Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14, Syria

The Noe Doctrine

My friend Nicholas Noe is on a mission. For several years, he has been arguing that Washington’s hard-line, take-no-prisoners approach to dealing with Syria and Hizbullah is completely misguided. The continuous diet of pressure and isolation tactics from the West, Noe believes, has only served to improve the fortunes of the Resistance Axis, not weaken it, and he has painstakingly documented this legacy of ashes in a variety of opinion pieces published in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and various other outlets (including his blog).

Interestingly, Noe does not take the view of certain commentators to whom he is often compared (such as Alistair Crooke and Nir Rosen) that the West should be criticized for waging a war on parties whose resistance agenda is perfectly legitimate. Rather, his beef with Washington is that this strategy is wrong because it is not effective enough. In other words, Noe does not have a problem with the ends of US policy; he simply disagrees with the means.

Take his most recent article for The National Interest. In it, he argues that Hizbullah has been painted into a corner because of the unrest in Syria and the indictments by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). Washington and its allies have sensed Hizbullah’s weakness and are now hoping to press their advantage, which Noe thinks is a terrible idea:

…Many influential voices in Washington and European capitals need to very carefully consider the wisdom of the road that they are going down—a road that will, in all probability, bring great destruction to the region, including to Israel whose home front will undoubtedly be a main frontline. Saying this, however, does not have to mean simply withering away in the face of a threat. Instead, it could mean—it should mean—that outside actors who hold such comparatively great power…might finally have to find a means and a discourse to grant concessions to far weaker…parties—a course that would actually fatally undermine their ability and desire to exercise violence over time, either against their own people or against other nations.

In other words, now is not the time to push Syria and Hizbullah further into a corner, but rather to use one’s increased leverage over them to extract valuable (but unspecified) concessions.

I think Nick’s voice is an important one to listen to on these issues, but I also think that his policy proposals are too vague in this case, and that he is overly optimistic about the positive outcome of a so-called “third way” with regard to Syria and Hizbullah.

To take another example, here’s an excerpt from a recent post of his about the mistakes that the US and March 14 made in pursuing a “maximalist” track on the STL:

The US and M14, we can now pretty clearly see, would have done FAR better on several scores if they had allowed the Tribunal process to go forward in a manner that drew Hizbullah ever further into the process rather than stupidly alienating them at virtually every turn – this means in general that they should have traded the hard edge Tribunal stick for a more mixed one, with a less sharp edge, if you will…

I find this argument problematic for many reasons. First of all, we should note that Noe is precisely not criticizing the Tribunal for being a cynical tool used by the West to target Hizbullah. He doesn’t have a problem with that. Rather, his critique is that the STL was a tool that was not wielded in the proper way, for maximum effect. In other words, by using the STL as a bludgeon rather than a scalpel, America and its Lebanese allies missed many opportunities to force concessions out of Hizbullah that they now have lost the ability to do.

Again, this strikes me as flawed reasoning. It wasn’t the West’s “alienation” of Hizbullah that led the party to shun the Tribunal; the record clearly shows that Hizbullah was — from the beginning — totally opposed to the Tribunal. They may have paid lip service to the ideals of justice, but when push came to shove, they consistently worked to undermine the creation of the court. Let us recall the following:

  1. Hizbullah was opposed to the UN dispatching Peter Fitzgerald on a fact-finding mission a few weeks after the Hariri assassination, calling instead for a Lebanese investigation (which would have been a farce) rather than an international one.
  2. When the Siniora cabinet voted (on December 15 2005) to request that the UN establish a tribunal, the Hizbullah and Amal ministers suspended their cabinet membership.
  3. When the draft resolution establishing the Tribunal was circulated in the fall of 2006, Hezbollah began calling for a veto in the Siniora cabinet. When they were rebuffed, their ministers walked out, thereby launching the eighteen-month protest outside the Serail.
  4. During this period, there were more assassinations of March 14th figures and a great deal of tension on the streets of Beirut, culminating in the events of May 7 2008.

I am not rehearsing these events to argue that Hizbullah was acting like a guilty party. My point is, rather, that “maximalism” is not the exclusive preserve of the United States and its Lebanese allies. Noe treats the establishment of the UN investigation commission and the subsequent tribunal as if these were developments that came about effortlessly, when in fact these bodies came about via a protracted and bitter struggle, in which both March 14 and Hizbullah were active participants.

The notion that some kind of third-way accomodationist stance on the STL could have been found that would have satisfied Hizbullah, March 14, Syria, and the US is unconvincing to me. The process got ugly because everybody was playing hardball, not because the US hurt Hizbullah’s feelings.

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Discussion

227 thoughts on “The Noe Doctrine

  1. The Noe Doctrine will never go anywhere since it is built on the false expectation that one can entice a regime or a party to reform itself into its nagation. I have made this argument repeatedly over the past 3 months in connection to Syria and I have been making it for years in connection to HA.
    I do not want to belabour the issue but Nicholas Noe is confusing a small marginal cosmetic change with a genuine real transformation. I am suggesting the the first is doable but is meaningless while the latter is an impossibility since it does require a paradigm shift. Such major shifts can periodicaaly take place but once they do they are the result of a revoultionary change and not an evolutionary one.
    The Noe Doctrine will never deliver on its promises since it stands on moving sand. It is a misguided policy.

    QN: Sorry for the double posting. I did not notice that I was posting to the wrong thread until it was too late. Feel free to delete the post from the previous thread

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 8, 2011, 9:06 pm
  2. Well argued, QN.

    I haven’t read the Noe pieces you are discussing, but it would seem to me that arguing for using the STL differently mistakes it as a political tool that can be shaped to the purposes of politicians and diplomats. Certainly the STL is not utterly immune from political circumstances, but we must not ignore the extent to which the STL is bound up with developments in international criminal law that have attempted to quarantine justice from political horse-trading. International criminal law is necessarily politicized since it deals with inherently political crimes, but for that very reason the ICC and international tribunals are supposed to take the crimes out of the political arena and into the legal arena where the room for negotiation is tightly circumscribed, and there won’t amnesties handed out and the like.

    Posted by Jonathan | July 8, 2011, 9:20 pm
  3. If HA assassinated hariri; which it seems indictments’ arrow seems to be pointing that way…I don’t understand this theoretical unreal analysis. People like Noe and others have professed to be great analysts or in the know of the Middle East for years now. It seems however; that they have been wrong all along in all their dreamy scenarios. I am sure they all were forecasting all this turmoil and change in the Arab countries.

    Time to shift to realism; rather than theoretical and mythical assumptions. If HA…meaning its leaders are guilty of plotting a terrorist assassination they deserve to be punished under the full weight of the law.

    Posted by danny | July 8, 2011, 9:22 pm
  4. Danny, I think the political commentators have to work with the presumption of innocence and simply discuss the political events as they have panned out so far. They can’t leap to conclusions. No one has been found guilty yet.

    However, I do agree that at some point some one either did or didn’t do the crime so the idea of negotiating an outcome or maintaining ambiguity or stretching out hands to opponents becomes a little absurd. It’s not politics, it’s law (or at least it’s meant to be). In that spirit, here are four options for how to read things based on the idea that HA either are or are not guilty:

    HA is not guilty, and the STL prosecutor has either been severely misled or he is involved in a conspiracy.

    HA knew about the crime but are not directly responsible, in which they case they have behaved disgracefully, as have many others. The STL prosecutor has either been severely misled or he is involved in a conspiracy.

    HA (perhaps along with others) is guilty and their behavior since has been a disgrace.

    HA (perhaps along with others) is guilty, but they were painted into a corner by Israel and the US so they are not truly responsible – the “pushed against the wall” hypothesis suggested on Syria Comment some time back. They were and still are defending the resistance in all that they do.

    But none of this can be determined until evidence is presented… and perhaps not even then.

    Posted by Jonathan | July 8, 2011, 10:00 pm
  5. the powers with influence (us, iran, saudi, isarel) are using whatever leverage they can muster in lebanon to serve their own interests. However the fact remains that domestically hizbollah has misplayed the STL and will pay hefty price among foes and friends within lebanon. Both HA and syria are guilty of many criminal and terrorist acts conjured and financed by iran. When I question the means currently used to subvert their evils I wish to use every mode of power, soft or hard, to defeat them. The region is one that needs democracy in order to defeat and forever erase the scars left by the dictators and theocrats

    Posted by paul khoury | July 8, 2011, 10:01 pm
  6. I am tired of the blame always being laid at the feet of the US and Israel. Do these liberal, European pundits ever blame Hezbollah, Hamas, or the PA for their intransigence? If it takes 2 to tango, why don’t they both get blamed for doing nothing?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 8, 2011, 10:03 pm
  7. Noe’s doctrine does not work with entities like the Assad regime or HA. The only messaging they understand is a full force no mercy approach. We are all tired of conspiracy theories about Israel and the US. It never stops and the versions keep changing. HA as many other supposed “resistance” movements and regimes in the Arab world have proven over and over again to be fake and self-serving.

    Posted by Yolla | July 8, 2011, 10:26 pm
  8. What Noe is saying is too vague for me also. What concessions is he talking about?

    And to whom will the concessions be made with Syria in a state of flux?

    Noe should know that while Israel will do its utmost to not go to war, Israel’s people have proved time and again that if convinced of the necessity of war, they will support it, even at a great cost. If Hezbollah and Syria threaten Israel, it will not lead to concessions from Israel, just more resolve. 2006 proved that Israel could easily weather several weeks of war. In fact, the Israeli economy was not influenced by the war at all. There are enough shelters in Israel and the iron dome systems will be used to protect key installations.

    I don’t believe Hezbollah and Assad are stupid enough to start a war. Why would Hezbollah risk harming its Shia supporters in Lebanon for no gain? After all, they will suffer most. I don’t think Nasrallah wants to be remembered as the person that brought so much suffering for nothing on the Shias. Noe needs to explain more why pressure on Syria and Hezbollah would probably lead to war, especially with a “Hezbollah controlled” government in Lebanon.

    Posted by AIG | July 9, 2011, 12:40 am
  9. You know when u hear STL everybody thinks about Hariri but what about the others, tweini, gmeyel and 3ido 2 name a few. Were they assasinated because they hurt HA’s feelings? For example y was pierre gmeyel’s killing unlike the rest, was it low budget or something?

    However i totally agree with u Danny that if HA did commit these crime then they should be brought 2 justice but u and some others on this blog seem to forget that HA shouldnt be the only ones facing the music. There is not ONE single political leader who is innocent in lebanon. Today though the focus is on HA and maybe its because they r the ones who currently have the power (just like how everybody dislikes the US cause they r powerful). Dont get me wrong, im not defending HA. I just think its useful 2 look at Lebanon’s history in this case.

    Posted by RM................ | July 9, 2011, 1:28 am
  10. Hizbollah was not pushed against the wall by M14 or the STL–they were cornered once they opted for a military strategy that is not merely defensive. I do not think HA opted for that path without some pressure from their beneficiaries, Syria and Iran.

    Let me explain:

    1) In response to Danny/Gaby, Shia across the Middle East are diverse and heterogenous: they do not follow the one religious ideology–as a matter of fact, Qum is not the only religious center for religioys study, besides the Lebanese situated Jabal Alem (sp?), Southern Iraq has some very influential religious learning centers that are not Iranian-centered.

    2) While HA was supported by Iran, it did not chose initially to follow blindly the directives of Iran. The “Wilayat Al Faqih” theory constantly referred to on this blog does not necessarily imply following a Persian-centred system with Iranian religious figures on the top (Whether Khomeini or Khamenei)–Sadr was a local religious authority, even though originally not from Lebanon, and so was Fadlallah. Nasrallah did decide in the nineties, following the struggle with Amal, that HA should focus on its Lebanese destiny that does not necessarily coincide with Iranian interests–even if there was Iranian support. When Khatami came to power in Iran, such a stance was supported and encouraged.

    3) Something must have happended after the 2003 Iraq war, with the dominant ideology (of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.) highlighting some imagined Shia’ threat in the region that needed to be countered. That ideology must have resulted, sometime in 2004, with a shift in internal policy: HNA continued with the construction of the “image” of HA as a defender of justice for Shia and the oppressed, with an antifeodal and non-sectarian alliances with various other Lebanese parties and groupings) BUT the “military” option must have been chosen as well.

    4) This military option must have been supported/encouraged by Syria and Iran after Khatami. As a matter of fact, strengthening/using the military option and the military strategies reeks of ahmanijad’s cadre’s (in intelligence and state apparatuses) blind belief in realpolitik and the inevitability of the need for military deterrance and military offensive capabilities. I am not sure if HA was invovled in the series of assassinations in Lebanon, including that of Hariri Sr. The STL may shed a light on this, but as I said previously, such an approach would contradict the “image” of HA as the foundation of its political position in Lebanon and the Middle East and would endanger all the gains that HA and the Shia in Lebanon had achieved so far. While I understand that the 2006 war must have been a test and would would have worked to complement the image of HA as an effective political party and a military force, I cannot understand how political assassinations would serve HA. Only Syria would have benefited from these assassinations, and I doubt that the party and HNA would have risked everything they have achieved nationally and regionally for assassinations that have no beneficial purpose to the party–but could only achieve some sense of instability. I do not believe that Mughnieh’s operatives had the skills or ressources to succeed in ALL these assassinations. The Lebanese intelligence and/or the Syrian intelligence may actually have had a better chance pulling off such complex operations. Could some HA operatives have been involved in Hariri’s assassination? If the evidence points to that, one needs to inquire about whether such an operation was approved by HNA and his cadres and for what purpose? There may be an answer there, but HA had a lot more to lose than to win undertaking this, unless under threat from their benefactors (Syria and Iran)–but remember that this was before July 2006 and thus the military capactiy of HA was not yet its sole protector.

    5) May 2008 is a riddle. HA turned its weapons agaisnt other Lebanese factions, as HNA had promised never to do. By that time, Mughnieh was assassinated, if I am not mistaken, and the Syrian regime had finished its internal war of elimination and power grabs. Maybe there was no other choice for HA but to resort to weapons: the question is why?

    6) I disagree with Ghassan: Aoun and the FPM, the Marada, Arslan, etc., are not and will not be blind followers of HA no matter waht. Geocultural changes will affect these alliances and HNA knows that only the “image” of HA as a viable political entity can preserve any power to Lebanon’s Shia. Why risk losing such strategic alliances and alienate half the Lebanese population by assassinating Hariri–knowing that the truth will come out sooner or later? Even if the STL was not in the picture in 2005, HNA must have known that Hariri was “untouchable” as per global rules of the game. IF the STL does provide damning evidence, HA’s image will be tarnished and everything HNA worked on for so many years will be thrown out of the window. HA does not have the power to hold Lebanon without Syria (on its way to decay) and Iran (currenlty undergoing a power struggle between Khamenei and Ahmanijad, with Rafsanjani waiting for the issue to be resolved).

    Sorry about the length of this entry, but isn’t the point to try to analyze rationally what may have happended and why?

    Posted by Parrhesia | July 9, 2011, 2:56 am
  11. Apologies for all the spelling errors (some created by the automatic spell check): ahmadinejad and not ahmanijad; Jabal amel and not alem; etc.

    Posted by parrhesia | July 9, 2011, 5:05 am
  12. parrehesia,

    Good points you raise all along. However; we have already discussed these “explanations” or scenarios for six years now. The point is HA has been against all that QN elaborates above through his points(1-4). HA and the Lebanese security apparatus acted as the guilty party from day one. Now I have said a millionth time…If STL finds HA or its operatives not guilty then I will agree and let the criminals be. After all we all have to follow some sets of laws to guide our lives. I am all against Noe’s dreamlike version of using the criminal courts as a bartering system to exact a minute political gain that can be reversed always.

    Most of the middle eastern political pundits so remind me of the economic forecasters (“economists”) on business shows forecasting trends. They are almost always behind the curve. Whenever they discuss anything you would know it is too late to invest in those sectors. Noe is the same. His ideas or doctrine are not only based on quicksand…they are totally absurd and lack a knowledge of how Syria/Iran /HA operate.

    RM; I am all for jailing all the current “leaders” or the mafia family heads. No issue with that. However we are discussing a specific crime here that will be tried as transparently as any trial you have ever witnessed in your life. My belief that HA is guilty and they are a terrorist entity does not stop me in accepting the verdict whatever it might be.

    Posted by danny | July 9, 2011, 7:32 am
  13. Who in their wildest imagination would have imagined the aftermath of the Hariri assassination including the mass demonstrations, the Syrian withdrawal and the international tribunal?
    The Syrian architects thought they would squash a small sunni uprising in beirut and Tripoli as they are doing now ( min kel 3a2loon) in Syria.They knew the Frenchies and the Saudis would get the shits but so what? they ruled the roost at the end of the day and by the end of the year no one in Lebanon would think about opening their mouths against Syria again.
    As Bashar gleefully commented in that NYT interview, his people would never rise against him.
    HA got sucked in, not betting on a daring anti-Syrian front, and with the security and intelligence apparatuses firmly in place, who wouldve thought……

    Posted by maverick | July 9, 2011, 7:34 am
  14. The 2011 budget for the STL was close to @67 million. I imagine that next years budget would be higher since the level of judicial activities would be expected to be higher. If one is eo expect a new budget of say $80 million then Lebanon’s share of 49% would amount to $39,2 million.
    Hezbollah has declared more than once its belief that Lebanon should no longer participate in the funding of the STL and so has the FPM but Mikati , all throughout the vote of confidence debates and for the last 3 days has been saying that the cabinet is totally committed to the STL.
    This issue is only months away and I am wondering about how it will be dealt with? Najib Mikati cannot have it both ways on the STL and I think he will find it next to impossible to vote against the funding while HA will find it equally difficult to approve of the funding? So what is the way out? Could it come down to a prearranged vote wherby the HA ministers and maybe even the FPM vote no but all the others vote yes? A vote of 18-12 should satisfy all sides. Any thoughts about this.

    (The ability of the STL to function is not in jeopardy since the UN Secretary General is empowered to find the funds if Lebanon reneges on its obligations)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 9, 2011, 10:06 am
  15. RM:

    For the record, I’m not a crime and punishment fellow. If HA is guilty, I don’t necessarily think we need to unleash HP with his Hail Marys on Nasrallah.

    It’s about truth and transparency. (For me)

    Posted by Gabriel | July 9, 2011, 10:08 am
  16. Still no mo, no Saint, no Iceman, no Jnoubi, no other-point-of-view arguing for HA’s complete innocence and for Israel’s guilt. Hmm, why? Need a bouquet of flowers?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | July 9, 2011, 11:26 am
  17. Discredited scientific paradigms are no longer taught or debated between contemporanoeus scientists. eg., Ptolemy’s astronomy. Likewise, I also wish to believe the debate–as refelected in the comments on this blog–has evolved and most of the incredible conspiracy theories (though the craziest one is still alive and kikin’) are extinct. At least I hope it is so. So I say, keep up the good work.

    Posted by rm | July 9, 2011, 12:23 pm
  18. I’ll have to agree with Ghassan’s first comment to this post.
    Noe’s “doctrine” assumes that HA is willing or even capable of making concessions or adopting this “third way”.
    I agree with Ghassan, and have stated so many times myself: HA is not only unwilling, but also incapable of “changing” its very nature or making concessions of the type (unspecified by Noe) that would be anything but cosmetic and meaningless.

