Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

Saving Lebanon’s Syrian-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish Initiative

It’s been another marathon day for political deal-making in Lebanon. As recently as this morning, the Syrian-Saudi initiative remained dead and buried, only to be resurrected under Qatari-Turkish stewardship (and French oversight) by the afternoon.  Tomorrow, we may see the Brazilians and the Russians tossing their hats in the ring, and before you know it, the Tasmanians will be elbowing their way to the bar as well.

Lebanon’s speaker of parliament Nabih Berri was quoted in a story in An-Nahar today confirming the terms of the Syrian-Saudi initiative, which were first discussed by Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah in his speech on Sunday evening. These terms, as you will recall, were based upon the following three demands by the opposition:

  1. that Lebanon end its financial support of the U.N. Special Tribunal (STL);
  2. that the Lebanese judges be withdrawn from the court;
  3. and that the treaty of cooperation between Lebanon and the court be annulled.

According to Berri, there was a last-ditch effort on Sunday to reach an agreement with Saad al-Hariri on this deal (before the UN Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare could file his indictment to the pre-trial judge on Monday), but it fell through. Had Hariri accepted, he would have presumably been re-nominated prime minister by the opposition. Instead, he turned it down, which led to a flurry of diplomatic activity meant to prevent the security situation in Lebanon from spinning out of control.

The Daily Star is reporting that the Turks and Qataris have stepped in where the Syrians and Saudis failed, and are apparently close to hammering out an agreement which is based on the earlier initiative. While we wait to hear how this pans out, I thought it would be worth reflecting on the opposition’s demands, and what they tell us about how Hizbullah and Hariri view the consequences of the Tribunal.

First of all, as Nasrallah himself noted in his speech, even if Hariri were to accept the three-point plan, this would not bring an end to the STL’s proceedings. This morning, I interviewed the STL Registrar, Herman von Hebel, and he had this to say about the issue of financing:

I’m very confident that we will be able to get the financial support for the budget. Lebanon continues to be obliged to cooperate with the Tribunal and provide financial support – regardless of the state of the government. There remains strong support for the Tribunal in the international community: 20-25 countries around the world are supporting us financially. Following the issuance of the indictment, we have only seen increased attention and support. So, I am confident that even if Lebanon’s share (49% of the budget) were not provided, we would be able to continue our work with contributions from other states.

Similarly, I imagine that withdrawing the Lebanese judges would not represent an insurmountable obstacle for the STL, nor would the annulment of the agreement between the STL and the Lebanese government be anything more than a symbolic move, since the agreement was never ratified by Parliament anyway (it was imposed by Chapter VII).

So, if these three steps make no practical difference to the functioning of the STL, why are they so important to Hizbullah? No one in Lebanon would believe that Hariri and March 14th had changed their true position on the STL even if they did agree to “distance” themselves from it using these measures. So why insist on the charade? On the other hand, because the indicted individuals will almost certainly have to be tried in absentia (since the Lebanese Army can’t be trusted to break up a street fight in Zoqaq al-Blat, let alone arrest a member of Hizbullah and put him on a plane to The Hague), does it really matter, practically speaking, what the Lebanese government’s official stance is on the STL? And if not, why didn’t Hariri accept the proposed settlement?

The obvious answer to these questions is that Hizbullah is seeking to put another dent in the STL’s public image, so as to mitigate any anticipated tarnishing of its own image. I say that this is the “obvious” answer only because it’s the one that people typically offer whenever talk of the Tribunal’s consequences comes up. But the truth is that no one really knows how (or if) the trial will impact Hizbullah’s image once the trial begins. In my opinion, that will depend entirely on the kind of evidence that is marshalled, and not on any transparent political games being played in Beirut.

More on this tomorrow…
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Discussion

38 thoughts on “Saving Lebanon’s Syrian-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish Initiative

  1. And if not, why didn’t Hariri accept the proposed settlement?

    QN –

    After reading Syria Comment, I found the answer:

    Too much Zionist/Neocon pressure on Hariri.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 19, 2011, 11:10 pm
  2. QN ,

    How come Arabs can not solve their problems without mediation from somebody else ,

    Why can’t they lock themselves in a room until they reach a solution ,

    Posted by Norman | January 19, 2011, 11:51 pm
  3. QN,
    As we have stated many times over the recent past, there is nothing that the domestic Lebanese actors can do in order to affect the process that has been set in motion by the STL. The ridiculous demand that is often heard in Lebanon that Sa’ad Hariri must exonerate Hezbollah is a statement based on a total misunderstanding of this case. It is not for Sa’ad Hariri to either accuse or exonerate. This is a purely judicial process.
    It is also clear , again as you state, that Hezbollah is driven to take all this drastic measures for a reason. It fears the irreperable damage that will occur to its reputation once the details of the assassination are revealed. Allow though to add one more point that the analysis reveals to this observer.
    Ironically , the largest and most powerful of the Lebanese political parties lacks legitimacy. Hezbollah craves it but will not admit to the fact. They won their legitimacy as a result of the 2006 war followed by their ability to paralyze the government , get a veto power and force a national unity cabinet whose message indirectly accepots the illegitimate Hezbollah militia. That process of legitimization is about to unravel if the indictments are as serious as the actions by Hezbollah suggest. Hezbollah is doing all what it can to either prevent or at least prevent the deligitimization process from unfolding.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 19, 2011, 11:55 pm
  4. QN,

    We know what the opposition is “getting”. What is Hariri getting?

