Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

The Wheels of Justice…

STL courtroomWhether you regard the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as a transparent (if expensive and plodding) search for the truth about the Hariri assassination, or a Zionist conspiracy against the last bastion of anti-imperialist resistance in the Arab world, today is a historic day. The UN court that was established to try the men accused of killing 22 people in an explosion that  changed the course of Levantine political history will be called to order this morning in Leidschendam.

The proceedings will occupy us for the next several months. To get your bearings, here’s a primer on the STL that I put together a couple years ago. In addition to the links in that post, I’d also have a look at the following subsequent writings.

To read everything I’ve written on the subject, see here.

Discussion

72 thoughts on “The Wheels of Justice…

  1. Let’s follow the evidence presented…Without the usual BS about Zionist/Imperialist crap (of course we will leave out the Great Satan as Iran is in the foreplay stage with it…); let’s hope justice is served one way or another!

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2014, 10:42 am
  2. It may be interesting to see the evidence. Unfortunately in the eyes of a majority of Lebanese and many outside observers the court is so tarnished as to be worthless. They spent a couple of years pointing at Syria and then when Syria seemed to be useful, the focus was shifted to Hezballah. The investigation went of for almost a decade, the investigators were changed frequently…the whole thing is a bit of a laugh really.

    Besides there being at best the circumstantial evidence of the cell phone networks (which could have been doctored) there is zero other evidence presented and, critically, no credible motive. Hezballah was allied to Hariri and they had a good relationship. They were allied to his son in the post-syrian elections too….

    It’s too bad, I would love to know who killed RH and all the others…

    Posted by Epok | January 16, 2014, 11:59 am
  3. The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels on the bus!

    Posted by Mahedi | January 16, 2014, 1:19 pm
  4. QN,

    In what sense is the tribunal historic? I think it will have very little significance. If the defendants are found guilty it will not convince any Hezbollah supporter and will not change Hezbollah’s standing at all in Lebanon. Those who dislike them will continue to do so, and those who support them don’t care about the tribunal or what it has to say.

    A court of law which has no teeth and is not accepted as legitimate by both parties is just a waste of time and money.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2014, 2:58 pm
  5. Epok,

    It seems like you have made up your mind before looking at any evidence that yet to be produced! Whether investigators changed or not; keep an open mind. It is obvious that you will be the flag bearer for the HA side. ..Thus no further reason to discuss with you.

    AIG, just a question: Did Milosevic or Karadic accept the war crimes tribunal?

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2014, 3:07 pm
  6. AIG

    I’ll post what I just posted on a friend’s FB wall.

    I don’t believe that the court has no legitimacy among the Lebanese, as you say. It certainly has no legitimacy among some, but that’s not enough of a reason to argue against it. Nor is it enough to point to its politicization as a reason to dismiss it. The crime in question was a political assassination, so the prosecution of the crime was always going to be politically controversial among partisans of the accused party.

    At the end of the day, one has to decide where one stands. Do you oppose the tribunal because: (1) you think that they’ve framed people close to Hizbullah; (2) they’ve caught people close to Hizbullah but created more problems in the process; (3) they’ve framed Hizbullah AND created more problems in the process; (4) the whole process has been incompetent from the beginning so we have no way of trusting its findings; (5) you could care less one way or the other who killed whom on February 14, 2005.

    I’m sure there are other possibilities, but I think those are the main options facing anyone who wants to dismiss the Tribunal.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 16, 2014, 3:23 pm
  7. Danny,
    How is your question relevant, so what if they didn’t? Explain to me how any result changes the balance of power in Lebanon. Both outcomes are non-events.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2014, 3:32 pm
  8. QN,

    My argument is against your assertion that the tribunal is “historical”. I think it is a non-event and won’t change anything. There is a difference between “dismissing” the tribunal and claiming that it won’t change anything. I think the process was fair, nobody was framed and I do care who murdered Hariri. However, I realistically accept that any outcome of the tribunal will change the balance of power in Lebanon or help move Lebanon in the direction you desire.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2014, 3:36 pm
  9. Correction:
    However, I realistically accept that any outcome of the tribunal will NOT change the balance of power in Lebanon or help move Lebanon in the direction you desire.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2014, 3:47 pm
  10. AIG,

    I disagree. It matters if the tribunal proves beyond reasonable doubt that the accused are guilty (Please let’s not include people like Epok who are full of all conspiracy theories as far as it fits their narrative); it has relevance. It has relevance in front of the world opinion as well as Iran/Syria(Bashar). It has relevance to the average Lebanese citizen to know once and for all who are the culprits. Whether it changes the situation on the ground…don’t be so quick to dismiss what effect it could have.

    One scenario: Iran might dump the accused as a good will gesture and pin the blame on a rogue elements; especially dead people. Lest you forget there has been dozens of assassinations in Lebanon and Syria of intelligence officers who were so closely tied to the Hariri file. Asaf Shawkat, Sleiman, Imad mghniyeh etc, etc…It is not past the HA handlers to liquidate the accused four as well to cover all the tracks.

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2014, 3:51 pm
  11. Danny,

    We’ll have to disagree. In my opinion most Lebanese have made up their mind on the issue already. Take yourself for example, would your views change one bit if the judges say in the end there is not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendants are guilty?

    As for Epok, he represents the views of Hezbollah supporters and it is exactly what I am talking about. Hezbollah supporters will not be influenced by any outcome to change their views.

    The only way to change the situation on the ground is to weaken a side or making him change positions. I just don’t see it happening. Since Hezbollah can stop elections in Lebanon, they really do not have to care about anyone’s views except their supporters. As for world opinion, you should know by now having seen what is happening in Syria, that it counts for very little.

