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Hariri didn’t blink

Prime Minister Saad Hariri has had a rough time of it recently. Not only has he had to cope with the veiled threats of an opposition hell bent on bringing down his government and pushing Lebanon in a cozier corner of the Iranian-Syrian fold, he has had to face harsh criticism from his own supporters, many of whom have been disillusioned by his seemingly comfy relations with Damascus, his apparent absolution of the Syrian regime in his father’s murder and his apparent lack of focus in the day-to-day running of national affairs.
 
But cometh the hour, cometh the man, and at Wednesday night’s cabinet meeting at which the matter of the so-called false witnesses was debated, Hariri didn’t blink. He said ‘no’ to a vote on the subject because he knew that transferring the issue of the false witnesses to the Judicial Council would be the thin end of a very big wedge by conceding that the investigative process of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) was potentially flawed. In not doing so, he sent a very clear signal that the government, or at least part of it, was foursquare behind the tribunal. In short, he did what he had to do.
 
In such a climate of rumor, conspiracy, accusation and the manipulation of the facts, it was essential Hariri adopt a global, statesmanlike vision on the matter. Otherwise, we might get pulled into a madcap scenario such as that suggested by Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, who, immediately following the cabinet meeting, declared that the opposition wanted to know “who induced the false witnesses and financed them, and then we will know who is behind the assassination of Former PM [Rafik] Hariri.”
 
Does Aoun really think it’s that easy? Does he honestly believe that by simply referring those who have been questioned by the UN investigators and whose testimonies may or may not have been taken into consideration – for we still don’t know – to the Judicial Council, that the Lebanese judiciary will be able to uncover in a matter of weeks a process that the UN has spend over five years attempting to unravel?
 
Aoun’s rhetoric beggars all belief. In the same statement, he said that “the opposition’s reaction until now has been political, but the premier has hostile intentions.” As usual, one can only speculate what Aoun really means, but the key words in this sentence are “political” and “hostile.” Surely when it comes to the STL, the hallmarks of the opposition tactics have been the cynical maneuverings to discredit and ultimately destroy the STL, and the continuous threats to bring down the government and/or stage another attack, armed or otherwise, on the offices of state, such as we saw in November 2006 and May 2008. 
 
And yet now Aoun claims that because PM Saad Hariri did not bend to the will of the opposition, that he didn’t “do a Jumblatt,” that within his premiership there still remains some vestiges of the March 14 ideology that since 2005 has won him two parliamentary elections (and two votes of confidence by the majority of the Lebanese people), that he still believes bringing to justice those who in the space of three years picked off seven politicians, one political activist and two security figures, not to mention dozens of innocent civilians, that Hariri is being “hostile.” Three other words, “pot,” “kettle” and “black,” also spring to mind.
 
But it does not end there. We have Hezbollah’s statement: “We denounce... attempts to halt the process of uncovering who was behind these witnesses, who were fabricated to destabilize Lebanon and harm Lebanon's relations with Syria.” Fabrication is something Hezbollah knows a lot about, given the laughable “evidence” it presented to the Lebanese people in its bid to implicate Israel in the Rafik Hariri killing.
 
The truth of the matter is that we know nothing of the judicial process. Those who truly have Lebanon’s interests at heart must allow the STL to do its job and go about seeking justice for all Lebanese. Hariri knows this, and at yesterday’s meeting, his unflinching leadership is keeping the quest for justice on track.

  • XYZ

    Harriri MUST NOT blink first, as such action will let the majority of Lebanese down and the future of a safe & prosperous Lebanon for all to share & enjoy...Hizbo must & should allow the STL to conclude its investigation & face,with their holly & divine powers and their 5year old 'evidence' the indictment & prove that they are innocent....

    November 12, 2010

  • X Aoun Supporter

    Why don't they drag the first witness to the gallows, the proof is before us all and was witnessed by millions across the world. General sorry he is not worth of such a title, Mr Aoun shouting down a news program from his hiding spot on France minutes after the Harri bombing blatantly convicting Syrians and Hizaballah of the crime. Way to go!!!! has he really got any credibility left?????? Posted by an X Aoun supporter who has since seen the light.

    November 11, 2010

  • M.C.

    Congratulations Mr. Ramzi Haidar on an article well written. Rarely do we read facts from the media. The opposition is simply sowing the seeds of the false witness to fabricate a story linking Lebanese figures, first and foremost, Saad Harriri, as those who financed false witnesses to accuse Syria and Hizzbullah. Today, in his speech, Nassrallah referred to this by saying March 14 are afraid to find out who financed the witnesses because of the scandal it brings onto them. The fact is, the so called false witnesses were dispatched by Syria right away for the sole purpose to taint the investigation and their trick failed when the investigators did not buy their testimony. March 8th wants us to believe that it is Marwan Hamadi who is a false witness. The truth will come out, and those who are willing to hear will find out on what evidence it would be based, did we forget the STL has the best forensic science known to modern man.

    November 11, 2010

  • Hassan

    March 14 have been racking up the strategic blunders since that glorious day. A good chunk of those mistakes were under Walid Jumblat counsel. Maybe now that's he's gone they can take back the initiative.

    November 11, 2010

  • CEDAR REVOLUTION / GEBRAN SONS

    Thanks you prime minister Hariri for standing tall against the planned coup d’état on our democracy and freedom. Lebanon will never be peaceful or independent until the Lebanese Basij are disarmed and all useful idiots brought to trials. A glorious day will soon come when Cedar Revolution II will be victorious in Lebanon, Green Revolution II in Iran, Lebanese Shiaa liberated from the grip of Hizbolastan, and all useful idiots working against Lebanon's sovereignty will be brought to a televised public trial for all to see and understand the depth of their crimes against Lebanon’s democracy, independence, freedom, economy, dignity and civility. Those who think they can negotiate and talk sense to Hizbollah and its useful idiots are just dreamers!

    November 11, 2010

  • pierre

    Time for Harriri to push back, offense is the best defense.

    November 11, 2010

  • formerly known

    "Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun declared that the opposition wanted to know who induced the false witnesses and financed them, and then we will know who is behind the assassination of Former PM Hariri".. The rest of the Lebanese want to know who induced the very first false witness, namely Michel Aoun, who on February 14 2005 said live on France 2 television "I am sure that Syria killed Hariri" and who financed him. Is it the same party that has been behind him and financing him since his return to renege on the his 2005 election promises as stated in his orange book and to renounce all his previous positions. Because whoever that is we know it's been trying to get away with murder.

    November 11, 2010