    The deal still makes no sense whatsoever. But negotiation is better than strife. If he renounces the STL in any way, shape or form, Hariri is just going to piss the US and Europe big time and get nothing. He just has no way to make Hezbollah stick to any part of their deal.

    On another note, let me register my hunch that Eid’s boss, who is recovering in Canada, is going to be an important witness.

    Posted by AIG | January 19, 2011, 11:57 pm
  5. What do we to understand from the latest statement by the Saudi foreign minister about Saudi Arabia giving up on any mediation and the special warning about division or cessation?

    Is this the end of the Saudi -Syrian rapprochement and we will soon witness a dramatic escalation on the streets?

    Posted by V | January 20, 2011, 12:20 am
  6. AIG

    Funny you should say that about Eid’s boss. I have been thinking exactly the same thing since the whole CBC report came out.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 12:41 am
  7. Interesting development.

    Who’d have guessed that the word “Partition” would one day come out the Saudi’s mouths.

    http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/01/19/134099.html

    If you can’t beat them… partition them.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 1:05 am
  8. This is just my Guess.

    Hizbullah is assuming the STL is intended to lead to sanctions on Lebanon. Once a conviction is obtained (assuming it is) sanctions will be placed if Lebanon fails to deliver the accused/convicted. It is hoped that the Lebanese population will then turn on HA and disarm it or at least weaken it.

    It is in this light that HA’s demands that Hariri renounce the STL should be seen. The idea being that if Hariri himself is against the tribunal, it will be a lot harder for the US to get UNSC support for the kind of sanctions they would want.

    Conversely, if Hariri doesn’t ‘play ball’ when time for sanctions come, his position on the matter will be important. Is Hariri against sanctions on Lebanon, or for them? If he is against them, shouldn’t he speak up? And if he is for them, then he will share the blame in bringing them upon Lebanon. HA will see to that.

    Ultimately, that is what Hariri ‘gets in return’ for agreeing to HA’s terms. He can appear as having opposed UNSC sanctions rather than having conspired with the west to place them. HA probably doesn’t feel it needs to give him more than that.

    I’m not sure how much importance should be placed in the strength of the STL’s evidence once made public. People have already picked their camps. I guess it will impact the ability to get UNSC sanctions, or maybe WJ will switch sides again.

    Just an idea. Feel free to shoot it down.

    Posted by Lysander | January 20, 2011, 1:51 am
  9. Do you guys actually think HA gives a hoot about what people in Egypt, Saudia or the rest of the Arab world think of them? Hard to imagine this party will go thru all this trouble just for image sake.

    It’s more plausible that the likely evidence to be presented by the tribunal is quite indisputable thus they’re going all out.

    Posted by mlk | January 20, 2011, 2:48 am
  10. I agree with QN that this ‘charade’ is nothing more than a last ditch attempt to add another dent to the STL’s image. that said i don’t agree that if successful it would be just symbolic.

    HA knows very well that it’s international public image is about to take a severe hit. But by getting the son of the victim to distance himself (albeit unconvincingly) it will still be better than nothing. HA would always be able to use that denunciation by Hariri Jr as ammo in the ‘STL is conspiracy woven by the west’ argument. This might not be useful in a court of law, but as you mentioned already, who cares? since the trial will be in absentia. On the other hand it sure will come in handy in the public relation war everyone is battling in.

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | January 20, 2011, 3:06 am
  11. We live in a complex, interactive, increasingly orderless/borderless world in which our lives are impacted by a multiplicity of events originating from beyond the sphere of our direct influence….

    Everything I’ve done has been highly classified, all black programs and black operations. Some people I know thought I worked for the CIA, but it’s much more complicated than that. I’ve worked with people in the CIA, DIA, NSC, NSA, SAIC, Army Intel and many more lesser known agencies within the intelligence apparatus.

    Before focusing on PsyOps I started out running covert combat missions, special operations. I was good at what I did and rose through the ranks fast. When the “War on Terror” started I was paid a lot of money to consult with private military contractors. When private paramilitary units needed to get the jobs done that paid the most money they would come to me with checkbooks filled with US taxpayer dough.

    I’ve seen the worst things imaginable, hell on earth. Had friends die in my arms. Seen piles of rotten corpses. Seen men, women and children tortured. I’ve seen the eyes of terrified and confused children being sold into a vicious life of slavery and an early death.

    I could get a lot more graphic, but you get the idea.

    That was my life, and all along I was told that I was fighting for freedom and working for the “good guys.” What a ridiculous comment that is! In the black world, that is, in the covert world, there aren’t any “good guys” — just varying degrees of evil.

    As Brigadier General Butler famously stated, “War is a racket.” It doesn’t have anything to do with freedom and democracy. It is not good fighting evil. There’s just a bunch of old greedy gangsta motherfuckers making obscene amounts of cash and breeding hatred, violence, terrorists and sex slaves.

