Who benefited from Hariri’s death?

February 18, 2006 - 0:0
A year has passed since Rafiq Hariri’s murder, but many questions remain unanswered.

The assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, an event that shocked the world, destabilized the Middle East and plunged Lebanon into its worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Although political analysts described the killing as a “political earthquake”, as it changed the balance of force in the region, the consequence of such changes were totally unexpected.

A year has passed since Hariri’s murder, but many questions remain unanswered. Who benefited from the assassination of the former, and most probably, future Prime Minister? And who was behind it? As time passes, hopes of finding answers fade and Hariri’s death becomes a myth. The only obvious and stable fact is that the assassination is being used as a bargaining chip by various political forces, who do not even want to know who the real perpetrators are.

Following Hairir’s killing, the world immediately recalled the tension between Hariri and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. But failed to recognize that these tensions didn’t escalate into an insoluble conflict.

Obviously, the assassination weakened the already fragile political balance in Lebanon and put Syria in the fire line. The early findings of a UN investigation into the killing implicated top security officials in Damascus and their allies in Lebanon, without reaching direct or strong evidence linking Syria to the murder, although the head of the probe, German prosecutor Deltiv Mehlis, mainly focused on Syrian involvement, overlooking all other possible scenarios. But given Hariri’s popularity and his extraordinary personality, combined with the complicated situation in Lebanon and the entire Middle East, such scenarios are numerous, both in terms of politics and economy. 

Hariri was killed in the midst of the U.S.-led campaign of international pressure on Syria. Washington‘s main allegation was that Damascus aids the Iraqi resistance. While in fact, the U.S. is blaming its failure in Iraq on Syria.

In its attempts to protect the lies it used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush Administration turned against Damascus. The U.S. is using Mehlis’ findings to step up pressure on Syria. Mehlis has no idea who killed Hariri exactly as the U.S. doesn’t know who is responsible for assassinating the many Iraqi officials under its protection. Yet the U.S. seized the Hariri assassination to put more pressure on Syria. Doesn't the U.S. know that it is in dire difficulties because it went to war based on highly unreliable "intelligence" supplied by highly unreliable people?

The U.S. also accuses Syria of supporting the Palestinian resistance and interfering in Lebanon’s domestic affairs. President Bush repeatedly asked the Syrian government to stop “destabilizing” its neighbors. But Syria is not destabilizing any country. In fact, the country is struggling to keep its own stability.

The Syrians deny all the American charges, insisting that Syria is being attacked by the West because of its uncompromising position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel’s occupation of Arab land. Damascus also charges that the UN probe is stacked against it and that its findings are based on false testimony to cause the utmost possible damage to Syria. "What lies behind all what Syria is facing, is not what Syria has done, or what Syria is presumed to have done, but it is generated by an ulterior agenda by very powerful elements within this administration and elsewhere," Syria’s ambassador to the U.S. Imad Moustapha said. “We believe that from day one that the plot behind assassination of Hariri goes far beyond merely assassinating of this national leader… Actually we believe that Syria is also targeted by this crime. And what we are seeing today proves our worst fears.”

In spring 2005, under growing international pressure, Syria ended more than 30-years of military presence in Lebanon. The U.S. quickly celebrated its “victory” in the region. In the eyes of the Bush Administration, Lebanon, alongside Iraq, became a model of “democratic success” in the Middle East.

But a few months later, it turned out that it was too early for such celebrations. Lebanon, and Iraq too, didn’t turn into the lands of calm and stability. Hariri’s killing was followed by a number of other political assassinations which led to divisions in the Lebanese government, mistrust between different ethnic and religious groups as well as mounting tensions between Damascus and Beirut.

However, the overall outcomes of last year came against the U.S.’s expectations for the Middle East. Hezbollah appeared in the Lebanese government, the Shias won the Iraqi elections, the Iraqi resistance intensified and Hamas beat Fatah in the Palestinian parliamentary polls.

Under such circumstance, attempts to topple the Syrian regime are doomed to failure. The U.S. cannot put more pressure on Syria unless it wants to bring chaos to another Middle Eastern country.

This means that Washington shouldn’t be interested in damaging Syrian-Lebanese relations and stop digging in for a Syrian trace in the Hariri murder. But this plan will destroy the foundation for the U.S. policy in the Middle East. So a possible convenient, and perhaps legitimate, solution is to keep the Hariri probe open as a cover for meddling in the region. Hopes of stability now lie on the Lebanese’ shoulders. Rafiq Hariri, who worked hard to make them get over the consequences of the civil war, does not deserve his name being used to destabilize the region.   Source: Aljazeera.com