    There is no third approach to HA for a very simple reason, and it has nothing to do with Washington or M14 or any of the mentioned actors. It has to do with HA’s nature and it’s inherent inability to be anything other than what it is today and how it defines itself.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 9, 2011, 12:37 pm
  19. Also Parhesia

    “May 2008 is a riddle”.

    I don’t see why May 2008 was a riddle. It’s pretty clear to me once you take HA’s main motivations into account.
    HA has always been, and will always be about their weapons. The 2 are inherently linked. HA IS its weapons.
    Any attempts at thinking of HA in any other context (like the ill-fated “turn HA into a political party discourse) is naive and silly.
    With that in mind, May 2008 makes perfect sense. HA’s weapons and infrastructure were being threatened. Something that had NEVER happened before in Lebanon.
    HA had to make a clear example of that and make it clear to everyone that the weapons and infrastructure are off-limit, red lines.
    And they succeeded. There hasn’t been much done in the way of “integrating HA into the military” or even discussing the weapons since.
    Even the most anti-HA voices (Geagea et al) tip toe around the weapons topic and confine themselves to vague talk around the periphery of the subject.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 9, 2011, 1:06 pm
  20. “If STL finds HA or its operatives not guilty then I will agree and let the criminals be.”

    You seem to have already made up your mind that they are criminals Danny boy. Freudian slip?

    Posted by Nasser V | July 9, 2011, 2:50 pm
  21. Nasser V,
    I am certain that danny does not want me to talk for him but I just could not help it when I read your response. In a society that respects “the rule of law” institutions are set up and procedures are agreed upon and binding judgments are made. Once these judgments are made then one is obligated to accept then irrespective of ones personal feelings about the matter. If that is not to be the case then why even bother to set up the institution in the first place. This pesky little problem of “the rule of law” seems to play a huge role in determining whether one accepts the STL or not.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 9, 2011, 3:34 pm
  22. My comment was meant to highlight that statement where, correct me if I’m wrong, Danny says that even if the STL finds the operatives innocent he would still consider them criminals.

    Posted by Nasser V | July 9, 2011, 3:46 pm
  23. No actually, Danny’s statement reads that if the accused are found innocent, Danny has no problem letting them go free once the court of law has determined their innocence.
    I see nothing wrong with that statement.

    PS: Maybe if those who complain about QN’s blog having become so monochromatic aren’t the same people who then start attacking others randomly, we wouldn’t be so damned monochromatic.

    PS2: I agree with Ghassan and Danny. I’m for the rule of law. If the court finds the accused innocent, then they are innocent and I will treat them as such. End of story.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 9, 2011, 4:00 pm
  24. Nothing wrong except that they are criminals, regardless. And that basically sums up Danny’s demeanor in general.

    Posted by Nasser V | July 9, 2011, 4:09 pm
  25. Can we go back to the “rogue” agents argument? Hariri Jr. initially proposed to HNA that any HA operatives involvement will be treated as rogue agents and NOT as officially an HA involvement. There must have been reasons for this position, besides the attempt to offer a way out. Today, rumors about the 4 indicted claim that they left to Iran (unnamed Lebanese media sources quoted by Haaretz) but Marwan Saqr claims that the 4 have not been seen in Lebanon since at least 2006 (interview on NOW LEBANON on the STL). What if the 4 were acting as free agents for another intelligence apparatus, be it as rogue agents or as non officially “lent” out? Could HNA be just acting overprotective and not wanting to throw out these actors to the wolves out of a sense of loyalty? What if HA and HNA did not have any say in what the 4 were doing and they have been functioning under the direction of some Syrian or Iranian agencies? Would we still consider HA guilty by association if the STL proves that the 4 were involved? Maybe the next stages of the indictment may prove Syrian oversight of the whole set of operations. Couldn’t this be the reason why HNA is so comfortable talking about Justice while trying to derail STL proceedings? Points 1 to 4 of QN can merely exemplify the necessary pro-Syrian game that HN and Amal had and have to play. Will we accept the rogues scenario if and when it is time for HNA to put all the cards on the table? Just a thought.

    Another question to ask, is when will FPM supporters start veering away from GMA’s blind allegiance to his strategic alliance with HA (he is trying now to have control of the LAF and/or ISF intelligence directorates). Already, a number of previous supporters have been abandoning the movement, and at one point, if and when it is clearer that GMA is only using the rhetoric of antisectarian, antifeodal and anticorruption for his own deluded cause, a mass exodus of supporters will become inevitable. Am I missing something here?

    Posted by parrhesia | July 9, 2011, 4:24 pm
  26. parrhesia,
    You bring up an excellent pointabout who the accused were working for and whether the current political leadership of HA , Sayed Hassan Nasallah, would have necessarily been involved in either the planning or execution.
    I have read enough John Le Carre novels , that are supposedly based on true life stories, to always expect the unexpected in the intel world.
    It is possible that SHN is offering the unquestioned support out of loyalty but even so I still object to his constant efforts to demonize the STL as an institution of hundreds of individuals from all over the world as being part of a conspiracy
    Maybe,just maybe, if the case four already indicted plus the expected Syrians will ever go to trial that maybe then we will learn who was the brain.
    Again I find myself in total agreement with your point regarding GMA.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 9, 2011, 4:59 pm
  27. parrhesia

    Love the moniker.

    I think the problem is that whether or not it’s rogue element, HA has to give up a lot of the secrecy element to the organization so that transparency is achieved.

    And perhaps this is why they are not being overtly cooperative.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 9, 2011, 5:26 pm
  28. Nasser,

    Ghassan & BV have correctly articulated my position. Now are you ready to accept a guilty verdict?
    For your information as if you do not know by now…I do assert that HA is an illegal militia involved in smuggling and terrorist activities (Argentina, Tunis, Egypt, Azerbaijan …should I continue??). that has nothing to do in my stand that if the international courts determination.

    I would say you are the hypocrite by not taking a stand. Spins galore won’t get you any where. (HP now Church lady here eh??)

    I am honest with my opinions. I expect the apologists for the criminally indicted show some true backbone!

    Posted by danny | July 9, 2011, 5:43 pm
  29. Nasser,

    Did you read my last statement @12?
    “My belief that HA is guilty and they are a terrorist entity does not stop me in accepting the verdict whatever it might be.”

    Is that clear?

    Posted by danny | July 9, 2011, 5:49 pm
  30. Yeah, it is clear. You believe that because Hezbollah is an illegal militia they are all criminals, regardless of the outcome of the STL. I guess my point is that you allow that to color your views having to do with the Hezb. Even though the STL’s investigation was shoddy at best & politicized, and without knowing what the evidence actually is and its quality, you say you will blindly accept any verdict – a verdict that is almost certainly bound to be guilty because IT IS an Israeli-American tool. A verdict the trial of which you have not even seen. But you know it is a tool, and that is why you are so eager to accept the STL.

    I need to see the evidence. If it is strong, I will have no choice to accept whatever verdict.

    Posted by Nasser V | July 9, 2011, 7:18 pm
  31. …but to accept whatever verdict.*

    Posted by Nasser V | July 9, 2011, 7:19 pm
  32. Nasser,

    If you don’t mind me asking (and I apologize if you’ve covered this already previously…) But can you explain your position a little better?

    First you say that the STL is politicized. Then you say you would accept their verdict. How do you reconcile these statements?

    I have to ask the question because it seems to me that all others who have taken an anti-STL position here at QN have always correlated the politicisation of the STL with a doctoring of evidence or outright falsification of it. So if a conviction happens as a result of falsified information, you would accept it?

    Also if you are in principle willing to accept a verdict, then can one say that this necessarily means you support the continued work of the STL, or are you one of those who would like to see Lebanon desist its cooperation with the courts and withdraw funds and judges from it?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 9, 2011, 7:59 pm
  33. The investigation has certainly been politicized but what kind of a person would I be if I didn’t wait until I saw the evidence? If there is strong evidence that could not have been falsified too easily, I would be forced to accept it regardless of my beliefs.

    Of course I would not accept a conviction resulting from falsified information. That is precisely my point. I believe many people on here would accept a guilty verdict based on shaky evidence simply because it is consistent with their beliefs whether they’ll admit it or not. The integrity of the STL is, at this point, still up in the air. I support it because I want to get to the bottom of the assassination, but the investigation was ugly and does not bode well for the trial. There is also another track at work here: curiosity and justice versus stability and peace in Lebanon. But I don’t think any of this is ground-breaking in the slightest, but actually extremely obvious; I have formed my position by reading QN and commenters et. al.

    Posted by Nasser V | July 9, 2011, 8:44 pm
  34. Great discussion and good points by all. Welcome back Parrhesia and Nasser V. I am traveling and will try to join the discussion on Monday.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 9, 2011, 8:45 pm
  35. Just a reminder about the next important dates in the process. These dates could prove to be crucially important to who is to have the final say in Lebanese politics:

    Judge Fransen issued the STL indictments on June 28, 2011
    If no warrants are served within 30 days………. July 28,2011
    a public information campaign to inform
    accused is launched
    In absentia trials start 30 days after that……….August 27, 2011

    This promises to be a very hot summer.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 9, 2011, 9:22 pm
  36. Also, my mother told me today that Hariri is going to be interviewed about the STL in Paris very soon. Look for that on MTV.

    Posted by Nasser V | July 10, 2011, 12:02 am
  37. I wish Hariri would retire from politics and stay in Paris. He’s shown quite clearly he is not fit to lead in any kind of way. Time for new leadership.

    Oh who am I kidding…In Lebanon it’s never time for “new leadership”. We just recycle the old ones over and over, and then their sons too…

    As for the STL. It seems we all agree on one thing (believe it or not): We need to wait till we see the evidence before we pass judgement. I’m in complete agreement with Nasser V on this one (and I think Danny as well).

    We seem to each start with a different theory as to who dunnit based on our biases. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is ok to speculate based on one’s beliefs. As long as one is willing to keep an open mind and a rational mind, in the face of the evidence, when it is presented. Until then, we’re all speculating, nothing more. None of us (except perhaps HK) know with certainty what happened, who did what, who killed who, and who politicized what. None of us were there in the room 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 10, 2011, 12:52 am
  38. GK post nr 30

    “In absentia trials start 30 days after that……….August 27, 2011”

    Not quite correct. Below I paste some relevant rules of procedure taken from the STL website. Don’t forget that around the corner (March 2012) there also needs to be a decision taken on the mandate of the STL, which expires that month. I think a decision from the security council will be necessary.

    “The Pre-Trial Judge, in consultation with the Parties, the Registrar, the Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber and, if necessary, the President, shall set a tentative date for the start of trial proceedings at least four months prior to that date.”

    “Before the start of the trial, the Defence can file a number of preliminary motions, including motions challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal or alleging defects in the form of the indictment [Rule 90].”

    “Thus, at the very least, there will be four months between confirmation of the indictment and the commencement of trial.”

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 10, 2011, 5:07 am
  39. Sorry, was referring to GK post nr 35.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 10, 2011, 5:08 am
  40. The May 2008 incident needs to be understood within the context that Syria very unexpectedly agreed to Turkish mediated peace talks with Israel during the month of April 2008.

    It was a turning point for HSN and HA.

    Operation Cast Lead, at the very end of the Bush administration’s term, very conveniently shelved any further prospects for a rapprochement between Syria and Israel and set everything back to zero.

    Posted by R2D2 | July 10, 2011, 8:08 am
  41. Nasser,

    If you don’t mind me asking follow-up questions, as your position seems to be a lot more flexible than the typical anti-STLer….

    Suppose, for arguments sake, the STL finds the four accused members of HA guilty.

    Suppose you went through the evidence and found it unconvincing, I take it you will not accept the verdict?

    Suppose on the other hand, you found the evidence convincing… What then? How do you see things play out?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 10, 2011, 10:05 am
  42. Pas Cool #38,
    The dates that I have stated are accurate including that of August 27, 2011. That is the date when Absentia proceedings get started and the prosecutor releases the supporting material for the indictments.
    I guess the differnce between what I stated and what you are saying is a technical issue. The trial itself does not start as soon as the process is set into motion but if no warrants have been served and no accused have been arrested by August 27 then the in absentia process begins. What is equally important, actually for most observers is maybe the most important is that in less than two months we will be able to see the quality of the evidence that the prosecutor has used for the indictments. That will be a tremendously important date in these proceedings.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 10, 2011, 10:57 am
  43. GK
    You are right, one should (and I should’ve in my post) make a distinction between the actual commencement of the trial and the pre-trial and trial phases.

    A totally off-topic question (but blog related) to QN or anybody else who might know: How do I make the words italic or bold when posting?

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 10, 2011, 11:33 am
  44. Ghassan #35:

    Your dates are off. See Rule 7 (C) of the Rules of Procedure & Evidence:

    ” In the calculation of time limits under these Rules, only working days shall be included and not official Tribunal holidays and weekend days.”

    Posted by Blackstar | July 10, 2011, 3:16 pm
  45. comment removed

    HK please check your email

    — QN

    Posted by HK | July 10, 2011, 3:26 pm
  46. Blackstar #45,
    I am not going to double check right now but even if what you say is correct so add another 2 weeks:-) My point is that within the next two months it appears very highly likeli that the absentia process will get started but what is just as important the public will finally get a real look at the evidence if not by August 27 then by mid September 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 10, 2011, 3:50 pm
  47. Thanks R2D2 about a possible explanation for the May 2008 military intervention. The context makes sense!

    Posted by parrhesia | July 10, 2011, 6:27 pm
  48. GK, @ #35.

    Thanks for the STL timeline; this fits somehow within that framework:

    “Real opposition to emerge after issuing STL indictment, says source
    July 7, 2011

    An anonymous source close to March 14 said in remarks published on Thursday that the real opposition against the newly-formed cabinet will emerge after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) indictment is issued.

    “The current period will be used to [fatigue] the cabinet, but the real opposition will come forward in two months when the STL’s indictment is issued,” he told Ad-Diyar newspaper.

    The source added that if Hezbollah will refuse to hand over the suspects, then the international community will intervene against the government since Hezbollah is part of it. After the above-mentioned intervention, the real confrontation with the cabinet will begin.”

    http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=289086

    intervention=sanctions?

    Posted by lally | July 10, 2011, 8:03 pm
  49. lally,
    I havenot seen the report in Aldeyar but what you say makes sense. The two parties have been waging an STL base war on each other for years. It does look that we are approaching the stage where one side is going to gain an major advantage over the other inaround two months from today. All what we can do meanwhile is to wait and see the strength/weakness of the evidence. Furthermore I do believe that the international community will have no choice but to at least threaten an escalation of potential sanctions if Lebanon choses to dismiss the charges.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 10, 2011, 8:46 pm
  50. Gabriel- I am pro-Hezb. I don’t like everything they do but most, which is more than I can say for just about every other political group in Lebanon. No, it doesn’t bother me that they’re a state within a state enough to dislike them because the current state sucks and doesn’t even seem to be trying to get better. If the evidence is unconvincing, given the politicized nature thus far of the STL, I would be inclined to not believe a guilty verdict and give the Hezb the benefit of the doubt. If the evidence is convincing, I suppose the Hezb would have a big PR problem on their hands; though the majority of their base is pretty fanatical in their support–but it would probably stop/reverse any progress the Hezb has made with other sects since the ’06 war.

    Posted by Nasser V | July 10, 2011, 11:34 pm
  51. Good statement, Nasser V, specially regarding the PR problem and reversing whatever progress HA has made since 2006.

    It’s pretty clear that HA’s base will not be swayed by any evidence (fanatical, as you said). That to me is a bit of a problem. But that goes true for the other side and for 99% of lebanese. Everyone is fanatical about their beliefs and truth/evidence/common sense be damned. Sad state of affairs.

    As to your point about being pro HA because the state sucks. I think we all agree that the state sucks. But my problem with this is that I don’t see HA doing anything to replace the state with a better one. I don’t see them doing anything constructive. I see them being perfectly happy with the sucky state as it is, as long as they get to operate above it and in parallel to it.
    In fact, I think it suits them just fine to have a patsy “state” to blame for all their problems and to provide “cover” (so they are not accountable for governance or anything else).

    I think if people like you truly believe HA can do better at being “the state” then you should push HA to replace the state entirely, and then you can hold them accountable when they are the state.

    I have no problem with HA being the state (well, I don’t personally like it for my lifestyle, but that’s a personal preference). But from a purely objective point of view, if they want to govern, and can do a better job at it then the others, then by all means, go for it.

    What I have a problem with is that they have no intention of governing. What I have a problem with is the untenable “parallel” state.
    Either you are the state, or you aren’t. You cannot have it both ways. Either you govern, and do it your way, and then we can hold you accountable. Or you step aside and let others do it.
    But expecting others to be the “face” of the state, as long as they don’t interfere with you. Having the rules apply to everyone except for you, etc.
    That is, IMO, unacceptable. And even more importantly, untenable.
    It is self-contradictory to want to run in parallel.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 11, 2011, 1:30 am
  52. Before anyone reads this let me just warn u that i was writing it on my iphone at 1:36am, so it might be a bit weird but read it if u have the time.(also it might seem more of an essay)
    I think this just summarizes that Lebanon is and will always be a battleground, a place where the world comes 2 let off some steam. The only way this will change is if the Lebanese decide 2 change it. (long shot, i know)
    However this brings me to my next point which i think is more important. Think of it as an analysis of the Lebanese people.
    Lets start by asking ourselves what we aim 2 do here on this blog? And y we come here? Everyone reading and writing on this blog including myself is pretty well educated, and most i think, live abroad. We r perfectly content on sitting behind our laptop screens and argue and for what? We do this because although we think we r all here to make lebanon a better place, each in our own way (infact we all want lebanon to be a better place) but in reality eventhough we dont know it, we r here because of the excitement. We r all excited to come here, read this blog, comment on it, and argue trying 2 force each others opinions on one another because it gives us a sort of rush and a sense of satisfaction and we like it. If thats the aim of this blog then it has been accomplished time and again. If we want the aim to be Lebanon and its future then we r supposed 2 stop arguing over things like the STL because in the long run that wont bring any real good 2 lebanon but we dont take the intiative to do that. If u want 2 compare this blog to the people of lebanon than u find great similarities minus the internet connection. In Leb we r content 2 argue with each other sitting at the dining table, all of us wanting a better place 2 live in, but when it comes 2 taking the initiative then we have eaten 2 much and its time 2 go to bed.
    Dont get me wrong QN, i love reading this blog. I just wrote this 2 give people something 2 think about and with that im off 2 sleep.
    PS sorry if there r any typos.

    Posted by RM................ | July 11, 2011, 2:27 am
  53. Nasser #51,

    I don’t know where you live. I, for one, do live in Lebanon and have since 2008. I voted in the last elections and I don’t remember a minute that the newly elected government were given a day to deal with anything.

    It was STL for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Posted by R2D2 | July 11, 2011, 6:34 am
  54. “Beyond reasonable doubt”. This magic statement is the base for most litigation the world over.

    It is quite clear that, rightly or wrongly, seeds of doubt have been sown over the years. The proof is the interesting, albeit repetitive debate on QN as well as other numerous sites.