    The truth is, there is no oversight! Meaning, you can get away with anything, nothing is illegal because no one knows about it, or the few who do are either in on it or have a vested interest in keeping quiet. Whether you’re runnin’ guns, weapons, drugs, Nuke Technology, gold, Al-CIAda, diamonds, women, children, it just doesn’t matter. As long as the old guard gets their resources, it’s all good. And in the end, it’s all about power. The people who really run this planet know that natural resources (oil, water, coltan, cobalt, etc.) are the key. The “War on Terror” is just a front for a geo-strategic resource grab on a massive scale. Even the wars in Northern Africa are all about exploitation of resources. Once the good ole CIA boys at Bechtel did their NASA satellite studies of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) mineral resources and discovered that it was the “richest patch of earth on the planet,” all hell broke loose! They figured out that the DRC has 80% of the world’s coltan, among many other vital resources. Without coltan, you can’t have any technology that requires a computer chip: computers, cell phones, satellites and weapon systems, of course. So Bechtel, the CitiBank boys, the World Bank, IMF and various covert elements have been supplying brutal regime after brutal regime in the region…. Well over four million and counting have died there.

    Same thing with oil in the Middle East. Do you think they really give a shit about Iraqi freedom , Women’s rights in Afghanistan, or Justice for Rafic Hariri…, who was assassinated by the Infamous White House Murder INC, who were able to Bamboozle Asef SHAWKAT into going for the KILL on behalf of CIA/MOSSAD…..while they use STL to frame Hizbullah for their covert shenanigans….? We worked hard to make you believe that, but c’mon, they don’t give a shit about the Iraqi people, the Lebanese people or any other people…. They’ve killed about a MILLION of them! And that’s NOT an exaggeration! They sure as hell give a shit about Iraqi oil though. They also care about Saudi oil, and oil and Gas in the Mediterranean…, and have a nice deal with a dictatorship that brutally oppresses their people. If freedom and democracy are the issue, how about freeing the Saudi people? Why do you think 15 of the 9/11 Patsies/terrorists came from Saudi Arabia? We support a regime that oppresses those people. We support them because they cooperate on the oil front, Al-CIAda, Fath Al-Islam and many other front operations for CIA/MOSSAD….. So, why strike back at them? Let’s hit Iraq, and Lebanon. …, and Iran. They don’t give us any oil – let’s get’em!

    If you look at the history of covert special operations, it’s all about securing a piece of land that has some valuable resource. Once the resource is identified, special ops figures out the most efficient way to suppress or extinguish the population that is unfortunate enough to live near it. Then the big companies come in, from the United Fruit Company to the Bechtels and Halliburtons of the world. That is the way it has been and still is, from John D. Rockefeller and Allen Dulles right through Kissinger, Bush Sr. , Cheney and now the stooge of CIA/MOSSAD , OBAMA. Millions of innocent civilians have been slaughtered. Let me repeat that: Millions of innocent civilians have been slaughtered. And I’m not kidding you. These are evil motherfuckers and they are no friends of ours. These things don’t have anything to do with protecting the US people or standing up for freedom and democracy. They don’t give a shit about the average American. In this age of the global economy, the concept of nation state is obsolete. If only proud Americans could understand that. Pride in the American way is just another propaganda device for PsyOps agents — people like me — to use to manipulate you and make you think that black is white and white is black.

    If you were to ask me who is a bigger threat to the people of the US, Cheney , Obama, Al-CIAda, or bin Laden, or who has done more damage to the US, I would say Cheney without hesitation. Cheney, along with Bush Sr. and Kissinger, has been running the covert world for about 40 years now.

    A little side note for you: I firmly believe Robert Gates, the current Secretary of Defense and Bush Sr.’s right-hand man in the covert world, used computer cryptography and software security assets to get Bush Jr. elected both times. I do not have direct knowledge of the operation, but research “Robert Gates,” “Bill Owens,” “electronic voting security,” “HAVA,” “VoteHere” and “Scientific Applications International Corp.” [We will post more on this in the near future.] The operation went so well that Gates was going to be made the first ever Director of National Intelligence. He turned down the job, but then took the Secretary of Defense position when Rumsfeld was removed from his public position. I don’t think there will ever be solid evidence linking directly to members of the administration; it’s all a tangled web of plausible deniability. But I do think it will eventually be proven that the elections were manipulated to deliver Bush the victory. Many people in the covert world take this for granted, as common sense. Please don’t confuse this as partisan propaganda. I don’t give a shit about the Democrat or Republican PsyOps mind-fuck dynamic. They’re just labels to divide a potentially powerful united US public.

    It’s hard to get the average American to understand these things. Most everyone in this country has been mind-fucked since birth. For a very blatant example, you can look at the advertising industry and the way they have increased intensely their focus on the youth. It’s all about breeding impulsive emotionally driven consumers through repetition – over and over again – buy, buy, buy. You hear something enough and you internalize the message. It becomes something like the air you breathe, like gravity. It’s there, omnipresent, but you don’t realize it or consciously think about it. It becomes the spring from which your thoughts leap forth.

