6.16.2007

Post-Tribunal Lebanon and Middle East Totalitarian Axis

Another Anti-Syrian Parliamentarian Assassinated

Naharnet
13 Jun 07

Al-Moustaqbal Movement Parliamentary Deputy Walid Edo, an outspoken critic of Syria, was assassinated by a powerful car bomb blast that also killed his elder son, Khaled, and four other people in Beirut's seaside Manara district Wednesday.

A Ranking police officer said the booby-trapped car, parked between the Long Beach and Sporting Club swimming facilities, was detonated as Edo and his son left the beach.

"Their bodies were hurled by the powerful blast and found about 20 meters from the explosion site," said the source, who asked not to be identified.

Edo's two body guards and two civilian pedestrians also were killed in the powerful explosion that wounded 10 other people in the district usually crowded by beach fans.

Tongues of flame shot up in the sky from the gutted remains of the booby-trapped car as fire fighters fought the blaze to prevent it from spreading to other vehicles parked in the crowded and plush district.

Ambulances, their sirens wailing, raced to evacuate victims, some of them in swimming suits stained with blood.

Army and police patrols set up checkpoints across Beirut and around the capital in an apparent search for culprits in the crime.

Security officials believe the bomb was detonated by remote control and "they are looking for culprits," the source said.

Edo's assassination is the second targeting a member of the legislature since the Nov. 21, 2006 assassination by unidentified assailants of MP Pierre Gemayel, another member of the anti-Syrian March 14 majority alliance.

That brought down to 126 the number of MP's serving in Lebanon's 128-seat unicameral house which is to elect a new head of state succeeding Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud whose extended term expires on Nov. 22.

No successor for Gemayel has been elected because Lahoud rejects approving bills adopted by Premier Fouad Saniora's majority government.

The March 14 majority alliance has blamed the Gemayel assassination on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Syria has denied the charge.

The alliance says Syrian intelligence agents are out to assassinate majority MPs to prevent the bloc from electing an anti-Syrian president succeeding lahoud.

Lahoud's term was extended for three years in Sept. 2004 by a Syrian-orchestrated constitutional amendment.

The Majority blames Syria for a series of assassinations targeting Lebanese politicians, beginning with the powerful blast that killed ex-Premier Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14, 2005.

Also killed were MP Jibran Tueni, MP Bassel Fleihan, Journalist Samir Qassir and Commnist Party leader George Hawi.

Communications Minister Marwan Hamaden and Defense Minister Elias Murr escaped assassination with major wounds as did Television journalist May Chidiaq.

Syria denies involvement in the crimes which are being investigated by a U.N. team that would refer its findings to an international tribunal set up by the U.N. Security Council.

Syria rejects cooperation with the tribunal.

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Damascus and Tehran's Wager on a Bargain Policy with Washington

Raghida Dergham

Al-Hayat
15/06/07

Some Middle Eastern regimes are betting on what can be described as great bargains. Part of their strategies is to prepare to conclude deals in order to avoid trials and investigations resulting from their violations of international resolutions and laws. Another part focuses on terrorism as a fundamental pillar of their strategies, as these regimes resort to political assassinations and pay mercenaries to destabilize more than one spot in the region. Another part consists of triggering wars to reach deals that guarantee that these regimes remain in power. A well-studied escalation is fundamental in all three cases; therefore, expectations are increasing of a hot summer in more than a country. The allies in the axis of escalation are pretending to be very much confident and are claiming they can play their cards firmly, calmly and resolutely. The truth is, however, that they are having these adventures with worn-out nerves and that their escalation will have a boomerang effect on them, as it will tie the rope of isolation around their necks. The fire raging among the Palestinians could lead to a meaningless 'victory' for the regimes feeding sedition and for Hamas, which has staged a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority. In fact, winning the military battles in Gaza will kill its political future in the West Bank. In addition, the strategy of using the Palestinian elements in Lebanon is a great stab in the back of the Palestinians themselves, as both these elements and the people are the biggest losers.

The Palestinian militants serving as mercenaries for regimes and using the Palestinian Cause in a scandalous blackmail will pay a heavy price. Therefore - and unfortunately - the Palestinian people will incur one more time the costs of their desperate factions' adventures. This time Lebanon will not be the only ransom of this alliance of escalation because this alliance is simultaneously operating in Palestine and Iraq. Then, the winds of surprises could blow in a way that the ships of bargaining and bartering may not wish to face.

Everyone is closely observing the other and keeping hidden cards that may have a value and be used as mere instruments of dodging. There are now separated railroads for trains that have left the station and can no longer be controlled. Hence, there is increasing talk about potential rifts in the axes of the regimes and militias in Iran, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. Also, increasingly people are saying "enough is enough" referring to how the axis of escalation is making too many miscalculations and having too many adventures.

Resuming political assassinations in Lebanon and targeting MP Walid Eido are part of a strategy aimed at liquidating the parliamentary majority by murdering one MP after another. President Emile Lahoud believes he is holding the keys of power by refusing to approve a decree calling for by-elections. Meanwhile, by preventing the election of new MPs to replace those assassinated, he is making a big mistake and is digging more and more the abyss into which he will fall. The trial is on the way, and all those contributing to the murders of Lebanese youths and leaders will be tried, no matter how high up and powerful they are.

