Days after the nth leak, the Special Tribunal For Lebanon (STL) announced his indictments on July 2nd accusing, what we now know at least since 2009, four members of Hezbollah. The announcement coincides with the new Lebanese government's statement of principle on the STL going for a confidence vote in the Lebanese parliament soon, and with the positive developments for Assad in Syria coming after an intense diplomatic and political activity in which the Syrian president met with representatives from the US and the UK, and in which the regime and the internal opposition seem to be willing to find a way out of the crisis.
Hezbollah reacted immediately yesterday with a speech from its leader Hassan Nasrallah aired on major Lebanese tv channels.
Nasrallah's speech after the indictment.
The STL has been biased and politcised from its inception and a tool against the Lebanese resistance. It is no coincidence that he first leaks pointing to a possible Hezbollah role in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri were published in the Figaro just after Israel's defeat in the 2006 war against the Lebanese resistance. This was an indication that the tribunal became very quickly a tool for the US and Israel to achieve against the Lebanese resistance what they were not able to achieve with the July 2006 war.
Nasrallah spoke of the flaws in the investigation at lenght and provided new disturbing material about the corruption, politicisation and the infiltration of the tribunal by Israel and the CIA. here are some points:
1. The lonely trail of the investigation or the mono rail. While Brammertz, the second UNIIC chief prosecutor who came unde fire fromm March 14th, pursued more than one trail of investigation, the focus of the investigation of the first and third prosecutors (Mehlis and Bellemare) was alternatively on Syria and Hezbollah. They never pursued the business trail and never considered seriously that Israel might have interest at throwing the country in civil war again. This is despite the fact that Hezbollah provided evidence that Israelis were monitoring the site of the bomb that killed Hariri and his daily route days before and on the day of the assassination. The evidence was judged circumstancial and was not investigated.
2. The tight cooperation between Israel and the tribunal. Not only Israel was not investigated but the tribunal sought information from Israel. It also tranferred its computers and files through Israel when it moved its operations center from Lebanon to the Netherlands, instead of transferring them through Beyrouth airport. This last information was obtained thanks to Hezbollah intelligence and Al-Manar aired a picture of the Israeli customs authorisation as a proof. Israel has its footprints all over the tribunal up to its president, Antonio Cassese, 'a great friend of Israel'. Al Manar aired a video in which one of cassese colleagues was paraising him as a great friend of Israel at the 2010 annual Herzilya conference where Cassese was due to attend.
3. The role of foreign western intelligence agencies in the investigation, unsavoury characters. Hezbollah, once again, was able to gather information on some key individuals who worked for Daniel Bellemare, the chief prosecutor at the STL. There is Najib Nick Keldas, australian, ex CIA, had a role in the massacre of Bir El 'Abd (one has to be aware here that most western sources consider Imam Fadlallah, the target of the bomb that killed more than eighty, erroneously as the spiritual guide of Hezbollah, which is not true, Fadlallah was the spiritual guide of the Shia community in Lebanon). Than there is Robert Baer, the much talkative ex-CIA, who was a special agent assigned to track Mughniyyeh and failed to kill him. Mughniyyeh was a high ranking Hezbollah operative who was later killed in Damascus. Baer also had a role in Bir El Abd Massacre. Then there is Michael Taylor, who worked for Scotland Yard on Islamist terror. Dorede Bcherraoui (Lebanese living in France), who had a role in the false witnesses who previously misled the tribunal to accuse Syria and the four Lebanese generals. And finally, Darrel Mandir, who continues to work for the CIA.
4. The corruption of prominent members of the tribunal. As in the case of the Israeli customs document, Nasrallah's speech was interrupted with a video showing Gerhard Lehman, deputy to ex chief prosecutor of the UNIIC, a UN commission for the assassination of Hariri on which premises the STL was created, taking bribes for solding files, infos and documents produced by the UNIIC. It is known in Lebanon that some of this material was sold to local TV stations. The STL is also famously known for its leaks, many of which were sold to the media. This was a damning moment for which the March 14 parliamentary minority in lebanon who were behind the creation of the STL had nothing else to say to the media after the video was aired other than the video only showed that Lehman was being bribed but it did not show who was bribing him! Then there was the false witnesses testimonies. It was very damaging to the UNIIC and made the STL irrelevant. It was the first scandal to be widely known by the Lebanese public. It is since this scandal and ensuing video aired by New TV showing Saad Hariri, the son of the murdered, discussing one the false witnesses testimonies in the presence of Gerhard Lehman that Lebanese started to look at the STL with great suspicion. But this did not affect the current chief prosecutor of the tribunal, not only he did not investigate the false witnesses but he also prevented personally the tribunal form prosecuting one of them, Zuhair Siddique.