    What it all boils down to is the exposure rate. You take a simple message and you repeat it over and over, such as mentioning Saddam and 9/11. You don’t have to say Saddam was involved in 9/11, because that is not true. You just have to mention Saddam and 9/11 in the same simple repetitive message thousands of times and people will support an attack on a country that didn’t have anything to do with 9/11 because they’ve been psychologically conditioned to link the two.

    It’s psychological operations on a grand scale, mass psychology. The scientific art of manipulating public opinion is 100 years old now. PsyOps have evolved to the point, thanks to the all pervasive mass media, where we can make you believe, or at least passively accept, whatever we want you to. I secretly worked with the world’s most powerful media companies to get you to believe what “they” want you to believe. The media is the most efficient weapon of tyranny and oppression ever created. No need to physically control populations anymore when you can do it mentally – program it in, internalize the rules.

    To give a little more background on publicly revealed psychological operations, in 1977, after the Congressional Church Committee investigated CIA manipulation of the news media, and right after George Bush Sr. left his post as the Director of the CIA, famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein searched a little deeper into what was known as Operation Mockingbird. He revealed that over 400 US journalists were actually carrying out clandestine CIA PsyOps services. Bernstein identified operations involving almost every major US news outlet, most notably The New York Times, CBS and Time magazine. The CIA responded to all of this with a “limited hangout.” A “limited hangout” is CIA speak for when classified information gets out and you have to make it seem as if you are “coming clean” with all the information on the operation, but in reality you are really just admitting part of the operation so you can cover up other deeper parts and continue the program. This worked very effectively for them, as the US public quickly moved on and this operation has largely been forgotten. Currently, I would estimate, with cable news and the Internet now, that there are well over a thousand covert operatives spread throughout the news media. They have a firm grip on television, newspapers, wire services, radio and magazines. However, with the Internet – that’s their weak spot – it’s too decentralized and difficult to control.

    The Pentagon’s Information Operations Roadmap now describes the Internet as an enemy “weapons system.” The Pentagon doesn’t hide the fact that they want total control over information, or as they call it “information dominance.” They very plainly state that they seek to “control land, sea, space and information.” This is what they refer to as “full spectrum dominance.” If you don’t think they see this as a top priority, look at Iraq. The plan to “embed” journalists with the military in Iraq was a strategic operation that considered “journalism as part of psychological operations.” The journalists that weren’t “embedded” were considered “enemy combatants.” More journalists have been killed in Iraq than in any other war, and it is the US doing a large portion of the killing.

    Before I go too far here, the point I want to make to the US public, the bottom line is that the most power crazed and greed addicted people are above the law and get away with everything. In the covert world rules do not apply. Democracy is a fairy tale. Nothing is what it seems, reality isn’t real. Through the looking glass Alice goes.

    I’ve fought against it and got nowhere. I’ve informed people that I naively thought could do something, but nothing could be done. I took all the blood money I’ve made and donated it to humanitarian causes. Will it make a difference? No. Not in the grand scheme of things, but in the short run it may save a few people… maybe. And that’s all I can hope for at this point.

    I’ve become so cynical! I live with guilt and cynicism weighing on my every move, my every thought.

    When you’ve seen the things I have seen, been involved with the things I’ve been involved with, when you’ve spent the majority of your life living like I have, what do you do when you decide to give it up and get out? Can you ever get out?

    I was able to get out, thus far, when no one I knew thought I could get out. But once you lived in the covert world, “normal” civilian life feels like a prison sentence. Then again, the covert world was a prison sentence.

    I’ve been strongly advised to keep a very low profile and forget about things for a while. But I find it hard to just fade into the night when we are reaching an event horizon, a breaking point. Despite my cynicism, there is a part of me that knows I have to keep fighting. The stakes are just too high, higher then they’ve ever been. The human species is in serious trouble, facing a set of crises unlike anything we’ve ever faced before. Unless these covert forces are exposed, and ultimately eliminated, I don’t see how we can even begin to make the bold actions that we need to start making now – and I mean right fucking now! These covert forces are a root cause and driver, a cancer spreading through the system and planet.

    As far as I can tell, you can’t change the system from within the intelligence community itself. This includes the Senate Intel Committee. If the urgently needed changes are ever to happen, it has to come from the US public. Now I know first hand how the American public has been conditioned to be apathetic and not get involved in politics and has been fed a steady diet of misinformation. But propaganda only works to the point where the population being propagandized is not feeling the direct impact and negative consequences on a personal level in their daily lives. That’s why the draft played a large role in bringing an end to Vietnam. We need another draft to push the mainstream over the edge and into action, but the façade is beginning to crack – 9/11 had some effect, the war in Iraq certainly, Katrina, massive job loses and an economic downturn that has really just begun have all factored into creating a critical mass. Even the most propagandized population in the history of civilization will have to act when their very survival and well- being is directly threatened and impacted. I just hope enough people will understand the need for bold decisive action now, before it’s too late.

    So, to the people who have awareness of the problems facing us, if I could give advice, it would be this:

    1. Try the Bush Administration for war crimes. If the case could ever be brought to court, the evidence to convict is definitely there. This is why the administration has been strongly against the International Criminal Court. If we are to begin repairing this country, and the world, we must begin by showing these power crazed and covert forces that they are accountable. If we can convict someone like Cheney, we will send a powerful message to the covert world. If we let them walk, we will keep having these problems. New people will follow them and take their place.

