Hezbollah and Hariri

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Kuwait's Al-Siyassa is reporting an interesting piece of news that could have dramatic consequences for the UN investigation into the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The report is in Arabic, but here are the first two paragraphs:

Senior American and European sources at UN headquarters in New York have revealed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan "highly dangerous and sensitive information that confirms that an important Lebanese political grouping was implicated in the … Hariri assassination."

The sources indicated that this information, confirmed by personal testimonies, has embarrassed the international circles involved in Lebanese affairs and in the repercussions of the Hariri assassination, because the mere implication of this group will provoke great political tumult in Lebanon and will represent a new factor that will dovetail with the clauses in Resolution 1559 that have not yet been implemented.

Security Council Resolution 1559, which was what the international community used to force the Syrians out of Lebanon, also calls for the disarmament of militias in the country, primarily Hezbollah. While the newspaper did not come out and say it, what it clearly was referring to as "the grouping" was Hezbollah. It went on to suggest that the group played a role in Hariri's assassination at the operational level, presumably in preparing and triggering the bomb, on behalf of the Syrians.

Al-Siyassa is notoriously hostile to the Syrian regime, so that any such accusation must be treated with caution. However, I know for a fact that the paper was on the money in a number of reports following the Hariri assassination (while others were unverifiable). I also know that suspicion of Hezbollah involvement has been circulating in the political class here in Beirut since the killing. One very senior politician told me a few weeks after Hariri's death that "I do not discount Hezbollah involvement", and pointed to the fact that Hariri's regular meetings with the party's secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, may have been used to lull him into a false sense of security. I also know that other politicians have privately mentioned their concern about Hezbollah's involvement.

What would the party's rationale be? Much the same as the Syrian one–to get rid of a man who threatened to undermine the Syrian order in Lebanon because he was on the verge of winning a major election victory. As a "strong Sunni", Hariri certainly disturbed Damascus, but he was also seen by the Syrians and probably Hezbollah as a supporter, if not more than that, of Resolution 1559.

If the news is true, and for the moment nothing confirms it, it would be the accusation most people dare not mention. As Al-Siyassa makes clear, this could embarrass a lot of people, but more significantly it could lead to significant tension between Lebanese Sunnis and Shiites. Indeed, as elections approach, Hezbollah candidates are on slates either directly sponsored by or allied with the Hariris. The news item may never be confirmed simply because no one wants it to be.

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  1. >crickets chirruping

  2. Facts assumed:

    The Syrians are bad guys.

    Hezbollah are bad guys.

    Assassination is bad in many cases, including this one.

    Almost nobody in the US really gives a shit about Lebanon. In case you haven’t noticed, we have our own problems.

    Now, an opinion: enough of the tedious Lebanon posts. They had their moment in the sun, back in the false spring of “The Middle East is changing overnight!” mania, but that’s passed.

  3. First Michael Young tells us that Harriri was killed by a bomb planted UNDER the road, and, when that is disproved, he cherrypicks this garbage from an admittedly anti-Syrian newspaper in Kuwait. Why doesn’t he just abandon all pretense at trying to provide “evidence” for his pre-determined conclusions and simply come out and say: screw the evidence. Syria did it because I said so.

    And this from a magazine that calls itself “Reason.”

  4. Dennis/Justin

    So who do you think did it?

    The Jews?

    POS Jew hater.

  5. Normally I’m pro-Hezbollah, but in this case it seems that they’ve been penetrated by Mossad agents, the only agents in the region clever enough to blow up a car.

  6. “And this from a magazine that calls itself “Reason.””

    I think of Hit & Run as being separate from Reason Magazine much like I think of “Best of the Web” being separate from the Wall Street Journal.

    …and it seems to me that Mr. Young, in this case, was quite liberal with the disclaimers.

    I was marginally against the War when it began. When it became clear that the reasons for going to war were bogus and that the Bush administration was incompetent, I turned vehemently against it.

    I don’t want to see the war expanded on the basis of freeing the good people of Lebanon (or anyone else) from tyranny, and I cringe when I see people try to justify the Iraq War on that basis. Regardless, I want to hear what good people in Lebanon think happened to Hariri and why. Informed opinions like facts best, but when there are few to be had…

    …but even if someone produced irrefutable proof that Assad or Hezbollah ordered and orchestrated Hariri’s assassination, I wouldn’t support an expansion of the war on that basis.