    Why would the Iranians dump anybody? That would just weaken Hezbollah and they have zero interest to do that. Just as excessive pessimism is unwarranted, so is excessive optimism. This is not a game changing event in any way, shape or form. There are no short cuts that will make Lebanon suddenly into another Belgium.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2014, 4:33 pm
  12. If the courts do not find them guilty; I will accept it and move on. What I think about HA and what they are capable of (January-May 2008, black shirts forcing WJ to switch for example); will stay the same. They are an armed mafiosi militia who have been bullying the Lebanese people for a while. They are also an extension of the Quds force in Lebanon. These are not only my opinios; but they were so announced in a forceful declaration by Hassan Nassrallah that he will abide and follow their supreme leader khameini.

    I think Iranians were behind the assassination of mghniya as well as Shawkat. It is called cleaning house. HA has survived and moved on even with Muggy’s dispatch to meet his virgins. People are dispensable. The ideology and grab for power is entrenched!

    BTW Lebanon is another Belgium…With car bombs. 😀

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2014, 5:08 pm
  13. Mugniyeh was done by Israel, not the Iranians. It was clear from the Israeli press and politicians.
    So if your view of HA does not change whatever outcome and neither does the view of HA supporters then the trial is exactly as I said, a non-event.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2014, 5:18 pm
  14. Mugniyeh was done by Israel? Do you have any proof? Sorry if I don’t believe that your press or politicians are reliable sources. I guess not. So we disagree there as well. As for changing my mind…Yes it will. It will make me believe that not only HA is capable of inciting violence to achieve their goal (May 2008) but they would be murderers for hire! If they were to be found not guilty; I still think there would be room for negotiation and compromise. If the verdict is guilty and HA leadership (Iran) is implicated; then my answer is : How could you negotiate with known murderers who boast about it! Either you fight, leave or be enslaved!

    Posted by danny | January 16, 2014, 6:13 pm
  15. I agree with QN. The STL IS historic.

    It’s an historic waste of time and money, just like the UN.

    Good thing there are plenty of complacent tax-payers, because I don’t know a single person who would pay for such BS.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 16, 2014, 6:14 pm
  16. Speaking of murder, the Iranians are near the top of the list.

    Second only to China. No wonder these two countries support Assad

    http://freebeacon.com/iran-hangs-40-people-in-two-weeks/

    http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/29/death-penalty-countries-world

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 16, 2014, 6:44 pm
  17. I for one, find the evidence that’s been mentioned in today’s sessions fascinating. Whether the STL has any impact on the ground one way or another is debatable (I agree with AIG here). Nevertheless, I think it is a first, as far as Lebanon is concerned. In all the years I’ve been alive (which is to say the past 45 years), I have not seen a single political assassination brought to justice or explained in a court of law. Merely for the sake of transparency, I think it’s a first. Maybe you folks in Israel or the West are used to actually finding out who was behind this or that. We in Lebanon are used to quite the opposite. Crimes get committed, people get assassinated, and none of it EVER comes to light. I think the one exception to that may have been the assassination of Bashir Gemayel. But besides that, it’s always “It’s well known that so and so did it” or “No one knows who did it.”
    It will be nice, for once, to see actual documentation, publicly available, laying out the who and the how of these murders we’ve lived for for so long.
    Did the Nuremberg trials change facts on the ground? The war was already won and done with. But it was still important (specially for the victims, I imagine) to have the grizzly details of who knew what and when brought to bear in public. Don’t you think?
    We’ve never had that in Lebanon.
    Was there ever a public accounting of the assassinations of Kamal Jumblatt? Bashir G. and countless others in the 70s and 80s? No.
    Was there ever a public accounting of the various bombings in the 2000s? Nope.
    The bombings of the US embassy or Marine compounds? Not really (although we know who did it, at least).
    The abductions of the various foreign hostages in the 80s?
    Ron Arad?
    The many missing and disappeared in Syrian prisons?
    The killers of the 2 Ziads?
    What ever happened to Joseph Sakr (or whatever his name was, the pilot who was abducted).
    And who knows how many more I’m forgetting.

    I think it is impossible for non-Lebanese to understand this particular point of view. Most of the rest of the world is used to a logic that’s based in rational thinking and factual evidence. Be it in your courts of law, or in the way you run your daily lives. There’s very little left to mystical mystery (legends such as Bigfoot, not withstanding).
    In Lebanon, everything is shrouded and mystery. There is no transparency. There is no “access to public records”. There is nothing but an informational void that ends up acting like a black hole. It sucks everything around it and is, in my opinion, the main reason the Lebanese are so prone to fantastical conspiracy theories. For decades now, we have been conditioned to not know what really happens behind closed doors. No “scandals” ever come to light, as they do in the Western world. People disappear into this black hole never to be heard from again. Crimes happen and are never solved. No information is ever released beyond “We demand a full investigation!” and “The Israelis/CIA did it” or “The Syrians/HA did it”.
    Do you think the type of hysterical accusations we hear, even from politicians (not even getting into the sheeple here) would be deemed appropriate in the civilized world?
    Can you imagine a US president or French president or the such coming out and saying “The Arabs did it” right after the Boston marathon bombing or spouting out some conspiracy theories, or whathaveyou? Of course not. Why is it so commonplace in Lebanon for even the most “respectable” of VIPs to fall into such hysterics every time something like this happens? There’s no “Let’s let the investigation run its course” followed by an actual press conference, by the investigators in question, informing the public of their findings (as we would have seen in the US, say, following the Boston bombing, or 9/11 or really when any crime is committed).