    2. Investigate where all the military spending has been vanishing off to. There are literally trillions of taxpayer dollars unaccounted for. This money is fueling the covert world and terrorism in general. As part of this, I would include an investigation into war profiteering as well.

    3. Make it mandatory that all electronic voting machines must have a 100% verifiable paper trail.

    4. Get people into the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who will smash the current media ownership rules. The concentration of media ownership is the foundation of the covert power structure. Without that, the whole thing is a house of cards. That’s why the FCC is currently trying to ram through rules that will further consolidate media ownership before the Bush administration leaves office. As part of this, it is pivotal that we protect the open architecture of the Internet. The media belongs to the people, as does the government, in theory anyway, but we need an information system that actually serves the public interest.

    5. Declare a national and global emergency on the environmental front. We have already reached the breaking point. We need organized, governmental, policy driven, bold action now.

    6. We need to address entities that now have power over the Constitution, such as the undemocratic and unelected corporate global governing structure – institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and “agreements” like NAFTA and DR-CAFTA, to name a few. Most Americans don’t even know what these power structures are, let alone that they have power that supersedes the Constitution. We must also address the National Security Act, that’s where the ultimate power of our country lies. The National Security Act has effectively made the Constitution meaningless and is the primary driver of the covert world. The PATRIOT Act and various other newly granted powers must also be drastically revised or eliminated completely in order to protect our civil liberties.

    7. Lastly, we need to have publicly financed elections. As long as we have a system that requires candidates to raise tens of millions of dollars to even be considered for office, we will have politicians who bend over backwards for the richest one percent and the most powerful elements of society at the citizens’ expense. An important aspect of this has to be a requirement for large media companies to provide candidates with free airtime. Candidates have to spend the majority of their money on advertising in the mainstream media. That’s why the major news media spend so much time focusing on who is raising the most money, because they are the ones who end up with all that money. Once we have publicly financed elections and free airtime for candidates, we will get people in office who will work in the interests of the public because they are not beholden to the large and powerful entities. When you have politicians depending on the public instead of the private sector for survival, all the issues mentioned above could be addressed because they won’t have to fear the withdrawal of support from large corporations and the wealthy and powerful who do not want these things to happen. This will also enable us to eliminate tax breaks for the richest one percent, put an end to corporate welfare practices, and stop funding for obscene military and prison industrial companies that are profiting off of disasters and no longer serve security interests. Then we can redirect that money into environmental, education, health care and social security programs, to mention a few.

    In the current political environment this may all sound like an unrealistic pipe dream, but these are the seven pivotal things that MUST happen. If all seven don’t happen within the next few years, we will have set the world on a disastrously irreversible course. This is “the unfortunate reality of our current situation.” It is not going to be easy, but you better start fighting for it now, while we still can.

    It really does come down to us. You have to personally, in your daily life, do everything you can. With enough public pressure all of these things are achievable. Once we get a small portion of the population acting in this direction, it will quickly catch on and spread. Even though the overwhelming majority of the US population is incredibly propagandized on the surface, just underneath is the realization of the need for mass action. They just need leaders to point this out. The mainstream just needs a spark…. Do what you can to set it off. It is a matter of unprecedented significance….

    Posted by Jim | January 20, 2011, 3:56 am
  12. why insist on the charade?

    The below paragraph is taken from an OPED published Jan 12th by Thanassis Cambanis in the NYT…And it sure hits the mark…

    “Simply put, Hezbollah cannot afford the blow to its popular legitimacy that would occur if it is pinned with the Hariri killing. The group’s power depends on the unconditional backing of its roughly 1 million supporters. Its constituents are the only audience that matters to Hezbollah, which styles itself as sole protector of Arab dignity from humiliation by Israel and the United States.”

    Here is a link for the full article..

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/opinion/13cambanis.html?_r=2&emc=eta1

    The following is a separate OPED but a must read article published in the Daily Star today by Michael Young titled “Is Hezbollah’s eye mainly on Syria?”

    Here is a snapshot of the article…

    “Assad sought to use the summit with Qatar and Turkey to maintain the upper hand in any settlement over a new government. While the Syrian-Saudi label may still be employed, the reality is that Assad is on his own, in search of an elusive Qatari and Turkish fig leaf to press his advantage. The Saudis, in turn, are said to be far less enthusiastic about the Syrians than they were.

    Assad sees opportunities ahead. Unless Hezbollah steps in to prevent it, Saad Hariri will be asked to form a new government next week. The Syrians will not oppose this, their major incentive being that Hariri’s return will mean heightened tension between him and Hezbollah, which Damascus will exploit in its own favor. Hezbollah’s pressure on Hariri will ultimately play into Syria’s hands, until the moment when the Special Tribunal’s indictment is confirmed and Assad will contrive to step in and broker a settlement allowing him to seize a large share of the Lebanese pie. Ironically, the organization that today holds the largest share of that pie, the portion Syria covets most, namely leadership of the main security and intelligence services, is Hezbollah.”