The international tribunal was set up by a Security Council resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. This resulted from the losing bet of those who thought they had killed the tribunal simply by barring a Parliament meeting that should have concluded the treaty for the establishment of the tribunal, which has been signed by the UN and the Lebanese government and ratified by the Security Council. By-elections will be held in El-Metn and Beirut to elect two MPs to replace Pierre Gemayel and Walid Eido, killed by a despotic force thirsty for power. This will take place regardless of Lahoud and his allies's thinking that their perfect way of swimming would save them from drowning in the sea where they bypass legitimacy and ignore patriotism.

The efforts aimed at disrupting the presidential elections and making Lebanon slip into a constitutional vacuum will not remain unaccounted for. The Security Council is now directly responsible for investigating into the attempts of undermining its resolutions. Among these resolutions is the one No. 1559, which demanded that presidential elections be held according to the constitution and without any foreign interference and influence.

Practically speaking, failing to implement that article of Resolution 1559 makes Emile Lahoud an illegitimate president. As for intentionally hampering the electoral process, this is another effort that will be taken into account when his file is discussed in more than a place and more than an accusation are leveled at him. If the Lebanese president can read history properly and learn the lessons, he must think about those in the Arab region who ultimately made miscalculations. He must carefully examine the international tribunal prerogatives to try those suspected of being involved in the political assassinations in Lebanon, in particular of former PM Rafik Hariri and his companions and, finally, MP Walid Eido, his son and the other innocent victims accompanying them. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Nicholas Michel, made it clear that the subordinate is not the only responsible for terrorist murders, but that those in charge will be tried, as well, on crimes against humanity if the investigation establishes a premeditated pattern in linking a number of terrorist assassinations. The chief/ subordinate aspect, which is strongly opposed by Damascus and its allies in Lebanon, does not apply on one single subordinate and one single national president. This is the rhetoric of law, which is above individuals and posts, hence the panic and its upshot.

Panic has a local dimension inside Lebanon as well as an international one. As the battle in Lebanon has become clear to everyone under all its aspects, Hezbollah and parties of the like have to choose to whom they really belong and are loyal. This is the Lebanese army's battle against Palestinian and Arab and Islamic multi-national militias. If Hezbollah loves, belongs to and thinks like them, it will maintain its positions and all Lebanese will know the nature of this party as well as who it serves and is loyal to. On the contrary, it may take the strategic decision to be a Lebanese party serving its grass-root Lebanese basis and eager to protect the country's stability and prevent Lebanon from falling into the clutches of the terrorism that is being exported to it. If it did so, today this party's leadership would have a rare chance to surprise the Lebanese people. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has the opportunity to take the initiative, put the Lebanese army in the frontline of his considerations, express Hezbollah's readiness to voluntarily disarm in compliance with Resolution 1559, and join the army to protect Lebanon.

The Lebanese government has, for the first time, submitted reports of the Lebanese army to the UN. They prove with figures and dates Syria's involvement in the military reinforcements received by the terrorist Fatah al-Islam, which is fighting the Lebanese army and using Palestinian refugee camps for its military operations against the state hosting the refugees. These reports drew a horrific picture of the movement of weapons and armed elements and the re-armament of Palestinian and non-Palestinian militias inside Lebanon across Syrian-Lebanese borders.

Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN envoy tasked with following up on the implementation of Resolution 1559 had submitted the report to Security Council members during a closed-door session before the Lebanese government requested that the report be circulated as an official UN document.

In his report, Larsen unveiled information showing that arms, equipment, and armed personnel have been crossing through the Syrian-Lebanese borders "in violation of UN Resolutions 1559 and 1701," where the first resolution calls for the dismantling and disarming of the Lebanese and the non-Lebanese militias, "while the opposite is now taking place by the re-arming of the militias.", while Resolution 1701 imposed an arms embargo on Lebanon under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Nevertheless, arms continue to flow across the Syrian borders "in violation" of the binding resolution.

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon seems unable to fully comprehend the significance of the Lebanese government's decision to submit the army's report to the UN, settling instead for his trademark statements, which he tends to repeat whenever there is a crisis, namely "I am concerned," and "My concerns are growing,", or "I am deeply concerned."

Instead, Ban Ki-Moon should have acted decisively and responsibly upon receiving the Lebanese government's report, which came only 30 hours before the assassination of MP Walid Eido, especially since he has been receiving a deluge of information tying the escalation in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp and the onslaught of mercenary militia in Lebanon to the UN Security Council's decision to establish the international tribunal.

Ban Ki-Moon claims that he has received assurances and confirmations from the Syrian leadership during his visit to Damascus more than two months ago. However, these pledges continue to be under consideration and remain unimplemented till this day.

Therefore, the least that the UN secretary general should do inline of his political and moral obligations toward a nation being ravaged by assassinations and mercenary militias is to immediately demand the Syrian government's implementation of the international resolutions calling on it to put an end to the smuggling of arms, the arming of the militia, its evasion of the demarcation of the boarders, and to immediately accept the international surveillance of the lawless borders.