    There is no doubt in any observer’s mind, even those vehemently supportive of the Tribunal, that the STL, since its inception, has had a rough time caused, some argue, by the fact that it was overtly politicised. Indications of this abound. Let us have a brief trip down memory lane:
    • No sooner has the horrible assassination been known, the ‘perpetrators’ were identified. It just happened that all the presumed ‘perpetrators’ were exclusively from one political camp. Photographs, names and other details were carried aloft within minutes of the assassination. One can only wonder why, in the absence of due process, one can reach such a conclusion. It might well be politicking. If that is the case, the organisers of what was then akin to a “lynch mob” may have erred fatally and helped create doubt in the viability of the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ factor;
    • The accusation of Syria only for it to be retracted publicly and in the most glaring of ways; and then resurface recently;
    • The false arrest and imprisonment of four senior security officials for 4 years based on statements that were retracted later on. But it took ‘international justice’ nearly four years to release them and consider them ‘witnesses’ rather than accused. The officials were not afforded their due rights morally or materially. On the contrary, the STL dragged its feet when faced with the legitimate right of extracting justice from those who were instrumental in putting them in prison for years, and finally refused to release vital documents pivotal, at least as far as Gen Jamil Sayyed is concerned, in identifying who was behind this travesty of justice and why;
    • The numerous ‘leaks’ about an investigation that is supposedly tightly sealed in secrecy and immune from the outside world. Additionally, those leaks seem to re-direct the attention to Hizbullah, and after the ‘secret’ pronouncement of the indictment, to the organisation along with Syria (again!) and Iran;
    • The impression by many that the STL didn’t peruse all angles in its investigation. Some pointed to the probability that Israel had something to do with the assassination, as elaborated by Hizbullah on several occasions. To the chagrin of some, Israel could be completely innocent. But it seems that the STL didn’t even think the possibility worthy of investigation, although the State’s presence and capabilities on Lebanese soil is well documented. We didn’t hear about any Israeli official being ‘interviewed and we shouldn’t hear about it either; the STL operates in complete ‘secrecy’! But we did hear about ‘interviews’ conducted with Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians with impunity;
    • The documented transgression of at least one senior officer at the STL who saw it fit to further the cause of justice by touting relevant ‘secret’ documents of a sensitive nature;
    • The impression that the STL is politicised/seeking retribution from a particular side was further cemented by the publication of transcripts of meetings between most of the international players in the case such as USA and France.
    I put the above few comments at the behest of those genuinely concerned about justice and the rule of law, and they are a majority, I sincerely hope, amongst those following closely the course of the STL.

    As a reflection of the growing doubt surrounding the ‘real’ objectives of the STL and its conduct along with that of the international community, not to forget a segment of Lebanese, I would like to point to two developments that are far from Hizbullah/Syria/Iran’s manipulation. They are both championed by journalists who are known by most observers, either personally or by name and reputation, to be subscribers to the rule of law and order. They both work for the Saudi daily Al Hayat published out of London.

    Lebanese Mr. Ghassan Sharbel, Al Hayat’s E-I-C and Mr. Dawood Sherayyan, Saudi, considered the senior columnist at the daily seem to have an interesting take on the STL in the aftermath of announcing the indictments; a take that could perhaps shed light on the ‘general mood’, if not public opinion with regards to the STL.

    Mr. Sharbel wrote on 5 July 2011 an editorial titled ‘Exiting from Hariri’s Blood’. In This editorial, Sharbel argued that it is “not proper for Lebanon to remain hostage to Hariri’s blood, because this situation might lead to the killers achieving their objective. The country’s destiny is more important than that of any individual…”.

    Two days later, the Saudi journalist wrote in his column: “…perhaps I do not agree with what my colleague Ghassan Sharbel alluded to in that Lebanon should have received the indictment with Saad Hariri as a PM of a political cabinet. Indeed the fact that Hariri is out of office will release Lebanon from the clutches of narrow (politics) of sectarianism and graves of the dead, and bring the country into the wide scope of the future. Holding onto the Court will not bring Hariri back (from the dead), while on the other hand abandoning it within the context of a political solution, not a political dialogue, will liberate Lebanon from the stranglehold”. The Saudi columnist went on to allude to the fact that the initial allegations of Syria’s role in the assassination created havoc, and to address former PM Hariri junior asking him to “exit Hariri’s (senior) blood and disperse from around graves and bypass (circumvent) sectarian conflict (in Lebanon)”.

    Regards

    Posted by QuestionMarks | July 11, 2011, 7:10 am
  55. Holding onto the Court will not bring Hariri back (from the dead), while on the other hand abandoning it within the context of a political solution, not a political dialogue, will liberate Lebanon from the stranglehold”.

    Question Marks.

    Can you please explain the above statement? What is this political solution that is being envisioned?

    You talk about reasonable doubt. The only thing your posting has done is create very reasonable doubt in my mind as to whether you are actually interested in solving the political crimes in Lebanon.

    You seem upset the STL did not pursue the “Israel” lead. And yet, you keep pointing to the fact that not abandoning the courts will somehow lead to sectarian strife, and this can only be solved by some yet to be defined political solution.

    If, as you seem to believe, Israel was in fact behind the assassinations, how do you explain your fear of “sectarian problems”.

    Finally, there has been numerous arrests of Israeli spies, and CIA spies uncovered by Hizballah’s intelligence agents. Has there been any further leads you can you talk about to point the finger back squarely at Israel, beyond reasonable doubt of course. (After all, this is the basis of all litigations the world over).

    Posted by Gabriel | July 11, 2011, 9:36 am
  56. Question Marks,
    You are right that we have been through these same arguments more than once and so I will not bother to repeat the specifics.
    As you know from the past I reject adamantly the idea that the STL is an Israeli conspiracy or as you put it more politely politicized. None of the points that you brought up is very convincing whether it is a prosecutor who was led by the evidence to one conclusion at one time and to another later on or whether it is the question of leaks (this must be the weakest and most lame of the reasonsallegedly showing politicization)
    I did promise not to rehash the issues 🙂 You might be surprised to find that essentially I am in total agreement with MR. Sharbel and even Sherrayan. And that uis not new. I have been arguing for possibly 4-5 years that no one should spend anytime on the Hariri affair as egregious and sordid as it is. What we should do is just allow the process to conclude . Once that is done we are committed as a civilized society to be bound by these findings irrespective of whether we agree or not. No finding by any court anywhere in the world will convince everyone of its findings.
    If we could have done that then that would have provided the solution that is implied by the editorialists that you mention.
    I blame March 14 just as much as I blame March 8 for the mess that we are currently in. Again I promised not to repeat what has already been said over and over again. Let me remind some that March 14 used for years the STL as the only issue in governance when it was only another issue, albeit an important one. But March 14 th most importance weakness is its inability to govern. They were and still are obsessed by creating a Kamal Attaturk, a George Washington figure of Rafic Hariri through PR. That is not how these figures are created. Their bigger than life images is created bythe people. March 8, or to be more exact, HA, is for the international court as long as its members are not indicted but is willing to create all kinds of uncertainty and instability to distract from the indictments
    Yes this has been a circus, a side show and a waste of time and energy so far. Unfortunately the sideshow goes on at the expense of governing and will continue to be so until HA puts an end to its constant efforts to dismiss the STL on spurious grounds and until March 14 stop using Rafic Hariri as a means for getting public support. Let the STL do its work and move on.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 11, 2011, 10:45 am
  57. Well, assuming this new story about the 2nd phase of the indictments proves true, it goes far beyond HA operatives.
    According to the story, the 4 generals, Suleiman Frangieh, Wiam Wahhab and a bunch of Syrian intelligence operatives will be named.

    Again, assuming this story proves true, I think this adds a new dimension to all our previous discussions and analysis.

    1) How will the government of Lebanon react and handle the naming of the likes of Frangieh (who is a sitting MP, and has representatives in the current cabinet)?

    2) How will Syria react to the naming of several intelligence operatives (who have, still according to the story, “disappeared” – conveniently, long ago).

    To me, this means that:

    1) HA didn’t act alone (which really never did make sense, even for those of us who believe HA indeed carried out the operation).

    2) The order came from Damascus: Syrian operatives + Frangieh/Wahhab/Qandil cannot be interpreted in any other way. It’s not like Suleiman Frangieh or Wiam Wahhab are the types to decide to take on Hariri all by themselves.

    3) The 4 generals are back in the pictures, which adds Lebanese security/intelligence to the mix of perpetrators. Again this makes sense. It was pretty obvious that at the time, if such an assassination were ordered by Damascus, then the cooperation of pro-Syrian Lebanese intelligence/security would play a crucial part in the matter.

    More importantly, the real question, looking forward, will be how Lebanon reacts to all this.
    It was one thing to pretend to be looking for 4 “rogue” HA agents that no one has seen in 5 years. It’s another altogether to turn a blind eye to the likes of Wahab and Frangieh driving around Beirut freely and not arrest them or bring them in for questioning or whatever.

    With that in mind: Cue the “sanctions” scenario I’ve been talking about for a while, coupled very closely with the fall of the Miqati’s government.
    My argument has always been that “when push comes to shove, HA/M8 will have no choice but to bring down the Mikati government”.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 11, 2011, 12:56 pm
  58. The latest from Nick Noe’s blog:

    “Will the indictments be enough to blacklist Hizbullah in EU and elsewhere?

    One of the main “benefits” of the STL process of course was that in targeting Hizbullah, the party’s enemies could FINALLY have enough ammo to de-legitimize it in the EU and beyond – a GREAT GOAL for years – since Hizbullah is only considered a terrorist party by a handful of countries led by the US, Israel and Canada (where a fabricated quote helped tip the balance).

    This is the moment hizbullah’s foes have been waiting for – will it be enough? I don’t think so… I think only a conviction could do that. But we will see soon enough as these forces are gearing up for a broad based delegit campaign.”

    While amused at the adoption of a term, “delegitimized”, I wish Noe had elaborated on the reasons why a delegitimized HA is a “GREAT GOAL” for the parties involved.

    From the warmonger’s toolbook, it makes perfect sense to pre-emptively delegitimize the enemy target(s) prior to launching attacks of the now “legitimized” disproportionate force required in order to neutralize the perceived “threat(s)”.

    Posted by lally | July 11, 2011, 1:31 pm
  59. I think we need to be a lot more worried about the state of Lebanon being “blacklisted” in the EU and elsewhere these days…It really doesn’t matter much if HA is blacklisted or not, since it doesn’t rely on the West for its funding or commerce….The state on the other hand…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 11, 2011, 1:45 pm
  60. RM, are you a psychologist? psychiatrist? therapist?
    Don’t get me wrong. I agree with you 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | July 11, 2011, 2:05 pm
  61. BV,

    I may be wrong but the list of 12 does not seem real to me. Who would entrust the windbag Wiam Wahhab with details of such a delicate operation?

    At this point, I would heavily discount the info.

    Posted by AIG | July 11, 2011, 3:00 pm
  62. Nicholas Noe seems like the silly journalists that fill the waves in the US, from CNN to Fox, offering the same old recipes on how the US can dominate the world. Maybe he needs to translate the following article by the brave Egyptian journalist Abdel Hamid Qandil that was published in today’s Al-Quds Al-Arabi. This article represents what the “revolutionary” class in different Arab countries that is emerging really thinks, and not the obnoxious news coming out from Al-Hayat and other clownish newspapers:

    http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today10qpt995.htm&arc=data201177-1010qpt995.htm

    As for the 4 points you recalled, it is seems that your memory is selective:

    1. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called for a Lebanese inquiry with an outside help, and he said he is for a concerted Arab effort in this regard. As for the “farce” you’re describing, I hope you’re not that easily impressed by the White Man. More than 80% of what the so-called international investigation put in its early reports came from Lebanese security sources when Sulaiman Franjiyi was Minister of the Interior. Fitzgerald ‘s mission was to discredit the Lebanese security apparatus while plagiarizing its work! Did you ask yourself why Saad (who dropped Eddine from his name just after meeting a dick named Cheney in the White House) Hariri immediately pushed aside the person from the Toufaily family (a Christian by the way; I forgot his 1st name) who headed the telecommunication unit at the Lebanese Army Intelligence and pinned down the issue of the phone calls just a few days after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri? Instead, they created the myth of Wissam Eid and manufactured maps to show that Hizbullah members are the culprits.

    2. Amal and Hizbullah Ministers suspended their membership in the Sanyoura government because of the terms that the latter “negotiated.” Do you find it healthy that all personal information regarding the whole population of Lebanon is now in foreign hands after passing through the Zionist criminal entity? Last time you rushed to publish the comment by the Tribunal that what Sayyed Nasrallah has recently exposed about the 97 computers was wrong. Although what the Sayyed said was true and the UN tried to justify the passing of the computers containing such information through the criminal state of “Israel.”

    3. As for the draft that was written in New York in English and translated poorly into Arabic, Amal and Hizbullah asked for a few days to read it and discuss it. Sanyoura and co. wanted an immediate vote. That’s why they left the cabinet, for among other reasons Nabih Berri and Sayyed Nasrallah know well what are the real aims of the Hariri tribunal (as do many others).

    4. Isn’t odd that every assassination came on the heels of the Lebanese government decision to debate yet another demand coming from the so-called Special Tribunal for Lebanon? Finally, I hope you’re not feigning ignorance of what really led to the 7 May events, and that the “great deal of tension on the streets of Beirut” was – and still is- largely due to the ugly sectarian agitation by the Hariri family media.

    Posted by Guest | July 11, 2011, 3:28 pm
  63. HP,
    Haha, no actually I’m a 2nd year engineering student who likes to analyze a lot of things in his head. Thanks though :)!

    Posted by RM................ | July 11, 2011, 3:33 pm
  64. BV/AIG,

    Qandil seems to be the only possible indicted as there were constant talk about him years ago and was very close to the mukhabarat.
    The rest could be summoned as witnesses…As for the Syrian ‘actors” we all knew why they were disappearing. The best hit being Muggsy though

    Posted by danny | July 11, 2011, 3:44 pm
  65. Welcome, Guest

    I will respond to your points, one by one.

    1. What evidence do you have for your claims about Hariri, Toufayli, Wissam Eid, etc? What about the notion that Fitzgerald plagiarized the work of the ISF? Until you can show such proof, the burden is on you to explain why Fitzgerald, the UN, and Hariri would have leapt into action “just a few days after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri” in order to frame Hizbullah? The only way that makes sense is if there was a huge plot to kill Hariri and frame Hizbullah/Syria, a plot in which Saad and the UN were involved. Maybe Saad was the one who pushed the button that killed his father?

    2. I have not yet seen any proof that the computers passing into Israel were STL computers. How do we know that they weren’t UNIFIL? And even if they were STL computers, let me remind you that the UN does recognize Israel. If they sent the computers out via Israel, it was probably because they did not trust Hizbullah not to confiscate the material at Beirut Airport, which is under their “observation”. (Let’s not forget “Clinicgate”)

    3. All they had was a few days? 🙂 And Hizbullah/AMAL don’t know anyone who speaks English? 🙂 The draft started circulating in Beirut a good while before it went up for a vote.

    4. Are you suggesting that the STL was killing March 14 members? Please be clear. Don’t just raise questions along the lines of: “Isn’t it odd…?” Tell me exactly who you think killed Hariri, why, and how, and how the STL fits into this all?

    Note to everyone else: please keep the discussion civil.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 11, 2011, 3:46 pm
  66. AIG,

    I still wonder how all this works out for you on these blogs?

    Are you on a fixed salary, get paid by the hour, by the number of words … or are you heavily invested in the Beirut Stock Exchange?

    You’re no journalist for sure.

    So what’s the deal, Habibi?

    Posted by R2D2 | July 11, 2011, 3:48 pm
  67. Yeah. We don’t know yet if this list of 12 names is true. I was pretty adamant about using “allegedly” and “if true” in my comment 🙂

    But it’s fun to speculate.

    My point remains somewhat true, regardless of who is named. If the list goes beyond HA (to include Syrian intelligence, or Lebanese politicians), then things take an even more interesting turn vis-a-vis how the Lebanese cabinet will respond to any STL requests.
    As i said before, it’s one thing to pretend to track down the 4 HA guys, and then claim you tried and failed (so as to avoid sanctions, etc).
    It’s another altogether if current MPs and public figures are named.
    What happens when Interpol puts out an arrest warrant for Suleiman Frangieh or his ilk?
    The Lebanese authorities really can’t “pretend to track him down” as they are doing now with the 4 HA suspects.
    This may very well be the “when push comes to shove” that I’ve been talking about lately. The breaking point at which Mikati won’t be able to dance on that tightrope between fulfilling Lebanon’s obligation and protecting various suspects.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 11, 2011, 4:04 pm
  68. QN.

    re 2)

    The “97 computers +” shipment is clearly labeled as from UNIIIC on the UNTSO manifest. It’s their truck that transported the goods from Beirut to Jerusalem.

    http://www.alintiqad.com/essaydetails.php?eid=45177&cid=76

    Posted by lally | July 11, 2011, 6:02 pm
  69. R2D2,

    Thank you for taking such a deep interest in me. That is very flattering.

    I of course do not work for anybody and do not get paid for blogging. This is the third or fourth time I have told you this but yet you keep getting it wrong. Oh well.

    Posted by AIG | July 11, 2011, 6:11 pm
  70. BV/Danny,
    If I were to guess then I would suggest that there will be very high ranking Syrian officiala indicted besides the ones that have already been liquidated/disappeared.I will not be at all surprised if Frangieh, Wahab and Murad are named. I have no clue if they did play a role but if one is to recall the political environment prior to 2005 then it becomes clear that all of these named were very closely associated to the Syrian s in Lebanon at the time.Their respective roles do not need to be very significant but I will not dismiss the posiibility that each might have played a role in this crime. If this assassination was not put together by a bunch of amateurs then the Syrians must have known about it ansd so I do expect plausible deniability of those on top of the pyramid but not of Maher and Shawkat..

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 11, 2011, 6:19 pm
  71. Thanks Lally.

    And here’s the UN’s response:

    UNTSO: Equipment transportation normal UN-adopted procedure
    National News Agency: United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) office head in Beirut, Colonel Richard Hauser, issued yesterday a statement in which it said that the transportation of 97 computers by the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) from Naqoura to Israel is a normal procedure adopted by the U.N. Hauser also said that each computer’s hard disk was removed, destroyed, and replaced with new one, affirming that the computers are still in their possession and that “such procedures are adopted when equipments are transferred from one U.N. mission to another.” “The operation was conducted with complete transparency and in conformity with followed procedures,” he concluded. It is noteworthy that Hauser’s statement came in response to Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s disclosure of a UNTSO document stating that the computers belong to the UNIIIC and they were in fact moved to Israel. According to Nasrallah, the document provided proof that 97 computers were transported by investigators through Naqoura to Israel and not through the airport or Beirut port, at a time when STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare was still the head of the committee probing Hariri’s murder.

    Computer hard disks were removed prior to transfer
    Al Hayat, CNN, National News Agency: The Chief Liaison Office in Lebanon (LOB) affiliated to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hauser, issued a statement to respond to media reports regarding the transfer of 97 computers via Naqoura to Israel indicating that “the transfer of equipment including 97 computers was a normal practice related to regular liquidation of equipment (related to the UN independent and international investigation commission that ceased its activities on 1 February 2009) which would be transferred to other UN missions”. He stressed that “the equipment which is the property of the UN has been transferred to UNTSO where it is has been kept there from the date of transfer to this date”. He also explained that “the hard discs of the computers had been removed and destroyed and were later replaced with new hard discs” indicating that “this was a usual procedure which is usually undertaken upon the transfer of equipment from one mission to another”. The transfer was conducted in total transparency and in accordance with normal procedures which had been in place for a long time.