  7. I actually like the Lebanon posts. I’m just sayin’ is all.

  8. Michael,
    I remember when Hezbollah and Hariri were really opposing each other in the early nineties. Wasn’t it ’93 when the Army killed 9 people in a Hezbollah protest? Hariri was blamed and Defense Minister Mohsen Dalloul was being compared to Sharon until Ghazi Kanaan told Hezbollah to focus on the muqawama.
    The Elissar project never got off the ground in Dahiye. And I recall Na’im Qasim saying some pretty nasty remarks about Elissar and Hariri claiming that the former PM wanted to rid the entrance to Sunni West Beirut of Shia.
    I’m just saying, there is a precedent of antipathy as much as Sayyid Hassan likes to pretend there is not.

  9. It strikes me as quite a jump to conclusions to say that the “grouping” has to be Hizbollah. Wouldn’t it just as likely be the pro-Syrian faction around Lahoud? (the president that had his term extended by Syria, prompting Hariri to quit in the first place). Don’t they have a much closer relationship to the Damascus regime?

    Not to say it couldn’t be Hizbollah – it would be right up their alley. But the crazies upthread are quite correct about Mr. Young’s reliability on these things. I still recall his post on the day of the big Hizbollah march, in which he declared that they had just made themselves irrelevant to the political future of the country. So there’s that.

  10. Ooh. Known anti-Semite wants to let Hizbollah off the hook. Imagine my surprise.

  11. if civil war breaks out in Lebanon, and I hope it don’t, I wonder if Bush, Young and crew give the invasion of Iraq credit?

  12. “Progressives” for Hezbollah? Trash-pit philosophy, only makes sense as “Nothing–nothing–not even baby-murdering, will stop me from loving anything that hates the Jews”. Vomit. Moral idiots.

  13. does justin travel with his own anti-groupies or something?

  14. “Anti-groupies” are the only kind Justin has.

  15. Michel Young has better knowledge and info on the middle east that Justin Raimondo could ever have. Just ask Justin how many languages he is fluent in. I would guess it is about as many as the issues of the bankrupt American Conservative that are flying off the news stands. Justin keeps trying to link all these external issues with the Bush invaion of Iraq. Liberating Lebanon from seedy Baathists without firing one US bullet is a remarkable accomplishment that should not be linked to your monomoniacl obsession with NeoCons.. Justin you have written provocatively on Iraq. I suggest you stay there and forget about Lebanon.

  16. While on remarkable events in-theater, Kuwaiti Parliament’s break with a 5000 yr past is gigantic…suffrage is equality, can’t be voted back off.

  17. Kuwait is about as relevant to the entirety of the Middle East as Switzerland was to the rest of Europe during WW2.

  18. Nemo. Juan Cole does put forth a good argument. But for anyone who understands how daily life has operated in Beirut for the past 29 years, you know an operation like this can’t be executed without active tactical planning by Syrian operatives. The Beau Rivage hotel was not sitting there on the corniche as a just a symbol. There are not many lovals in Lebanon who blame this on Israel. They are aware of the real culprit. And its important for the UN team to uncover the truth to teach these conspiracy theorists once and for all that Israel is not behind every bomb that goes off in the middle east.

  19. “suffrage is equality, can’t be voted back off”

    Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!! You’re a funny guy, man!

  20. Just ask Justin how many languages he is fluent in.

    mr raimondo’s monolinguality doesn’t make mr young smart OR impartial.

  21. “its important for the UN team to uncover the truth to teach these conspiracy theorists once and for all that Israel is not behind every bomb that goes off in the middle east.”

    Hear, hear! A transparent, reliable disposition of the case would be a boon to the entire region, if it was sufficiently airtight and people had confidence that the conclusions reflected solid policework, rather than ideologically-motivated finger pointing.

    Which is why Mr. Young’s determination to twist the facts to his predetermined position is so frustrating. Even as I sympathize deeply with his motivation of getting Syria out of Lebanon, and ultimately of toppling the Assad thugs and giving Syria the chance to exist as a propserous, modern liberal democracy, the dishonest way he goes about it is deeply distrurbing. He’s just begging to caught with his thumb on the scale – as has already happened with the “buried bomb” certainty – and it’s going to undermine his whole position, and make the forces of liberalism and reform look like just one more dishonest, conspiratorial, manipulative faction among many.

  22. I also know that suspicion of Hezbollah involvement has been circulating in the political class here in Beirut since the killing. One very senior politician told me a few weeks after Hariri’s death that “I do not discount Hezbollah involvement
    http://www.mirei.com

  23. it clearly was referring to as “the grouping” was Hezbollah. It went on to suggest that the group played a role in Hariri’s assassination at the operational
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