I’ll be updating this thread with links to commentaries on the visit of King Abdullah and President Assad to Beirut.
Nick Noe argues that Hizbullah is not afraid of the indictments harming its relations with Syria or leading to a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Lebanon, but rather that it harms the resistance brand.
Sami Moubayed urges Saad Hariri to listen to Syria and take a “U-Turn on the STL.”
The Israeli news outlet Channel 1 declares that the prime suspect in the Hariri murder is senior Hizbullah official Mustafa Badr al-Din (alternate spelling Badreddine), the brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyyeh.
Badr al-Din was apparently one of the several Hizbullah members interviewed by the STL a few months ago, and he was identified as a major suspect in the crime by the famous Der Spiegel article that appeared last year.
Nick Blanford in the Christian Science Monitor on Beirut summitry.
Bobby Worth in The New York Times from a few days ago.
Deborah Amos on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Meris Lutz in the Los Angeles Times.
Noe’s analysis is interesting. But Sami is as funny as ever! Only Syrian authoritarian regime’s mouthpieces can come up with such gems!
If someone were to look at this from a conspiracy prism; one could see an alliance between Israeli and Syrian interests to isolate HA and bring Syria in!
As for the “summit”? Just a photo up and declarations galore that they will not allow sedition…They are two ruthless dictators who repress their own people…and now they are in Lebanon to tell us about Liberty & Justice and cover ups (what they both specialize in)…
I think the only long term consequence of all this is the attitude of the FPM Christians towards HA. If that changes, there will be significant changes in the next Lebanese elections. If not, nothing will change much.
So, the question is if the FPM voters still believe after the STL that HA is really attempting to build a viable Lebanese state for all Lebanese. That would be hard to believe if evidence emerges that HA have been killing leaders of other sects. That is why HA have started their PR blitz to discredit the STL. To some extent it is for their die hard followers, but I believe they are more worried about the Christian supporters of Aoun changing their stance.
So much time, ink and energy are being wasted over an issue that has not occured yet.
No one knows for a fact who is to be indicted and what is the evidence. Then there is the important distinction that an indictment is only an accusation and does not imply guilt automatically. But what is most important, and that is what is essentially wrong with the Mobayad analysis, is that Lebanon has no choice whatsoever but to comply with the requests and rulings of the STL.
I wonder seriously whether any of the three Summitteers has an understanding of what it means to have a rule of law. Do they really understand what the phrase implies And furthermore what is meant by the phrase an Israeli court? Was it Israel that initiated the call for an STL? Is everyone in the world outside of HA in the pay of Israel?
Sami is very funny
“A third option – and this is where Syrian and Saudi Arabian diplomacy can come into play – would be for Saad Hariri to come to his senses and repeat what Nasrallah has said – that the STL is an Israeli project that needs to be drowned at any cost.”
“The Syrians made it clear to Saad during his last visit to Damascus that Hezbollah is a red line that cannot be crossed.”
he is meaning just the opposit.
Why do you think FM could change position?
Do you think it is something new to them the outcome of STL?
Well, a cursory search on what the hell the STL is can be found below.
Let’s see, the GOL REQUESTED the tribunal through the UN. So where’s Israel’s involvement in all of this? A day never goes by where a Zionist conspiracy isn’t heard.
Face it, Lebanon is a basket-case ruled by gangs of thugs, Hezbollah and Iran being the strongest and most heavily armed.
They should rename the country South-West Ahmadinejad.
I am talking about the C&R bloc which is led by Aoun’s FPM party, not the Future Movement led by Hariri.
This bloc is mostly Christian and thinks till now that there is substance in the MOU signed with HA. Maybe this will change.
Easy Akbar, there may be bad elements in Lebanon but please don’t get insulting by using generalizations. How would you like it if we did the same towards Israel?
You must not be familiar with Akbar’s comments on this site or Syria Comment. Asking Akbar to stop make insulting over-generalizations about Arabs is like asking a mosquito to stop biting people – it’s just not going to happen.
HP, Peter H,
What have I said that isn’t true? The fact of the matter is that HA and Iran calls the shots, and everyone else is afraid of them. Hariri doesn’t want to end up like his father.
Is there something I haven’t considered?
Abdullah de-esclating; Assad watering Cedars at Baabda with an old pail. What’s the point of ‘reading’? Those cursed photogs have ‘said’ it all. We just need a photo of Saad and SHN playing poker at Casino du Liban, and the story is complete.