    UNTSO: “Transfer of computers via Israel normal “
    Daily Star: The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) said the transfer through Israel of computers used by a commission probing former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination was “normal,” in response to accusations by Hezbollah that this movement of equipment exposed bias in the investigation. Deputy Chief Liaison Officer Richard Hauser said that the UNTSO has in its custody the computers, which belonged to the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC). Referring to Hezbollah’s accusations that some computers belonging to the commission were transported through Israel from Lebanon’s Naqoura border crossing, Hauser said that “the computers were being duly transferred to other missions related to the U.N.” He added that the process was “a normal operation within the U.N.” Hauser said the computers belonged to the UNIIIC, which ended its mission in 2009. However, he added that “the computers belong to the U.N. and were sent to the UNTSO office and are still kept with it until today.” The Deputy Chief Liaison Officer also said the hard drives of the computers were removed and destroyed after the mission of the Rafik Hariri investigation commission ended. “The transport of the [computers] was done transparently and on the basis of [protocol],” he said.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 11, 2011, 6:56 pm
  72. Well, that demolishes the “Israelis tampered with the computer evidence” argument….(which made no sense to me in the first place, cause if Israel wanted to tamper with the evidence, it would have done so in Beirut, and not by making such an amateur mistake as to openly collude with the UN to transport computers in the open, to Israel)…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 11, 2011, 7:38 pm
  73. Why all of a sudden the beligerency from Lebanese officials regarding the disputed maritime borders with Cyprus and Israel? Maritime borders are as crucial as any other borders and they ought to be delineated . Whenevr there is a potential dispute then the parties can go to an international mechanism for such disputes without the need for the threats and the theatrics. But if Lebanon is to do that then Minister Basil will not get the chance to go through his histerical shenanigans on a daily basis neither would the FPM be able to claim that it is their ministers who have freightened Israel away. But most importantly had it not been for these needless outbursts then the Lebanese public and the Lebanese media would still be concentrating on the role of the STL. Yres I am suggesting that none of the statements about the maritime borders are called for whether by the President or by Basil, the FPM or any one else. The mechanism for settling the dispute is established and does not call for any of the threats and bravado shown by the FPM

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 11, 2011, 8:25 pm
  74. BV,

    Every assertion or smoke bomb that HA has lobbed through the Supreme leader has been a dud. HA very well knows that they have been caught in a place they never wanted to be. I think STL & events in Syria has them working on plan C,D & XYZ.

    The collusion of lies and deception from the day of the assassination; whereas evidence was removed from the scene and the crater filled with water in a blatant attempt to cover up…Till these absurd allegations by Nassrallah…If it walks like a duck and quacks like one…Well??? Anyone would try to guess who could be targeted next by the mukabarat or Iran’s Revolutionary Guard?

    Posted by danny | July 11, 2011, 9:02 pm
  75. I hope Guest was not a one-time guest.

    Apparently, he is “not that easily impressed by the White Man. More than 80% of what the so-called international investigation put in its early reports came from Lebanese security sources when Sulaiman Franjiyi was Minister of the Interior.”

    Is he impressed with the work the Lebanese investigators did cleaning up the crime scene?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 11, 2011, 9:33 pm
  76. danny, HA’s obfuscation is working with a majority of the Lebanese audience. What are the chances that this will eventually stop working? HA owes a tremendous amount to GMA. SHN knows it well and acknowledges it.
    The latest declaration by Junblatt that sometimes truth and justice must be overlooked for the sake of stability betrays the utter depravity of his soul. The guys knows exactly what he us doing.
    RM, I am not enjoying making these comments but they are, sadly, the truth.

    Posted by honestpatriot | July 12, 2011, 1:23 am
  77. Come to think about it Jumblat “gave up” on his dad why should he not give up on Hariri too?

    http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/10182-jumblat-i-didn-t-betray-rafik-hariri-sometimes-we-must-forget-about-truth-for-stability-s-sake

    Posted by rm | July 12, 2011, 1:42 am
  78. One should not forget that the second phase of indictments might have to do more with prior and subsequent assassinations then with the murder of Hariri, as these are part of the mandate for the prosecutor to investigate.

    What’s the deal with Hzb members having been interrogated? They allowed this before but later changed their mind? Why? Perhaps in the initial stages they didn’t want to be seen as the party obstructing an internationally sanctioned investigation. Any more thoughts on this?

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 12, 2011, 1:54 am
  79. More fodder for the international conspiracy theory today:-) NYT dares publish an editorial urging the arrest of the four indicted so far by the STL.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/12/opinion/12tue2.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 12, 2011, 8:20 am
  80. Maritime borders.
    Lebanon does not accept that it can have “borders” with
    Israel. Because of that there is, on land, only “blue line” which Israel and the UN treat as an international border but Lebanon does not. That is part of the Shaba Shoba issue. Up to now Lebanon did not care about its so called “maritime economic zone borders”. Judging by the past it may not recognize any “sea bodrers” or “maritime borders” between Lebanon and Israel. That will probably will be solved by some international organization, but Israel has to agree to any arrangement, like the blue line case. What the International oil companies will say about that we will have to wait and see. In any case the area where there may be now gas and oil, for sure?, is way south of the line drawn by Lebanon.
    By the way, that put Lebanon in a strange and supper unique position. The border with Syria was never realy surveyed properly & is not marked on the ground and in reality is not agreed upon. The border with Israel is not accepted by Lebanon as such and now the maritime border is not agreed upon. There are very few political bodies in which all their borders are in such situation.

    Posted by Rani Hazbani | July 12, 2011, 9:48 am
  81. Guest # 65 is absolutely right and the precision of the assassination of Gibran Tweini sealed the deal between the UN, STL and the crooked Government of the Ziocon Siniora. Period

    Posted by HK | July 12, 2011, 10:12 am
  82. 81 Pas Cool,

    The answer to your questions is rather simple. Hizballah stopped cooperating when they discovered that the STL investigators have found out about some incriminating evidence. That can be often deduced from the way or the direction of the interrogations were going and the nature of questions being asked.

    Keep in mind that Hizballah really and genuinely believes that it is invincible and that God is on their side – hence their name. So that is the reason they went along with cooperating initially perhaps guessing or assuming that certain aspects of the operation (assuming they did it) will never be discovered.

    A related explanation is also the fact that they were the ones who paid off any investigators for any documents or leaks that showed that they (Hizballah) were implicated. So they accuse the STL of being corrupt while they (Hizballah) are the actual corrupter. You have to give them credit for being diabolically ingenious.

    Posted by MM | July 12, 2011, 11:59 am
  83. The long communiqué by the UN is “needed” in order to try to justify the unjustifiable. But it is too late. If the hard disks were really removed and destroyed: How, where and when? Who was present from the Lebanese side to ascertain that it was done properly? And why didn’t the Hariri tribunal whisk the computers that contained information on all Lebanese since 2002 (all data on phone and electricity bills, fingerprints, names of students enrolled in local universities, information about specific high ranking state employees, data from the Social Security Department, etc.) through Beirut airport like they always do when they want to refuel and recharge instead of going through “Israel?”

    Posted by Guest | July 12, 2011, 12:03 pm
  84. Let me highlight one fact right from the start. I have never read the Saudi newspaper Al Bilad and so I have no idea how credible it is. I do find it a little bit odd that a relatively obscure Saudi Newspaper will be able to scoop the whole world but if the story that they are carrying about the assassination of Gemayel and attemptes assassination about Chidyak are true then the STL continues to ruffle feathers,

    http://www.albiladdaily.net/?cat=9

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 12, 2011, 12:21 pm
  85. Re: Maritime Borders.

    Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour has vowed to resort to the United Nations to resolve the conflict on Lebanon’s maritime border with Israel after the Jewish state’s proposal deepened the feud over offshore gas fields between the two states.

    It’s all good and fine. Politicians talk. It’s what they do. Israel submitted a proposal for border demarcation to the UN. Lebanon is now talking about taking the matter to the UN. That is correct course of action. That is how disputes are resolved. That’s what the UN is for.
    I wish they would simply take the same approach for Shebaa and whatever else disputes there may be. That’s how the civilized resolve disputes.
    And we’d have no need for wars and resistances…

    Re: Aoun’s latest hypocritical statements (you guys know how much I love to throw his quotes back at him).

    Aoun said: “I am required to return the position of General Security chief to the Maronite sect.”
    Wait! I thought you were non-sectarian/secular, mon general! Aren’t you the one constantly trumpeting your party being non-sectarian?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 12, 2011, 1:16 pm
  86. BV,
    There is nothing new about the maritime borders. It is all part of the distractions

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 12, 2011, 1:36 pm
  87. Oh I wasn’t arguing that, Ghassan.

    But my point is, it’s perfectly FINE to bring up diplomatic disputes. It’s how the game of nations should be played.
    It’s no different than Republicans and Democrats arguing over the debt ceiling (as retarded that they may be).
    The point I was attempting to emphasize is that it should always be done in a diplomatic fashion, and that even Lebanon, when it puts its mind to it, is capable of playing by those rules (taking disputes to the UN for resolution).
    Contrast that with, say, a hypothetical speech in which someone like SHN threatened to rain rockets on Israel if it stole one inch of Lebanese maritime water, or whatever…

    Again, my point is that, there is a civilized way to resolve disputes, and there is an uncivilized way to do so.
    It would be nice if we always adhered to the civilized way.
    That would do away with the need for rockets/war/resistance etc.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 12, 2011, 1:54 pm
  88. Guest,

    You have used five different monikers at this site since 2009: Please choose one and stick with it. Thanks.

    With regard to your point about the computers, let me ask you the following: If Hariri was assassinated by Israel or the CIA or whomever you suspect, why would it be necessary for Israel to bother confiscating and tampering with the hard drives of the STL? Surely the Israeli government would have arranged to fabricate the evidence ahead of time, no? Why would they need to examine the computers?

    If you’d really like to have a conversation about these issues, I will again invite you to state your views in a straightforward manner, instead of just making ominous-sounding insinuations.

    Thanks

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 12, 2011, 2:32 pm
  89. Ominous sounding insinuations is the best the conspiracy theorists can come up with, QN.
    There are no “rational” or “common sense” arguments to be made.
    So the only recourse is to make random statements with zero basis in logic and hope that something sticks.

    As you just pointed out, and others before you, if Israel and the STL were in cahoots, there would be no need to transfer incriminating evidence on computers to Israel, all the while leaving A PAPER TRAIL with UN stamps and signatures on it.

    None of that makes any sense. There is no logic.

    The way it works is, you say the word “Israel” and it evokes some kind of ominous feelings purely based on a Pavlovian emotional response we’ve been conditioned to. And that somehow is supposed to cover up the complete lack of logic to your statement. We’ve seen SHN master that technique (and others before him). Sadly, it is quite effective.
    I still think someone would win a nobel prize in sociology/psychology by making a case study out of the Lebanese mentality…

    Let’s play a game….Note exaggerated emphasis with bold letters.

    Rafik Hariri stole a bunch of money!
    My aunt selma recently took a tour of ISRAEL (insert gasps and ohlalalas!)
    These red apples don’t taste very good.
    Those green apples (jumps up and yells “ISRAEL“) taste good.

    If you’re Lebanese, you probably reacted very strongly to Aunt Selma taking a tour of Israel and now have an aversion to green apples. You probably think there is an Israeli conspiracy to push green apples into Lebanon for some kind of nefarious purpose. And you probably now believe Aunt Selma is a spy of some kind. She probably has something to do with those green apples too…

    You probably have some kind of excuse for why the red apples taste bad, and a whole bunch of excuses to justify Rafik Hariri stealing money.

    Note that in the above statements, only 2 were intrinsically negative:
    – The theft of money
    – The red apples tasting bad.

    Note that of the 4 statements, I almost guarantee that it’s the OTHER 2 that elicit a stronger negative response.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 12, 2011, 2:59 pm
  90. >Saad (who dropped Eddine from his name just after meeting a dick named >Cheney in the White House)

    How ensightful and deep… But can’t you the load of spite here, useless spite of course, which in the end undermines your rhetoric. No wonder people are sick & tired of such ad hominems and do not respond. Such statements in fact signal an imature, spiteful, and superficial analysis.

    Posted by rm | July 12, 2011, 3:00 pm
  91. BV,

    The UN ruled that Sheba is occupied Syrian territory which is what Israel has been saying all along. All Syria has to do is send a letter the UN saying it is Lebanese to solve the issue.

    Posted by AIG | July 12, 2011, 3:08 pm
  92. I think Saad screwed up a little. He really ought to have dropped the first part of his name, so he can really be an Uncle Tom.

    You know…

    “Mr Cheney… Meet Dean, Dean Hariri”

    sounds so much less oriental than:

    “Mr Cheney… Meet Saad. He’s a good chap that Saad, dropped the Deen from his name”.

    Mr Cheney responds, “Sakhad? Sa-had? How do you pronounce the native’s name?”.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 12, 2011, 3:21 pm
  93. AIG,

    No argument here. If we were 3 civilized nation, the shebaa matter would have long been resolved.

    1) Syria claims it is Syrian land. Lebanon has no claim. Israel has no claim (per UN decision that is indeed Syrian).

    2) Syria claims it is Lebanese. Lebanese has a claim. Israel has no claim (as it accepts that it is Syrian land, and therefore has no say as to whether Syria wants to gift it to Lebanon or not).

    The problem here is that neither of the 3 parties is willing to abide by UN decision (for various reasons).
    The topmost precept of “rule of law” is that you have to accept the arbiter’s decision.
    In our case, Syria refuses to say one way or the other if it considers Shebaa Syrian or not. For obvious reasons (it allows Syria to give HA an excuse).
    Lebanon claims it’s Lebanese land. All fine and dandy.
    Israel refuses to withdraw on grounds that it is Syrian land (so what? Israel should withdraw regardless if the UN says it’s Syrian land).

    But again, we’re not civilized, so instead of UN arbitration, we go to war with each other, we occupy land and then use occupied land as bargaining chips…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 12, 2011, 4:05 pm
  94. General question to all participants.

    Is it consensus that really the perpetrators of the assassinations can either be:

    (1) The Israel/CIA grouping

    or

    (2) The Syrian/Iranian/HA grouping

    Is this something that we can safely say everyone agrees on? That there is no possibility that I don’t know, China/India decided to get in on ME action and commit the crimes?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 12, 2011, 4:17 pm
  95. Well, I think the above 2 options are the most likely, considering our history and motive.
    They are also a representation of our bipolar society.

    In theory, one could come up with a number of other possibilities, but I admit they are pretty far fetched.
    For example, who’s to say, the assassination wasn’t the work of Russia. Hoping to foment trouble for the Bush-era “push for democratizing the ME”.
    Or it could be the work of the Saudis. Maybe Hariri had some dirt on some Saudi prince hoping to succeed to then King Fahd.
    Or maybe Ghaddafi had a hand in it…
    Or it could be the work of a rogue spy agency operating for an international crime cartel, which Hariri crossed at some point in his career….

    Seriously though, the manner in which the issue has been covered up and obfuscated and obstructed at every step of the way tends to identify the most likely culprit…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 12, 2011, 4:23 pm
  96. Thx BV. Curious to see how others respond.

    I’m trying to see if there is in fact a common ground. These operations are in my view too big to have been pulled off by smaller more peripheral groups, without the knowledge of more powerful actors. I also agree that other explanations are far more far fetched.

    I for one would say that if there was enough evidence that Hizballah/Syria were not involved, that the only other probable option would be that it was US/Israel or some such combination.

    I suspect most people would agree with this reading/statement. But I would like to see it confirmed with a quite show of hands.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 12, 2011, 4:34 pm
  97. Above:

    I suspect most people would agree with this reading/statement…. (though maybe in reverse order of probability- Blame CIA/Israel first, and if proven otherwise, it was likely Syria/HA/Such combination).

    Posted by Gabriel | July 12, 2011, 4:36 pm
  98. Gabriel,

    A third option.
    The nefarious Carlos Edde commando unit. 😛

    Posted by danny | July 12, 2011, 5:09 pm
  99. Some people believe it was some kind of terrorist outfit that did it. (A fundamentalist group taking revenge for the assassination/jailing of its members… there were a few of those cases.)

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 12, 2011, 5:33 pm
  100. QN,

    I think the degree of sophistication of the hit (jamming Hariri’s dejammer thingie, etc) + the cover-up that followed make it very unlikely it could be some terrorist outfit. At least not one without the backing of some intelligence agencies.

    Had this been a street gunning (ala Pierre Gemayel), or a suicide bomber thing (I believe that theory was discounted), then I could’ve accepted more realistic suspects other than the big 2 (Israel/CIA or Syria/HA), but as it is, I think those are the only viable 2 suspects.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 12, 2011, 6:06 pm
  101. BV/Gabriel/Danny/QN….
    I wish that we will not become an active part of speculating who killed Hariri 6 years ago without having anything besides a gut feeling for our theories.
    It is not enough to say who is it that could have executed an operation but it is at least equally important to argue about the motive.
    Only Lebanese think that Lebanon is the center of the universe and everything revolves around it. I hate to disappoint you, Lebanon is the least important in the global game and to assassinate Hariri in Lebanon is practically useless to the overall scheme of things for the US.
    I would dismiss as silly even the thought that the CIA was interested in the death of Hariri. (Please HK do not repeat your very emotional yrt superficial analysis for the umpteenth time). Lebanon was tightly controlled by the Syrian Mukhabarat and I would suggest that it would be next to impossible to plan such a sophisticated operation, execute it, erase all evidence from the crime scene, do the impossible to prevent a serious investigation and when evidence points to some potential culprits demonize the messenger instead of showing that the accused are innocent. As a result of the above it would be very difficult, maybe even impossible, to suggest that the Syrian mukhabarat did not know about this operation. It is far more plausible to argue that they even planned it. Bashar blinked when Bush invaded Iraq and thus left Lebanon and Bashar blinked again after the UNSCR on Libya fearing that the UN would also move to Syria. Bashar was wrong both times.
    Ibelieve that there is only one responsible thing to do. We must await the judgement by the STL and just move on, no matter what it is.
    Bashar and what he represents cannot be redeemed. He will eventually, like all dictators, end in the waste bin of history. So would HA especially its efforts to subjugate a people in the name ofa religious belief. History will not be good to GMA either for having chosen his own political fortunes as being above those of the country.Unfortunately the same can be said of both Mr. Safadi and Najib Mikati who cannot have it both ways, to be for March 14 and yet for Syrian hegemony.
    I Society has set up a judicial institution to deal with crimes and the only thing that we can do is to let the process unfold. We have no choice but to abide by the rules of the game becasue if we do not then we would be advocates of might is right, the rule of the jungle.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 12, 2011, 6:43 pm
  102. Once again allow me to reaffirm that I am in no way a political analyst, never did I claim to be, nor ever did I have the aspiration to become one (with the greatest respect and admiration I have for our host Elias). I am nothing but a citizen of this world who happened to be Lebanese by birth, and therefore “cursed” for eternity. I have been following “Qifanabki” (and a very selective few other blogs) for a while now on a daily basis. Although I enjoy the debates (sometimes heated), I can’t help but wonder what the rhetoric would be like if most of the participants were actually living like me in Lebanon, after a period of self exile.
    Jebran Bassil is pointing his angry finger (as a true follower of Hassan Nasrallah) towards Israel in a blatant threatening manner with regards to maritime borders, whilst wearing shoes that are way too big for his “toddler” feet, and Hassan Nasrallah is still trying to justify his resistance movement using the Shebaa farms as an excuse. But to me and to those other “ignorant” Lebanese a few of questions spring to mind.
    1) Did we actually demarcate our border in the north to begin with in order to establish our “claimed” 10452 Km2?
    2) Did our sisterly state actually present the much needed documents which prove that the disputed Shebaa farms are Lebanese?
    3) If the newly formed government ,made out of this newly found majority, on more than one occasion labelled the UN as a politicized (Zionist, American entity)enemy, why is it that they are now preparing “an iron clad dossier” to present to it in order to prove ….. yet another Israeli occupation (maritime this time)?
    The STL is not about Hariri’s assassination (to me at least). It is a much needed process in order to pave the way towards the establishment of the long awaited “rule of law” in this failed state of ours (or mine, since I am living in this land) since its independence; from the time of Bechara Al Khoury, passing by Fouad El Chehab and his “maktab thani” to the current (failed) army general we now have for a president.
    Before the 4 generals were released (the excuse of due process coupled with a gesture by the STL to prove it’s impartiality), and I do deeply believe that eventually they will be incarcerated again; the government then (spineless M14) should have built a case against them and locked them away for life. At least for crimes perpetrated against their own people; and extended the arm of the law to reach the likes of Adnan Addoum. One of the many occasions presented on a silver platter that went to waste.
    Again as a feeble minded, retarded Lebanese (and many unfortunately are), we lodge complaints against Israel (our only “allowed” recognized enemy) at a rate of dozens a day within the UN , which ofcourse is an American/Zionist entity( according to some, in power now); but we never thought, or even contemplated, to go to the UN and seek damages against 30 years of Syrian hegemony. Why is it that we don’t even dare entertain the idea (now that we have diplomatic relations with our sister in the north) to ask for compensation for all the money and resources that were siphoned (and still are) for 30 years, and I am not going to get into the faith of those still missing?
    No analysis is needed, any idiot (me as an example) can tell you that ever since “ouwat al rade3” decided that there was nothing they could do to safeguard Lebanon (with minimum casualties), and Hafez’s Syria lingered on; nothing happened without the Ba3thist regime’s approval. And so was the formation of the government we “enjoy” today.
    On a lighter note, and I do hope that your readers will be kind enough as to excuse my rambling; in response to Gabriel 97, I think it is all the doing of the people of the lost continent of Atlantis who came from their far away planet after Noah’s ark rescued them from the big flood, and are now scheming to reclaim their Biblical land.