    All this to say, I think the STL is important and historic merely for the fact that for once in our miserable lives, us Lebanese get to see it done the “proper way”. An actual investigation, presented to the public, with evidence to boot! Actual phone records and maps and camera footage!? Are you kidding me??? To us, who are used to accusations that never get followed up with any form of evidence, this is akin to the prehistoric man first seeing a neighbor using fire! It’s something to watch in WONDER!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 16, 2014, 6:48 pm
  18. I forgot Moussa El-Sadr, Rene Mouawad, Mufti Khaled…The list goes on…

    Lebanon is like a Bermuda triangle, really…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 16, 2014, 6:51 pm
  19. “In all the years I’ve been alive (which is to say the past 45 years), I have not seen a single political assassination brought to justice or explained in a court of law.”

    Bad Vilbel,

    Yes, well, there’s a reason for that.

    Anyone vaguely connected to any “resistance movement”, including any person wronged, cheated, disposessed, yelled at, humiliated, or found with a fly in their soup receives a “Get out of Jail Free Card” by the host country (Lebanon in this case).

    Unfortunately, Israel, by virtue of their “super powers”, and huge success controlling the world, are not able to use this card. At least that is what I am being told by European BDSers (delete the “D” for improved accuracy).

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 16, 2014, 8:03 pm
  20. No argument here, AP. But that’s my point exactly, regardless of the reasons, as retarded as they may be (and you very well know, if you’ve read my comments in the past, that I’m no fan of any resistance movements) the bottom line is that this is a “first”. Will it have an impact? Probably not. But it’s still something new and novel for the Lebanese. It took putting matters into international bodies (such as the STL) to give us a taste of how things SHOULD be run. Sad, but true.
    If the Hariri affair had been left in Lebanese hands (as many others have been), it would have long been forgotten from a judicial sense (much like the Kamal Jumblatt, Rene Mouawad and other such similar affairs). The Lebanese would have been contented with accusing randomly whoever they did not like at the time (Israel, Syria, whoever) and there would have never been any kind of actual factual investigation.
    At least here, we’re getting to see the prosecutor present a list of evidence and facts (camera footage, etc) even if this evidence is going to be dismissed as fabricated by some, at least it’s there, and we get to see it.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 16, 2014, 8:34 pm
  21. I so look forward to the defense case.

    So far, the prosecution’s case seems curiously heavy on drama and playing to the gallery.

    Note to hopey changey Lebanese: outsourcing your aspirations for justice and accountability to foreign entities with agendas is grooming you to be obedient subjects not sovereigns. Still and yet again.

    Here’s a hint. The Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America should have nothing to do with your crime scenes, custody of evidence, forensics or analysis.

    Epok. You are new here, thus Danny’s hazing. Pay it no mind as he knows damn well that I am the resident “flag bearer for HA” on this blog!

    Be not deterred.

    QN your options are too limited. (4) comes the closest but leaves out the element of corrupted evidence that overshadows the incompetence factor.

    Posted by lally | January 16, 2014, 8:43 pm
  22. Bad Vilbel,

    Thanks. You’re one of the many enlightened participants here and one of the reasons I like to check out QNs website. OTOH, there is always the “conspiracy” crowd just like there is always a pimple or a blemish on your body, and so QNs website provides a perfect balance between “light and dark”. :o)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 16, 2014, 9:00 pm
  23. Get out of Jail Free Card NewZ

    Netanyahu said “imbalance” in the treatment of Israel and the Palestinians was hampering peace efforts. “I think it pushes peace further away, because it tells the Palestinians: ‘You can basically do whatever you want, say anything you want, incite any way you want and you won’t be held accountable’.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/netanyahu-says-eu-states-summon-israeli-envoys-over-214431060.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 16, 2014, 9:33 pm
  24. VB,

    You meant Joseph Sader. If not, then Joseph Sakr , God bless his memory died of heart complications due to listening to Ziad Rahbani’s political diatribes and conspiracies for so long.

    Posted by Maverick | January 16, 2014, 10:02 pm
  25. Either that the evidence furnished is indeed fabricated/corrupted or not. Either the investigative deductions are sound or not ( for instance, by not pursuing other threads of probable involvement to the end). We have seen great irregularities in the preparations leading to the trials that should be a concern to all Lebanese irrespective of their political affiliation, irregularities that have not been addressed by the investigative team. False witnesses, leaked info, ignoring plausible scenarios set by members of the SLT themselves, the questionable affiliations of some on the SLT team, the shady role Israel played in with-holding info then providing info, ignoring evidence afforded by the Hezb via the lebanese state…etc… The first question should be, irrespective of political affiliation, whether we can even trust the trials to disclose the truth? Another question: is it not that QN -in recognizing the social divide pursuant to the investigation’s integrity (or lack thereof) whilst not expressing a concern with the same and in presenting it as a historical day connotes (and QN, i expect, knows well the difference betweeen denotation and connotation) a certain uncritical positivity and acceptance? After all,the concern with the investigation’s integrity is not a matter of opinion. Maybe we should preempt an investigation of the investigation

    Its this uncalled-for desperate inclination to trust the impartiality and fidelity of the investigative team- and the intelligence feeding it evidence-that is bothersome.

    Posted by Trinkets | January 16, 2014, 10:38 pm
  26. BV,

    Yes to everything you say, except for the fact that the defendants are not at the trial or in custody and will go unpunished if found guilty. So the Lebanese are not getting to see it done the “proper way”” or getting justice like in Nuremberg. I don’t understand this exercise that is costing tens of millions of dollars and will end with neither justice nor accountability. Better invest the money in the electric grid. I can’t remember a previous case in which such an expensive trial was conducted with not even one defendant in custody. Don’t you find this weird?