RFI: what’s the protocol on royal visits? If one monarch only stays for a few hours and then the next one three days, isn’t that a bit ’embarrassing’ for the Qatari? I mean there’s Lebanese hospitality, and then there’s Lebanese hospitals, right?
PS: If I am reading the western press correctly, I see that you were, in fact, appointed Minister of Information last Fall? Why the stealth appointment? Modesty? Or are you and Baroud soon to announce your political platform … Inquiring minds … 🙂
You’re worse than my mother. 🙂
I’ve linked to the NYT and CS Monitor stories above. Stay tuned for something in the LA Times today or tomorrow, and I’ll be on NPR later tonight.
…Lebanon has no choice whatsoever but to comply with the requests and rulings of the STL.
And how do you propose HA be persuaded to do just that, in case some of their members are indicted?
As a nod to this blog’s committment to representative democracy, you should allow readers to choose how you are referred to epithet-wise in the media.
Political analyst? No, already taken. Blogger? No, same. Harvard student? No, dirty names are not allowed.
What to do? Recalling your photo in the guardian and out of respect for your mother and really the dreams of all Lebanese mothers everywhere, I introduce a motion for ‘gentleman and scholar.’
Can I get a second from the gathered assembly?
How about “hobbyist hack”?
second (but only if it’s a first step to “The guru who resurrected Lebanon”)
AP – you generalized to include all Lebanese (and I understand from Peter you’ve done similar generalizations in the past).
Such approach is not a good one and does not lead to positive change. You have to recognize the shining lights in the darkness, work with them, encourage them, mirror them in your own society, and work jointly on a peaceful and prosperous future that foils the evil consequences of those who cause you to make those generalizations. Believe or not, often times very few evil apples are at play and make it seem like everyone is in their game. Wouldn’t you acknowledge bad apples (some really rotten ones) in your society and your country? Please ask if you want examples but only if you genuinely believe they don’t exist (in which case we will draw our own conclusions about you). What if we took to saying that every Israeli and every Jew is as rotten as these ones? That’s EXACTLY what you are doing!
Just to be clear, here’s what you said:
“Lebanon is a basket-case ruled by gangs of thugs, Hezbollah and Iran being the strongest and most heavily armed”
This is NOT true my friend. Re-read your sentence, it lumps all rulers of Lebanon in the category of gangs and thugs. We have our problems but, as the French say: “Quand même!”
“And how do you propose HA be persuaded to do just that, in case some of their members are indicted?”
Badr, you must have missed the post when the potential remedy was discussed. To repeat briefly:
There are two things that can be done:
(1)The court will try the accused in absentia if Lebanon fails to deliver them.
(2) The UN could put together an invasion force to get two birds in one stone. 1559 was also a chapter seven UNSC resolution which has not been enforced. This is an option that will not be used at the time being but it is to be considered anyway.
Again let me repeat that an indictment is NOT to be confused with a guilty ruling by the court.
There will be a story by Deborah Amos about the summit on “All Things Considered” at 7PM EST. I believe I may have a quote:
Do you think hizbullah killed hariri? if so, what was their motive, in your opinion?
Do you think this process will lead to a normalization and (in the near future) a new alliance between Hizbullah and Mustaqbal? or do you think this is simple power politics, and defensiveness on the part of little hariri?
I, personally, do not see renewed inter-lebanese violence coming out of this. The worst that could happen, in my opinion, is that Hizbullah rejects the tribunal. On the basis of weak evidence, the tribunal comes to a ruling against a few Hizbullah members, and Hizbullah continues to reject it… everyone (except a few right-wing christians) eats it and lets the sleeping dog lie.
On the other hand, I am more likely to believe that this will be swept under the rug without any serious conflict brewing against hizbullah, and end in the formation of a fpm, mustaqbal, hizbullah (loose) alliance.
And, of course, it is absolutely, without question, impossible that Hizbullah gives up any of its members (particularly high ranking ones) to this tribunal. so, the key question is how much force the tribunal (i.e. USA) and the opposition are willing to use get hizbullah to yield.
This is quite interesting if I must say so myself!!!!
Everything depends on who is indicted and how strong the evidence is. If they indict someone like Mustafa Badreddine (as Der Spiegel suggested) and they provide very strong evidence, then how could the issue be swept under the rug? It would have to have repercussions.
Hizbullah would deny it completely and say that the evidence was fabricated by American and Israeli intelligence. They would also demand that Hariri denounce it as well, on pain of a failed government (as Naim Qasim has already said).