    N.B: The way this newly formed government of ours is going to safeguard our rights to gas pockets within our maritime borders is if they all fart in unison and I will be the one holding the match to see them all implode !

    Posted by marillionlb | July 12, 2011, 7:00 pm
  103. ghassan agreed as usual. We have been discussing this for six years now. I think Gaby felt bored and threw a firecracker out there.

    I will wait for the evidence and disintegration of the militia (as long as it takes)…In that order exactly.

    Posted by danny | July 12, 2011, 7:18 pm
  104. Ghassan,

    Also agreed.

    I remind you that all we have for entertainment these days, is us engaging in vacuous speculation, for the sake of passing the time.
    I admit fully that most of what i write is pure speculation. Nothing more.
    But I’m not in a position of responsibility, so I can do that.

    Clearly, from a responsible, legal position. The thing to do is to await the evidence and not bother speculating until then…but then we wouldn’t have anything to talk about 🙂

    MarillionB,

    I’ll answer all your questions with a simple one sentence answer: The Lebanese have no one to blame but themselves. That is the answer to all your “why this? and why that?”

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 12, 2011, 7:34 pm
  105. @BV. I do agree, but for someone like me who is left with no other alternative (for personal reasons), I can only say “hope springs eternal”; and for me it is “faute de mieux”. I HAVE to believe that one day will come when the “sheeple” will wake up from their deep comatose slumber and make a change. Like I always said, maybe 3 generations from now (and I am being optimistic); but we have to start somewhere. Education, school currriculum, history books, civic education…etc. Maybe it is Macallan talking tonight, but here I am at 3 in the morning still exchanging views and half heartedly believing in a miracle.

    Posted by marillionlb | July 12, 2011, 7:59 pm
  106. marillionlb,
    I might have stated this before but let me state it again, briefly. I will spare you a detailed response to your always very well thought out posts except to stress that you and i have often been in agreement and in particular about the STL. IT is not about supporting Rafic Hariris economic positions many of which were questionable, it is not about contradicting Hezbollah whose positions are often intolerable, it is not in favour of March 14 that was incompetent neither is it against March 8 whose allegiances do not favour sovereignty and democracy. It is simply about the rule of law. I wish you and all Lebanese a prosperous and a peaceful future. You are one of the few who have chosen to put your money where your mouth is. And for that I have nothing but immense respect.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 12, 2011, 8:20 pm
  107. Danny (et al)

    I really am genuinely trying my best of bringing back the convo to at least some common ground. I know what your, BV, Ghassan’s position on this point is. I share your views.

    I wonder if some of the counter-views can be brought back to this rather simple framework of discussion. (For the record I don’t really think it’s possible, as I’ve seen nothing but obfuscation from the other “camp”). But it’s worth a try.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 12, 2011, 8:49 pm
  108. The absence of legitimate and sincere interlocutors that would defend in at least a logical if not convincing manner the actions, positions, and posturing of HA speaks for itself about the impossibility of such. They were repeatedly invited but are mum, precisely because they have no legitimate argument.
    What’s left are the clowny actions of GMA & Co. and the perpetuation of the fanatical criminality of HA, following the examples of its masters in Tehran and Damascus.
    How often are we going to repeat: pity the nation? until there is no more nation? Or did that already happen?

    Posted by honestpatriot | July 12, 2011, 10:08 pm
  109. Gabby,

    I will crawl out of the woodwork to try and give you some sort of insight into the thinking of the other “camp”.

    But your attempt to understand my be hindered by one issue that makes you see everything we say as “obfuscation”. What you have to understand above everything else is the central vector that we all view the STL is not the same.

    You for example, see the STL as a road to Justice of the killing of 22 people; Others (even on here) I think don’t give a damn about those killed as long as their political opponents are blamed.

    To understand our point of view you have to do a couple of things. First, you have to accept that we are not all morons and that some of us have an ability to make rational and logical decisions and that we do not simply think what we are told to think, something many on here just can’t seem to accept (or just believe themselves too superior); Secondly, you have to understand that for us, when the West becomes “involved” in the Middle East, our natural reaction is to figure out how their involvement helps Israel. This view isn’t based on some nonsensical mistrust of the West or our hatred of Israel but it has been borne out time and time again throughout the last century.

    So when they say Hizballah killed Hariri you can excuse us when we are slightly dubious. I also doubt most of the people on this board where lifting their voices in such condemnation when it was members of Hizballah and their families that were being assassinated.

    When the US’s no.1 target long before Al Qaeda was a glint in Bin Laden’s eye suddenly becomes the prime suspect after the initial prime suspect starts doing what its told in relation to its borders with Iraq.

    When the US and Israel point blank refuse to answer the investigators questions and he doesn’t find that worth investigating

    When the investigation uses witness testimony (and says so publicly) and then does not investigate when those witnesses turn out to have been plants

    When a German newspaper is leaking information about the investigation but the investigator does nothing about finding out where the leak is coming from

    The four Generals, the second in command filmed accepting and counting “something”, tapes of the prosecutor, main witness and injured party meeting unofficialy, the list goes on and on.

    Now none of the above makes the STL politicized. None of it makes it conspiratorial; None of it proves anything, one way or another. But it sure as hell makes it look ludicrously incompetent.

    So when this incompetent court tells me that the same people who aborted missions to blow up the cars of major SLA commanders (people who really desrved anything they got) simply because those commanders had their family in the car is now doing this, well, you can understand my doubts.

    So who did it? I don’t know and frankly don’t believe we ever will. All this talk about it couldn’t be done without so and so knowing and so and so knowing is BS. I can’t think of another country in the world whose borders are so porous on every side. So HA, Jihadists, former owners of Solidere properties, the owners of the St,George, Israel/US, Syria, Iran, Saudi, you can mine anyone of those for Ability-Motivation-Opportunity.

    This court, no matter what it does will not lead to some idyllic Lebanon of peace and justice. Believe me when “they” are finished with it, if they got what they wanted they wouldn’t care less how many more people are killed there. And we will be left to pick up the pieces.
    It wont lead to any fundamental change for Hizballah (unless Sayed Hassan intended to take his kids to Disney World). They wont lose support or their weapons.

    Like everything else they have tried against Hizballah, they will be pissing in the wind and anyone who expects otherwise is just lining themselves up for a major disappointment.

    The STL is not in my opinion about Justice for Hariri or the others that died outside the St.George. It is about revenge for the American and French marines killed trying to shore up an Israeli installed govt. It is about trying to undermine and destroy the support for the only party left in the ME that can question Israels hegemony. It is, just to go back full circle to how I started, all about how to protect Israel.

    Posted by mo | July 12, 2011, 10:41 pm
  110. Ze Germans Tommy, it was Ze Germans.

    The truth is in the logic of the debaters or lack thereof.remember Alex and co….well expect the same with the STL.Contradictions can only arise from someone fooling himself and or trying to fool others. Either way a fool is a fool.

    Can I say these things? Or am I hurting some sensitivite people?

    Posted by maverick | July 12, 2011, 11:05 pm
  111. Mo is basically telling us that even if there is convincing evidence that Hizballah did it, its supporters will not leave it. How does that square with ” we do not simply think what we are told to think”?

    Is it in fact the case that no matter what evidence is produced, Nasrallah’s word will win? It does seem so. Is it because of Nasrallahs stature, or because he is against Israel?

    Posted by AIG | July 12, 2011, 11:22 pm
  112. mo,
    I hope that neither you nor Gabriel will be upset if I make a brief remark in response to what you have just posted.
    As you can clearly see from your post you make general unsupported observations and you expect established societal institutions to change their behaviour just because you have said so.
    You claim that the STL has nothing to do with the crimes committed. Can you support that? If a person is accused of a crime then at times the accusation does not stand and that is usually the outcome if the accused presents enough evidence to prove non guilt. (A good case is DSK who most probably will walk ). But you canot expect society to drop the evidence that it has collected based on your suspicion that this is not about justice.
    Would there ever be an act supported by the US against HA that has legitimacy? So the US is interested in paying back those who killed the Marines? Why should that be in conflict with following the evidence to wherever it leads in the Hariri case?
    I honestly do not care about what motivates governments or institutions to support an act when what is at stake is the act itself. Should Lebanon turn down the support of say Norway on the basis that these Norwegians are playing nice because they would like their oil company to be granted the right to explore for oil in Lebanon? Or maybe I should decline the offer of help from my next door neighbour since I suspect that he is offering to help me only becasue if I do not default his property will sell for better prices.
    You want an accused criminal not to be prosecuted just because you have some suspicion about the “real” motives of those that are offering support to the legitimate institution. And I hope that you are not going to tell me that all of these hundreds of individuals , including the Lebanese, have been hand selected by the CIA to fabricate evidence against these individuals. If the purpose was the fabrication of evidence then why offer all of the possible transparency to show that the evidence is wrong?
    I do not know whether the STL is about anything else besides holding individuals responsible for acts that they have committed. If the judicial system cannot prove its case then that is also fine but to refuse to be subject to the laws and restrictions on the grounds that you suspect that there is an ulterior motive just does not wash.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 12, 2011, 11:39 pm
  113. Mo:

    Let me start by saying that I do appreciate you popping out of the woodworks, and I do hope you continue to pop out. I understand you’ve repeated yourself ad nauseum, and hate repeating yourself for the umpteenth time. I am relatively recent here, so I have missed anything you have written previously, and I promise to be concise and not repetitive.

    A couple of points:

    So who did it? I don’t know and frankly don’t believe we ever will. All this talk about it couldn’t be done without so and so knowing and so and so knowing is BS. I can’t think of another country in the world whose borders are so porous on every side. So HA, Jihadists, former owners of Solidere properties, the owners of the St,George, Israel/US, Syria, Iran, Saudi, you can mine anyone of those for Ability-Motivation-Opportunity.

    You took exception to my characterization of the other camp as “obfuscationist”. Can we at least agree that in your stated position and in your own words you seem not to be really interested in pursuing the investigation? [perhaps for perfectly good reasons].

    Posted by Gabriel | July 13, 2011, 12:09 am
  114. I too appreciate that mo is trying to be civil and share his point of view. Really, I do appreciate it.

    The problem I have is the same Ghassan pointed out. The logic behind that reasoning is not really logical.

    I do understand and agree with the part about “When the west takes interest in the ME, we wonder how that helps Israel, because that’s always been the case.” This is true, for the most part, in the past century. Although I don’t think it’s as one sided as your camp thinks, but ok, let’s concede that point.
    That still does not make the leap from that assumption to the lack of logical narrative to the Hariri assassination.
    Could it be Israel? Sure. I really don’t think that’s impossible.
    But no one has presented any evidence to that so far (Nassrallah’s so-called evidence has failed to hold water).
    The STL rumors and leaks (so far we haven’t read the indictment) do seem to have SOME kind of evidence (even if it’s at this point, circumstantial). Mobile networks, and so on…
    Howcome no one has been able to produce ANY shred of anything pointing to a different suspect?
    And what’s worse, howcome HA or the Lebanese state have not only failed to present credible alternative evidence, but have gone out of their way to obfuscate (and you know here that this is the truth) whatever evidence has been presented against HA. There has been no attempt at REFUTING it. All we got was “We don’t care. LALALALA. Israel did it.”
    That’s no defense. That doesn’t refute anything! That makes me suspicious.

    Lastly, you bring up an interesting point: You say none of us raised our voices when HA types were assassinated.
    1) Most of the assassinations in the recent timeframe have been one-sided. It’s always been M14 people getting killed. Why?
    2) When HA people did get assassinated (Abbas Moussawi, etc). We all agreed that Israel did it. Even the anti HA crowd agreed to that. Why? Because it was common sense and it was obvious.
    Now imagine that some group had sprung up after the assassination of Abbas Moussawi and said “Well, there is no proof Israel did it. In fact, we think Syria and Iran killed off their own man.” Wouldn’t you scratch your head and wonder about the rationality of such claims?
    I mean, surely, by your logic, if it was the Americans and Israelis killing pro-Western people in Lebanon, in other words, their own men (in a sense), why would it not be also true that Iran/Syria would be the one offing their own men?
    Why? Because it makes no sense. You don’t usually assassinate your own people. Common sense dictates that you assassinate the OPPONENTS to make them weaker. Not shoot yourself in the foot.

    I know I’m rambling, but that’s one big hole in many anti-Israel logic that always bothered me. That also goes beyond Lebanon.
    It’s the same bizarre logic that claims Americans are the ones killing off American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan (you know, those conspiracy theorists who believe Bin Laden was a CIA asset, as is the Taliban).
    These are the same people who would have us believe Israel assassinates pro-Israelis and the CIA assassinates pro-Americans.
    I guess it puts the Iranians and CIA in the same bed, in some bizarre kind of way. I don’t even know where to begin with that logic. Or lack of logic. It just makes no sense to me. So it’s very hard for me to take such claims seriously. While we’re at it, I’m sure Hitler was a creation of the Jews…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 13, 2011, 1:18 am
  115. I think one difference between people when it comes to the STL is the approach people take to validate their arguments. The approach can be emotional, institutionalist, logical and perhaps even conspiratorial. One then finds arguments that suits the thinking and more readily discards arguments that seemingly counter it.

    In the words of Mo:

    “When the US and Israel point blank refuse to answer the investigators questions and he doesn’t find that worth investigating

    When the investigation uses witness testimony (and says so publicly) and then does not investigate when those witnesses turn out to have been plants

    When a German newspaper is leaking information about the investigation but the investigator does nothing about finding out where the leak is coming from”

    Unless Mo has inside intel there is no way of verifying whether or not this is true. If Mo has no inside intel he/she is basing this on press articles, which of course when it comes to the investigation can be way off mark. Nobody can say for sure what the investigators or the prosecutor have or have not done. For all the attempts to discredit the tribunal and the investigation, the UNIIIC and the STL has not had a really good chance at defending itself from these attempts without either jeopardizing the investigation or dragging the investigation/STL in a soup of rather pointless political statements, neither which would be good to the international legitimacy of the STL. The trial, when the prosecutor actually can present the evidence, and when the defense can question the evidence, is the only phase where we might find answers to the above statements, the ones that Mo made. These accusations at this stage questions more the credibility of the one making these statements then it questions the credibility of the STL.

    Posted by Pas Cool | July 13, 2011, 1:41 am
  116. By the way, this is the first I hear of Americans being questioned and refusing to answer…Someone care to elaborate on that story? Or point me to some link or article? Where’d you get that Mo?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 13, 2011, 2:28 am
  117. GK, you are not reading what I wrote. I did not state a desire nor “expect established societal institutions to change their behaviour” and I did not claim that the “STL has nothing to do with the crimes committed”.

    I don’t expect anyone, least of all my enemies, to make any changes on my behalf. And my belief for what the STL is being used for is subjective; You may have noticed I was not arguing for or against anything but merely giving Gabriel an insight into the thinking of those in the other “camp”. But by the same token, you should not be expecting Hizballah to co-operate with their mortal enemies. You talk about rule of law and societies institutions as if Lebanon was a utopia and those institutions were not riddled with people with political, financial or secterian agendas.

    Your second point seems to miss (or ignore) my thinking entirely. It is not a question of ignoring the evidence my friend. Its a question of how much you trust the evidence. If any police investigation in the US had been conducted like this I would think the Judge would have taken all of a minute to declare a mistrial. But I know that you believe wholeheartedly in the STL and I know it suits your particular political beliefs to see Hizballah prosecuted. So our thoughts are never going to meet on this.

    Lastly, I’m not sure what you mean by an offer all of the possible transparency to show that the evidence is wrong. But if you mean in court then you are being naive. I do not imply or accuse everyone involved in gathering evidence of collusion. But what is gathered and what is presented are not the same thing.

    “to refuse to be subject to the laws and restrictions on the grounds that you suspect that there is an ulterior motive just does not wash”

    Seriously? An organization that has half the Western world rallied against it, that the top intelligence agencies continuously strive to infiltrate, that is hated by the US and Israeli administrations more than AQ and Saddam combined and you think my thinking suspects an ulterior motive?

    If you do not care about what motivates governments or institutions to support an act than you either believe that the West actually cares about who killed Hariri, which begs the question, why do they not care about all the other political assassinations, or you believe the motivations cannot sully the investigation which begs the question what planet do you live on.

    Gabriel,
    I didn’t take exception (Compared to other things I’ve been called on here, obfuscationist is not particulary hurtful!) . I was hoping to clarify or expand on what you see as “obfuscationist” behaviour and why. Alas, it seems my writing does little to clarify my position to you. I would love nothing more than for the investigation to be pursued, but without agenda. After all, don’t forget who my “camp” believes did it…

    BV,
    Is my argument illogical or insubstantial? I would agree with insubstantial as I don’t have anything but my subjective take on the matter as proof; But illogical? Why illogical?
    If I were linking all the deaths of those assassinated afterward to my argument I would agree but I am limiting this discussion to Hariri’s killing. I think its too easy and convenient to link his death with all the other M14 people (And if you are asking my stand on them, I believe that the majority, but not all, were killed for their public anti-Syrian stance by the Syrians).