5. The non confidentiality of the investigation and the politicisation of the tribunal. Every leak in the press concerning the indictments, and there were many, were timed to influence local politics. There were leaks by members of the tribunal for money, there were leaks by March 14th in order to attack Hezbollah and other Lebanese parties who are not members of their coalition, and there were leaks by the STL, the last of them being the release, days before the official indictment, of the complete names of the accused. The last leaks and the indictment were timed to hinder the confidence vote in parliament for the new Mikati government which put March 14th, for the first time since the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, out of the government and in the opposition. Initially, March 14th thought that the Miakti government will not reach a consensus on how to deal with the tribunal, but when the consensus was reached and the new government was heading for a confidence vote, the accused names appeared in full and the indictment was issued promptly days after the leak. Where is justice? There were leaks in 2009 before the elections, and then during the formation of Saad Hariri's government where Hezbollah were asking to be officially recognised as the national resistance. There were leaks when Saad Hariri's government fell. All these leaks served politically one party in Lebanon, March 14.
This is a very one sided, politicised tribunal controlled by Israel and the US and aimed at one party in Lebanon, the resistance. The tribunal is presided by Antonio Cassese, 'a great friend of Israel' who consider the resistance as terrorists. How justice can be done with such a tribunal?
The Israelis now are saying that Lebanon is in the eye of the tempest. That's their hope and the hopes of some in March 14th that Sunnis will fight Shias, that by accusing a Shia group, Hezbollah, of the assassination of a Sunni prime minister, Lebanon will descend into civil strife. But there will be no such a strife. Lebanese want to live in peace. They have more urgent priorities, the economy that was neglected by the former corrupt government, jobs, electricity, basic needs. The Siniora and the Saad Hariri governments are obsessed by Hezbollah and put this obsession first as their government priority at the expense of more urgent priorities. Hariri could not even tolerate alternance in Lebanon, he sees himself as PM for life.
Hezbollah does not recognise the legitimacy of the STL and will not let this corrputed and politicised government arrest his accused members. March 14th should not ask the current government to deliver the accused to the STL, they could not ask from the Mikati government what they cannot ask from themselves. Saad Hariri signed a document recognising the special status of Hezbollah as the national resistance. Even a pure March 14th government could not comply with the STL's demands. The Mikati government should be given the chance to work for all Lebanese and Lebanon, and Lebanese should be protected from civil strife. The STL is just a stage in the war waged at the Lebanese resistance and at the Arab resistance in general since 1948. When the Lebanese resistance was created in 1982, it was small and without allies. Today the resistance is strong. Lebanese should not worry.
Indeed, the reactions to the STL indictments were only seen among March 14. Lebanese are busy fighting a difficult economic situation and the STL has been discredited in their eyes a long time ago. There was no surprise when the indictments were announced. Lebanon's debt is equivalent to Greek debt, a debt created by Hariri father and son, and Siniora who is a member of their Future movement, who ruled the country while enriching themselves. This is while the cost of the STL payed for by the Lebanese government is projected to be around the 200 millions and counting, millions that serve as a tool in a war waged by the enemies of Lebanon.
The STL is a farce. If it were to operate in the same way in any other country it will be judged differently under different judicial standards. It will be scrutinised. So why the UN and USrael want this kind of justice for us? Who do they think we are? Cedar niggers perhaps.
"Pffft" went the UN special tribunal for Lebanon
Friday Lunch Club summarising the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
March 14 to the US, Gulf states: Help us regain power in Lebanon through the STL (this link as well as links to screen shots in this post were produced by FLC)
UPDATE: More proof of the transfer of the tribunal documents through Israel.
UPDATE: Omar Nashabe (Al Akhbar) speaking on the STL at the LSE in Januray 2011.
UPDATE: Robert Parry: Troubled History of the Hariri probe
Flash update: follow the latest developments about the Hariri tribunal (STL) on my twitter account.