At that point, the ball is in Hariri’s (and his allies’) court. We have no way of knowing what they will elect to do.
I think it’s pretty clear that there will not be strong evidence in this case. Although the machinations of the tribunal have been opaque, the probability of direct evidence explicitly tying someone to the murder is slim. They have released numerous reports and are already on, at least, their 5th (or more) person of interest. Obviously, they didn’t catch anyone that was on the scene of the crime either. so, after five years, at best there will circumstantial evidence indirectly tying some hizbullah member(s) to the killing via the the tribunal’s unconfirmed theory of the case.
that said, I don’t totally disagree with you, in that little hariri is going to have to make some big time decisions.
(I have only read one of the tribunal’s reports, the first one some years ago, but really only two things came from it: (1) that the job was professional, and (2) despite all their resources, they were unable to tie any people to tracks they discovered)
I think it’s pretty clear that we need to wait and see. 🙂
I have no theories on who killed Hariri and honestly it does not matter. The only thing that matters to me is the fact that a horiffic crime was committed and that whoever the investigations reveal is responsible should stand trial. I do not think that the whole issue was handled properly over the pat five years. A quick search of the archives might even reveal that I was one of the earliest people calling for March 14 to just govern and stop using the assassination as a means of legitimacy. I dread the idea that Hariri senior attends all of these meetings through his ever present portraits and I despise with a passion the attempts to sanctify him. Don’t misunderstand me, I do not hate the guy, but if the populace think that he is a hero that is fine , I just hate the attempts at creating a national hero through a well orchestrated and probbly a highly financed game.
If the Fitgerald report and all the others are right then such a sophisticated operation could not have been carried out without the knowledge of the Lebanese and Syrian Mukhabarat. Even if Hezbollah pulled the trigger or even planned the operation could they have done it without the knowledge of the authorities? If so then how does one explain the immediate effort to cover up the scene of the crime?
Rafic Hariri was not the first victim of a political crime neither would he be the last. And what is equally important is that this will not be the first crime that will be unsolved if that is the case.
I honestly have had enough of talk about this crime. I am not interested in all the silly conspiracy theories on both sides. I will be more than satisfied with a ruling by the courts, no matter what it is . We have to get this behind us especially if we are to pretend to believe in the rule of law. I will not be surprised if the master mind is never known and I am not sure that at this stage it is going to make much of a difference. What counts is the court of public opinion. As a result I feel that the more Hassan Nasrallah complains the greater will be his loss if the prosecutor and the court rule against HA. If HA is tainted then it will be very difficult to keepits present image in some sectors. But that is speculation. I am suspicious that HA was involved only because of their attempts to short circuit the system that appears to be ready to indict them. Why would a diverse group of individuals from all over the world want to conspire to indict HA is the more appropriate question?
I do not believe in black helicopters and I am willing to accept the ruling of the STL. There is no need for civil war, civil sedition or even demonstrations. Just accept the ruling , close the book and move forward.
AP – you generalized to include all Lebanese (and I understand from Peter you’ve done similar generalizations in the past).
Such approach is not a good one and does not lead to positive change.
I did a cursory search on the other website and found you said this:
The HA military forces and its operation as an independent state-within-a-state wreaked havoc on Lebanon during the summer of 2006, notwithstanding HA’s declaration of the “Divine” victory. It is the blind Arabic hot-headedness all over again. It is what caused the defeat of 1967. Today, true struggle and triumph are achieved through politics and economics. Let us become a superior force from within the US, have a pan-Arab Political Action Committee in the US, triumph by persuasion and by influencing US policy. Demonstrate by example the power of coexistence in Lebanon in a truly democratic state and, by so doing, then attack the policies of Israel as a country that discriminates against its non-Jewish citizen.
It seems the only “positive change” you want is from Israel.
What do you think of Charles Krauthammer’s latest article? Does he make sense? Why or why not?
AP, on #27, how do you interpret what I wrote as wanting only a change from Israel ?? I’m puzzled. Please read it again. I’m arguing precisely that a better strategy and tactic from cool-headed Arab and Arab-Americans, working within the system, is the way to make a difference. I say nothing in that section you quoted from me about Israel. What gives?
AP, on #28, you’re changing subjects on me, asking me to comment on a piece relating to regional issues, interests of certain Arab countries to see Iran weakened even by an attachk by the U.S., etc.