    And just as a stopped clock is right about the time twice a day, Lally’s diatribe about foreign intervention highlights a real a point in that it would be progress if it were a Lebanese enterprise and would be a step in improving the Lebanese justice system. But it is a one off event that will not be repeated or emulated. So again, a waste of money.

    Posted by AIG | January 16, 2014, 11:02 pm
  27. Bad Vilbel, a lot of the evidence will be based on information provided by the lebanese internal security (a confessionally biased pro Harriri anti-Hezb body) ; and Harriri team’s unorthodox (unorthodox for a supposedly neutral investigative body’ not for Harriri) coddling of the STL team is common knowledge. Why makes you think that the investigativer team and, by extension, the trial will provide -de facto- an honest disclosure? Just because they’re westerners? Europeans? And we know the official NATO countries-US pro-israel anti-resistance stance. Thats a given – its not a conspiracy but a self evident conduct. To snifle one’s critical faculties in the presence of the (proverbial) “white man” and to assume his complete benignancy despite very suspicious irregularities is not just a sign of desperation (in face of our paralysis and lack of transparency – totally agree with you here) but also a sign of a willing suspension of disbelief. The very tangible worry is the (ab)usage of this opportunity (ie finding the real culprits) as a deus ex machina. It does not bode well.

    Posted by Trinkets | January 17, 2014, 12:12 am
  28. I’ll make my replies short, but try to address each one of you:

    Lally:
    The FBI has no business in a Lebanese crime scene. No argument here. Neither does Iran (didn’t they request being present for this Majid Majid affair recently?) or anyone else.
    Problem is, there is no credible (or any at all for that matter) Lebanese investigating anything. Was there ever a proper and competent Lebanese investigation done for Jumblatt, Gemayel, Mouawad, Hassan Khalid, Hariri, Hamadeh, Hawi, Gemayel Jr. etc. etc.???
    Forget politicians. Was there ever a competent investigation done on Joseph Sader? The 2 Ziads? etc, etc?

    Again, my point earlier stands: We, in Lebanon, clearly have no idea what “investigation” or “transparency” means. That makes your point about the FBI or any other foreign agency moot.

    Trinkets,
    HA provided the STL with evidence via the Lebanese state? That’s the first I hear of it. I recall Hassan Nassrallah stating he would never cooperate or deal with the STL. Care to provide more info on this one?
    As for the investigation team not following up all leads. You don’t really know what they did or didn’t follow. Do you? Even today, we’re hearing new pieces of information that weren’t previously known.
    Any good investigation (be it FBI, or their equivalent in many countries) follow a number of leads, unbeknownst to the public. But also, eliminate leads that turn out to be dead ends. How do you know they didn’t do just that?
    I’m not saying there weren’t mistakes made (the leaks were clearly rather unprofessional, wherever they came from). But following up on what is now known as the “false witnesses”, attempting to interview various Syrian officials, etc sounds like exactly what I would expect from any law enforcement agency investigating a murder, say.
    You interview everyone you think may be near or know anything. Sometimes, it yields more leads. Sometimes, it sends you in a wrong direction for a while, before you find some other piece of information that gets you back to a different suspect, etc…Try watching one of those crime procedurals that are so popular on TV these days 🙂
    Making a big hubbub about this or that “false lead” does not mean incompetence. On the contrary, they took their time. That’s what I would expect from a competent agency. Unlike the quick accusations we throw around in Lebanon, with zero proof.
    Has there ever been an example in Lebanon of the authorities accusing or investigating one suspect, then going in a different direction? Or even publicly stating they went after the wrong guy at first?
    Typically, in Lebanon, assumptions are made about “whodunnit”, and no one ever changes his mind. No evidence is ever provided. And of course, no consequences ever occur anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 17, 2014, 12:54 am
  29. It might be a deus ex machina, trusting the white man, and all of that. But if it produces credible evidence, then it might bring HA a peg down and force a better political language in the future. It might also provide closure for the Hariri side. If they close the mausoleum it might improve their political language too.

    Posted by melmakko | January 17, 2014, 4:24 am
  30. BV,

    I guess Trinkets is alluding to the Nassrallah “press party: whereas he showed an Israeli drone over Lebanon (intercepted some info from ground)…Alas those were from 1999 Not 2005. Only the sheeple here and elsewhere not only bought it; they bought it knowing it was fake.

    Lally; you will always be numero uno….Although I would not dub you as a flag bearer of HA rather our “Martina” Scorsese….Conspiracy queen with a flair.

    Posted by danny | January 17, 2014, 8:20 am
  31. Forget the STL kickoff; today is the historic day. AIG agrees with Lally and I agree with BV. 😉

    Nobody knows what the short-term consequences of the tribunal exercise will be, but I sense that the long term consequences will be significant, for better or worse. The undecideds and agnostics are the ones who matter in this discussion, not the die-hard partisans.

    For anyone who cares, I’ve written something about the Sa’eh bookshop fire, which you can read here. Will post again over the weekend along with links to the fundraising initiative.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 17, 2014, 9:22 am
  32. Will this trial be “good” or “bad” for intercommunal political relationships in Lebanon? Diehard partisans already “know” who committed the countless assassinations in Lebanon. So will third-party evidence submitted and tested via an arm’s length judicial process have any positive effects? If the defendants are judged guilty, will HA and its partisans pause to consider their long-term prospects if individuals linked to their party continue with this type of modus operandi? Will the Hariri partisans be satisfied that al-Haqiqa has been established, thereby opening up prospects for serious inter-Lebanese discussions about how their fragile Republic can navigate treacherous waters? To dismiss the tribunal a priori as a fix or as a useless exercise doesn’t address the question of how the legacy of these assassinations (beginning with Kamal Jumblatt?) can be reconciled with the idea of a Lebanese national political community.

