The trial of Hariri’s assassins and the future of Lebanon

Former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri , father of PM Saad Hariri was assassinated in downtown Beirut on February 14, 2005. 5 Hezbollah operatives have been accused of killing Hariri and are being tried in absentia by the UN backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri , father of PM Saad Hariri was assassinated in downtown Beirut on February 14, 2005. 5 Hezbollah operatives have been accused of killing Hariri and are being tried in absentia by the UN backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon

By Randa Takieddine

Listening to the results of the prosecution of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that’s investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is painful in respect to the future of this country.

The prosecutor confirmed that the court’s evidence shows that when defendants Badreddine, Oneissi and Sabra were indicted, Hezbollah’s general command recognized them as brothers in the Resistance and said they were honorable men.

Hezbollah’s menace

The prosecutor stated that the Syrian regime was at the heart of the conspiracy to assassinate Rafik Hariri and discussed the political circumstances that prevailed at the time such as forcing Hariri to extend the presidency of Emile Lahoud, holding the Bristol opposition meetings and Hariri’s preparation for elections with the opposition and support of Resolution 1559 that demanded the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon and for disarming militias.

Five members of Hezbollah are being tried in absentia for the 2005 bombing that assassinated former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri . The defendants, clockwise from top: Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Assad Hassan Sabra, Hassan Habib Merhi and Mustafa Amine Badreddine.
Five members of Hezbollah are being tried in absentia for the 2005 bombing that assassinated former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri . The defendants, clockwise from top: Hussein Hassan Oneissi, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Assad Hassan Sabra, Hassan Habib Merhi and Mustafa Amine Badreddine.

The court’s statement confirms what a large number of observers already know about political life in Lebanon. However, these hearings raise a tragic problem for the independent and impartial Lebanese citizen and which is about how his or her future will be under the domination of a party which has conspired to serve the regime of Bashar al-Assad to kill a Lebanese prime minister who hence paid with his life and the lives of his companions to liberate his country and revive it.

The question, now that the son of the martyr Rafik, Saad, has been appointed to form a cabinet, is how will the future of Lebanon look with a party that is using its weapons to put pressure on all of the state’s decisions, including choosing a president, selecting an electoral law, making international alliances and imposing ties with the murderous Syrian regime?

In this sense, there is no hope, not only for Lebanon, but also for its surrounding area, where a criminal regime has not only settled with the assassination of Hariri and his companions and all the martyrs after them, but also continued its work in Syria and killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced thousands others while calling for the help of Iran, Hezbollah and Russia to keep it at the top of the country it destroyed.

Whatever the government will be, if it will have a chance of being formed or not, and whether Hariri remains the prime minister-designate or apologizes and steps down, the future of this country is going to be painful, because a large part of it denies this painful reality, the dominance of Hezbollah and the return of agents of the Syrian regime to politics in Lebanon.

This large part claims that the STL is an international scheme seeking to undermine it. However the STL is an international institution that affirms facts that cannot be denied. Bashar Al-Assad’s survival under the rule and the will of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, is a disaster for Syria, Lebanon and the entire region.

Those who believe that Bashar al-Assad or Vladimir Putin will get the Iranians to leave Syria are wrong. If Iran is forced to leave because of economic reasons, it will rely on the continuous presence of its Lebanese proxies and soldiers in Syria. As for the Lebanese who are rushing to normalize ties with Syria and make visits to Bashar Al-Assad and who claim that Syria is ready to supply Lebanon with cheap electricity, then let them know that this regime and its allies have brought nothing but evil, murder, destruction and displacement.

Syria returns to Lebanon

It is known that Rafik Hariri was not the first of the martyrs to be killed on the orders of the Assad family, although he was almost among the first high ranking Lebanese martyrs who fell by the hands of Hezbollah operatives. As for Lebanon, all of those who allied with Hezbollah because it is the strong and dominant element in the country, they will be responsible for the fate of the Lebanese people who could have hoped for a better future than the one they are facing today.

The STL is not, as Hezbollah’s officials put it, “playing with fire” because Assad, his Iranian allies and Hezbollah, as well as Israel which is holding onto the Assad regime, are the ones who are setting fire to the region.

Despite the fact that Saad Hariri emphasized that he will not take the road of an eye for an eye, Lebanon’s future is not reassuring in such circumstances. All that has been said about the dissociation policy from regional conflicts is meaningless as long as Hezbollah is in the Syrian and Iraqi war arenas and working alongside the Houthis. How can Lebanon rise up when the dominant party wants to form a government quickly and wants to have the Health Ministry that could bring more tragedies to the country if the United States decides to intensify sanctions against the group?

People are facing difficult and miserable conditions due to the accumulated waste, catastrophic environment, power outages, almost daily scandals and endemic corruption. A criminal bunch in Syria and Lebanon is now seeking international legitimacy, and unfortunately, for the peoples of the region, it may probably engage in a barter that guarantees the interests of major powers.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Randa Takieddine is a Lebanese writer and the director of Al-Hayat newspaper office in Paris.