    But if refusal to co-operate is practically admission of guilt then we will see if the investigators ever got the info from the AWACS (Israeli?) drones over Beirut that morning. We will see if the US and France have released the results into the recreation of the crime for the benefit of the Swiss experts who refused to agree on the conclusions of the investigative team.

    As I have said, I have not reared my head to convince anyone or justify anything. From my side, I have listed a litany of doubts about the procedure and there is more, so much more, in regards to the backgrounds of investigators, the process etc. which on this board is duly ignored as trivialities. perhaps each one, in and of itself is trivial but when added all up either point to gross incompetence or an agenda. Whichever it is, it does not fill me with any confidence that justice is being served. I’m sure you feel otherwise, but my belief is that were another, lets say less contentious, party accused of the crime, these aberrations in an investigation would mean more.

    Apologies for the length of post and apologies that as the quantity of posts diminish the quality does not increase..:)

    Posted by mo | July 13, 2011, 9:13 am
  118. Mo:

    I was not arguing for or against anything but merely giving Gabriel an insight into the thinking of those in the other “camp”

    and

    I would love nothing more than for the investigation to be pursued, but without agenda.

    I am not asking facetiously, I actually don’t know the answer to this. Does the other “camp” have suggestions/way forward proposed to improve the reputation of the STL? To make it’s rulings/investigations more acceptable?

    [I am not talking here about strategies to delay the investigation, for example demanding further investigations into false witnesses, one of whom is living in Syria]

    Also, I’d like to hear your take on the following. You said, to BV:

    I believe that the majority, but not all, were killed for their public anti-Syrian stance by the Syrians

    Is this belief widespread (in your “camp”)?

    And if so, I’m trying to understand, how can that “camp” actively support Syria despite believing that it has killed with impunity those who oppose it publicly?

    Is it- do you think- an acceptable price to achieve a “Resistance” at the cost of making sure no-one important ever takes any public anti-Syrian position?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 13, 2011, 9:58 am
  119. Mo,

    Just to be clear, when I make reference to a Syria/HA/Iran “camp” or a Western/Israeli/CIA/(maybe Saudi) “camp” it doesn’t necessarily mean a collusion of parties.

    Syria/HA/Iran may simply mean that Syria knocked off a certain number of people with HA/FPM/SSNP doing everything in their power to not hold Syria accountable.

    Ditto for the other “camp”.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 13, 2011, 10:18 am
  120. mo says,
    “what is gathered and what is presented are not the same thing.” How do you know that. This is exactly what I mean by building a case based on nothing else but your personal feelings that do not need to be justified. Assume what you are going to prove!!!

    “why do they not care about all the other political assassinations,”

    I imagine that you have a problem with an effort to lift some out of poverty since most such efforts cannot lift everyone out of poverty? You know that this is an argument that cannot stand on its own two feet. Should we stop holding people responsible for their act since we cannot guarantee that all those who break the law are to be caught? That is perverse logic.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 13, 2011, 10:38 am
  121. This is game changing for the region. Check it out…
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14139544

    Posted by Nasser V | July 13, 2011, 11:02 am
  122. Gabriel,
    The investigation is more or less over, and I don’t see how the verdict or reputation can be salvaged now. Everything is too far gone now. All that is left is damage limitation for the country.

    As Noe is saying chances to have made it more acceptable were not taken when they had the chance.

    In relation to Syria, while I am not sure how widespread that beleif is given that you always mind your language talking about Syria anyway but I think the situation is a little more complicated than simply being an acceptable price – From the Lebanese and the Syrian side. I don’t think the Syrian leadership is as homogeneous as it seems. I think the leadership is fractured and the different wings are so strong that one can act without much caring what the other thinks – I certainly don’t think Assad is as in control as his dad was. And there are those in the Syrian regime who dislike Hizballah passionately.

    One oddity that troubles me though is this. As BV notes about how odd it is to claim that M14 was killing M14 it is equally odd that M14 while in cabinet and with a pretty major influence over the ISF failed to apprehend a single suspect or find a shred of evidence to link the murders with Syria in a period before 2008 when they were at the height of their power.

    More pertinently though I think the attitude of Hizballah is more to do with Lebanon than Syria. Its always important to remember that until 92 Syria was Hizballahs enemy as much as Israel is today and as much as M14 see Syria today. Their relationship has always been more of a truce than partnership or maybe a marriage of convenience – The Syrians because they didn’t want Amal wiped out and Iran pissed at it and Hizballah because it doesn’t need the hassle Syria can bring it via Amal or other Lebanese parties and nor does it need any more regional and non-regional Goliaths to take on.

    So given the web of linkage, the cessation of the killings and the need to avoid internal hostilities and lose allies who are more closely associated with Syria, you get an idea of whats going on.

    Posted by mo | July 13, 2011, 11:05 am
  123. Mo,

    “Its a question of how much you trust the evidence.”
    Have you seen the evidence presented to the court? You are passing judgement based on baseless brainwashing innuendo. Enlighten us about the evidence against the indicted.

    Posted by danny | July 13, 2011, 12:12 pm
  124. Mo:

    I understand the investigation is over, etc. My discussions are more conceptual and top level. Opposition to the STL happened early on and prior to the years of “mistakes” or “errors”, which are the basis on which you seem to be opposing it today. Perhaps the question to you is: What would you have done differently so that we can get your buy-in to the process?

    For instance, I can understand that you have/had misgivings or doubts about Western interests/Israeli interests etc and how they tie in to the investigation. My view is that, by virtue of it being “international”, this should allay at least some of those concerns.

    I still don’t understand what this ingredient that is required to the international nature of the court to make it palatable. More involvement from Syrian/Iranian investigators? If so, you have just stated you believe that Syria is probably behind the assassinations post-Hariri (and for whom I thought the STL was also responsible to uncover the truth).

    On your point on Syria. Fine. I can accept those points, but you didn’t address the core question. I understand that HA has a marriage of convenience with the regime. I understand that this is one big Chess board. I can accept that maybe there are schisms galore within the Syrian leadership, etc. Maybe Bashar is not in control as was his father etc.

    But the bottom line is that you stated your personal opinion here. And your opinion was that “Syria” was behind the murder of those publicly anti-Syrian figures in Lebanon.

    There is no relevance here on whether the political leadership in Syria is torn and conflicted. The “ends” in Lebanon is that for the past 5 years, there has continued to be a culture of murder with impunity, that is a result of Syrian involvement. It seems this is at least a common ground every Lebanese agrees with!

    So I ask the question again. How does HA today, (or the FPM for that matter), adopt policies that support the type of relations with a country that no-one seems to disagree promotes a culture of murder with impunity.

    It is something I fundamentally have a hard time understanding.

    The only explanation I see is a “convenience” one. Or a “political expediency” one. To say that those actors are “Using” Syria to achieve their own aims.

    Which takes me back to my question. Is the price of “Resistance” (or in the case of Aoun, the price of “power”) worth paying?

    And if so, can’t we agree that this means that at least today, groups like the FPM and like HA have become part of the problem?

    Posted by Gabriel | July 13, 2011, 12:23 pm
  125. Mo,

    You do bring up good points. I’ll give you that. Of all the “anti-STL” crowd arguments so far, yours is at least attempting to sound rational (as opposed to the hysterical fingerpointing that 99% of the anti-STL crowd seems to think makes a rational argument).

    I don’t quite know what came of the French recreation of the explosion. I’d be curious what ended up coming of that (you claim they refused to share the results. I was not aware of that. It hasn’t really been discussed much. I have to wonder where you got that info from). I also wonder why they would bother recreating the scene of the crime if their goal is to cover-up what happened. Isn’t easier to just not even suggest recreating the explosion? (again, this stuff doesn’t add up in my mind).

    As for the areal footage from Israeli drones. I think that one’s easy enough to explain. Intelligence agencies are not in the habit of sharing their intelligence with tribunals. Not even in the same country. Let alone when it’s between one country and a UN body.
    I’m pretty sure no tribunal in any system of law has subpoena power of intelligence. This kind of argument, no offense, shows a lack of understanding of justice systems all around.
    I have noticed there is this propensity, among Lebanese, to assume that all things “western” are somehow one and the same and have no jurisdictional limits. I am reminded of QN’s conspiracy theory post from many moons ago, where the Lebanese guy assumed that the New York Times publishing a list of best vacation spots, with Beirut at the top, meant that the US was not planning a war on Lebanon that summer.
    I digress…The point is, no intelligence agency is going to share footage or other such intelligence with a court. The two organisms operate on completely different planes, one is supposed to be transparent and within the framework of the law, where rules of due diligence and proper admissible evidence gathering norms apply. The other is a world of covert operations where, by definition, nothing said/heard/seen is admissible and is usually denied in the first place.

    On the point of the other M14 assassinations. I find it heartening that you’re not blaming Israel for those, at least. 🙂
    I have to wonder though, if you’re not contradicting yourself. You repeated in several posts that “Why is the STL only focusing on the Hariri affair and not the other assassinations?” (for the record, we don’t know that…All we know is what was leaked).
    But then you come back and say If I were linking all the deaths of those assassinated afterward to my argument I would agree but I am limiting this discussion to Hariri’s killing.
    Why are you not linking all the deaths? Isn’t that what you asked of the STL?

    In conclusion (lengthy posts today from all of us!) i’ll echo something said above. Neither you or I have seen the indictments yet nor have we seen the evidence. I make a point of saying that most of my theories are pure speculation. Yet many arguing your position (and many arguing the M14 position, for what it’s worth) continue to assume guilt/innocence and making accusations with no merit.
    Without revisiting all your comments, you’ve pretty much stated that the evidence is tainted, that any other court would throw this evidence out, that the focus of the investigation is on the Hariri affair and not the other assassinations, etc. All these statements were made as justifications of your position. Right?
    Thing is. None of those statements are known to be true.
    Once we see the evidence and the indictment, we may find that
    a) The evidence is incriminating. Or maybe it isn’t.
    b) The court will reject some or all of the evidence because it doesn’t meet the standards of admissability.
    c) The indictment includes a case for all other assassinations.

    Do you know any of this for a fact? Or are you just speculating?

    In any modern court of law (American or European), none of this mistrial stuff you mentioned happens until after the trial has begun. It certainly does not happen during the investigation period.
    – A case is first brought to court through the indictment.
    – Then the court determines based on the indictment if there is a case to be pursued, or throws it out.
    – Then the trial proceeds, at which point the case may still be thrown out, if the defense can convince the judge that there’s no case, or that the evidence is inconclusive, etc.

    We have barely now hit the first of those 3 steps. Yet some people are arguing that there’s no justice because this case should’ve been thrown out already?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 13, 2011, 12:50 pm
  126. On an unrelated topic:

    A good read on the maritime border issue that’s making the news this week. This explains how this Exclusive Economic Zone stuff works, and what the legal framework is, etc.
    I found it very interesting since I knew very little on the subject.

    http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=290840

    I also note that hysterics of Gibran Bassil not withstanding, one has to wonder why the Lebanese parliament has dropped the ball on ratifying the agreement it made with Cyprus (read the piece if you don’t know what I’m talking about).
    A perfect example of running around blaming Israel for stuff before we’ve even bothered understanding the facts…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 13, 2011, 1:19 pm
  127. Gk,

    Apologies, that should have read “what is gathered and what is presented are not necessarily the same thing”

    But seriously, the poverty argument? There is no similarity whatsoever! The want want someone to pay for an act that they and their allies are as guilty of 100 times over. They haven’t tried it before or since. Argue for justice but please lets not bicker about the obvious hypocrisy of this act. When they are chasing Bush and Blair to stand in the ICC and its not just people the West don’t like, then I’ll buy their sort of Justice.

    Gabriel,
    It is international in nature, but I think we are all mature enough to see that the influence is not that international. I have explained that all it would have taken would have been more impartiality. It never needed Iranian and Syrian investigators to get my backing but it certainly could have done without investigators so tightly wed to European and American intelligence agencies or to have been in the pay of pro-israeli american think tanks to make me believe it was ever impartial.

    I’m not sure what you mean by the last 5 years? Syria has been taking out its political opponents in Lebanon since Assad snr. took power. But the last two assassinations were of people who were not notably anti-Syrian and I don’t think Pierre Gemayel’s death was Syrian related (the methodology was too different and too direct imho).
    So, if we leave aside Eido and Hajj (as their deaths were STL related and we i think agree that whomever killed them also killed Hariri) then Ghanem is the notable stand out since 2005.

    But I have to disagree about the relevance of the fracturing of Syrian. I think its very important and relevant esp. if its one particular faction that was doing the killings. Yes, the partnership is one of convenience; Its nothing new in politics for govt. or groups to ally with people with distasteful attitudes if its for a greater good (just ask the US). But i think it is done for more than resistance. The resistance would survive anything an angry Syria threw at it. And I don’t quite see how Aoun gets power from Syria if he didn’t have the support of his community – (In fact, it is the members of M14 that benefited most being under Syrian “occupation”)

    So if not for Resistance and not for power why? Because its the only way to influence what they do in Lebanon and the region. So not only do I disagree they are part of the problem (whatever that problem may be) but they can bring the stability and rule of law that M14 never did.

    Posted by mo | July 13, 2011, 1:20 pm
  128. Bv,

    Im not sure were it read that I wanted the all the assassinations linked (but actually under the rules of the STL they are if the investigator finds a link) but I dont believe they should be no do I actually believe they are related. The Syrians have been taking out their critics in Lebanon as far back as I can remember; This habit didn’t exactly start win 2005.

    In regards to the French recreation, I didn’t say they refused (that was the AWCAS data); I said it had refused to divulge the details and it had been set up for the sake of a group of Swiss experts who couldn’t agree on the investigations finding in regards to the delivery mechanism for the bomb (If memory serves me right, they had issues with the blast radius and the level of heat involved).

    But to the nub of it, you guys keep on berating me for questioning evidence I haven’t seen. And I keep trying to explain, the reasoning – Its not the actual evidence but the manner of the investigation that led to the evidence whatever that evidence maybe.

    Thanks for that link I’ve been looking for something similar. And I’ve always been rational!:)

    Posted by mo | July 13, 2011, 2:21 pm
  129. I’m not sure what you mean by the last 5 years?

    I meant that since there was a movement to eject Syria and attempt to reduce its “influence”, which I think is something everyone appears to agree to in principle.

    Obviously Syrian influence extended well beyond the last 5/6 years and their trail of assassinations predate the murder of Hariri and those who followed, but I would like to think a line could be drawn in the sand somewhere, and it seems to me the day Syria took its army out of Lebanon would be a good day to choose.

    But even with this rather simple metric, “M14” and “M8”- represent dates when people went out and vocally expressed a view, don’t we get a sense of which group overtly asked for continued Syrian presence (to say nothing of their continued influence).

    By Aoun getting his ‘power’ from Syria, I meant by allying with the ‘pro-Syrian’ bloc. Don’t take ‘pro-Syrian’ literally, but as defined previously.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 13, 2011, 2:23 pm
  130. It never needed Iranian and Syrian investigators to get my backing but it certainly could have done without investigators so tightly wed to European and American intelligence agencies or to have been in the pay of pro-israeli american think tanks to make me believe it was ever impartial.

    Fair enough. (Aside point: I don’t know enough about the investigators or their ties to intelligence agencies, etc). But I think the point is a fair one, and your position a reasonable one.

    My question, is then, why didn’t HA support the STL but put caveats to ensure that investigators are not tainted with ties to Intelligence agencies. I don’t recall such a candid discussion ever taking place (or being reported on).

    Part of the reason I have called that camp “obstructionist” is precisely because of what I perceived to be a lack of real effort to engage the project, and help it move along forward.

    PS. On previous post. I don’t disagree about M14 and some of its members, or the fact that they also court the Syrians based on interest. Most recent dithering example is Jumblatt.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 13, 2011, 2:33 pm
  131. Gabriel,

    As you say there are nuances and reading between the lines. In 2005 the Bush-Blair axis had made it clear that the whole “Resistance axis” was going to be targeted. Iraq, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah they were all in their sights; In that environment you don’t allow yourself to be divided and conquered. The show of support therefore was overt but I don’t think it was asking for Syrian continuance as it was a warning to American interference.

    Posted by mo | July 13, 2011, 2:42 pm
  132. Man, Mo is on a roll here today.

    Someone needs to give the guy a massage and a cold drink.

    New post (that has nothing to do with the STL, Hizbullah, Michel Aoun, or March 14, imagine that…) coming in an hour or so.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 13, 2011, 2:56 pm
  133. mo says,
    ““what is gathered and what is presented are not necessarily the same thing”

    With all due respect the addition of the word “necessarily” does not change the fact that this is pure speculation since you do not know either what has been presented nor what has been collected. You simply cannot assume what you are trying to prove. This is the worst kind of a circular argument that would never be taken seriously.
    I find any argument that depends on contortion instead of simple straightforward logic to be lacking.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 13, 2011, 3:02 pm
  134. Wow you guys wanted mo out of the woodwork and he has appeared big time. I hope you are not sacrificing work for the blog lol.
    Mo, you have not said anything of substance that will change anyone’s mind. You still seem the utmost Israel hater and would want all crap dumped on them.
    Again; where’s the tainted evidence that you speak of? You have been unable to refute any of the questions posed to you. Why has HA/Syria been on the defensive and obstructionist from February 14th, 2005 onwards?

    Your dream like assertions about Israel and the “West” is so deliriously hilarious.

    It’s nice to hear from you though…

    Posted by danny | July 13, 2011, 3:25 pm
  135. Mo#134

    I think you are in essence agreeing with my point in #127.

    This has always been my fundamental problem, and you could not have been more succinct in the way you put it:

    In that environment you don’t allow yourself to be divided and conquered.

    I don’t know whether or not HA was responsible for any of the assassinations, BUT at the very least, I believe it has some intelligence information related to some/all of them.

    I believe this very strongly.

    I think they are stuck in exactly that mentality that you described above. A strategic choice perhaps. Why would they want to be divided and conquered. The flip-side of the coin is how much “stuff” are they willing to let “slip” just so they don’t encourage such a Divide/Conquer strategy against them.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 13, 2011, 3:31 pm
  136. GK,
    Dude, again, I don’t know how much clearer I can make this. I am not trying to prove anything to anyone. Nor am I making assertions on the evidence whatever it may be. My point, please God let this be clear, is the evidence is tainted by the method of investigation and I have listed my grievances on that. I am not trying to convince or turn you into an Ayatollah. I am/was clarifying “our” thinking. The fact that it does not convince is neither here nor there.

    Danny,
    Do you not really read other posts or do you just look for any excuse to disrespect people? I am not here to convince or even debate the point. If you are not interested in how people on “the other side” think don’t get involved. I have read enough on here to know that peoples positions are generally entrenched enough. Like I said, I haven’t spoken of “tainted evidence” just “tainted process”.

    As for “utmost Israel hater”, I’m not sure I am worthy of the title but thanks for the compliment.

    Gabriel,
    Hmm, to a certain degree I probably do agree with you although I doubt their intelligence on this is that much better than what the ISF has to be honest because none of it happened in their “hood” (which again begs the question why no arrests).

    Let us assume they have it and that you are right. Then the main difference in outlook is probably that some would want the intelligence released so people can be brought to justice while others would argue that the bigger injustice may befall more people if the current status quo is compromised. But, and this is purely speculation, if I am right and the last Syrian job was in 05, then someone somewhere has let it be known that no more stuff would be allowed to “slip” quite a while ago.