    Posted by Jim Reilly | January 17, 2014, 10:41 am
  33. QN,

    Since when have the ” undecideds and agnostics ” mattered much in Lebanon? It is the die-hards who determine policy and direction. The silent middle was only effective once, on March 14, but that was thanks to George Bush and the credible threat Assad saw to his regime from him.

    Posted by AIG | January 17, 2014, 10:45 am
  34. Nice article about the bookshop, QN. I appreciated your optimism. Salafists came often to chat with Father Sarrouj. (I was a borderline salafist with a scraggly beard myself and a regular customer. I wrote a post about it if you’re interested.) Who is the courier? I want to send some books.

    Posted by melmakko | January 17, 2014, 12:12 pm
  35. ATTENTION – There’s been a Lurch sighting in the Middle East. Please call the local authorities if confronted by unknown Lurch or Lurch look-alike…

    http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2014/01/kerry-is-just-not-in-touch-with-reality#Yaalon

    http://cheezburger.com/7167584512

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 17, 2014, 12:47 pm
  36. Thanks Melmakko. Very nice post. The courier is Aramex.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 17, 2014, 12:59 pm
  37. I’m not sure what I said marks me out as a Hezbollah supporter, but fine. Actually I find my self in sync with bv, I spent all my life in countries where the justice system and the press were fairly reliable most of the time and am now suffering the spectacle of huge crimes being committed with no one being held to account. In this type of environment one either disengages or comes up with a model for each actor and he system (either way with the enough awareness to realize this is just a hobby and has no influence I anyone or any event, and then tests the model against predictions. (I am an engineer from qn’s very own institution no less).

    Having said all this, what my original comment intended to convey was that as someone who would like to know what really happened, the stl holds out no interest. It is compromised in all e ways I mentioned. Too bad.

    Separately, I have to agree that the outcome of this trial is an irrelevance. Even more so now that saad has announced, from the courtroom virtually, that he has no problem being in government with Hezbollah and that the innocent must be proven guilty. What a statesman. Anyone who doubted that the trial is farce can not possibly now…

    Finally it strikes me that in most. Of these war crimes type trials (I realize this is not one, but it has the political stripes of one) the guilty parties and events are usually pretty well known and the trial is more about lending some process to the act of punishment…which is itself Also political. As mr Chomsky said “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”

    Posted by Epok | January 17, 2014, 3:12 pm
  38. Btw. The only convincing theory I’ve heard about Harris death is that it was one of many assassinations and counter assassinations that resulted from the internal Syrian struggle between Bashar al Assad and his supporters and the khaddam wing (led by I forget who). This makes sense timing wise, provides clear motive and Assad had the means for sure. It was widely believed in Lebanon across the political spectrum that Syria was involved in his death and for af ew years by the stl too…

    The biggest problem with the Hezbollah theory is…why?

    Posted by Epok | January 17, 2014, 3:20 pm
  39. Epok,

    You were doing so well, then you F’d it up envoking his holiness, Minister Without Portfolio, Professor Noam Chomsky, who has supported every unelected despot from here to China. He only seems to have fits with democratically elected governments.

    Too bad QN still doesn’t have editing capability. I’d suggest another, more respectible reference.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 17, 2014, 4:31 pm
  40. His Holiness, and Profesdional Muqawamista, Noam Chomsky. Here is his own list of articles:

    http://www.chomsky.info/articles.htm

    Count the number of articles critical of the US and Israel.

    Count the numbet of articles critical of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Egypt, the MB, Bashar Assad, al-Queda, China, Russia and any other non-democratic state and add them up.

    Guess who wins? For Noam, it’s always the democratically-elected states with the best economies and most freedoms that he criticizes the most.

    Rule of thumb: always check where the leading muqawamistas actually live.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 17, 2014, 4:48 pm
  41. I don’t understand this blanket accusation that STL has been compromised. HA’s flank; Do tell please how? What Saad says about no problem with HA…How does that compromise the evidence. it seems some do not read their generalization and blanket condemnation of everything that might lead to HA’s operatives being found guilty. HA had existed because of Iran and it is extension of the pasdaran. Read Larinjani’s effusive praise and promise to protect HA. Seriously? Iran is supposed to back the government of Lebanon; not HA in the event of an Israeli attack…

    HA had worked under direct supervision of Syrian mukhabarat. Why would anyone find it so strange that it will not act as the hitman for Assad? Motive? Sunnis of Lebanon and with an extension Syrians were daring to raise their voices against Bashar…etc…etc…

    Posted by danny | January 17, 2014, 5:11 pm
  42. I agree with Danny here. Regardless of what Saad says, that is in the realm of politics. It has no relation to the actual facts. I’m not interested in whether Saad Hariri is a principled man who refuses on principle to co-exist with the assassins of his father, or whether he’s a milksop who’s willing to do just that (Jumblatt, Gemayel and many others have done it before, for various reasons).
    Doing so (co-existing with HA or Syria or whoever else) does not in any way exhonerate HA or Syria or Iran or whoever the guilty party may be. Does the PSP being allied with Syria in the 80s mean Syria did not kill Kamal Jumblatt? Certainly not.
    What I am interested in, is that for once, we are getting a theory (even if it’s still a theory, that has not yet been proven in a court of law, as of today) explained to us in detail. The mechanics of it. The details and minutiae. How phone calls were made, how the target was tracked, how the van was moved and placed at the location, etc.
    My point here is that we’ve never seen THAT before. No one has ever detailed the mechanics of Jumblatt’s assassination, or Moussa Sadr’s disappearance, or Rene Mouawad’s assassination, etc.
    The one exception we’ve ever had was the Bashir assassination. I think it is well documented who the assassin was and how he made it happen.
    Again, even if the theory is not yet proven, I am interested in the fact that someone is PUBLICLY detailing the investigation and all its found.
    What Saad does with it after is his problem and doesn’t concern me much (specially since it’s not likely to change the situation on the ground all that much).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 17, 2014, 5:29 pm
  43. BV.

