Not long after the car bombing that claimed the life of Hariri and nine others, U.S. Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice, issued a statement saying that the U.S. Ambassador to Syria had been recalled for consultations as a result of the assassination (the Washington Times, February 16, 2005, p. A01). Short of making a specific statement of accusation that Syria had been behind the murder, Rice called for an investigation of the murder (2005, A01). It is here, at this point, that question should follow: Who had the greatest interest in seeing Rafik Hariri eliminated from Lebanon and the Middle East scene? We must ask that question before we go any further, or perform review any additional information in order to keep an open mind as we process the reports that arose from the U.N. commissioned investigation of the events. At this it would serve anyone attempting to sort through the myriad of events and information well to pause and take stock of what is known about the events without having reviewed an official report. As researchers, we have the benefit of hindsight, and it is expected that that hindsight shed light on past events. Taking stock of what we know, the following information is how we stand informed as we begin to review reports arising out of the U.N. investigation of the events surrounding the murder of Rafik Hariri.
Rafik Hariri had been elected Prime Minister of Lebanon in 1992, and had installed a government around himself staffed by people who worked for him and people whom he believed had the skills and expertise to see his plans through to fruition. It was the legally elected and recognized government of Lebanon.
Hariri was faced with mounting debt, and Lebanon was borrowing from international banks.
Hariri, in surrounding himself with those he believed to be loyal to him, had essentially created a new political party in the Lebanon that operated very differently than parties in the country's historical past.
Hariri recognized and continued the traditional institutional support of the rural chieftains and sect leaders.
Hariri posed a problem for the fundamental forces in Syria backed by Iran because Hariri was working towards stabilization of Lebanon; which precluded Lebanon's intent to be involved in future wars against Israel.
Hariri stood as objectification of social, political and economic progress that hardline Islamic fundamentalists equated with Westernization.
Lebanon's strategic location with Israel and Syria does not allow it to remain neutral of the goals of Islamic fundamentalists in the region.
Syria, backed by Iranian Islamic fundamental leadership, is an ongoing source of agitation in the region.
Syria occupied Lebanon for at least two decades prior to the assassination of Hariri, and continued to occupy Lebanon immediately following the assassination of Hariri.
The election of Rafik Hariri was not in keeping with the goals of the Syrian government.
The United States, the UN, Israel and Jordan were calling for Syria to leave Lebanon prior to Hariri's assassination.
The United Nations has proved to be ineffective, and even corrupt as revealed through the Oil for Food Program that implicated not just UN leadership, but also world leaders around the globe.
The United Nations is the body charged with selecting the international investigator, and therefore must be assessed as to its own interests, if any, in the outcome of the investigation.
The United States, as is now known, has covertly operated within the region on levels not entirely known to the citizens of the United States. In calling for an investigation, the role and interests of the United States as a covert force in Lebanon must be assessed.
Very little is known about what motive, if any, Israel might have for wanting to alter the direction in which Hariri was taking Lebanon.
Iran has made strong statements about Israel's future. From Iran's standpoint, Israel will be eliminated.
Iran has a close relationship with Syria and has been accused of using Syria as a gateway to smuggle weapons into the country that are used against Israel and Iraq.
In May, 2000, Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon, which can only be seen as a vote of confidence that the country was moving in a direction away from that being a military threat to Israel. Even that Israel had common goals with Lebanon.
In 2004, Hariri had resigned as prime minister of Lebanon, although it was believed he was planning to run again. The Hariri camp itself could have benefited from the sympathy and strength of a public united from the assassination of Hariri.
From a lay person's perspective, without benefit of research and based on information that is made available to the average person on a daily basis; that is what we might know of the situation. Now, we can move forward with an examination of the formal evidence that is available by way of the investigative reports that were submitted to the United Nations.
In March, 2005, within a month of the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, the United Nations dispatched a fact-finding mission to Lebanon (the Washington Times, March 28, 2005, p. A16). The role of the fact-finding team was to review and assess the investigation conducted by Lebanese authorities in the death of Hariri (2005, p. A16). The fact-finding mission would examine the crime scene (2005, p. A16) - although, good criminal procedure would suggest that some 30 days later such an examination would not produce new or even reliable evidence. To that end, author and researcher Michael R. Ronczkowski in his book, Terrorism and Organized Hate Crime: Intelligence Gathering, Analysis and Investigations (2004), says, "When gathering crime information for a law enforcement agency concerned with predefined jurisdictional limitations, most information is derived from one source, the offense and incident report (p. 71)." As suggested by the author here, this would mean that the UN fact-finders would visit the crime scene, but rely upon the formal documents of the Lebanese officials who would have investigated the scene immediately following the incident. To the extent that the fact-finders would visit the scene itself, is akin to - even after all these years - continuing to re-examine the Kennedy assassination by going back to the crime scene at the Dallas book depository. That is to say, it is a matter of examining the science of place, distance, time and opportunity.
The investigators, in this case the Lebanese investigators, had to officially report on their findings. That is a limitation on the information being presented Ronczkowski says, because it is reactive and, thusly, subjective (2004, p. 71). Neither the United Nations or the U.S. specifically or officially blamed Syria, but it was clear, at least from the statements issued by both entities, that the prevailing thought was that Syrian forces were responsible for the assassination (the Washington Times, March 28, 2005, p. A16). Also, the United States and the United Nations had concerns as to the investigative procedures that surrounded the Lebanese investigation of the assassination (2005, p. A 16). The fact-finding mission did not accuse Syria of the assassination, but it specifically stated that Syria was responsible for much of the chaos and violence in the country at that time (2005, p. A16). The fact-finding mission served as the basis from which to move forward with an international inquiry of the murder 2005, p. A16). The fact-finders reported:
After gathering the available facts, the Mission concluded that the Lebanese security services and the Syrian Military Intelligence bear the primary responsibility for the lack of security, protection, law and order in Lebanon. The Lebanese security services have demonstrated serious negligence and in carrying out the duties usually performed by a professional national security apparatus. In so doing, they have severely failed to provide the citizens of Lebanon with an acceptable level of security and, therefore, have contributed to the propagation of a culture of intimidation and impunity. The Syrian Military Intelligence shares this responsibility to the extent of its involvement in running the security services in Lebanon (2005, p. A16)."
The fact-finding mission commented on the agitation and tension that existed prior to the assassination, putting responsibility for that tense situation on Syria (2005, p. A16). The fact finding concluded, too, that Syria had directly interfered with the Government of Lebanon (2005, p. A16). The report concluded that the Lebanese investigation was insufficient and inadequate as it was under the influence of the Syrian Military and that as such, investigator reports were skewed (2005, p. A16). The fact-finding mission also refueled the United States' demand for Syria to leave Lebanon, which had been ordered under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (2005, p. A16). Unfortunately, Syria rejected the resolution, and regardless of the Security Council's Resolution, continues to occupy Lebanon today. This demonstrates the international weakness of the United Nations as an international body without…
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Baroudi, Sami E. "Sectarianism and Business Associations in Postwar Lebanon." Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) 22.4 (2000): 81. Questia. 20 Oct. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001194754.
Car Bombing Kills Anti-Syrian Legislator; 9 Others Die in Latest Hit on Hariri Backers." The Washington Times 14 June 2007: A13. Questia. 20 Oct. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5021237096.