Lebanon: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon will soon add alot of spice to an already hot dish

According to information made available to the Daily Star, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is set to hand down indictments next week, 3-4 July, on the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri, and possibly as well of those people killed in the campaign that followed Syria withdrawal from Lebanon. People whom all where considered either part of March 14 and/or anti-Syrian. Rumors based on what is said to be leaks from the investigation is that five members of Hezbollah will be indicted for the assassination. The question is how this will affect an already unstable region made unstable by the protests in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad?

If members of Hezbollah are indicted the chance that they will be arrested by Lebanese authorities are slim at best. Today Hezbollah is the single largest political block making up the current government. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has accused the tribunal of being an Israeli project and to “cut the hands” of anyone who targets the organization in the assassination of Rafik Hariri. You might say that this puts the State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza in somewhat of a problematic position.

In Israeli media speculations have been abuzz that following a possible indictment of members of Hezbollah the organization will with its well armed and drilled militia make a hostile take over of Lebanon. I do questions this hypothesis as it would open wide the doors of civil war in Lebanon. But that does not mean that Hezbollah will not issue threats or make noise that could be interpreted to that effect. We should not forget the move that Hezbollah during the then stalled negotiations on a unity government when they, in what could best be described as an invasion of downtown Beirut, temporarily occupied the areas controlled by Saad Hariri and his allies.

It is more likely that after indictments are sent to state Prosecutor Saeed Mirza they will not be enforced. The individuals suspected of the assassination of Rafik Hariri will then be tried in absentia by the tribunal. Hezbollah and its allies – Syria and Iran will do its best to vilify the tribunal and to use it as a rallying point, as a diversionary move pointing to enemies abroad. This will play well into the hands of the Syrian regime that have fostered the notion of a foreign backed conspiracy being behind the protests in Syria.

So far so good. But what if the Special Tribunal for Lebanon also indicts members of the Syrian regime? This is not unlikely as such an operation as the massive car bomb that killed Rafik Hariri, scores of his entourage and bystanders could never have been conducted without the knowledge and approval of the Syrian regime. The question is if the order came from Syria and if so from whom? If members of the Syrian regime were indicted either in the assassination of Rafik Hariri or in the following wave of murders of March 14 and anti-Syrian profiles then this would indeed add spice to an already hot dish.


About Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson has worked in the field of asylum at the Swedish Migration Agency specializing in the Middle East, Schengen and the Dublin Regulation, as Migration Attaché and head of the migration section at the Swedish Embassy in Damascus 2005 - 2008, as a resettlement consultant at the UNHCR branch office in Damascus 2008 - 2009, Consul at the Swedish Consulate General in Jerusalem 2012 - 2013 and associate RSD/RST officer at UNHCR in Beirut 2013 - 2014. He currently lives in Tbilisi, Georgia.
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