    The idea that a the sequestration of evidence by a foreign entity with a distinct agenda could in any way be an acceptable precedent is anathema and in direct contradiction of the principles that underpin the very “transparency” one hopes will become the standard in the judicial process. The STL is seen as a model by some who would seek to establish precedent for legitimizing the “international community’s” deus ex machina for the prosecution of selected entities under the banner of the war on terror.

    I agree that the STL has some great potential to have an impact on Lebanon and the Lebanese but think it may take some surprising twists and turns as the trial plays out.

    M14 favorite Erich Follath of Der Spiegel just wrote that:

    “Already, a majority of Lebanese believe that the court is one-sided and that the Israelis are to blame for Hariri’s murder.”

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/hariri-trial-to-begin-in-holland-amid-unrest-in-lebanon-a-943295.html

    The anglo-heavy prosecutorial side will have their hands full countering the seasoned Lebanese defense attorneys on a mission. Their press conference today was a promise of things to come and I would not wager against the good people of Lebanon betting heavily for the home team.

    Bring it on, Antoine Korkomaz!

    Yes, what about the nearly two tons of RDX?

    Danny, the threat by Larinjani was especially alarming given the timing.

    Posted by lally | January 18, 2014, 1:51 am
  44. AP, it is strange to constantly refer to Daniel Pipes, a nobody and a political pundit, who is neither a respected authority in his field (Middle Eastern Studies) nor an acknowledged expert in academia. Whild Pipes is a propogandist, Chomsky is the expert on propoganda and a respected authority in the fields of linguistics, communications and media, and political analysis from an anarcho-syndicalist perspective (thus his support for participatory democracy and social egalitarianism over oligarchic representative forms of government).

    As for the STL and the future of politics in Lebanon, a few indicted individuals could be found guilty without directly implicating their umbrella organization. The trouble with such tribunals is that opersfors may be found guilty without ever finding the decision makers (whether Syrian, Lebanese, or otherwise). The structure of an operating cell typically exclude any directly traceable contact with masterminds. The people of Lebanon may never know for certain if Assad, a branch of Syrian or other intelligence services were behind the hit order even if a cell of Hizbollah is implicated in some way. The smoking gun will have to be a direct order from someone highly placed with some kind of rationale and that is typically cor historians to discover or uncover after decades…. We will see!

    Posted by Parrhesia | January 18, 2014, 5:18 am
  45. Daniel Pipes and noam Chomsky are two sides of the same coin two american jews that are used for propoganda by their respected political forces
    one is the pet jew of the radical anti islam hard right
    the other is the pet jew of the radical anti american hard left
    both ignore reality for simple polemics and grand standing

    Posted by lone wolf | January 18, 2014, 7:46 am
  46. Lone Wolf’s Coin Analogy Debunked

    Lone Wolf,

    Of the two Joos, Pipes and Chomsky, I like the Joo who supports freedom, democracy and individual rights. Which types of arabs do you support, and are any of them leading an arab nation?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 18, 2014, 9:37 am
  47. AKBAR PALACE’,
    Chomsky is a traitor Pipes is an extrimist
    if i have to choose i prfer Pipes but they both suck
    i prefer sufi and moderete sunni islam as ptctised by kurds and turks
    i fear imperial sunni and shia islam as practised by sauidi arabya and iran
    most off all i fear certainty
    doubt is essential true belivers scare me

    Posted by lone wolf | January 18, 2014, 10:38 am
  48. 1) Aside from the fact that Noam Chomsky, being an American and a Jew is likely to commentate on the US and Israel more than average (undergraduate polisci thesis: most people comment most on their own countries and the US).
    Aside from the fact that it is a patriots duty to criticise.
    Aside from the fact that a good argument could be made that Israel and the US are the largest human rights violators since WW2 (and they are without a doubt in the top 10).
    Aside from all that, his analysis and arguments are clear, logical and valid. Whether he is right or wrong in every case is not the point, he is intelligent and makes intelligent points that are serious, and his comment on US behaviour and culpability is accurate in my opinion (and has nothing to do with Leb Isr or whatever more south america, vietnam etc).

    2) The proof that the STL has no credibility: All the 14 march support it and all the 8 march reject it. As such people in the street (and government), rightly or wrongly, attribute to the STL a forgone conclusion. As such neither side is assigning it any credibility and their support is based on their support of its foregone conclusion.

    Now, it may be that the STL is an unbiased and excellent court, time will tell, but as of today, they have no credibility-with either side. I don’t think it can be a matter of opinion.

    3) Politics is largely a matter of identity and not of abstract notions of justice, policy etc. That is why it gets so emotional. But my question in Lebanon is: March 14, 2005 (and Aoun was one of its leaders) represented the freeing of Lebanon from the Syrian Yoke. July 2006, the beginning of a cold war between Israel and Lebanon that in a way freed Lebanon from the Israeli threat. Naher el bared the freeing of Lebanon from the Palestinian camps autonomy/threat. All were about Lebanon being independent. Today the movement named “march 14” is represented by Geagea (a stooge to foreign powers) and Hariri (a stooge to foreign powers). So a March 14 Christian who nominally is anti foreign involvement in Lebanon is politically supporting a party led by two stooges (one of whom is a convicted murderer). What is the identification these people have with that party today?

