Lebanon on Thursday will commemorate the eighth anniversary of the assassination of its prominent martyr Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and his comrades. In this painful memory, one must recall what happened in Lebanon and Syria since then. An international court, thanks to France’s and the international community’s efforts, was established. None of the four indicted men were arrested under the excuse that Lebanese authorities cannot find them. Ever since that assassination, a series of assassinations against journalists and politicians followed. Samir Kassir, Gebran Tueni, Pierre Gemayel, George Hawi, Walid Eido and many others martyrs. No one was arrested. Brigadier-General Wissam al-Hassan who revealed the Syrian regime’s scheme which implementation was assigned to former minister Michel Samaha was martyred. No one was arrested for the assassination of Hassan.
Ever since Hariri, along with Bassel Fuleihan, was martyred, the divisions in Lebanon increased between supporters of the Iranian and Syrian regimes and those calling for the independency of the Lebanese decision and not subjecting it to the demands of two regimes ruling with death and torture against their people.
Lebanon falling back
Lebanon since 2005 was obstructed on all levels. In the past two years, the economic situation dangerously fell back. Lebanon is not under international pressures, like Syria is. But it seems as if it is punished because of the unawareness of the Syrian regime’s agents in Lebanon that everything they do keeps away Arab investments and Arab and foreign tourism. These agents are unaware that everything they do sabotages what Rafiq Hariri aspired for his country in becoming a world center for commerce, tourism and services and in holding a progressive rank in the world.
Now, the situation in Syria has deteriorated. The Syrian regime did not stop at martyring people in Lebanon. It killed more than 70,000 in its country, and it still rejects the transition of power to democratic parties. It counts on Russia and Iran to support it in this murder and in this bloodbath we are witnessing in Syria. The Syrian regime’s agents in Lebanon still provide the Syrian regime with all means of support at the expense of their country’s interest. Ever since the assassination of Hariri, sectarian tensions in Lebanon and the region increased. U.S. President Barack Obama’s stance on the Syrian war is disappointing because of its weakness and because of his rejection to support the liberals in Syria with arms.
For democratic countries, the martyrdom of Hariri is an occasion stating that the time for overlooking criminality is over. These countries include France, the country of human rights, which overlooked the criminality of Qaddafi and which opened its doors for Hafez and Bashar al-Assad. The lesson for European countries now is that they must not be lenient with he who killed opposition figure Chokri Belaid in Tunisia. The lesson now is that European countries must be firm and united in their stance toward regimes that commit murders and take their people hostages.
France’s history with Syria is not honorable for a big democratic country. It seems now that it is being corrected with President Hollande. France during the era of François Mitterrand forgave Syria during the rule of Hafez al-Assad for assassinating its envoy in Beirut, Louis Delamare. The late French president visited Syria in 1984 against the opinion of the then-foreign minister Claude Cheysson.
France during the era of Jacque Chirac opened its doors for Hafez and Bashar al-Assad after Chirac’s friend, martyr Rafiq Hariri, urged him to do so because he was convinced that Syria is open and revived and that it will help revive Lebanon. Then they assassinated him, and Chirac boycotted the Syrian regime. Then Sarkozy took over as president. He thought he could convince Syria to give France a role in the Israeli-Palestinian path. He welcomingly received Assad forgetting all the crimes committed in Lebanon. Then Assad staged a coup against Saad Hariri’s cabinet and brought “Hezbollah’s” cabinet instead, and Sarkozy realized his mistake.
Then the Syrian regime began killing its people. Sarkozy and the U.S. and British governments had also forgiven Qaddafi’s crimes in exchange of paying for the victims of the civilian airplanes.
The West’s responsibility is grave. Those committing murder, assassination and suppression, like in Egypt, must not be forgiven. Firm stances are required toward these regime’s violations of human rights. One must be careful about this when it comes to regimes born of what is called the Arab Spring. The assassination of Hariri and his comrades should have been, since 2005, a lesson to democratic countries that contributed to establishing the international court on one hand, and to opening its doors for the murderer when he began to kill his people on the other.
This article was published on al-Hayat newspaper on Feb. 13, 2013.
Randa Takieddine is a Lebanese writer and the director of Al-Hayat newspaper office in Paris.