3 December 2010

In 2005, the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated. Suspicion fell, rightly or wrongly, on the Syrian state forces in Lebanon. The same forces that both Israel and the US gave a green light to when they entered Lebanon in May 1976 on the side of the Christian President Franjiyeh and the Lebanese Front, led by the right-wing and semi-fascist Phalange against the forces of the secularist Lebanese National Movement led by Kamal Jumblatt of the Druze, the Palestinians and Shi’ites.

The consequence of Hariri’s assassination was that the Syrian state was forced to remove its troops from Lebanon. The next part of the plot however didn’t go to plan. When Israel attacked Lebanon in the summer of 2006 it was forced to retreat ignominiously as rockets fell on Haifa and Israel’s army suffered a mauling at the hands of Hizbollah.

The United States, which has, unsurprisingly, refused to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over US war criminals, was in the forefront of establishing a tribunal whose aim, as it made perfectly clear from the beginning, was to find ‘evidence’ that would indict the Syrian leadership. The reasons for this are not hard to find. Syria, one of the few remaining secular states in the Middle East, is seen as a block on US ambitions in the region. It is too independent. It may have a nasty government, like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, but the problem is not its viciousness but its failure to adopt a suitably servile posture like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

What we are therefore seeing is a rerun of the Lockerbie trials. Those with a memory that goes back further in time than the BBC’s normal attention span, unless it is 9/11, in which case it lasts forever, may recall that originally the pro-Syrian Popular Front – General Command was blamed for the blowing up of Pan Am 101. But when Col. Ghadaffi became enemy number one, then it was essential to switch the target from the PFLP-GC to Libya. Suitable evidence from a Maltese shopkeeper was then fabricated and pliant Scottish judges were willing to convict an innocent man.

Likewise today there is an attempt to switch targets or focus on Hizbollah’s alleged involvement in the assassination. Evidence consisting primarily of mobile phone records is clearly and obviously suspect and open to manipulation and is, in any event, second hand and circumstantial. But if Hizbollah represents, as it does in American eyes, a threat to Pax Americana and its Israeli surrogate, then it is necessary that the blame for the assassination be focused on Nasrallah, Hizbollah’s leader. The hypocrisy of all this is only too obvious.

If there is any state and its leaders who should be in the dock of what is laughingly called the ‘international community’ it is the United States for genocide in Iraq, for the use of torture and deliberately encouraging its use, for the war in Afghanistan and its promotion of Political Islam (which would be the beneficiary of any destabilisation in Syria which was not led by the left). Bush and Blair would long ago have been hanged together with Saddam Hussein if international justice were really value free and neutral.

As it is what we are seeing is an attempt to eliminate or provide the pretext for elimination of Hizbollah as the precondition for an attack on Iran. The article below, from the excellent Middle East Research Project, is well worth reading for what the US and its allies are up to in Lebanon. Tony Greenstein

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