    But I doubt the truth will be known soon or maybe not in our lifetimes. If it is, lets meet up back here and enjoy all the “told u so’s” 😉

    Posted by mo | July 13, 2011, 4:25 pm
  137. mo says,
    “please God let this be clear,” Sorry mo, I do not respond to all requests 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 13, 2011, 4:35 pm
  138. Ok. I’ll be fair to Mo.
    He came out here, in a hostile crowd, and said quite clearly that he wasn’t trying to convince us. Just to show us “their” thinking.
    Thanks for doing that.

    I certainly see how “their” thinking goes after reading Mo’s comments. I don’t agree with it. I think it’s full of holes and assumptions based on speculation (as we repeatedly pointed out), but that doesn’t mean I don’t comprehend the thinking.

    I’ll repeat once again that frankly, at this point, we are ALL making assumptions. None of us has seen the indictment or heard the evidence.
    None of us know if there’s solid proof there, or not.
    None of us know how it was obtained.
    None of us know what happened in the bowels of the ISF, or HA, or in the French recreation exercise.
    Some of us (like Mo) assume and speculate that the investigation was tainted.
    Some of us (like me) really don’t know about the evidence or how it was obtained.
    Some of us are convinced the investigation was conducted up to legal standards.

    I guess we’ll have to wait till the trial proceeds and this stuff becomes public before we can judge for ourselves.
    Until then, we’re just all speculating (based on our various biases, clearly).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 13, 2011, 4:45 pm
  139. QN, it’s been over an hour! You’re keepin us waiting on that new post! Chop chop!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 13, 2011, 7:14 pm
  140. Mo, Greetings and Welcome back!

    You say
    “This court, no matter what it does will not lead to some idyllic Lebanon of peace and justice. Believe me when “they” are finished with it, if they got what they wanted they wouldn’t care less how many more people are killed there. And we will be left to pick up the pieces.
    It wont lead to any fundamental change for Hizballah (unless Sayed Hassan intended to take his kids to Disney World). They wont lose support or their weapons.”

    I agree, but the question remains and especially if and when done with the nice discussion about the validity, importance, purpose, fairness or impartiality of the infamous STL.

    WHY doesn’t the Sayed take his kids to Disney !!?? I am baffled, this hits home to me because i am from Khiam and Florida and i know how WONDERFUL Disney World is, (i still get more excited than the kids when I take them to Disney). and i know how nice Khiam would BECOME if his Eminence finally decides to go to Disney !!, Mickey and Mini are so nice and if he feels nostalgic for Rocketry he can watch the fire works show at Epcot Center or even visit the Kennedy Space center, if you or HK (since HK met the Sayed) would pass this message please.

    We the Lebanese people demand PEACE with ourselves and our neighbors in Israel and Syria and with Great Satan and all the devils combined.

    Peace is nice and cool and if it happens we can concentrate on solving the real threat to Lebanon which is the Lebanese citizen, we the Lebanese (Not the Imperialists or Zionist) yes we caused our country to become
    So miserably dirty, our cities so architecturally ugly, our roads so dangerous. We have no more trees no more clean water, air or food. We the people in Lebanon have become so rude, arrogant and obnoxious, we drive like maniacs (read both in Arabic and English)
    We are so corrupt you can buy a cop with a falafel sandwich or a judge with a villa and all the in between.
    We are racists toward each other and the rest of the world because we are oh so the best, each and every sect and tribe of us.
    We produce nothing and consume everything, we even have Sri Lankan Slaves !
    We have so many delusions of grandiosity but so rotten at the core

    Please tell the Sayed to knock it off man , to shave his beard, get some Sun, and take a dip in the ocean (Atlantic close to Disney much cleaner than 3al Rawsheh, Ramleh or Jounieh)
    Dear Sayed, let’s not live for “Shahada” lets live to preserve and better this precious life.

    Sir QN
    You should have a post about food safety in Lebanon ! “runs to pollute the sea at Rawsheh”

    Posted by V | July 13, 2011, 8:43 pm
  141. mo,

    How did you feel disrespected dude? is this the new stuff you guys throw around? The “process” was tainted the moment HA & their operatives started working against the establishment of STL…and it has not stopped since. I have total disrespect for trying to spin people’s views into a…. please read what the people on the”other side” like raad & nassrallah (from calling people traitors to cutting off our tongues and hands…Ya it’s us not you!!!) have been spewing out for 6 years. So please stop that sanctimonious attitude. I am happy you are where you are and your opinions and positions are heard.

    Posted by danny | July 13, 2011, 9:23 pm
  142. mo, bare with me over this hypothetical exercise for one minute. Is there any evidence at all from this court which could make you change your mind?

    A filmed tape, say, where SHN in person orders operatives to kill Hariri ? (Later, of course, SHN, claims it is an impersonator or a digital composition.)

    Anyway, let us just imagine that these images and sounds look pretty real to most of us (on average we are somewhat digital media savvy. Some tests are also easy to use such as voice recognition etc, to insure this is the real HSN. all these tests conducted by you and “us” reveal that it is HSN indeed).

    My question to you is: after you see the tape and the evidence about its authenticity, would you be willing to believe it? Would you feel any cognitive dissonance? or would you dismiss it and believe SHN?

    thanks for your efforts.

    Posted by rm | July 14, 2011, 2:51 am
  143. mo, bare with me over this hypothetical exercise for one minute. My question will be whether there is any evidence at all from this court which could make you change your mind? Forget for second if you may that it is biased. Is there any evidence at all that would convince you that Hezballah operatives did it? Have you imagined this as a theoretical possibility at least? Every theory has a probability to be correct even if some are infinitesimal.

    So let us imagine Bellmare acquired (how it does matter in this exercise) a filmed tape, say, where SHN in person orders operatives to kill Hariri. (Later, of course, SHN, claims it is an impersonator or a digital composition.)

    Anyway, let us just imagine that these images and sounds look pretty real to us (& we are somewhat digital media savvy) folks. The voice has been tested and appears to be his actual voice. How would you react? What you say to the people on this forum?

    thanks for bearing with me.

    Posted by rm | July 14, 2011, 2:57 am
  144. (sorry for double posting, QN could you delete this and comment 145? thanks….)

    Posted by rm | July 14, 2011, 3:09 am
  145. V,
    Things are starting to change. Our traffic cops are being forced to wear visibility jackets!

    rm,
    As the video doesn’t exist, let me answer in a more rational way that neatly sums up my pov.

    In normal procedures, a prosecution has to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

    In the case of the STL the actions of the investigators have made, for us, the gulf between reasonable doubt and guilt very much greater than it normally would be.

    Posted by mo | July 14, 2011, 4:37 am
  146. QN,

    I have heard of “fashkha”
    I have heard of New York miute…
    …and now we have a “QN HOUR”…

    Posted by danny | July 14, 2011, 6:16 am
  147. wlek rou2o 3a sabri

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 14, 2011, 7:00 am
  148. Another positive change, Falafel Sahyoon split into 2 stores, more Zionists in Beirut ! 🙂

    Posted by V | July 14, 2011, 9:02 am
  149. Let me make this discussion a little simpler. Supporters of Hezbollah believe the following axiomatically as it is a self evident truth:
    Any evidence that if true helps Israel is false.

    They believe this statement in the same way they believe god exists. Are they irrational? Are people who believe in god irrational? Not necessarily. Human beings have limited epistemological capabilities. We cannot devote time to study each important issue and we do accept for example the beliefs of our families and tribes.So just as most Hezbollah supporters believe in god, we have to accept that they also believe the above axiom or some close derivative of it.

    Posted by AIG | July 14, 2011, 9:29 am
  150. Let me make this discussion a little simpler. Supporters of Hezbollah believe the following axiomatically as it is a self evident truth for them:
    Any evidence that if true helps Israel is false.

    They believe this statement in the same way they believe god exists. Are they irrational? Are people who believe in god irrational? Not necessarily. Human beings have limited epistemological capabilities. We cannot devote time to study each important issue and we do accept for example the beliefs of our families and tribes.So just as most Hezbollah supporters believe in god, we have to accept that they also believe the above axiom or some close derivative of it.

    Posted by AIG | July 14, 2011, 9:30 am
  151. QN,

    Please erase 152.

    Posted by AIG | July 14, 2011, 9:30 am
  152. #149.

    LooooooL

    This will have to be adopted for my regular postings.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 14, 2011, 9:33 am
  153. Given mo’s answer to my question, I feel obliged to second something like AIG’s theorem.

    Posted by rm | July 14, 2011, 10:06 am
  154. Let me help you out there rm.
    Its not anything that helps Israel is false. Its anything that helps Israel should be opposed. But close enough.

    Posted by mo | July 14, 2011, 11:26 am
  155. new post up

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 14, 2011, 11:40 am
  156. Its anything that helps Israel should be opposed.

    mo,

    Thanks. Let me also add to that:

    “Anything that helps Israel (and Arabs) should also be opposed.”

    How else can one explain the negativity Arabs have in replacing the despots who control the ME and suppress their own people?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 14, 2011, 11:44 am
  157. I too will have to agree with AIG’s “theorem” (And the explanation behind it).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 14, 2011, 12:56 pm
  158. Mo,

    You say:
    “Its not anything that helps Israel is false. Its anything that helps Israel should be opposed. But close enough.”

    This would have been right had you been saying: No matter what the evidence says I oppose the STL because it helps Israel.

    What you are saying is more fundamental. You are saying that any information that helps Israel is false.

    Posted by AIG | July 14, 2011, 1:11 pm
  159. AIG:

    Why are you splitting hairs. I think Mo deserves at least the benefit of the doubt. All he has stated is that the STL has the burden of proof. I don’t think you should interpret this as though he were saying information that is to Israel’s advantage is defacto false.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 14, 2011, 1:34 pm
  160. Gabriel,

    Who would deny that the STL has the burden of proof? It is up to the prosecution to bring good evidence.

    However, if you read what Mo wrote rm, one gets a clear impression that whatever evidence the STL produces, it will not be good enough for Mo.

    Posted by AIG | July 14, 2011, 1:46 pm
  161. AIG,

    Since you Israelis have such a hard time interpreting simple concepts like colonialism, ethnic cleansing and war crimes I’m not surprised you are unable to interpret what I am saying properly.

    BV,
    How sad that after all that I have said and explained you still can do nothing but see things in a simplistic one dimensional view (Which really reminds me why I stopped posting here). Go on then, explain how what I have said makes you share the “axiom”. Explain what I have said that confirms this to you.

    Posted by mo | July 14, 2011, 1:48 pm
  162. Mo,

    I gave you your due in a previous post. I absolutely understand your POV (even if I disagree with it) and I’ve stated that until we see evidence, a trial, etc, we’re all really speculating.

    My agreement with AIG’s theorem was not specifically directed at you.
    It was more a general observation (which, I might add, works for BOTH sides).
    Far too many people seem to have preconceived notions and will accept irrational and fantastical arguments rather than put their preconceived set of beliefs into question.
    That is how I interpreted AIG’s statement. And I must say I think it is quite true.

    I think the bit about “Any evidence that if true helps Israel is false” resonates quite true with a very large segment of the Lebanese populace. You KNOW that’s true (even if you may or may not necessarily subscribe to that yourself).

    I’ve made a similar statement to AIGs earlier in the thread (my exercise about red apples and green apples, etc).
    We – Lebanese – have a near hysterically irrational reaction to the word “Israel”. The only parallels I can think of is the use of the word “Hitler” in western discourse. Or, more recently, the word “Bin Laden”.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 14, 2011, 2:10 pm
  163. BV @165

    “hysterically irrational”, you stated. I will respect this premise if it is a personal perception. In return I trust you will respect all the sufferings of a substantial segment of the Lebanese people who beg to differ.

    I will not list the invasions, incursions, subjugation etc. since 1948; it could be ‘easily’ ascertained.

    Regards

    Posted by JB | July 14, 2011, 2:52 pm
  164. Mo,

    I understand you perfectly well:
    1) The STL is tainted, therefore any evidence it brings will be false
    2) The STL is tainted because it helps Israel, it is a western tool

    But don’t you see that from these it almost must follow:
    3) Any investigation into the murder of Hariri that implicates Hezbollah is tainted and therefore the evidence it produces is false

    Would an internal Lebanese investigation had any chance of implicating Hezbollah even if that is where the evidence led? No. Would a Syrian investigation? Only a UN backed investigation would do. And then of course it would be “tainted”. So why bother with the charade? Let’s just state the axiom and save everybody time.

    Posted by AIG | July 14, 2011, 2:56 pm
  165. AIG,

    Are you referring to Post#148?

    I don’t quite see where he makes that assertion in that post.

    He simply stated that in his opinion, the STL has fumbled, and since none of us has yet seen this evidence yet, he has taken the extra leap to say that the shortcomings to date of the STL has created the impression with him that reasonable doubt has already somewhat been establised (or is more likely in his word).

    That is not to say that he believes a statement is False purely because it may benefit Israel.

    I think we can summarize from those discussions with Mo that essentially, he is giving Hizballah the benefit of the doubt, and that to date, he is not willing to entertain hypoothetical discussions alluding to HA guilt.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 14, 2011, 2:57 pm
  166. Actually, the wording that most illustrates AIG’s theorem is where Mo stated that “Any time the West takes interest in the ME, it is usually to help Israel.”
    His suspicion derives from that basic tenet.

    Now, I’ll be the first to admit that there is SOME truth to that tenet. Maybe not in the conspiracy theory sense that the pro-HA camp tends to gravitate towards, but as a general rule, the west (specifically the US) has been pro-Israel for many decades. The USA is Israel’s closest ally, a fact both sides are proud of and constantly remind us of. And you know what? Good for them. That’s exactly what I would expect from my allies as well. To back me up when I need it.

    With that in mind, Mo’s logic, and AIG’s axiom make perfect sense and are exactly the reaction I would expect from the Arab street in general.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 14, 2011, 3:02 pm
  167. A rational person should update her beliefs when new data/information against her currently held beliefs is obtained. This, of course, is easier said than done but when there are no vested interests and cognitive dissonance is not that strong it is how the ideal scientific mind is expected to work.

    But this STL issue as debated here with mo is about 99% rhetoric and 1% facts.

    mo is in a war and in war truth no longer trumps vanquishing your enemy. truth looses its meaning and I believe this is what happened to our friend mo. He is the mirror image (the negative) of Bush & co. rational people have no place in their world. I believe we are a tangent to them, a nuisance, a meanigless bug who does not get their historical larger than human fight against evil. If so, if this is correct, then we should not expect to convince mo since we will be simply talkign past each other. Which is a pity because then we are left here with a homogenous group of nay sayers.

    For a constructive discussion a minimum is necessary concerning at least the possibility that the STL may have stumbled on the truth (if though it is tainted/politicised/biased etc.. As long as one can take this possibilty seriouly a contructive debate may be possible.

    Posted by rm | July 14, 2011, 3:25 pm
  168. “We – Lebanese – have a near hysterically irrational reaction to the word “Israel””

    On this blog, the near hysterically irrational reactions are produced by the terms “Nasrallah” and “Hezbollah”.The word “Israel” usually invokes some form of subservient mewling.

    Posted by lally | July 14, 2011, 3:43 pm
  169. Gabriel,

    Do you know ANY court that has not “fumbled”? Human institutions are fallible. Of course they make mistakes, the question is how they react to them. So far the STL admitted its mistakes and acted in a completely honest way. All the excuses are just a smoke screen for the axiom.

    Posted by AIG | July 14, 2011, 3:52 pm
  170. Lally, lol

    Don’t dismay! This blog is so unrepresentative. You can rest easy, secure in the knowledge that the words USA and Israel turn the stomachs of, oh I don’t know, 90pct of your beloved MENA

    🙂

    Posted by Gabriel | July 14, 2011, 3:59 pm
  171. AIG:

    You don’t need to convince me. This is why I stressed the point to Mo that the fumbles were besides the point- after all, the STL was opposed by the HA camp well before such fumbles occurred which begs the question- are the fumbles the cause or just the de-facto excuse.

    Clearly, he approaches the question from a position of distrust. I don’t think this is dissimilar from Israel’s knee-jerk reaction to the UN, which it believes is stacked against it (for good reason).

    The problem with his position is in my view none of the stuff you and others are harping on.

    It is that he himself (to keep Israel out of the discussion) stated that he believes that Syria was behind some of the assassinations, while at the same time affirmed the necessity of the grouping HA-Syria-Iran-etc to stand strong together to avoid the divide strategy used against them.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 14, 2011, 4:11 pm
  172. Yeah. I was about to say when I say “Lebanese”, i don’t mean the handful of us who post here. And even then.

    Just go have a conversation with ANY Lebanese IN LEBANON, even in private (but face to face, no blogger anonymity). The word is almost always uttered in hushed tones, with some kind of near superstitious fear. It’s as if saying the word “Israel” 3 times might suddenly cause you to vanish in a puff of smoke.
    The same can be said (with varying degrees) of “Syria” (specially before 2005) and to some degree Nassrallah/HA/etc (depends more on the circles you’re in, I think).

    Nevertheless…There is some kind of mystical/magical/superstitious air around anything related to Israel. It’s one thing to have an enemy that’s an equal mortal in this world. An enemy that bleeds just like you do. etc.
    It is another thing entirely to have this irrational kind dynamic with your “enemy” that seems to transcend enmity as it were, and transform into something akin to the supernatural (I am reminded of the way primitive cultures viewed science as magic, etc.). There’s also a religious dynamic to this (and I don’t mean religion in the sectarian sense).
    Again, I am reminded of the way the Bush administration portrayed Al Qaeda, or the way “Hitler” is used in modern day narratives.
    It’s not JUST an enemy. A human, mortal, flesh and blood enemy.
    It’s some kind of supernatural monster that’s pure evil.
    With an enemy, you can negotiate, you can have differences of opinion.
    With pure evil….it just doesn’t work that way.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 14, 2011, 4:13 pm
  173. Gabriel,

    Of course it is dissimilar from the case of Israel and the UN. For example, in the case of the UN Human Rights Council, about 50% of the resolutions deal with Israel. This body has to deal with human rights violations all over the world and is really devoted to Israel. So, how can we trust it? And doesn’t that go against Mo’s thesis anyway? Here is an example of a UN body that is clearly anti Israel, so why can’t the STL be at least objective?

    The STL was created to deal with the Hariri and related murders. They have not shown any bias so far as in the case of the UN HRC.

    Posted by AIG | July 14, 2011, 4:17 pm
  174. AIG,

    I’m not sure why you are arguing with me. I already “for good reason”. What more do you want?

    Also I think it is rather pointless to use this statistic as a point against Mo- because the statistic is besides the point in his view of things. At the end of the day, he contends that the issue with the STL is that it leaned quite heavily on Western Intelligence agencies which are quite cosy with Israel. (And not that it is a UN driven thing per se).

    So in that sense, the analogy with the UN could not be any more fitting.

    Again, (and this is not to defend Mo’s position, which I disagree with)…

    There is nothing he said that he thinks any evidence is De-facto false if it is something that helps Israel.

    There is nothing he said that suggests he is not willing to accept that HA may be involved. All he said is that he is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    The problem is that whether or not he believes the evidence is false or not, he appears to support the HA/Syria/etc “camp”, even if some parties within that camp were in fact guilty of assassinations, because in his view, it serves a more important greater good. (that’s how I have understood his position).

    Posted by Gabriel | July 14, 2011, 4:40 pm
  175. BV.

    There’s something rather evocatively creepy about the scenario you evoke in your post @ #174. Operation Just Reward went a long way to break the fear you describe. AND, despite the agreement between AIG & QN vis a vis “deterrence”, it now works both ways.