I have no opinion on this, not because I want to hide it but because I’m not an expert in these matters. Charles Krauthammer is a very intelligent analyst and also quite aligned with a particular school of thought in the U.S. I’m sure our real scholar QN or other erudite contributors here, like Ghassan, or even AIG who is emerging – at least to me – to be extremely logical and effective lately, much more so than in the old days on Syriacomment when he often allowed outbursts to cloud what otherwise were decent arguments — I’m sure that such folks can do a good job at providing critique and analysis.
I’m not a fan of Ahmadinejad nor of ineffective violent resistance, etc.
If you want to gain some insights into my thinking and some of the positions I find reasonable you should do more than a “cursory search” of my old posts. Search for all of them and read them carefully. Drawing conclusions or maybe even seeking to get a provocative reaction by doing what you did — doing a superficial search then throwing a thought-bomb or setting a trap — is frankly infantile and unworthy of further discussion.
You did the same earlier (in post #6) when you did another “cursory search on what the hell the STL is” and started drawing conclusion. It gets old after a while.
Frankly I’m disappointed in you as much as I’m relatively impressed by AIG. I remember that in the old posts on Syriacomment you used to make some good points and now you make half-baked arguments intended to provoke based on “cursory” this and “cursory” that. By contrast, AIG has improved his tone, his reasoning, and his logic, and uses good facts and analyses. I’m asking myself why I’m wasting time responding to you when any intelligent reader can see the superficiality and inconsistency in your posts.
You need to refresh your memory and go back and read the Syria Comment archives. My responses are always measured. Whatever tone a person uses with me, that is the tone I answer with.
Also, Syria Comments was a den of antisemites. The amount of generalizations made there on Israelis and Jews was through the roof. True, you were not making those generalizations, but you were not standing up against them either. That is why it was somewhat surprising for me to see you go after AP.
Just to be clear, you are more moderate than some I have read here and there over the years, and I appreciate that.
The way I read you in Post #27, is that Arabs should become more political savvy and democratic and “by so doing, then attack the policies of Israel as a country that discriminates against its non-Jewish citizen”.
But you don’t use the term “attack” against those in Lebanon who aren’t following your advice. Did you mention anything about the discrimination against Palestinians? No.
As for AIG, clearly he understands Lebanon well, and does a great job pointing out the hypocrisy of those that want Israel to reform while the rest of the Middle East is some 500 years behind the times.
His being banned from Professor Josh’s weblog, it a badge of honor. A real literary “martyr” if I say so myself…
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the outcome of the tribunal is a reflection of status of the “rule of law”. The “rule of law” is not the same as the best tribunal money can buy for a single billionaire politician. I know you know that, but your desire for a “ruling by the courts” implies that you prefer a structured outcome to general matters of justice.
You asked, “Why would a diverse group of individuals from all over the world want to conspire to indict HA…” I never claimed it was a conspiracy. But I have been in enough court rooms to know that a lot of little problems can easily come together to produce a gross injustice (that’s why the appeals process must be so strong, and why there are thousands of cases of wrongful convictions in the USA and throughout the world). What we know for sure is that diverse group of individuals from all over the world (and lebanon) want to indict SOMEONE, so this 5 year and $150 million investigation does not blow up in their faces as a giant embarrassment. We also know that Hizbullah is an easy target because it is internationally (and locally) demonized as a “terrorist” organization. I don’t know the political orientations of the people involved in the tribunal, but it does seem unlikely (because of the nature of the tribunal itself) that they would be sympathetic to Hizbullah in general. Similarly, an american/international tribunal to indict bin laden is unlikely to be genuinely non-biased.
you might think im over-blowing these potential problems, but these issues are extremely important. for example, just based on the basic public information that i know, this case would be highly disputed (and likely thrown out) on numerous timing, bias, jurisdictional and constitutional grounds if it were a federal case in the USA (though, obviously, we have to actually wait to see the charges are before we can be sure).
Anyway, my point is just that you be careful on this one. this looks dirty already, and the ball’s just getting rolling.
Are these posters in the street a sort of sarcastic joke?
I am so glad that I am not the only one who feels that way about these posters. Anyway, your comment implies that you read Arabic. If that is so then you have to read Yesterdays Al Akhbar where they reproduce a few of the words and concepts that were used by the Syrian TV and the Saudi TV to cover this 4 hour visit.
The STL does provide grounds for appeal within the STL system though and not to a higher court. But the proces has got to end somewhere ,there is no such thing as an open ended appeal anyway.