    Here is the link to the full article…

    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=123904#axzz1BYmjGJu3

    QN – Your thoughts on Michael Young’s piece?

    Thx

    Posted by CK | January 20, 2011, 4:39 am
  13. Ghassan,
    You are about 1/3 right. But Hizbullah does not lack legitimacy. but they do know that they are at risk internationally and legitimately face threats against them. I don’t think Hizbullah is worried about sanctions, like Lysander suggests, but they do know that they can defend against the inevitable broader attack against them by getting Hariri on board.

    The chances of the evidence being strong are pretty low. but it hardly even matters what the evidence is. I don’t even think hizbullah is worried about a conviction (though, they probably assume that everything against them has been manufactured, so they also assume that the verdict is fixed against them). and that’s part of why they are taking an aggressive approach against it.

    Also, they no doubt know the advantages of a public relations campaign. and know that even false accusations can create a misconception in the public (think “weapons of mass destruction”), so they want to be strong in their defense.

    But hizbullah is playing a long and short game. in the short term, they are tying to defend against the propaganda value of the STL (as QN points out), and in the long term, they know that the west and israel will use this in the way they’ve used the 1701 resolution, or the way Israel has been under attack as a result of the goldstone report…

    Posted by Joe M. | January 20, 2011, 4:41 am
  14. if saad denounces the tribunal, and then it levels a strong case vs. hizballah, he will look like a right jackass. he has to stick with the tribunal because they’ll probably come up with something.

    eid’s boss and the iranian general who defected in turkey are just a couple of the heavyweight sources in play here… remember, israel knows a ton about hizballah internal structure, was able to turn aoun’s right-hand man, etc. hizballah’s been leaking like a sieve – why shouldn’t the STL has all that data and more?

    saad knows stuff we don’t. if he’s willing to stick by the tribunal, that probably means its got stuff we haven’t even heard of.

    of course, there’s only one way to find out!

    Posted by sayke | January 20, 2011, 5:03 am
  15. Joe M. @11
    You have a pretty good analysis of the situation…
    I will add that SYRIA has a deal with the West since 2008, following Asef SHAWKAT’s assassination of Imad Moughnieh in Damascus…
    which in of itself will spare them the agony of STL…
    SYRIA is on board with USA/Israel regarding all the upcoming turmoil in Lebanon to weaken/defame and de-legitimize Hizbullah…The Prize is “Peace” with Israel…

    Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s softer tone with Syria last week signaled the administration’s willingness to start fresh with Syria…. and forget its brutal past…. When pressed about Syria’s role in the bombings/assassinations in the Levant…, Clinton said, “We don’t think it is, at this moment, useful to be pointing fingers or blaming or going about the business of recriminations about what did or didn’t happen and who did or did not do what.” In other words: We are going to forgive Syria’s Asef SHAWKAT and his Syro-Lebanese military intelligence goons for killing dozens of people… and hit the reset button on our relationship with the ASSAD Mafia in Damascus…. It was a remarkable statement from a U.S. Secretary of State about a country with known ties to CIA/MOSSAD and its infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant since January 24th 2002….

    Posted by Jhon | January 20, 2011, 5:08 am
  16. @jim, you seem to be following the psyops methodology that you are denouncing rather than actually getting anywhere with what you are saying. you spoke about the Lebanese case for two lines and spent the rest of your discussion on things completely irrelevant to the case just to tie in that the US is evil therefore they killed Hariri…Al-CIAda is cute, but it is just a “marketing gimmick” Do you have any real information or do you just like to rant?

    Posted by Jawad | January 20, 2011, 5:21 am
  17. Stockholm syndrome

    That is what comes to my mind when I read people reaction towards HA in Lebanon.

    What good HA has done to Lebanon so far but war destruction, civil killings, political assassinations, government stalemate, etc,etc,etc.

    A few more weeks and people in lebanon will be blaming Rafic Hariri for his assassination….while a guy that destroyed almost all the lebanese infrastructure and killed over 1000 lebanese, while thousands others were homeless, is portrayed as a Hero….

    It is time to get things in perspective….
    This is one of those moments is history that a country and its population has to move forward in it process of civilization.

    It is time for accountability and paying back

    Posted by Alberto Zeraik | January 20, 2011, 5:26 am
  18. Re: the deal

    Here’s a guess..
    1. Hizballah know they did not commit the crime
    2. They also know that March 14 have been tampering with the case (false witnesses etc.)
    3. They know they are going to be indicted by the STL
    ——————-conclusion
    4. Any evidence against them is probably fabricated with the assistance of March 14

    This would mean that Hariri has deliberately targeted the resistance, possibly at the expense of the whole country (sanctions etc.)

    By the laws of the jungle, the resistance would be entitled to assassinate Saad Hariri, because he has tried (and may yet succeed) to wound them grievously. So the deal is that he gets to keep his life and his privileges provided that he makes amends by publicly disavowing the tribunal, promising not to play games like that again and paying a heavy price to Hezbollah. In his speeches, Nasrallah made clear that the price before the STL presented their findings would be less than the price after the announcements are made. Essentially, Hariri was presented with the option to clear up his mess (as best he could – much of the damage could not be undone), but he refused. So i wonder what the full price will be ??

