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*By Tariq Alhomayed

I have listened a lot to Walid Jumblatt’s concerns regarding the consequences of the International Tribunal’s indictments, especially if Hezbollah are accused, to the extent that he considerers the Tribunal to be a source of trouble, implementing plans to divide the region. Today, Jumblatt is urging Saad Hariri to declare that “the International Tribunal has become politicized, and that he [Hariri] wants to dismiss it before indictments are issued”, further warning of a “return of sectarian clashes in the streets”.

Before commenting on whether or not to disband the Tribunal, we must first discuss some points here. If Jumblatt fears civil unrest in Lebanon today, why did he not express concern for the peace and stability of Syria in the past, especially when he says that the Tribunal is continuing an [earlier] division project? If Jumblatt fears sectarian strife in Lebanon today, why did he not express the same concern when Rafik Hariri was assassinated?

The reason is simple, of course. Rafik Hariri was never the leader of a militia, but a statesman, and therefore the law must fight for his right, and the right of his unarmed followers. It is also necessary put an end to assassinations in Lebanon, whatever the price. In 2008, Hezbollah did not fear the prospect of a country in chaos, but instead occupied Beirut, because of a dispute over cameras and communication networks. Hezbollah also did not fear civil unrest at the time when it besieged Jumblatt in the mountains. Why raise the issue of civil unrest today with those who were not deterred by it in the past? The situation today confirms that the Iranian project in the region and in Lebanon is a religion-based project, and what could lead to more civil –unrest in a country as diverse in terms of religions and sects like Lebanon then the Iran-sponsored project.

Whilst Jumblatt requests such action from Hariri, in order to discredit the Tribunal, arguing Hariri is not impartial in the process, as he is avenging a blood relative, Hezbollah claims today that the ball is in Hariri’s court, and he must put the [Lebanese] wagon back on track, in statements attributed to the group after the meeting between the Lebanese Prime Minister and Ahmadinejad. [To cancel the International Tribunal] would not be political suicide, as those close to Hariri say, but it would be a shot of madness, and a complete destruction of Rafik Hariri’s state-building project.

In the case of increased pressure on the Lebanese Prime Minister, or in the case of an impasse, Saad Hariri would rather submit his resignation as Prime Minister, so as not to harm the credibility of the Tribunal. This would leave others the responsibility of disabling the Tribunal, and facing the Lebanese citizens, who see it as a safeguard protecting them from assassinations, and the influx of arms that transformed Lebanon into a Wali al-Faqih state.

What the Lebanese Prime Minister has to remember today is that Rafik Hariri offered concessions during his leadership, most notably the extension of Emile Lahoud’s presidency, and despite this he was unable to form a government. On the day when he famously offered his resignation, he said: “I entrust to God the Almighty, this beloved country of Lebanon, and its good people…” He then returned home, only to be assassinated a few months later. This is what his son remembers today, and thus he will not submit to concessions. It is not a matter of his personality, but his project, and the project of his father, which is in the interest of the future of Lebanon.

*Tariq Alhomayed is the Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat,

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