“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Lebanon, What’s Going On?

with 22 comments

It seems like ages since I touched upon issues in the Middle East but the collapse of the Lebanese government is rather worrying, yet there’s not much significant coverage in the Western media, as far as I can see.

I gather that the assassination of Rafik Harir is at the heart of matters.

According to Reuters there may soon be an indictment of those guilty for Rafik Harir’s murder, and it looks as if Hezbollah are in the frame for it (along with the Syrian government), here’s more:

“(Reuters) – The prosecutor of the U.N.-backed Lebanon tribunal will “imminently” send a draft indictment over the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri to the pre-trial judge, sources familiar with the case said on Friday.

Tension in Lebanon ahead of the indictment boiled over this week as the country’s government collapsed when ministers from Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah group walked out of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s coalition, testing political faultlines across the Middle East.

Speculation had been mounting that investigators at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will indict Hezbollah members over the assassination, a prospect Lebanese politicians had already feared could spark a crisis and possible violence.

Sources told Reuters that the indictment will be sent to tribunal pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen for confirmation “imminently, saying it could “perhaps come as early as next week.” It is now expected that the court will make an announcement when it has been filed.

Hezbollah has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing. Its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said last year he will not allow the arrest of any of the group’s members. “

I worry that Hezbollah will be tempted to use their considerable military muscle to resolve the crisis, either internally or by provoking a conflict with Israel. Not good.

This is the web site of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Written by modernityblog

14/01/2011 at 17:23

22 Responses

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  1. It will no longer be possible to ignore the fact that Hezbollah is Iran, that Iran occupies south Lebanon, and that Iran directly threatens Israel — and therefore the US — not from a distance but along Israel’s own northern border. The indictment of Khameini, if it materializes, will show Hezbollah’s aggressions, up to and including the assassination of foreign heads of state, to be Iranian aggressions.

    Fasten your seatbelts, indeed.


    15/01/2011 at 13:44

  2. Funny how these groups don’t accept a UN judgement when it goes against them but when it goes against Israel, e.g. Goldstone, they use it for all it’s worth.


    17/01/2011 at 00:47

  3. Err, you should possibly follow more closely. I think you’ll find that the tribunal shifted its focus to Hezbullah because there was no evidence to suggest Syrian involvement. Get with the programme!

    Good commentary here:


    20/01/2011 at 00:21

  4. Philip,

    I’m always happy to hear your insights into these matters, such as they are.

    So, you would agree then that Hezbollah are guilty in this matter?


    20/01/2011 at 00:29

  5. What an odd thing to say! Ignore the entire substance of what I wrote, why don’t you! Just goes to show your confrontational style, I suppose.

    What I wrote is that the tribunal appeared to find zero evidence of Syrian involvement in the murder. Now, we must wait and see what the indictments say, but I would imagine that Hezbullah involvement is a highly likely scenario. Do you think that’s controversial? Lebanon is not as simple as you imagine. Your Hezbullah bad, Hariri good narrative lacks substance. Take a trip to Lebanon yourself and you’ll see.


    20/01/2011 at 00:49

  6. Philip,

    You are such an ingrate.

    I treat you as you treat others 🙂

    But please, do give us your considered opinion on who did it and why ?

    Please share your expertise, if you have any 🙂


    20/01/2011 at 02:13

  7. Was I meant to have thanked you for something?

    The point I made was to correct your mistake concerning the involvement of the Syrian government. Do you contest this correction? The Syrian government uses Hezbullah as a proxy against Israel, with quite a degree of success. However, their interests are not identical, they merely overlap on occasion. (Much like the United States and Israel, I might add.) Syria has a huge interest in the stability of Lebanon, and is not keen on seeing Hezbullah stir things up.

    As to who killed Hariri, did you read what I linked to? It seems pretty likely that it was Hezbullah, as I said in my last comment (did you read this?). I was in Lebanon on the anniversary of his death to see the demonstrations. I think most people believe it was Hezbullah who did it. But we’ll wait to see when the indictments are handed down.


    20/01/2011 at 09:27

  8. “The point I made was to correct your mistake concerning the involvement of the Syrian government.”

    As you say, “we must wait and see what the indictments say…”

    I can certainly imagined scenarios where Syrians were involved in it.

    So your point was an irrelevance.


    20/01/2011 at 12:37

  9. You clearly haven’t actually followed Lebanese politics, and simply pontificate about it when it suits your bizarre agenda.

