Friday, August 12, 2005

Is Hariri using the investigation to get what he wants?

My suspicions started when Hariri Jr. was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on the 24th of July. The following is the portion of the interview that caught my attention:

BLITZER: I interviewed the president of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, on June 26th, and he flatly denied any involvement, and he also insists that Syria was not involved. Listen to what he told me.


BLITZER: Do you trust President Emile Lahoud?

HARIRI: I think all the circumstances, Wolf, now are different. You know, after the Cedar Revolution we had in Lebanon, after all the circumstances that happened, after the assassination of my father, you had the revolution, you had demonstrations, we had the free elections in Lebanon -- I think everyone is different now.

I don't want to talk about if I trust him or I don't trust him. I believe that now, if there is -- now as you see, there is a new government. I think we will be judging people on the way they confront this government and they work with it.

I think Lebanon has a new chance, and everybody has a new chance. But I believe -- I hope that the president works with this government in a way that is good for Lebanon

Two days later, Tony at Across the Bay posted an entry he titled Consolidation and Scapegoating. Tony posted the following:

You've already heard about the leaks about Mustapha Hamdan (head of the presidential guard) and his interrogation by the UN investigative team. Hamdan is likely to be assassinated soon, and he's being dangled as a threat to Bashar, telling him that this can go higher.

As if on cue, Ghazi Kanaan is now said to be leaving the Ministry of the Interior....
Tony also reported that both Farouq al Shara' and the head of Bashar's personal guard were on their way to getting booted (I'm not sure whether those developments have taken place yet).

Today, I hear that Chief UN Inspector Mehlis "wants a short extension to conclude the investigation." I really have my doubts about that assertion, and I have a suspicion that it was Seniora who asked for more time in that three-hour meeting he had with Mehlis yesterday.

If what I am assuming is really the case, then I think that it is politically shrewd on behalf of the Hariri family. I can't help but recall movie scenes where a clique seeking revenge get their target and debate whether to kill him or take the less satisfying (but ultimately smarter) route and keep him alive for future negotiations.

There is no doubt about it: as long as the UN investigating team is in Beirut, the Hariris are the most powerful people in the country by far. They practically have the capacity to throw all those people who are implicated into a jail in the Hague. Now if you were in their shoes, would you throw them in the Hague or keep them and have them beholden to you?

What are the issues that the Hariris are fighting for? Well... anything, everything.... However three things stick out:

1. I think they want to destroy the "tradition" Lahoud was trying to make with regards to the Presidents attendance of the weekly Ministerial meetings, or at least mitigate it.

2. I am quite sure that the request Mehlis made for postponement and the sudden ressurgence of the former head of Surete General was no coincidence.

3. Negotiations with Syria on a new relationship between the two countries

Again, so long as the investigating team is in Beirut, the Hariris are as close to cloud number 9 as they're gonna get. I think they're enjoying it too much though and really compromising their principles to get what they want. The investigation has got to come to an end some time though; and when it does, we'll probably witness another volatile period in the Lebanese political landscape as a new balance of power sets in. Some poor mid-ranking son of a bitch is gonna get the blame for the murder just because he followed orders. If not then I guess we can be sure that the Hariris weren't successful in getting what they wanted.


Anonymous said...

Unlike you, my suspicions about the Hariris are much older than CNN's interview.

I agree with you that The Hariri Dynasty wants to streach out the UN investigation, for possibly two reasons:
1. The investigation is inconclusive and/or it is pointing in an embarassing direction.
2. They want to as you say use it as political capital.

Surely, you can find better people to quote than the pro-zionist Tony Badran who just regurgitates Israeli propaganda and analysis .

Farouk Sharaa and Kanaan are on the way out because the Americans and Bashar are cutting a deal on Iraq and not for the reasons that Tony dreams for.

The Hariris are running a polical brokerage and are using the Mehlis investigation and rumors for political and monetary gain.

Finally,I want to compliment you on your blog and your choice of topics and insighful analysis.


Anton Efendi said...

As with everything coming out from Syrian, you have to wait and see, as it may all turn out to be wrong. The Ghazi Kanaan material may have been leaked out by his detractors. People have been talking about Sharaa's mistakes and sacking him for a while, but he's there and Assad's trip to Iran fits his (Sharaa's) type of thinking. So I'm not sure. I reacted to a story posted by Josh, who by the way discusses Kanaan and the Ministry of Interior in Syria in his most recent post.

I believe a lot of it has to do with the consolidation, as I made clear in my entry. The scapegoating is likely secondary. It's all linked to Asef Shawkat and Bashar's limiting all power in his family circle. Talk about sectarianism. This goes beyond that (again, see Josh's post).

So we'll have to wait and see if indeed any of those rumours are true. The ones about Bahjat Sleiman and Khaddam are true however. Some have speculated that the Hawi assassination is linked to that (Khaddam), but I'm leaning towards the other theory (response to Jumblat's attempt at reopening channels). The key omission was any talk about Rustum.