    Gaby Gaby Gaby….I did suspect that you might be amused……rest assured that I’m up-to-speed re opinions on the MENA streets.

    Posted by lally | July 14, 2011, 5:48 pm
  176. Lally

    Re mutual deterrence I think that’s wishful thinking on your part.

    But believe it if it makes you feel safer. 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 14, 2011, 5:58 pm
  177. It is absolutely creepy. That’s why I’ve mentioned it in some guise again and again.
    I am all for having a rational dislike for our enemies (not that I want enemies per se).
    It is normal to have enemies in the real world. Or at least people you disagree with.

    When it comes to these mystical and superstitious bogeymen though, it’s near impossible to deal with because you can’t appeal to the sense of logic or rationality of those who hold such a belief. It simply plays off a different part of the brain entirely. Fear, paranoia, conspiracy theories, delusions, a near religious fervor, a sense of good vs. evil. Logic and rational thinking have no place amidst those words I just listed.

    It’s beyond creepy to me. I have always considered myself an open-minded, objective type (no one is 100% objective, but I make a conscious effort to try). I have lived in Lebanon for exactly half of my life, and the other half in the “west”. I have seen firsthand the difference, not in quality of life (those are beyond the scope of this discussion) but in terms of mental health (i use that term somewhat loosely). It’s refreshing to know that when I drive around Los Angeles, I can really say what I think (Obviously within the norms of any civil society) without having to drop my voice to a whisper when mentioning the word “Israel”.
    It is refreshing that I can have these exact same conversations I am having on QN’s blog, but in person, with friends, family, and aquaintances and not cringe at the mention of some of these taboo words, if I happen to be sitting at a cafe or restaurant.
    It is nice that I happen to work in an environment where American Jews, Europeans and various Arabs and Iranians (myself included) have no problem talking about this stuff without wondering who’s listening, and how they might interpret our latest theories.

    I spent half of my life living in fear (for lack of a better word) in Lebanon. Not only physical fear (I lived through the civil war and 2 Israeli invasions, and countless waves of car bombings, assassinations and blind shellings), but also, and more importantly psychological fear (no other way to describe it, really). So yeah, you’re damn right that stuff is “Creepy”.
    This is exactly why I rail day in and day out about my fellow Lebanese. I hate that my country of origin is a place that evokes words like “creepy”. “Orwellian” comes to mind too. So do words like “dystopian” and other such…

    One does not have to look to Science Fiction to see examples of such. One has but to look at Lebanon, and other parts of the Arab world, for that matter (Libya comes to mind, Syria and Iran as well, more than others).

    Creepy indeed. I hope that I’m creeping people out! People need to start being creeped out to realize that the Lebanese mentality isn’t right or healthy…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 14, 2011, 6:19 pm
  178. As much as I am opposed to the HA ideology and as much as I would like for March 14 to put their act together I find it next to impossible to lend this bumbling group any support. They keep acting as the clueless folk that they have always been.
    Latest case in point is that of minister Mohammad Safadi. When Safadi was attached to March 14 he could do no wrong but as soon as he switched sides then all of a sudden we are regaled with page one stories about his violating the Lebanese law by expropriating part of the sea shore in order to build a private marina next to his residence.
    I have no doubt that minister Safadi violated the law in constructing this marina ( I have often written about te Public Trust Doctrine; PTD; that can be traced as far as the Roman Empire and that is applied all over the world in order to preserve public access to waterways). That is not the issue in this case. The real issue that matters is that the powers to be at March 14 were totally knowledgable of these infractions but they never raised them. Does that smell or what? If they knew about these violations of the law but chose not to do anything about them then they are complicict, they were involved in a cover up.
    Ironically, the blinders fall from their eyes as soon as Mr. Safadi decides to lend his political support to the other side. Then and only then does March 14 note the violations and decide to wage a major PR campaign about them.
    Shame on Mr Safadi for violating the public trust but shame on March 14 for being part of the cover up when it was to their benefit and then to highlight the infractions when it was to their advantage. Someone should tell the decision makers at March 14 that they cannot cover up when it suits them and then claim to be on the side of the law when it benefits them. This is pure hypocrisy.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 14, 2011, 6:30 pm
  179. Well, nothing new there, Ghassan.
    We are regaled on a daily basis as to how incompetent, nay CRIMINALLY incompetent (this terms includes cover-ups) everyone in Lebanon really is.
    This includes M14 as well as M8. It really transcends political movements. It’s really pretty much anyone with money and power in the country. From the feudal lords of the mountains, to the big families of Beirut, Tripoli and Saida, and extends to the newly-powerful (nouveau riche) class and the religious establishment for all sects.
    If we were to stop and list out the hypocritical statements and actions every day, well, we’d need to dedicate an entire blog to just that.
    These guys extoll the virtues of their “friends and brothers” when they’re on the same side, using adjectives like “brave” and “noble”, only to start pointing out the corruption of their so-called friends as soon as they change sides.
    These are the guys who use words like “progressive” or “democratic” in the name of their feudal, hereditary and sectarian party.
    These are the guys who speak of being anti-sectarian one day while arguing over “reclaiming this post for the maronites” the next.
    These are the guys who speak of fighting corruption one day, while their entire party structure is based around nepotism and cult of personality.
    These are the guys who speak of defending the poor and destitute of the south, while provoking the Israeli Air Force to flatten said poor and destitutes homes.
    These are the guys who talk of freedom and openness while keeping every damn deal they make behind closed door.
    These are the guys who talk about democracy while rigging elections and expecting the blind obedience of their coreligionists.

    What a big pile of horse manure it all is. The stink’s so bad, i’m surprised Cyprus hasn’t complained yet.

    It’s long past time to scrap this entire experiment called “Lebanon” and start over. From scratch.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 14, 2011, 7:01 pm
  180. Lally,

    Isn’t it high time we give you an honorary Lebanese citizenship? 🙂

    [Just to be sure, you haven’t had any friendly relations with the State south of the border]

    Posted by Gabriel | July 14, 2011, 11:10 pm
  181. rm,
    # 170

    sheer brilliance.

    Posted by maverick | July 15, 2011, 1:06 am
  182. BV @ 180,

    Mystifying your enemy takes place in every country in the world. Even in a country with the capabilities and reach of the US the fear of the “Muslim bogeyman” has reached irrational dimensions. And this irrationality goes beyond the average person, but permeates a large percentage of popular media and cultural institutions. And speaking of taboo, you will not find a more hush-hush subject than “Israel” and “Jew” here in the West. The real fear of being labeled anti-Semitic renders any discussion about the ME, especially when the discussion will necessarily involve criticism of Israeli actions, absurdly irrelevant. I think it is safe to say that in general, whether in Lebanon or the West, any person will shy away from being too open and critical of certain political subjects on account that a person “from the other side” maybe present. This goes to all political/societal groupings. But when one is in his/her own group the discussion can be much more honest, not only about distaste for the “enemy,” but also about one’s own group as well. I think people turn to blogs precisely because it is an anonymous affair, and it allows you to say your mind without having to worry about personal or professional repercussions.

    Posted by Saint | July 15, 2011, 12:07 pm
  183. Saint,

    No argument. I have lived in the USA for the past 20 years. So I am quite familiar with the “muslim bogeyman” phenomenon and alluded to it in my post.
    And yes, there are certain subjects that are considered politically incorrect (blacks, jews, gays, etc) but you will still find plenty of people who can talk about that stuff quite openly without the “cringe factor”.
    Maybe all venues aren’t considered appropriate (let’s say, at the workplace). But believe me, I can sit at a cafe with my friends and talk about the ME in loud voices, and mention Israel, Jews, Arabs and Muslims without flinching and without fearing I’ll get bundled up in the trunk of an unmarked car and questioned by “intelligence people”.
    Not so in Beirut, or Damascus, say.

    There is a huge difference between politically incorrectness and actual fear of physical harm. Orders of magnitude difference.

    And while I, or others with jobs, careers and reputations may weigh our words more carefully in general, there are those who don’t. It is nice to know that their right of speech is protected regardless.
    There are those who openly rail against muslims, or jews, or blacks or gays. Sure, the rest of us may find them distasteful, but I promise you, those folks aren’t afraid of getting arrested or abducted or whatever.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 15, 2011, 12:30 pm
  184. Whenever democracy is bemoaned in the Middle East you can count on someone bring up the example of “The Only Democracy in the region: Israel”.
    Whatever claims the state of Israel might have had for being democratic are few, questionable and becoming seriously eroded as we speak. The infamous Boycott Law is the latest example of a purely non democratic and some claim a violation of the Basic Law of the state of Israel. Actually Gosh is already challenging the Boycott Law.
    For the sake of those who have not followed the recent development the new Israeli Law is to prevent any person or entity from boycotting or delegitimizing the state of Israel. Stop to think about the implications of this: No Jew would be able to advocate boycotting the products of Germany , as many have done in the past and as few continue to do so. It would have been unacceptable to boycott South Africa and I would not have the right to call for the boycott of Israeli Humus. So why are they passing this law? Whose interests does it serve? The answer is clear. The Law is a veiled attempt to counter the boycott of the products of the settlements. The boycott of factories in the settlements has become quite effective; the EU refuses to import anything produced in the settlements. The law will even give any settler the right to demand compensation. This is a fear tactic being used essentially to defend the settler community that depends on the use of stolen land and government subsidies against the growing efforts both within Israel and outside of Israel where individuals have the right to allocate their scarce resources any which way that they choose. Israel with the Boycott law has added another layer to the already checkered layers of discriminatory laws in the State of Israel

    PS: It is also interesting that the Boycott law is applied only selectively. As many Israeli news outlets have already indicated the law does not apply to the call by Israelis to boycott cottage cheese, which I understand has been a successful campaign to ;lower the prices of cottage cheese:-).

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 15, 2011, 1:13 pm
  185. I just noticed that , inadvertently, I dropped the word shalom from the name of the Israeli political party Gush Shalom. Sorry about that.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 15, 2011, 1:17 pm
  186. The real fear of being labeled anti-Semitic renders any discussion about the ME, especially when the discussion will necessarily involve criticism of Israeli actions, absurdly irrelevant.

    Saint, BV,

    “The real fear of being labeled anti-semitic renders any discussion about the ME” is a myth.

    It is rather easy to have a “discussion about the ME” without being anti-Arab, anti-muslim or anti-semitic.

    Those that are “anti” are either too lazy, too ignorant, or both.

    QN and other participants on the web site are proof of that.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 15, 2011, 1:21 pm
  187. Ghassan,

    Interesting that you bring up that boycott law. I had been meaning to ask our fellow Israeli contributors their thoughts about that.

    I agree with you that it’s a very non-democratic law that seems to go against freedom of expression.
    The intent is indeed clear: Defend the settlements economically.
    But as you pointed out, the law is selective. Not to mention quite hypocritical.

    At the very heart of such a law is something that violates the most basic of freedoms: That to refuse to purchase an item (it shouldn’t matter why one chooses not to buy this or that item). In the USA, something like this wouldn’t even pass constitutional muster. I have to wonder if it does in Israel.
    I’d like to see such a law challenged to the supreme court on constitutional grounds (even though I am not familiar with Israel’s constitution).

    And I’d love to hear AIG’s take on the matter.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 15, 2011, 2:09 pm
  188. BV:

    At the very heart of such a law is something that violates the most basic of freedoms: That to refuse to purchase an item (it shouldn’t matter why one chooses not to buy this or that item).

    Is that a Freedom/Right recognized by some UN charter or some like document?

    How about the right to sell to who you want? Is that a right?

    Should businesses not have the right to select who to sell their products/services to then? Perhaps object to make sales to a person of colour? To people of certain orientation? (Non-hypothetical examples).

    Is the “why” really not that important?

    [I don’t know how one policies purchasing decisions either way].

    Posted by Gabriel | July 15, 2011, 4:11 pm
  189. policies = polices

    Posted by Gabriel | July 15, 2011, 4:11 pm
  190. The right of the individual to buy or not buy/allocate/boycott is part and parcel of consumer sovereignty and freedom of expression. The argument that you have alluded to by saying what about the right to sell is an old favourite argument of libertarians but I do not think that it is the right argument in this case. I believe that what is true in this case is the obligation of a seller to make the same offer without any strings attached to all takers. The right of equal access trumps the right to discriminate.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | July 15, 2011, 4:34 pm
  191. Uhm. Gabriel, if I have to explain this one to you, then i don’t know what to say…

    This is not about the right to sell, or the right of service.

    This is about you NOT doing anything. How does one even determine that?
    So if you stay at home today, and decide to save your hard earned dollar, the owner of the grocery store down your street can sue you because he feels you’re boycotting his products?
    Is there ANY logic in that?

    Anyone can decide not to buy product X for whatever damn reason they choose. Maybe product X sucks…I sure don’t shop at Walmart cause they suck. I prefer Target… Can Walmart sue me?
    What a bullshit argument.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 15, 2011, 4:52 pm
  192. This is about you NOT doing anything. How does one even determine that?
    So if you stay at home today, and decide to save your hard earned dollar, the owner of the grocery store down your street can sue you because he feels you’re boycotting his products?
    Is there ANY logic in that?

    BV. I think perhaps you don’t know what the Boycott Law is about. (I am NOT agreeing with it, for the record).

    The Boycott Law penalizes those who CALL for a boycott, or divestment. So of course it does not go after individuals who go to a local Target and choose to buy a Hummus not produced in the settlements.

    So the question is whether or not such a “call” should in fact be penalized, and as such this becomes a question of Freedom of Speech, which as you should know by now, is about the only thing I hold sacred.

    Today, there is an assault on Freedom of Speech happening almost daily, and typically, those who oppose it, use “Hate” as a rationale for the opposition. They say that certain speech promotes Hatred. An Israeli who supports the law would make the claim that it promotes anti-semitism. (For example, how many of the Europeans are calling for divestment from China/Iran/other place where it has economic interests purely on account of flagrant Human Rights violations in those localities?

    How many Westerners divest from the Mother of all Human Rights violators- Saudi Arabia.

    So my question still stands- unmodified.

    Ghassan:

    I don’t accept your argument. Think of it as a barter. Or think of it as a Travelling Salesman who may want to pick and choose where he takes his ware to sell.

    Also, given that the Arab world has for many years reeled over the Economic sanctions against Iraq, since they affected the average Iraqi, (and led to their deaths)… then we know for a fact that such broad based punitive measures appear to be “selectively” opposed depending of course on where one sits on a particular issue.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 15, 2011, 6:11 pm
  193. Addendum to #195…

    Or maybe I don’t know what this law is about, and there really is some awkward clauses contained in it, in which case, ignore the post.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 15, 2011, 6:16 pm
  194. Gabby,

    I know it’s directed at those who call for a boycott, but the principle is exactly the same as that of me going to Target. Don’t you see?
    Even worse, in fact, if you punish those who just CALL for a boycott, that’s punishing freedom of speech.
    Not only would this law punish me for choosing Target over Walmart, it would also punish me for telling my friends “Don’t go to Walmart, they suck.”

    Seriously?

    That’s consitutional on what planet?

    (PS: I Know you are not supporting the law. I am merely arguing about the principle of it, or in this case, lack thereof).

    The fact of the matter is, this law is immoral and unconstitutional in any self-respecting democracy.
    The very fact that it has to make an exception for “other boycotts” means it has nothing to do with boycotts per se, and is really nothing but an attempt at being pro-Settler.

    When you phrase a law like this: “It is against the law to tell your friends that a certain store sucks…Except if you’re talking about Target, Best Buy, McDonalds and any other non-Walmart store”, then it’s pretty clear the law is not about “stores” in general, but specifically about Walmart. Right?

    Of course, I agree with you completely that Israel is not the only place where this kind of charade is taking place. Freedom of speech is under assault everywhere lately. The USA, Europe…and of course, freedom of speech never existed in the Arab world, so it can’t even be under assault there…(LOL)…

    Still. I am mostly curious as to how the ordinary Israelis see this (perhaps AIG can shed some light).

    I still disagree with your analogy to the salesman.
    In fact, Salesmen can pick and choose where and who they sell to, in a general sense. Most stores even have a “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” signs as a caveat emptor.
    I think freedom only gets curtailed, legally speaking, when it turns into clear discrimination (at least in US constitutional sense).
    You cannot outright punish a store for targeting a certain audience with their sales, for example.
    You can certainly not punish an advertiser who tells you “Don’t shop at X, my products are better.”
    You have to actually SUE (ie, take the matter to court) to PROVE that a store or place of employment is actively discriminating based on gender/race. The burden of proof is in a sense on you. By default, there are no laws who say “We will punish people who don’t sell in Utah” for example…
    So no, your analogy does not stand. At least not from a US legal standpoint.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 15, 2011, 6:51 pm
  195. BV,

    The boycott law is a slippery slope towards constraining freedom of speech and I don’t like it. In my opinion it will be annulled or changed drastically by the Israeli supreme court.

    Posted by AIG | July 15, 2011, 7:28 pm
  196. BV:

    To start with, I am not of course arguing with you on your original point (absurd law). We are both proponents of Free speech as far as I can tell from my months visiting QN.

    I still contest your (and GK’s) reading on the difference between Buyer and Seller (and I am not concerned here about the Law, or interpretations thereof). GK’s point (as I understand it) is that the moral obligations of Buyer and Seller are different. A buyer, in his mind, has the right to discriminate, but a seller has a responsibility to ensure equal access to all (and that trumps his right to discriminate).

    However, I don’t think such a distinction really exists, because for me “buyer” and “seller” is just semantics.

    If I say:
    Buyer A buys Apples from Seller D and gives him Dollars

    I can just as well say:
    Buyer D buys Dollars from A and gives him Apples.

    (perhaps GK can explain why such an analogy cannot be made).

    The fact that D is buying Dollars, and Not say, Chicken, makes the statement a little bit strange.

    But if E and D were both “selling” chicken and were both in the market for Apples. Can A rightfully choose to “buy” his chicken from E, who happens not to be black, while D is as black as they get?

    Of course, when you phrase it like this, who can argue with A’s consumer choices.

    Back to Target. Would it be ok for people in the US to boycott Target because it’s CEO happens to be a homosexual (hypothetically). Sure- people have the right to shop wherever they want to. Would it be ok for them to put out advertisements in the newspaper encouraging others to follow suit. Sure- why not. That’s freedom of speech.

    But in fact, not long ago in Canada a “pastor” was fined for saying derogatory things in the some newspaper against homosexuals.

    So going back to the original point. My contesting of the point is not so much directed at you, but rather at those who would take something like this, and turn this into a puritan issue about Freedom of Speech and democracy. Those who perhaps support curtailing Freedom of Expressions in the West (and in the Arab/Muslim world there are many takers).

    And there is an element to this story, when one deals with the Question of “Why” the boycott is happening that is very much related to discrimination.

    Posted by Gabriel | July 15, 2011, 7:38 pm
  197. The idea that Israelis that call for BDS should suffer some consequence is not bad in itself. In my opinion an Israeli calling for BDS is using a anti-democratic tool. He is trying to force Israelis to change their minds by actions of foreigners. Instead, he should use his freedom of speech to convince them otherwise and change their opinions. How to make Israeli BDS callers pay for their anti-democratic action is tricky. If we stop the BDS calls we harm freedom of speech, if we don’t, we are also harming democracy.

    Posted by AIG | July 15, 2011, 7:59 pm

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