    I completely understand why people would reject Hezballah on an identity level or an abstract political level (armed group not subservient to the state), but does that rejection automatically force membership in Mar 14?

    I guess what I am asking is where is the voice for people who do not identify with the “Mar 8” grouping? Do those people really identify themselves with the Mar14? [Leave out the sectarian argument for now, let’s just talk about the Christians which are the only split sect].

    Posted by Epok | January 18, 2014, 10:43 am
  49. Lone Wolf,

    As see that as a professional muqawamista and Joo expert, your favorite “arab” leadership is found in Turkey and Kurdistan.

    And so the long saga continues whereby arab resistance professionals tell the world on internet forums like this which joos are “extremist” while their own people live in worse conditions than American pet dogs and cats.

    Thank you for your “special” insight;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 18, 2014, 11:01 am
  50. BV,

    First a question. You say
    “The bombings of the US embassy or Marine compounds? Not really (although we know who did it, at least).

    Who? Genuine curiosity. It seems the like the CIA believed it was Mugniyeh who, at the time, was a PLO (Arafat) soldier. It is often attributed to Hezballah as a terrorist act. Other than the fact that I think blowing up marines is outside the definition of terrorism, Hezballah didn’t really exist yet in any material form. I haven’t looked into this in a while but I don’t the USG has

    I think your description of the “mystical” situation here is very accurate. One of my friends is Pierre Gemayel’s (RIP) Uncle. When his mother arrived at the ER where he had been taken, she started screaming that Aoun had killed her son. This made no sense at the time or in retrospect, but it shows, in a very extreme way, how politics almost takes the place of rationality and judgment in the absence of facts or at least some system for apportioning blame. It also shows the depth of these beliefs and the futility of arguing about them with about 99% of the population.

    One point is that aside from the lack of resolution in those cases, these events have a very real effect on people’s lives and stress levels. so that not only are the political feelings deeply felt and held, they matter, they scare off investment, they make planning hard, they screw up the economy, often severely (in the case of tourism for example). So people want resolution and dig in hard on their views of how to get to it.

    Posted by Epok | January 18, 2014, 11:22 am
  51. i am a jew an israeli patriotand an active reserve oficer in the idf
    cut the arogence
    i am not into simple answers to simple questions
    the enemy must be understood in order to be defeated
    ignorence and demosition are the fastest road to deafeat

    Posted by lone wolf | January 18, 2014, 11:34 am
  52. EPOK, the billions of USD Nasrallah gets from Iran makes him a very independent player, right?

    Posted by Vulcan | January 18, 2014, 11:47 am
  53. Lone Wolf: The Joo is Out of the Bag NewZ

    Lone Wolf,

    Yes of course, and I’m an alawi arab who has a cousin in the Syrian army fighting against sunni “extremism”.

    Anyway, here’s a lovely article concerning that great bastion of freedom in the arab state of Turkey, where the AKP stands up for crimes committed by the Zionists while the Turkish government continues with all the necessary
    purges against perceived “enemies of the people”.

    http://news.yahoo.com/turkey-purges-bank-watchdog-telecoms-body-state-tv-101932251–sector.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 18, 2014, 11:50 am
  54. תרגיע אח שלו אני ישראלי
    now that i have proven my nationality
    ardogan is astupid megalomaniac but that has nothithing to do with islam as practiced
    by the everge turk or kurd
    arabs have a future a scivilization only if the adopt turkish / malezian /kurdish aproch to islam
    arbs and heredi jews use religion as a substitute toreal life
    turks and folowrs of the “rav kook” use religion as a suplemnt to real life

    Posted by lone wolf | January 18, 2014, 12:18 pm
  55. هنا هو الدليل على ان انا عربى

    Lone Wolf,

    Now that I’ve proven to you MY nationality, I support your efforts to emulate the average turd or kurd in order for you to complete your jewiish mitzvah of Tikkun Olam.

    Shalom Haver;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 18, 2014, 12:40 pm
  56. How can anyone argue with this logic:

    A. Nassrallah publicly and proudly offers the limbs of Lebanese in service of Ayattolah Khameini…

    B. Nassrallah publicly and proudly claims that his/HA loyalty is to W of Fakih…

    C. HA is bankrolled and is under guidance of Iran/Quds force…

    D. M14 leaders never claim to be servants of any foreign entity

    E. M14 has no mafiosi militia…

    …and yet brain dead people claim that M14 are stooges to the west and HA is truly patriotic Lebanese entity!

    HOW ON EARTH CAN YOU DISPROVE THIS LOGIC!

    Posted by danny | January 18, 2014, 3:15 pm
  57. Danny, I did not claim independence for any party, merely stated what is pretty evident about two individual politicians. As to your series of assertions I am not sure to what end you have listed them but if you really think they are simple points on which all can agree then I don’t think you are here to listen with an open mind-you do know that this will not convince anyone who is not already on your side.

    I am surprised by the need to bring people’s nationalities into things…seems to me that opinions are opinions and logical arguments stand on their own. The first need no justification and the second do not benefit from any.

    Posted by Epok | January 18, 2014, 5:04 pm
  58. Epok,

    You must not be Lebanese 🙂

    The need to bring people’s nationalities (and sects) into things is innate with the Lebanese.
    “Opinions are logical arguments that stand on their own”? Not in this Bermuda triangle! The entire concept of logic, rational/critical thinking and objective observation is entirely lost on most Lebanese. EVERYTHING can be explained by your nationality, sect, or village of origin. Come on!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 18, 2014, 6:27 pm
  59. Geagea and Hariri stooges? That is an opinion (yours). It could be true or false. But an opinion. HA and the illegal mafiosi militia’s allegiance to W of F. A fact! Now where’s your so called logic. Disprove my statements.