As for Mehlis, it's a possibility that he's not the one who asked for the extension, as they've been issuing statements to the contrary all along, that they've done progress and they don't need more time. I think they have what they're going to get, and no matter what Syria is going to look bad. This is where the Rustum business comes in. Is he going to be the Syrian scapegoat? Is that why he's held? I.e., so that Bashar can turn and say, as he did to Abdullah, "it was an independent decision by rogue elements"? Or is Rustum, as some have told me in Lebanon, simply well connected in Syria? Either way, even if Bashar tries, as I speculated, to blame the whole thing on Rustum and claim ignorance, it will be a tough sell for anyone, and Syria will look bad anyway.

It could be that the Hariris are using the spectre of the UN investigation as a whip against Lahoud. If that is the case, then no one can fault Aoun anymore for doing the same with people like Murr, Frangieh, or even Lahoud. But there's a pressing need to revamp the security systems, and that's something the Hariris have not done, period. Here Aoun's criticism of Sabaa is on target. Of course, one of the problems in this regard is the Hizbullah ties to many of these guys in the military intelligence and the Amn el-Aam, etc. Frankly, the Hariris have been playing ultra-soft with Hizbullah, and I think it's because of 1) their weapons, and 2) the obvious Shiite-Sunni civil war going on, that could be explosive in Lebanon.

Finally, with regard to our "knowledgeable" friend Issam, next time he tries his luck at slander, he should produce evidence. Obviously, he can't, because his rant is nothing more than pure cliched bullshit.

But I love the ultra-cliched, typical "insight" of "the Americans are cutting a behind the scenes deal with the Syrians on Iraq that will somehow screw the Lebanese." I LOVE that line no matter how many million times I hear it (and I've heard it since rumors began about 1559!).

How incredibly original and knowledgeable from Issam. And how incredibly perceptive and informed. You could tell he's reading the news!! Hilarious.

But never mind, Issam. We're just "pro-zionists, regurgitating Israeli propaganda." Classis.

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

The extension of the inquiry may be a political move to blackmail Syria, but it may also be true that Mehlis needs more time, we can't tell right now as no info on the the Mehlis-Siniora meeting was made public.

Anyway even if the investigation was used as a political weapon against Syria, it's only a short-term tool because the investigation may extended for a couple of months but it won't drag for years.

It's not certain that Hariri will 'bargain' the investigation against political advantage for him or Lebanon. No player is purely rational and there's a lot of emotion involved, it is his father after all.

Concerning Kanaan and Chareh, there's contradictory information, see Joshua Landis

Anton Efendi said...

it may also be true that Mehlis needs more time

Exactly. I think that is simply the case.

Khaled said...

Dear Doha,
you have concluded the following:

1. I think they want to destroy the "tradition" Lahoud was trying to make with regards to the Presidents attendance of the weekly Ministerial meetings, or at least mitigate it.

Do you believe that the tradition of Lahoud was a great one?
We all know how he robbed the country, he is known as mr 20% as he wants 20% on any project.. not to mention many other issues like the Cellular, casino and many other scandals

2. I am quite sure that the request Mehlis made for postponement and the sudden ressurgence of the former head of Surete General was no coincidence.

Melihis is not an employee at Hariri.. he simply needs more time, he did not question Ghazale and others yet..

3. Negotiations with Syria on a new relationship between the two countries
Is that wrong?
or shall we always be followers to Syria and not treated as a country

khaled said...

PS: Chareaa did present his resignation but was refused by Bashar.

Anonymous said...

Johnny Abdo said:The results of the investigation will be a bigger chock than the
murder of Hariri.
Could it be that a Lebanese political party was involved in the implementation
of the plot.
This was published by the Koweiti Al Siyassa few days after Feb 14.
On Feb 15 pointed the finger to Hezbollah who supplied the explosives.
Mehlis said he got good intel from the Israelis....
Just speculations sofar.
But suppose it is true?
Do you and Saad Hariri still want the truth?

khaled said...

We all want the truth, as the truth has to be known.. whoever assassinated martyr Hariri must face the consequences

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...


If you add up all the Mr. 20% that we have in Lebanon, the total amounts to at least 120%

khaled said...

True so True vox,
But I am optimistic and I hope that they all will do as they promised...
Clarity as well as no more 20% or other than 20%..

Anonymous said...

My Dear Tony,

The evidence for my accusations is all contained in your blog.

You are a foul and arrogant quisling, trying to further your academic career by being a mouth-piece for the Zionists. You are the darling "Uncle Tom" of Martin Kramer,Daniel Pipes and other Zionists.

BTW,The history of the Americans and the Syrian regime , since the beginning of Assad's presidency, has been one of security cooperation in Lebanon , Jordan and Kuwait - Iraq will not be any different.

One thing is certain, regime change is not on the horizon.


Anton Efendi said...

You think that your use of words like "quisling" or "uncle tom" makes an argument, and herein lies your stupidity.

I repeat, I challenge you to provide a single shred of evidence. Until then you remain a cliched idiot with nothing but cheap talk.

Anton Efendi said...

Oh, and it shows you know absolutely nothing about ME studies in the US if you think that anyone "working for Daniel Pipes" furthers his career in ME studies!!

Cliched AND ignorant.

Anton Efendi said...

Needless to say your reading of Bashar-US relations is hilarious, and the issue of regime change is totally unrelated. You're just making incoherent statements and mistaking that for an argument.