Instead of the language of drifting diplomacy along the lines of "All region's leaders must respect Resolution 1701," Ban Ki-Moon should resort to serious and earnest diplomacy and firmly approach Syria's President Bashar Assad, and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and demand the immediate fulfillment of their pledges to him, declaring that he will not accept anything short of respect of the resolutions while at the same time candidly warning them of the consequences of failing to abide by these resolutions on their relationship with him in his capacity and the UN Secretary General.

It is unacceptable for the UN secretary general to continue with his silence especially that his envoy has submitted a report, warning of an imminent danger and detailing gross violations and breaches of resolutions, which Ban Ki-Moon is in charge of protecting and upholding today.

What adds salt to the injury is the fact that the spokesman of Ban Ki-Moon's office remained silent, giving no reaction for four full hours after the assassination of Walid Eido, which is an indication of either ignorance of the impact of delaying the reaction of the UN secretary general or of an unjustified excessive caution that has been dominating the mentalities of Ban Ki-Moon and his aides.

The danger of this attitude is that assassinations are coming back and Lebanon is being ravaged, while Ban Ki-Moon continues to over occupy himself with caution and with waiting for replies to his drifting diplomacy and its indecisive, far fetched demands.
Therefore, should the new secretary general fail to reconsider his position, he will be vulnerable to criticism and the questioning of his ethical and political leadership.

However, he still has opportunities other than those at the hands of the UN Security Council, especially since he is the author of the reports that will be submitted this month to the Security Council's mission to evaluate the surveillance of the Syrian-Lebanese borders and to verify the degree of commitment to Resolution 1701, which banns the flow of arms to anyone inside Lebanon apart from the Legitimate government.

Ban Ki-Moon also faces the responsibility of accelerating the transformation of the establishment of the international tribunal from a mere resolution to a reality, and to cut the timeline envisaged by the UN legal department for achieving this objective from the proposed year as this will lead to the saving of lives and to slightly immunize Lebanon against an escalation looming through external and internal wills, either in the form of more assassinations or the consolidation of the militia structures.

Ban Ki-Moon is fully capable of giving priority to finding a location for the international tribunal as soon as possible. The financial aspects of such a move don't appear to be the problem even though it is of great importance to the Secretariat General of the UN, also the appointment of the judges and the prosecution panel should not take months.

Should the court's location be settled on, then this period must be cut by half given the fact that funding does not pose a problem, and that Serge Brammertz, the head of the independent panel investigating the assassinations, had agreed to remain in his post until the end of the year; a time interval that could realistically be used to complete the arrangements for setting up the court.

In the meantime, the people of Lebanon should not pin hopes on the miracle of enacting the court within a month or even six months because the task is complicated and because the international tribunal is not a ready key but rather needs many arrangements. The tribunal is also not the only deterrent for the terrified against their pathetic escalatory adventures.

The Arab League Council is another key podium to shed light on what is being done to Lebanon, and who is behind it. Therefore, filing officially documented complaints with the Arab League Council is critically important as these complains and reports, will be used to indict those behind the escalation in Lebanon, whether external, neighboring, or internal forces including the Palestinian militia and the mercenaries and those funding or arming them in violation of the international resolutions.

These violations will lead to punitive measures and a political and economic isolation through new resolutions targeting Syria and Iran, who were demanded by resolutions under Chapter Seven of the UN charter to stop middling in Lebanon and using it as a battlefield for a proxy war serving the objectives of their regimes.

Damascus and Tehran might be tempted to believe that Washington's need for them in Iraq would force it to turn a blind eye on their violations in Palestinian and Lebanon as they back Hamas's onslaught against the Palestinian Authority.

They are, however, taking a great risk, not only because they misinterpret and underestimate Gorge Bush's resolve when it comes to Lebanon and his waning patience with them as they toss Lebanon back and froth like a ball while his secretary of state begs for their sincere cooperation in Iraq, but they are taking a risk because the Palestinian Authority holds in its hands the trump card of withdrawing from the national unity government and divorcing Hamas by offering it a chance for victory in Gaza, since it has a choice of taking a defeat and abandoning Gaza to Hamas while it focuses its efforts exclusively on the West Bank.

Should the Syrian and the Iranian regimes, be contemplating to once again resort to proxy wars in Lebanon and Palestine without paying the price and without being held accountable, then they are mistaken as they, along with their allies have become entangled in issues that go beyond politics and into the domain of law and the international tribunal, which permanently closes the doors before bargaining and tradeoffs.

For their demand of the US to provide guarantees for their survival in return for abandoning their partners or even abandoning each other is subject to the degree and extent of these regimes' involvement in terrorist assassinations, both in the past and those to come, as blackmail, too, enters the domain of surveillance and prosecution.

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- The International Tribunal for Lebanon

- Special Tribunal for Lebanon Comes Into Force

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Some related articles by Nassim Yaziji:

- The Struggle for the New Middle East

- Lebanon's Independence and Democracy

- Totalitarianism, Violence and Terror


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Nassim Yaziji's Neo-Internationalism

Nassim Yaziji's Articles

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