exile before the parliamentary elections to launch his own candidacy. Even on the day of the assassination Jaques Chirac instantly called for an international investigation swiftly before the U.S. or the U.N had made any official comment. It was apparent that the French desperately wanted to internationalize the situation thus focusing on the remaining opposition groups in Lebanon (who still have strong links to the French) and the sectarian rifts within Lebanon. In response the U.S. tried hard not to make any official accusations and played down the 'international investigation' by referring the matter to the United Nations knowing that making the issue boil over would only re-emerge sectarian differences the U.S. had tried so hard to resolve.