Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

UN blames Hezbollah for Rafiq Hariri bomb murder

The buildings of Beirut's downtown are seen reflected on a portarit of the slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which is set on the street in preparation to the third anniversary of his assassination, in downtown of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2008. Pro-government and anti-Syrian factions are mobilizing their supporters for a massive rally to mark Thursday's third anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a show of force against the Syrian-backed opposition led by Hezbollah.

More than six years after ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri was blown up by a truck bomb on the Beirut Corniche along with 21 other Lebanese, a UN Special Tribunal has blamed four Hezbollah officials for the assassination and issued arrest warrants for the quartet.

The UN initially pointed the finger at Lebanese security officials – who were imprisoned and then released – then Syrian officials (whose identities they then tried to keep secret), and finally, yesterday, decided that Israel's principal enemy in Lebanon, the Hezbollah, was to blame.

Mustapha Badraddin, the head of the militia's military operations, topped the list – the Lebanese press had been telling us this for weeks – and thus produced immediate chaos within the new Lebanese government in which Hezbollah has a number of seats.

How can you rule a country when one of your principal cabinet blocs killed the father of the man who ran the previous government, ex-prime minister Saad Hariri? The new premier, Najib Mikati, a billionaire (many are, although this one was a wealthy man before he took over the government), immediately appeared on television to tell the Lebanese that these were merely indictments, not proofs of guilt. It was important, he said, "to be patient and rational".

This, of course, is a tall order. The largest religious community in Lebanon are the Shia (to whom the Hezbollah are loyal), the second largest the Sunni (to whom the Hariris belong).

So the one thing the country did not need right now were these indictments from the UN.

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