    Posted by danny | January 18, 2014, 7:08 pm
  60. This thread is a Bermuda triangle.

    Posted by lally | January 18, 2014, 9:21 pm
  61. No. The STL is the Bermuda Triangle:

    Live TV

    Beirut 19.01.2014
    GMT + 2

    Numbers of the International Tribunal
    The Court numbers belonging to nationals!
    The International Tribunal on the assassination of the martyr leader Rafik Hariri cellular numbers claimed to be owned by the four accused, was used to carry out the assassination.
    In the context of the “new” Messaging to contact a number of these numbers to verify ownership, replied simply: citizens, refused to be interviewed for the sensitivity of the subject for them because of their fears of the size and importance of this issue, but they have these numbers long before the Hariri assassination. It has been shown that the 3 digits of

    Cellular numbers International Tribunal to private citizens
    8 belonging to private citizens, some of them owned for 10 years, while all of them at the same time that it has been accused by the Attorney General introduced Norman Varennes.
    And the “new” reporter conducted a telephone interview with the owner of the number that ends with 300, which kept mentioning his name, the number of green numbers that supposedly owned due to defendant Salim Ayyash, said he bought the number in “27 July 2004”, stressing that “all information is documented in the alpha company, which was then” Siles
    If this information requires several questions about the possibility that possesses the same figure in the history of shhasan, with two also paid the Bills, also requires a fresh look by the investigators of the International Tribunal for the Hariri assassination, especially with regard to telecommunications, to the confusion of dual ownership.
    It must also explain the fact that duplication of communication companies, just as what is required of the Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui on communication Ministry opened an investigation in this case, for truth and justice of the Special Tribunal.
    2250 views
    All Rights Reserved last updated 18.01.2014 at 21: 21
    : Read also
    – See more at: http://131.253.14.98/proxy.ashx?h=hMFVkDd-7y723hY7ChDntECkLoRchXfF&a=http%3A%2F%2Fmob.aljadeed.tv%2FMenuAr%2Fnews%2FDetailNews%2FDetailNews.html%3FId%3D100612#sthash.WfzqSqXe.dpuf

    Posted by lally | January 18, 2014, 10:40 pm
  62. wow, you would think they would double check this stuff….

    Posted by tamer k | January 19, 2014, 1:54 am
  63. Wow what a fine detective work by Al Jadid TV, impressive, really!

    Posted by Vulcan | January 19, 2014, 8:31 am
  64. Vulcan,

    Wallaw; a discontinued number reassigned eh? …I did not expect this especially from the masters of “sh-hood el zoor”…

    That’s it cancel the STL.

    Yes Tamer. Shocking! 😀

    Posted by danny | January 19, 2014, 9:08 am
  65. Danny, every time I am in Beirut, I buy one of those recycled lines, come to think of it, one of those numbers rings familiar.

    For those highlighting the futility of the STL, this quote may explain why some of us feel it’s not all in vain

    “The tribunal is just a symbol that will last for months or maybe a year before it hands down the judgments. It will not impose the sentences against the convicted criminals. Despite this anticipated powerlessness, the trial is a political condemnation reminding the world of what the assassins have done. “

    Posted by Vulcan | January 19, 2014, 10:07 am
  66. The weird thing is the NSA could clear up the phone number issues in a NY minute.

    Which means the US is happy the Europeans and the Lebanese are doing their best immitation of the Keystone Cops.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 19, 2014, 1:22 pm
  67. Danny, I think if you watch the video again, the people claim to have had the lines well before 2005, shocking indeed, let’s cancel the STL and get our money back… we can always throw the 4 generals back in jail

    Posted by tamer k | January 19, 2014, 3:31 pm
  68. Tamer K,

    Excuse me if I don’t believe the guy on the other side of the supposed number dialed…Ya baby. New TV is amazing!

    Posted by danny | January 19, 2014, 4:20 pm
  69. Well… Perhaps soon enough we wont need to worry about any of this as the Lebanese would have drowned in their own waste… Poetic justice? I’d say so.

    Posted by Johnny | January 20, 2014, 5:47 am
  70. Johnny,

    Yes besides the hapless Lebanese, millions of other Middle Easterners are “drowning in their own waste” as well: Syrians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Egyptians, Palestinians, Iranians… did I miss any?

    Is this really “poetic justice”? I think it is clearly a failure of the United Nations, whose sole responsibility is to bring peace, security, and human rights to the world. The UN has failed in every way imaginable. So I think the Lebanese and the rest of the people in the ME are caught in vice between their despot leaders and an indifferent world. There is no justice for them just as their was no justice for the millions who perished in WW2.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 20, 2014, 12:08 pm
  71. AP, I think Johnny meant that literally..

    How’s that relocation working out for you Johnny? Fee metlo Lebnein? 🙂

    Posted by Vulcan | January 20, 2014, 12:56 pm
  72. Thanks for clarifying that Vulcan. Yes AP, I was referring quite literally to the garbage that is piling up on our streets.

    I’ve been here for the past 8 years Vulcan. My next relocation is back to Amreeka sometime this Summer. Now that my daughter is more aware I want to be sure I get her out before she picks up any nasty Lebanese habits/values. 🙂

    Bes to answer your question. La2, ma fee metlo hal balad.

    Posted by Johnny | January 24, 2014, 6:50 am

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