    Posted by Sisyphus | January 20, 2011, 5:46 am
  19. – Why isn’t there a STL (or STY) for the assassination of Imad Moughnieh ?

    – How could the STL even begin with allowing “witnesses” who self declare themselves as “syrian operatives”?

    IMO, Lebanon is wasting time with the STL and al parties, Hizbullah included, are playing the game of their enemies who want to see Lebanon stay a big mess. SHN and Hariri must find a agreement in order to put STL as a secondary issue …

    Question to the EXPERTS:
    – What are the relation between SHN and Hariri? Do they HATE each other? Respect? Contempt? Love ? :§D

    Posted by Tunisian | January 20, 2011, 7:42 am
  20. The Tasmanian devil. I thought that was the lovable nickname for SHN.

    All these ” initiatives” are to make sure HA doesn’t over extend. I do not believe the Istaz’s revelation of the contents of SS discussion. I still have to see what ‘consessions” HA had to make?

    Turks are acting as the Sunni Counter balance of Iran. However, they have no magic wand. Things will unwind in this jungle to an unknown. HA has an end game just in case and are ready to all counts.

    Once these “initiatives” expire and the hapless Beggar that is Lebanon is left alone to handle its own issues the picture would be clearer.

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 8:39 am
  21. tunisian –

    there isn’t a STL for the assassination of moughnieh because neither syria nor lebanon asked for one. this is in contrast to lebanon, where the government asked for the STL’s creation because hariri’s killers were still a strong enough force in the country to prevent any effective investigation.

    and the STL can take testimony from anyone. it doesn’t need to rely on all that testimony, and we’ll see what testimony factors into the indictment when it is released.

    Posted by sayke | January 20, 2011, 8:40 am
  22. BDS NewZ

    If you were to ask me who is a bigger threat to the people of the US…

    Jim,

    Did Cheney also fly commercial airliners into the World Trade Center?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 20, 2011, 8:42 am
  23. Tunisian said:

    “- Why isn’t there a STL (or STY) for the assassination of Imad Moughnieh ?”

    I didn’t think that there are Special Tribunals for Terrorists! He meant his maker. Why don’t you ask the simple question to the Syrian authorities as to what happened to the investigation in the murder of Muggsy?

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 8:46 am
  24. Future News: PM Saad Hariri will make a speech to the Lebanese at 7 p.m. to discuss recent developments

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 20, 2011, 10:03 am
  25. Thank you Saad (formerly Eddine) for the few minutes of hilarious comedy that you will bring us tonight. Every body is eagerly awaiting to have a few laughs as the ones illicited by his brilliant performance in front of the Parliament back in 2009 (hahahahahahahahaha)

    Posted by NR | January 20, 2011, 10:27 am
  26. Alberto Zerail #17,
    “It is time to get things in perspective….
    This is one of those moments is history that a country and its population has to move forward in it process of civilization.

    It is time for accountability and paying back”

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Where have you been hiding all this time? A “rational” understanding of history dictates that this standoff will have to be resolved and that this crisis is a good thing since the resolution will allow us to move forward. Hezbollah , just like all authoritarian regimes, is about to implode not as a result of actions by others but because of its own actions that will lead to its deligitimation. And that is good.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 10:50 am
  27. Ghassan,

    It seems this time the moment of truth has arrived on the Lebanese to chose between an independent state with clear laws and constitution or staying in the abyss with their feudal warlords and illegal militias and backroom deals!

    Based on the past few days events (from Faisal declaring his worries about splintering of Lebanon to the Turkish/Qatari farce)and the steadfastness of M14 (I say that loosely); it seems that real change is about to happen. It would be painful and most likely bloody…But it will happen. Either HA will control Lebanon totally without actually occupying it and civil conflict will arise or with international pressure Lebanon will be declared a failed state and all parties including HA have to decide their vision and fate on their own!

    Posted by danny | January 20, 2011, 11:12 am
  28. “A few more weeks and people in lebanon will be blaming Rafic Hariri for his assassination….while a guy that destroyed almost all the lebanese infrastructure and kille over 1000 lebanese, while thousands others were homeless, is portrayed as a Hero…. It is time to get things in perspective….”

    Nasrallah did all that? I think you’re the one who has lost perspective.

    Posted by Nasser V | January 20, 2011, 11:40 am
  29. @Nasser V
    Nasrallah is either in charge of the Hizb or he is not. It was the Hizb who crossed the border to kidnap the Israeli soldiers. A stupid act that resulted in a lot of death and destruction in 2006.

    Posted by ToGuy | January 20, 2011, 12:06 pm
  30. Why STL, ALL its trappings and supporters are unrealistic….? because we are letting war criminals, thieves and deceitful liars define the questions, thereby defining the answers….Lebanon and Hezbollah have no choice but to defend themselves against a monumental pack of lies.

    Posted by Jim | January 20, 2011, 12:11 pm
  31. Tracy Chamoun –
    To the Editor:

    Re “For Hezbollah, Claiming Victory Could Be Costly” (news analysis, Jan. 14), about the recent collapse of the government in Lebanon:

    There is a general malaise in Lebanon rooted in the United Nations special tribunal, which is expected to indict Hezbollah members in the assassination of a former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

    The tribunal is seen as being sponsored by Western forces, and therefore is perceived as a form of legal hegemony that irritates the Lebanese….

