Last Updated: Wed Dec 15, 2010 23:37 pm (KSA) 20:37 pm (GMT)

The Hariri Tribunal: In Hezbollah's Interests?

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed

I'm not saying this to be sarcastic, but the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is truly in everybody's interests, and particularly those who are accused of Hariri's assassination. This is the synopsis of my article. However the opposite of this is also true; for rejecting the international tribunal will be the greatest mistake that anybody could make, especially in light of some of the rhetoric that we are hearing today. We hear Hezbollah threatening violence if the tribunal does not stop its work, while the suspects are just a handful of people, some of whom have already taken their secrets to the grave. However, as we know, those who think with their weapons do not always correctly use their intellect.

What will Hezbollah do if the tribunal issues indictments against some of its members?

Will it overthrow the government by force of arms? Will it spread chaos by invading the areas of its opponents in Beirut? Will it occupy government institutions, and cripple some of the state's vital facilities, and take control of the motorway that leads to Beirut airport? Will it target its opponents out of revenge? Will it occupy downtown Beirut again?

If Hezbollah tries any of this it will only prove the tribunal's decision right, and no country around the world will call for its end. Such aggression would also be internationally condemned, rather than this issue being viewed as a local disagreement, as is the case now. Such action will only serve to increase the scope of the crime.

The situation looks bad, and this is not because of the old crime [being investigated] but because of what is happening today. Hezbollah is utilizing rhetoric that it never has before, making clear and explicit threats saying that either the Saudi – Syrian proposal is agreed – in other words no accusations are leveled at Hezbollah – or there will be dire consequences. This is explicit blackmail.

Personally, I do not understand why Hezbollah is so afraid; this is an organization whose leadership was, and remains, pursued by the law over the past 30 years. There are Hezbollah members in prison in many countries around the world, so what is different [this time]? The argument that Hezbollah fears that if any of its members are indicted, this will cause a crack in the relationship between the Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon is not believable, particularly due to the number of cracks in this relationship caused by the Hezbollah movement itself, including its recent threats against the Sunni community under the pretext of preventing the tribunal's expected decision.

In my opinion, Hezbollah knows that the consequences of what it has said it will do [if the tribunal does not stop its operations] will be worse than before. This will result in sectarian conflict, with Hezbollah's allies, most notably Iran, being besieged from all sides. Following this, sectarian chaos will be a political weapon rather than merely a genuine emotional reaction. This is a genuine threat that cannot be compared with bringing a handful of people to justice, most of whom will be convicted in absentia.

Therefore let me say once more: the international tribunal is the solution, not to gain revenge [against those who committed this crime] but in order to put an end to this entire chapter.

The murder of Hariri and the assassination of so many Lebanese leaders and politicians is a crime that cannot be forgotten, and one that no tribunal in the world can leave half-investigated. This tribunal is the best conclusion to this tragedy-filled decade, and I would argue that the tribunal is in the interests of the prime suspects; for it brings a political divisive case that has lasted for long years to an end. The tribunal will put an end to the crisis, and the situation will return to how it was prior to Hariri's assassination and everybody can carry on with their lives.



* Published in the London-based ASHARQ ALAWSAT on Dec. 15. Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed is the general manager of Al Arabiya television.

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