    It’s fairly clear that the Syrian government is no longer the subject of the investigation. Try reading this, by someone who has actually spent some time in Lebanon:


    20/01/2011 at 12:47

  10. Philip,

    Thank you for the advice.

    Pleading your authority in this matter is amusing, but as you know fallacious.


    20/01/2011 at 12:57

  11. So instead of trying to back up your views this is your response? No comment to make on the fact that the tribunal released the Syrian suspects it had held due to lack of evidence? No arguments about the conflicting interests of Syria and Hezbullah? I suppose ignoring these issues is better than stubbornly sticking to your original positions.


    20/01/2011 at 13:37

  12. Philip,

    Your tenacity is amazing, as is your persistency in trying to exculpate the Syrian government.

    We mustn’t forget that Syria occupied Lebanon for over 30 years, and still presumably have some residue of influence and control in that country.


    20/01/2011 at 13:49

  13. The Syrian government is guilty of many many things, but it seems highly unlikely that the assassination of Hariri is one of them. Your obvious tactic of ignoring the points I make suggests that you know you’re beaten.

    Your one comeback (that Syria occupied Lebanon for many years) actually just goes to prove my own points. Syria occupied Lebanon in order to stablise it. Syria has two interests in Lebanon. One is stability, the other is to prod Israel every now and then. Neither of those goals is served in any way by killing Hariri. So you can insinuate all you like, but the evidence and the theory are both against you.


    20/01/2011 at 14:48

  14. Philip,

    Please, we have been here before.

    You have shown for years a perpetual desire to exculpate the actions the Syrian government.

    Please, give it up.


    20/01/2011 at 15:00

  15. Actually, I’m a fierce critic of the Syrian government, I just like those criticisms to be well-informed. Does Syria give missiles to Hezbullah to launch at Israel? Yes, of course. Did they kill Hariri, very unlikely.

    You, instead of choosing to look at the evidence, such as the release of the Syrian suspects on the grounds of no evidence, and the revelations that Iran and Hezbullah were probably behind the killings. Which is an interesting way to win a debate.


    20/01/2011 at 15:16

  16. “Actually, I’m a fierce critic of the Syrian government…”


    Yeah, I am sure you are, in your own mind.

    Still, I seem to remember once before that wasn’t so….


    20/01/2011 at 15:36

  17. So wait, your theory is that because I challenge the Zionist narrative of the Arab states, and because I think the Syrian government does a pretty good job of preventing religious and ethnic tension (and I have actually met Syrian Jews in Syria, which is probably more than you can say), that means I’m a defender of everything the government does? Sophisticated arguments you have.

    No, what is really the case is that I like to think about what’s true and what’s not. And I like to respect other countries, and recognise that they have their own interests which are legitimate, even though they might be different from mine.


    20/01/2011 at 16:11

  18. Philip,

    Please, when you’re floundering, don’t construct straw men.

    Let me remind you of what you previously wrote:

    “Syria and Lebanon treat Jews well. In Syria they have the same rights as all other minorities, that is, a littl bit fewer than Muslims. Jews are not singled out for this, they share it with Christians and Druze.

    I was not trying to make the point that Arab countries are paragans of best-practice when it comes to treating minorities. However, I am not aware of an Arab country that has a policy of target discrimination against Jews. Please correct me if I’m wrong. “

    1. “Syria …treat Jews well. In Syria they have the same rights as all other minorities, that is…”

    2. “I am not aware of an Arab country that has a policy of target discrimination against Jews.”

    Need I explain the problem here?


    20/01/2011 at 16:31

  19. Did you block my last comment?


    20/01/2011 at 20:54

  20. No, Philip, you have full access….


    20/01/2011 at 21:43

  21. WordPress tells me I’ve already posted this. Not sure what’s going on. Problems in cyberspace.

    My original comment was along the lines of, yes, you do need to explain further. First you need to explain why you’re so desperately trying to change the subject from the STL. Second, you need to explain rather than insinuate. And third, you need to tell me why you know more about Syrian government policies and attitudes towards its Jewish citizens than someone who has met Syrian Jews and who has attended a synagogue there.


    22/01/2011 at 23:15

  22. Philip,

    Of course you think I need to explain further, but I could explain forever and a day and you’d never get the point.

    Why don’t you make an honest and conscious effort to address the issue of Jews in Syria?

    Why don’t you instead of plucking the old “some of my best friends are ….” line out of your hat, actually make an effort?


    25/01/2011 at 02:02

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