/ connecting the dots /
A year and a half ago, immediately after the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri, Ramzy Baroud, an Arab-American journalist and editor of the Palestine Chronicle, wrote an article about the assassination, not so much to answer the question of "who did it?" (although one would expect that these queries might be connected), but rather the question "who benefits?". Because quite a bit of what he wrote can be seen to day in a new light, I'll highlight a few passages:
...The tide is turning against Syria, and it is turning fast. Both Israel and the United States are up in arms to bring an end to Syria's hegemony over Lebanese affairs. But one must not be too hasty to believe that the American-Israeli action is motivated by their earnest concern for Lebanese sovereignty. Look a few miles to the east, to Iraq, and be assured that meaningful national sovereignty is the least of Washington's concerns at this point. Skip through the brief, albeit bloody, history between Israel and Lebanon, and you'll reach the same conclusion: Lebanon's sovereignty is nowhere to be found on Israel's list of things to do. In fact, Israel's violations of Lebanon's sovereignty continue unabated...
[Israel's] mission therefore, has always been to separate individual Arab countries from the pack, to pressure them, allure them, or beat them senseless (as in the cases of Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian leadership) until a peace deal on Israeli terms is finally reached.
But Syria and Lebanon have thus far maintained a different dynamic in their dealings with Israel.
To begin with, Lebanese resistance demonstrated that Israel would only honor international law if forced to do so. The partial Israeli implementation of UN resolution 425 and its forced withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 are evidence of that claim.
To Israel, that was a very dangerous and alarming precedent...
...The killing of Rafik al-Hariri will be exploited by those who want Israel to be the only regional power broker. Hariri's assassination is the kind of provocation that precedes a major military undertaking or political reshuffling. The latter is the most likely prospect for now, and the U.S. move to recall its ambassador from Syria "for urgent consultations," coupled with the organized anti-Syria campaign, will serve that goal.
One must have no illusions that Syria's presence in Lebanon is for the sake of Lebanon. Far from it. But Damascus is terrified at the possibility that its withdrawal from Lebanon could risk the loss of a strategic ally. Moreover, the return of instability to the tiny Arab republic adjacent to Syria will turn the tables in any future peace talks. Israel will hold all the cards.
The Lebanese people have the right to demand and expect full sovereignty. Yet it would be a tragedy if Lebanon found itself free from an Arab neighbor only to fall under the grip of an alien foe that has killed tens of thousands of Lebanese over the years.
It is a difficult position for Lebanon as well as Syria, which finds itself at the mercy of a hungry predator ready to make his final leap.
We might never know who is responsible for Hariri's death, but it will almost certainly cultivate political turmoil that benefits only Israel.
Also from the distant past:
- On Hezbollah's disarmament: Nadim Hasbani July 11 2006, Roger Shanahan, February 2006.
- On July Invasions of Lebanon: Noam Chomsky 2003: "Limited War" in Lebanon, this is eerily reminiscent of the recent events:
[remembered by Blogging the Middle East]
"On July 25, Israel launched what the press described as its "biggest military assault on Lebanon" since the 1982 invasion. The assault was provoked by guerrilla attacks on Israeli troops in southern Lebanon, killing seven Israeli soldiers. By the time a US-arranged cease fire took hold on July 31, about 125 Lebanese were reported killed, along with three Syrians and three Israelis, one a soldier in southern Lebanon, while about 500,000 people were driven from their homes according to reports from Lebanon..."
Finally, in the ultimate ironic event of the bombing raids, the Israelis bombed al-Khiam, the theater of many horrors inflicted on the Lebanese resistance during the Israeli occupation, and not only through Israel's proxies (SLA)...