I suppose it was inevitable that the murder of Lebanon’s popular Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February 2005 would ultimately be blamed on Iran. I suspect also that if a way could have been found to blame Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the deed – despite the fact that he didn’t become President until August 2005 – then they would have done so. Instead, because Ahmadinejad wasn’t around at the time the finger of blame is being pointed at Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
According to an anonymous Newsmax source quoted in a Ha’aretz report on 15 January 2011, the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), set up to inquire into the murder, will soon release their preliminary findings and name the Supreme Leader as the person who authorised the killing which, according to the source, was carried out by Hezbollah under the auspices of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
For six years now, Iran barely got a mention in connection to the killing. Initially it was the Syrians that copped the blame; four Lebanese pro-Syrian security generals were arrested and spent some four years in custody before being released through lack of evidence. Hezbollah, on the other hand, points the finger of blame at a far more likely culprit; one that has well established form for such a crime: Israel’s Mossad.
The murder of Rafik Hariri led directly to the so-called ‘Cedar Revolution’ which ended up with the Syrians withdrawing from Lebanon after having had a military presence in the country since 1975. Syria, then, despite Hariri wanting Syria out of Lebanon, had nothing to gain from murdering Hariri. Not withstanding any evidence that the STL may have that conclusively proves otherwise, the circumstantial evidence would certainly suggest that there is at least a strong likelihood that Israel was behind the killing. Just the nature and method of the killing alone has all the hallmarks of an Israeli Mossad hit.
With Syria out of the equation, Hezbollah, so Israel thought, would be easier to deal to with by the Israelis when in July 2006 they bombarded and invaded Lebanon in the hope of finishing off Hezbollah and occupying south Lebanon up to the Litani River. They also hoped that Iran might also be drawn into the fight providing Israel and the US an excuse to attack Iran with a view to ‘regime change’. Iran didn’t bite and Hezbollah put up a fight that the Israelis didn’t expect as Hezbollah launched thousands of rockets against Israel.
Ever since the Second Lebanon War of 2006 the US and Israel have been steadily increasing their rhetoric and propaganda against Iran with a view to getting Western public opinion to support an eventual attack against Iran. Now, it seems, the demonisation of Iran continues, this time by accusing it of being responsible for the murder of Rafik Hariri. At the same time, Israel may now consider taking advantage of any internal strife in Lebanon by choosing yet again to launch an all-out attack against Hezbollah to defeat it once and for all and to occupy again, only on a more permanent basis, the south of Lebanon up to the Latani River. The casus belli for Israel to attack Lebanon would be to prevent Hezbollah taking full control of Lebanon.
One can only hope that cooler heads will prevail in Lebanon and that Hezbollah will realise what Israel’s ploy more than likely is.
Again, time will tell.