Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WINEP wants the 'Haqq(iqah): "Hunting for Hizballah"

AIPAC does Pennsylvania Ave. while Schenker (and his soul-mate, Michael Young) do Moawad Street! From the looks of it, Schenker is delegating these reports to a 13 years old ... WINEP/ here

"........ Then, in May 2009 Der Spiegel published an article that reported in great detail on how Hizballah operatives participated in the murder, and how the IIIC had discovered the connection. Apparently, one of the militia's operatives "committed the unbelievable indiscretion" of calling his girlfriend from a mobile phone used in the operation, enabling the investigators to identify the man. The revelations contained in the Der Spiegel article sent shock waves through Beirut.....
For the pro-West March 14 coalition in Lebanon, the allegations of Hizballah involvement in the murder should come as little surprise. Not only would the militia have had the capacity to carry out the operation, its close allies in Damascus had the motive. Members of the coalition had also been at odds with Hizballah for years, and particularly so since the Hariri assassination and the subsequent Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. At the same time, a Hizballah connection to the crime would not in any sense absolve Syria -- which then occupied and controlled Lebanon -- of culpability.
Yet the IIIC's targeting of Hizballah comes at an awkward time for the March 14 leadership. Although the coalition won national elections this past summer -- and with this victory, the opportunity to form a government -- the opposition compelled the majority, led by Rafiq Hariri's son Saad, to establish a national unity government to include members of the Shiite militia and provide the organization with preponderant influence. Strange bedfellows indeed.
Worse, in the months following the election, the March 14 coalition, which had remained fairly stable since its establishment in 2005, started to fray as its leading international backers in Washington and Riyadh sought rapprochement with Damascus. Consequently, in recent months both Saad Hariri and the March 14 coalition's influential Druze leader Walid Jumblat have looked to mend fences with Hizballah and Syria. In the case of Jumblat, the price for this accommodation has been to apologize publicly for his anti-Syrian disposition of recent years, request forgiveness from Syria's Bashar al-Asad regime, and embrace -- at least rhetorically -- Hizballah's "resistance" agenda.
For Jumblat, who cut his teeth as a warlord during the Lebanese civil war, rapprochement with Syria was a simple choice between justice and chaos. Given the IIIC's change of focus to Hizballah, Jumblat sensed that implicating the militia in the crime could present a threat to the fragile state's stability. While the Druze leader has not repudiated the tribunal publicly, he appears to be hoping that indictments will not be forthcoming.
For Rafiq's son Saad (is WINEP on first name basis?), the calculations are different. As the current leader of Lebanon's Sunni community, Saad cannot afford politically to forgive and forget the reported transgressions of Hizballah. Indeed, Saad Hariri's motto since 2005 has been al-haqq (a 'qiqa' is missing)-- "the truth" -- an allusion to the necessity above all else to find out who killed his father. While Saad demonstrated a sense of pragmatism by visiting Syria this past December, the prospect of forgiving his father's killers would be less palatable.
In addition to domestic considerations, Hariri and his government's support (or lack thereof) for the tribunal could have an impact on Lebanon's foreign relations. Because the tribunal was established by the UN, if the government fails to meet its
obligations, then Beirut could encounter bilateral difficulties with Washington and Europe. Clearly, the government of Lebanon is not in a position -- and likely would not be expected -- to render subpoenaed Hizballah suspects to the IIIC. But how would the UN respond if Hizballah were able to engineer the defunding of Lebanon's $23 million annual financial obligation to the tribunal from the state's Ministry of Justice?
With two years remaining in its current mandate, the IIIC will probably issue indictments by the end of this year. The threshold for charges in the international criminal court is so high that convictions almost always result. Given the attendant risks, should the tribunal indict even low-level operatives, it is doubtful that Hizballah will allow the accused to live, much less stand trial.
At the end of the day, if hearings do occur, they will likely be held in absentia. .......It will be more difficult -- both from an evidentiary and a political standpoint -- for the IIIC to establish connections between the Hariri murder, Damascus, and Tehran that would sustain further indictments. For Washington and the credibility of the tribunal institution, however, it is important that the investigation be given time to unfold.....'

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