Tha’ir Ghandour has an interesting exclusive interview in today’s Al-Akhbar newspaper with an unnamed “security source close to Saad al-Hariri”. (There’s an English summary of the story here.) The gist of the source’s testimony is the following:
- In 2006, the Lebanese intelligence services uncovered evidence of the involvement of certain Hizbullah members in the Hariri assassination.
- A delegation was sent to speak to Hassan Nasrallah, advising him of the evidence, and suggesting that the party announce its willingness to prosecute any of its members that were implicated, just as Walid al-Mouallem had made the same promise with regard to any Syrian citizen connected with the crime.
- The source also apparently suggested that Hizbullah hide or liquidate these individuals so that they could not identify who they got their orders from.
- The offer was rejected by Nasrallah, which surprised Hariri’s delegation.
As you will recall, we heard something like this story from Hassan Nasrallah himself a couple months ago. What is most interesting about it, from my perspective, is the folowing quote:
فوجئنا يوم أقفل السيّد نصر الله الباب وقال إنه مسؤول عن أي عمل يقوم به أي عنصر من عناصر حزب الله، وكأن جسم الحزب غير مخترَق، ونحن نعرف تماماً أنه اختُرق وأعطيناه الأدلة على ذلك، وجرت تصفية المسؤولين الثلاثة في الحزب الذين أبلغنا الحزب عن تعاملهم مع إسرائيل.
Translation: “…We were surprised the day that Sayyed Nasrallah locked the door [on our offer to find an exit strategy to the problem] and said that he was responsible for any action carried out by any member of Hizbullah, as though the party were not infiltrated, and we knew precisely that it was infiltrated and we gave him evidence of that. The three members of the party whose collaboration with Israel we had notified Hizbullah about were then liquidated.“
Just a few days ago, I wondered aloud as to what Hariri’s strategy was going to be in the face of Hizbullah’s hardline position on the STL. If we are finally getting a glimpse of it, then it’s quite savvy. Rather than pushing back against Nasrallah with his own maximalist position (i.e. that Hizbullah pulled the trigger, with Syrian and/or Iranian assistance), Hariri is signaling that he would be (or at least had been) willing to help sell the “Israel-did-it” theory, but at a cost: that Hizbullah give up the members who had been “infiltrated” by the enemy.
This mechanism would fulfill the favored “no victors, no vanquished” formula that is the unspoken rule of Lebanese politics. It would give everyone a way to save face: Hariri would get to say that he had avenged his father’s death and Hizbullah would be able to say it was right all along about Israel. Of course, no one’s mind would really be changed: M14ers would continue to believe that Hizbullah committed the crime on Syria’s instructions, while M8ers would continue to believe that Hizbullah was being framed by Israel. But none of this would really matter.
Political historians (like detectives) are supposed to take into account the testimonies of all relevant parties when reconstructing their accounts of political developments. In this case, however, a pan-optic approach leads to an absurd and yet somehow fitting conclusion: that Israel infiltrated Hizbullah to assassinate Rafiq al-Hariri (the Sunni Premier who had been unknowingly infiltrated by Israel to disarm the infiltrated Hizbullah through UNSCR 1559) and then infiltrated the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon to pin the crime on Hizbullah.