Monday, January 31, 2011

Imperialist Intervention in Hariri Case Causes Crisis in Lebanon

Imperialist intervention in Hariri case causes crisis in Lebanon

By John Catalinotto
Published Jan 30, 2011 10:07 PM

As of Jan. 24, the Lebanese Parliament is holding discussions to form a new government. A year-old “unity government” containing all political factions fell on Jan. 12, when Hezbollah pulled its people out of cabinet posts.

Hezbollah is both a popular political organization representing the Shiite Muslim community — about 40 percent of the Lebanese — and is the best-organized national liberation organization defending the people of Lebanon against imperialist and Israeli attack.

The current political crisis broke out after an international body called the Special Tribunal on Lebanon leaked reports that it would indict Hezbollah members for the 2005 assassination of Rafiik Hariri, a former prime minister and the richest person in Lebanon. Hariri was killed by a truck bomb, his attackers unknown.

It would be an error, however, to believe that the STL is an objective investigative body. Like many of the other special tribunals — on Yugoslavia or Rwanda, for example — it is a tool the imperialist powers use to intervene under cover of the “international community.” In the Hariri case, the U.S. and Israeli governments for years have attempted to use the STL to deprive Lebanon of its sovereignty.

Concerning motive, the U.S. and Israel had most to gain from assassinating Hariri in 2005, since that opened an internal struggle within Lebanon. Hezbollah has not only denied it killed Hariri, its Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah says it has video evidence that Israeli planes observed Hariri’s auto route the day he was killed, evidence the STL refuses to look at.

Thus, the STL’s task is not to seriously investigate Hariri’s murder, but to use the event as a political weapon. In turn, this article will examine its political consequences.

First the Syrian government, which had troops stationed in Lebanon in 2005, was accused of the killing. Israel and the U.S. wanted Syria’s troops out. The Lebanese right wing was able to mobilize protest demonstrations that forced the Syrians to leave.

In July of 2006 — with all the Syrian troops gone — the Israeli military invaded Lebanon. The only effective resistance came from popular organizations, mainly Hezbollah with the assistance of units from the Communist Party of Lebanon, the Amal organization and some others. Israel did enormous human and property damage, but the resistance was able to punish and in effect drive out the Israelis.

Hezbollah also carried out much of the rebuilding that took place and delivered most of the social services to the communities hurt by Israeli aggression. Even the corporate media recognize and report Hezbollah’s popular role, doing so as they also report that the U.S. government has classified the group as “terrorist.” What this really means is that Hezbollah is an effective anti-imperialist organization. So too was Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress in South Africa, which Washington also called “terrorist.”

Rafiik Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, was prime minister in the year-old unity government that collapsed on Jan. 12. Last September Hariri admitted that the charges against Syria were political: “At a certain stage we made mistakes and accused Syria of assassinating the martyred premier. This was a political accusation, and this political accusation has finished.” (Reuters, Sept. 6)

Based on testimony to the STL that later on was shown to be false, four Lebanese generals in the security apparatus were sentenced to prison for their alleged role in the assassination. Progressive forces, including Hezbollah, demand that the lying witnesses be tried.

Still dealing with the political nature of the charges, Saad Hariri was participating in negotiations along with Syria and Saudi Arabia to try to resolve the question of the STL and the assassination charges. While visiting in Washington, he suddenly broke off these talks — which were reported to be on the verge of coordinating a political compromise that would limit the interference of the STL in Lebanese politics.

In a Jan. 16 public speech, Nasrallah said the following to explain his party’s loss of confidence in Hariri’s role: “Either Hariri and his team did not want to proceed with the deal but had to under Saudi pressure, and eventually went to the [U.S.] Americans and others to pressure the Saudis to stop the effort, or they were supporting the king but the American will was against it.” (Al Manar, Jan. 16)

The Communist Party of Lebanon, in a Jan. 18 statement, warned of the U.S. and Israeli attempt to use the STL to incite a battle between the different communities in Lebanon with the goal of ending the Lebanese people’s resistance, of preventing a spread of this resistance in the Arab world and of using religious differences to facilitate NATO and the Pentagon’s intervention in Lebanon and Sudan.

Although it is the strongest single organized force in Lebanon, Hezbollah has up to now made no attempt to seize control of the government, believing it can better avoid isolation and a civil war that might allow Israeli and U.S. intervention. Regarding the parliamentary struggle, Hezbollah has nominated a compromise figure for prime minister to replace Saad Hariri. There is no guarantee, however, that this will provide more than a short-term solution, given the continued interference by the U.S. and Israel.
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