Thursday, December 23, 2010
Everyone scared of Syria
Op-ed: Everyone knows truth about Hariri assassination but prefers to remain silent
Since the early 1980s, the Syrian regime murdered, methodically, more than 30 Lebanese leaders and public figures, and nobody opened his mouth or said anything. Anyone who threatened Syria’s position in Lebanon was removed. And so, leading figures in some of Lebanon’s most prominent families were assassinated, as were religious leaders, security officials, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. With the exception of one anomaly, nobody was ever indicted over these acts. This is the case even though there isn’t a child in Lebanon – or one spy agency in the world – who doesn’t know who really stands behind these murders.
When the international probe into the Hariri murder (as well as the other 14 Lebanese, some of them senior officials, who died along with him) was launched, and we started hearing reports that pointed the finger at Hezbollah, the Lebanese people were scared. Suddenly, it became possible that a Lebanese organization was a party to the series of political assassinations of legitimate, popular leaders.
Here in Israel we didn’t quite understand what all the fuss in Lebanon was about. After all, in our view it’s obvious that Hezbollah would join forces with the Syrians or Iranians in order to remove leaders who undermine the interests of these two states. Yet from Lebanon things look differently.
There, despite its problematic nature, Hezbollah is perceived as a patriotic organization. It would be much more convenient for the Lebanese had the international tribunal accused Syria of being the only culprit in the Hariri murder. It would have spared them the earthquake – and possibly civil war – awaiting them upon the expected publication of the names of the murder suspects, some of whom come from Hezbollah’s military leadership.
Hezbollah members murdered Hariri, yet they served as mercenaries on behalf of the Syrian regime. The Americans know this, European spy agencies know this, and we can assume that Israel is quite familiar with the material as well. Yet all of them – each for their own reasons – prefer to ignore Syria’s part in the murder and place Hezbollah in the limelight.
At this time, it’s most convenient for everyone to deal with the mercenary and forget about the mafia Don, who may be a partner for some good business in the future.
The current Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, was forced to head to Damascus not too long ago and kiss his father’s murderers. He did not wish to travel and his supporters demanded that he refrain from doing so. However, the family’s patron – the Saudi royal house – presented him with an ultimatum, just like the Godfather stories. The Mideastern mob families want reconciliation and sent the orphan to clear the murderer’s name.
The next phase in blurring the tracks was the attempt to postpone the publication of the international probe’s conclusions to an unknown date. A pressure campaign on Hariri Jr. got underway to put off, annul, disregard, and not cooperate with the committee. The Americans had to push $10 million into Hariri’s hands in order for him to continue paying the Lebanese government’s part in operating the international investigation mechanism.
The probe conclusions were supposed to be published on December 15, to be followed by the legal phase. Yet it did not happen. The hysterical threats by Nasrallah, who promised anarchy in Lebanon, produced the desired results. Hariri asked to postpone the publication until after Christmas, as not to ruin the holiday’s festivities.
Yet the legal process continues to move forward. The names of the suspects were handed over last week already from the investigators to the jurists, and it’s interesting to see the trick that will be used now in order to put off the indictment by a few more months. Too many elements in the Middle East and in Europe would like to see the inquiry’s conclusions pertaining to Hezbollah evaporating and Syria being cleared again.
We, too, have a part in this. Israel, just like everyone else, knows the truth but remains silent. Who needs a civil war in Lebanon and mess vis-à-vis the Syrians?