    Lebanese sovereignty is really what is at issue. There is a feeling among the Lebanese of too much foreign meddling.

    Trust must be brought back into the Lebanese legal system, and the process of adjudication and investigation returned to the Lebanese people.

    I can testify to the validity of the Lebanese justice system. I was present every day for two years during the trial resulting from the 1990 assassination of my father, the Lebanese leader Dany Chamoun, his wife, Ingrid, and my two brothers, by the most atrocious War Criminal Samir Geagea, and I witnessed firsthand the integrity of the Lebanese Supreme Court.

    It is overly simplistic for the international media to make this recent collapse of the government only about Hezbollah…. It is about the Lebanese struggle for independence, both militarily and ideologically….

    Posted by Jhon | January 20, 2011, 12:18 pm
  32. Lebanon and Hezbollah have no choice but to defend themselves against a monumental pack of lies.

    Jim,

    Clue us in on what these “monumental pack of lies” are.

    We need to get to the bottom of this;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 20, 2011, 12:28 pm
  33. Danny #27,
    I hope that this time the opposing parties will not be able to postpone again the inevitable. We have been at this fork in the road for a while now but both parties to the conflict have managed to run-on-the-spot in order to avoid having to make a choice. I do believe that this is the moment of truth and the standoff will be resolved soon.
    I am not certain that larger guns are enough to carry the day. Time will tell.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 20, 2011, 12:45 pm
  34. Jhon,

    The tribunal is seen as being sponsored by Western forces, and therefore is perceived as a form of legal hegemony that irritates the Lebanese….

    Jhon,

    To my knowledge, it was the Lebanese government that requested the STL at the UN.

    So are the lebanese irritated by their own actions or is it just that some people are afraid of the investigation’s conclusions?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 20, 2011, 1:14 pm
  35. Ghassan and all…

    We’ve been hearing about “forks in the road” and “This is a turning point” for most of my entire life. Even longer.

    What makes you think that this time it’s for real?

    I’ve already stated I am pessimistic that this is any more than the usual “lather, rinse, repeat” with new names or slogans slapped on top. But I get the sense that some of you feel like “this time it’s different”. Care to clarify why?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 20, 2011, 1:46 pm
  36. BV.

    I’ve always thought that Taif was a silly thing. One of those sit around the table and play nice type of agreements.

    And while Taif stripped the Presidency from a lot of its power and shifted a lot of that to the Prime Ministership, the end formula wasn’t one that would secure future stability. As GK’s statistic suggests, 1 Xian vote = 1.25 non-Xian vote.

    I always wondered why the Sunnis didn’t press for more then.

    Today, as I see events unfold, maybe the “Sunni” street saw an important gvmt counterbalance to growing Shia numbers in the Xian communities.

    Yesterday, one of the Saudi princes suggested that the impasse in Lebanon may lead to fragmentation of the country. I wouldn’t have imagined an Arab country openly making that suggestion 10-20 years ago.

    I think there is a strong possibility of fragmentation of Lebanon in this case, and in this sense this fork is a lot different from previous ones.

    If HA is shown to be responsible, they will pay the price, but this must come with a complete revamping of the political system in Lebanon to address the inequality it represents. In that sense, the fork is also a lot different.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 20, 2011, 2:22 pm
  37. Nasser

    ToGuy #29 knows how to put things in perspective.

    Ghassan Karam

    I have been here all this time but I am not as much eloquent as you all are…

    I really hope Lebanon to overcome this situation and move forward to become a State of all of us.

    Posted by Alberto Zeraik | January 20, 2011, 7:06 pm
  38. We might not like or understand fully their consequences at the time…. Nevertheless, we still have a choice… That is the fountain of freedom…. Even in the darkest of times we still have a choice and it takes real bravery to make the hard ones….and we will.

    The sequence of illegal and extra-judicial political assassinations and attempted murders carried out by the odious machinations of the evil Nexus CIA/MOSSAD and their barbaric White House Murder INC, together with Asef SHAWKAT’s military intelligence goons and their cut-outs…, involved 13 incidents, targeting politicians, journalists and security officials, with a total casualty toll of 58 dead and at least 338 wounded. These attacks represented the largest, most dramatic assassination campaign in the post Cold War world….and it’s no coincidence….it is a direct product of the Arc of Crisis, Clean Break, PNAC, and the “Constructive Chaos”…started in earnest since 1995….

    Our collective peril lies in the new ‘reality’ where evil can wrap itself in the words and images of light and a devious tool, “STL”…. a charade tribunal…infested with western intelligence officers of a broken and crumbling Empire of utter corruption, the US of A…. That was how we lost dearly, since the advent of the Siamese twins CIA/MOSSAD and their infamous White House Murder INC, since 2002… In a world run by liars ‘doing the right thing’ is often the opposite…. If everyone else is doing it, it’s time to choose a different track….

    Posted by Jim | January 21, 2011, 9:01 am

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