Beirut - Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday rejected U.N. Security Council intervention to create international tribunal in the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister without first receiving the politically divided country's approval.
The comments by Nasrallah amounted to a warning by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed group to the United Nations that could undermine the tribunal if it is created without agreement between the government and the Hezbollah-backed opposition.
"We consider that any resolution issued by the Security Council (on the tribunal) illegitimate and illegal and has no value because it violates the Lebanese national interest," he said in an interview with Iran's Arabic-language state television station, Al-Alam.
"We hope that things don't get there," Nasrallah said.
The Hezbollah leader said the tribunal must be approved in a legal process in Lebanon for it to be legitimate. But if the Security Council creates the tribunal without Lebanon's approval, Nasrallah's comments indicated that the militant group and other opposition parties would not cooperate, making it difficult for such a court to function.
Lebanon's parliamentary majority has demanded the Security Council act to impose the tribunal in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri after the Hezbollah-led opposition balked at approving it. The matter has since been stalled in Parliament.
The Security Council on Wednesday heard from the U.N.'s top lawyer who said he failed to persuade Lebanon's rival factions to approve the international tribunal during a visit last month to the country.
Nicolas Michel, the undersecretary-general for legal affairs, told the council Wednesday that on a trip to Lebanon last month, he found the Western-backed ruling coalition, which opposes Syria's involvement in Lebanon, and the opposition deadlocked over the tribunal.
The Lebanese opposition, which supports Damascus' involvement in Lebanese affairs, insists on receiving a veto-wielding share in a new Cabinet before any action on the tribunal.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has warned that if Lebanese parties fail to agree, the Security Council could establish the tribunal under a section of the U.N. Charter that deals with threats to international peace and security. The section, called Chapter 7, authorizes a range of measures from breaking diplomatic and trade relations to military intervention.
However, Russia's ambassador to the U.N. objected to the idea of a Chapter 7 resolution.
A U.N. investigative team has implicated Syrian and pro-Damascus Lebanese intelligence officers in the truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 other people in Beirut. Syria denied any role in the assassination, but outrage over the bombing forced Damascus to withdraw its troops from Lebanon two months after Hariri's death, ending a 29-year presence.
Lebanon's anti-Syria faction claims the Syrians are using their Lebanese allies, including Hezbollah, to undermine the formation of the tribunal.
The disagreement over the tribunal has fueled a deep political crisis that has erupted into violence in recent months.
There have been warnings from lower-ranking leaders in the opposition that imposing the tribunal by the Security Council would further inflame the political crisis in Lebanon.
Speaker won’t convene parliament
The Parliament majority tried several times to convince Hezbollah ally Speaker Nabih Berri to convene the parliament , but he refused. The parliament majority wanted to discuss and ratify the International tribunal at the government but Berri insisted that a government of national unity should be formed first and before approval of the tribunal.
Hezbollah and allies are insisting on veto power in the national unity government , a demand that was refused by the parliament majority
According to analysts, the parliament majority will insist on the creation of the international tribunal , even under chapter 7 . Prime Minister Siniora has already been authorized by the government to send a letter to UN on this basis. The parliament majority leader Saad Hariri wants to know who killed his dad and his friends and wants the killers to be punished. Analysts are of the opinion that it is none of Hezbollah business to deny this right to Saad Hariri and his supporters.
Analyst believe that Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian allies are creating obstacles for the tribunal to please Syria, since the Syrian regime has made it very clear , it its opposed to the tribunal and will not cooperate with it in any shape or form. UN chief visited Syria to try to convince the Syrian regime to cooperate on the issue but his mission failed .
Article 3 of the tribunal scares the Syrian regime
What scares Syria most analysts say is article 3 of the agreement on the tribunal .
This article states that the "superior" will be held responsible for any crime committed by his subordinates working under his effective authority and control, and that he is accountable for "his failure" to control the activities of his subordinates. The superior will be held responsible if he was "aware" or "intentionally ignored" the information which indicated that his subordinates were about to commit crimes. Thus, such person will be considered guilty if he failed to take "all the necessary and appropriate measures" that fall within his jurisdiction to prevent or avoid the act of committing a crime by his subordinates.
If applied as envisioned, the Syrian president, in his constitutional capacity as the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, could be legally held responsible for the assassination of Hariri, even if low ranking Syrian military or intelligence officers are implicated in the actual crime. And while the Syrian president can wash his hands and deny having any "awareness" of the Hariri assassination, it will be difficult for his brother or brother-in-law ( both named as suspects in the unofficial copy of the Mehlis report ), both of whom are in charge of branches within the intelligence services, to make the tribunal believe that they did not have any knowledge of an ongoing operation of that scale and importance.
The concern in Damascus is the collapse of the regime of Bashar el Assad if any of his close relatives, be it his brother or his brother in law or both were found guilty .
Picture: The Cedar Revolution demonstration on March 14, 2005. Over 1 million Lebanese marched in the streets of Beirut , accused Syria of being behind the murder of PM Hariri, demanded the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon. Syria withdrew in April 2005.
The demonstrators waved the Lebanese flag and Hariri banners .
Sources: AP, Ya Libnan
Feedback? We want to hear your thoughts!