By: Con Coughlin*
There is one, very effective way that the Lebanese government can thwart attempts by Hizbollah, Iran’s favourite Islamic fundamentalist militia, to seize control of the country and that is to publish the findings of the U.N. sponsored tribunal into the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed by a car bomb in Beirut in 2005.
According to the widely-leaked findings of the tribunal’s findings, Lebanese investigators have identified 20 mobile phones used in the planning of the attack and traced them all to senior Hizbollah officials who were working for the militia’s “special operational unit.”
If this is true, then Hizbollah’s claim to be a legitimate political party, rather than the terrorist group it is deemed to be in the West, would be exposed as a sham. This is the reason, of course, that Hizbollah brought down the government of Saad Hariri, the murdered prime minister’s son whose coalition government was on the point of publishing the tribunal’s findings.
But it is very much in the West’s interests to stop Hizbollah’s attempted coup d’etat. Hizbollah, which is armed and funded by Iran, has already provoked one war with Israel when it attacked its northern border in the summer of 2006. And there is every likelihood that Hizbollah will do the same once it has full control of the Lebanese government, only this time it will be able to call upon the thousands of new Iranian rockets and missiles that have been smuggled into southern Lebanon through Syria.
A fresh war between Israel and Lebanon is the last thing we need at a time when the main focus of our efforts it to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East. A good way to avoid another round of hostilities would be to publish the U.N.’s findings and bring all of those responsible for Hariri’s murder to justice.
*Con Coughlin, the Telegraph’s executive foreign editor, is a world-renowned expert on the Middle East and Islamic terrorism. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books. His new book, Khomeini’s Ghost, is published by Macmillan.