By Ghassan Karam
“The Sayed doth protest too much, methinks” ; with apologies to Shakespeare; is possibly the most appropriate way of describing part one of Hezbollah’s two act play to explain why they were not involved in the assassination of Rafic Hariri although the five year investigation by the STL is expected to indict high ranking party members.
International investigators starting with Fitzgerald moving through Mehles, Brammertz and Bellmare in addition to the local investigations have unanimously demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt a very sophisticated plan of execution accompanied by well organized efforts to cover up evidence and mislead the investigation through made up claims and amateurish videos. What is clear is that however pulled the trigger was merely a foot soldier in an operation that could not have been conceived and carried out without the knowledge and cooperation of the Lebanese and Syrian Mukhabarat who were at the time in total control of all aspects of security in Lebanon.
The possibility of a Syrian involvement in this sordid affair at the highest levels was removed from consideration a few years ago upon the insistence of Russia that heads of state are immune from the STL investigations. The waters were muddied further by the “suicide” of Brigadier General Ghazi Kanan who was one of Syria’s top men in Lebanon for two decades. Many observers do not believe that Mr. Kanan committed suicide but believe that he was liquidated either to protect others or as a punishment for acting as a “rogue” element.
Syed Hassan Nasrallah never wavered in his support of the Syrians. Who can forget his speech on March 8, 2005 in which he thanked Syria for its sacrifices in Lebanon? It provided the trigger to organize the outpouring of support in a counter demonstration on March14 of over a million strong demonstrators. Such loyalty is to be expected since it was Syria that permitted Hezbollah to keep its weapons after Taef and it was through Syrian cooperation that Iranian missiles were delivered to Hezbollah.
If the STL is to issue indictments of individuals strongly connected to Hezbollah through a strongly documented case then this might be the “tipping point” against the Hezbollah as a political party in general and its illegal military wing in particular. An indictment does not need bring about either civil war or unrest. The Lebanese people have been patiently waiting for five years to learn what the investigation s has uncovered and they are anxious to move on. Unfortunately, it appears that Hassan Nasrallah is determined to make sure that no decisions critical of anyone connected to him are to be condoned. He will stop at nothing to protect his fiefdom in Lebanon even if that implies the use of force. And that is shameful.
It is hoped that the STL decisions will be accepted by all parties, as they should be and furthermore it is hoped that Al Mustaqbal will put an end to its misguided efforts of sanctifying Rafic Hariri. Let the man rest in peace and let history be the final arbiter as it should.