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.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).
As if on cue, Ghazi Kanaan is now said to be leaving the Ministry of the Interior....
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.