Joe, based on my understanding of the rule of law, aconcept that goes back tousands of year I am suggesting that although no institutional structure is ever going to be perfect we have to accept what we have to resolve the issues that are confronting us.My frustration in this case is so heightened by the fact that M14 has demonstrated clearly that they cannot chew and walk a straight line while the other side wants to change the rules of the game after the game has already started. The STL is a reality, its statutes appearto me to be fair, reasonable and just. When Omar Nashabe tried to critique them he came up with three rather non substantive issue one of which , I believe, is a result of his confusing what the term “government ” means.
What specifically is it about the structure of the STL that makes it unacceptable although flawed like any other institution.
King of Humanity !! How low can “someLebanese” get ? They put used car salesmen to shame how about calling Assad the Prince of Peace ?
Debating your points in #31:
– “SyriaComment was a den of antisemites.”
This is a false generalization if there ever was one. I was on SC, hence, by your reasoning I am and antisemite? You see, the point I made to AP and I make to you is that such poor choice of language completely saps the power of any potential one is making.
– “True, you were not making those generalizations, but you were not standing up against them either.”
First this is not true. Go back and read my strong and effective dismissal of the outrageous Ausamaa claims.
Second I am not the moderator in these forums. What the heck, AIG, you think I should spend my time responding to every generalizer out there? I respond to the posts I’m interested in and respond – as long as I think there’s utility and merit in the debate – to folks who might somehow have valid points to argue otherwise, or because something particularly interests me. I am neither a political expert – never claimed to be – and, again, not the moderator of the posts.
– “it was somewhat surprising for me to see you go after AP”
Well, responding to a post in a civil manner as I do, paying attention to another commentator’s post, expressing disagreement with them and pointing out a poor approach, these are not “going after” someone. I was genuinely disappointed in seeing these generalizations from AP because I remembered a different quality of posts from him on SC and because I wanted to point out how diminishing such approach is to otherwise valid arguments he may have to make. The attention I gave him here, as well as my comments about you and my engaging with you in earlier posts here on QN’s blog should be viewed as a positive aspect not a disappointing one. It is my turn to be disappointed in you, AIG, because I see you defending a wrong aspect of someone just because he is otherwise in your camp. Generalizations are wrong and ineffective and get in the way of progress and peace, pure and simple. Join me in saying this and occasionally preaching it.
– “Whatever tone a person uses with me, that is the tone I answer with.”
So, an eye for an eye, right? Well, AIG, this is not a recipe for successful debate when your opponent in the debate destroys his/her credibility by nasty language, insults, generalizations, or other negative aspects. A smart response that points out these aspects and maintains one’s standards is much by far more effective.
I had been too busy to follow blogs for a while so I had no idea that you were banned from SC. Too bad. If one filtered out back then the aspects of your comments that probably caused the ban, you generated excellent debate which helps everyone move to a more moderate position and understand and even maybe empathize with the other’s point of view and condition.
By perhaps insisting on having the satisfaction of expressing an eye for eye as you say you do, I maintain, as I said above, that you diminish the effectiveness of your arguments.
Finally, you said, about SC:
– “The amount of generalizations made there on Israelis and Jews was through the roof.”
Addressing this, if it’s worthy of addressing since to reasonable readers this is obvious and regrettable, is simply to point out the sophism of such generalization in an eloquent and effective manner. That is what I did here with AP. You did not disagree that AP made generalizations – to your credit, and confirming my impression of your merit. The same type of response I gave, if you had given to the others, you would have seen how more effective it would have been than your responses at the time that you characterize as “always measured [:] Whatever tone a person uses with me, that is the tone I answer with.”
AIG, AP, unless you actually get on the side of the moderates but instead start arguing with them even when they make good points, how do you expect progress?
AP, the Palestinians are not citizen in Lebanon, they are displaced refugees who left their homeland as a result of the establishment of the state of Israel and the wars that followed. This is a fact, not a generalization.
Maybe I should have used the word “those” instead of “the” in the sentence you quote from me. I was not, of course, saying that all Israeli policies discriminate. Some do, that’s another fact. Nothing wrong with political action. You should welcome it because it displaces ineffective violent protest. If the folks wanting to be active politically against certain Israeli policies, well, respond in kind and may the best argument win.
The progress towards peace will come not from the moderates in the Arab side talking to the moderates on the Israeli side. The progress will come from the moderates on each side taking on the extremists IN THEIR OWN SIDE. I didn’t see much of that on the Arab side in SC.