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Gulf News, among others, reports:

The UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri on Thursday issued its long-awaited indictment and accused four Hezbollah members of the murder,

The Tribunal reportedly has given Lebanon thirty days within which to respond.  Meanwhile, "[a] delegation from the tribunal reportedly is on its way to Syria, to hand over inidictments of Syrian officials."

Hariri, along with twenty-one others, was murdered on February 14, 2005, when explosives blew up his motorcade in Beirut.

In its 2005 obituary for Rafik Hariri, the BBC reported:

Unlike many key figures in Levantine politics, Hariri did not come from a political family or powerful clan. Rather, he was born in 1944 to a poor Sunni Muslim family in the southern port of Sidon. After training as a teacher, he went abroad to seek his fortune, following a path well-trodden by many of his countrymen. He found employment in a construction firm in Saudi Arabia, eventually establishing his own firm, Saudi Oger. He became the personal contractor for Prince Fahd, who went on to become king of Saudi Arabia, and amassed a fortune that propelled him into the US magazine Forbes as one of the richest 100 men in the world.

The Guardian notes that the indictments had been "keenly anticipated for two years."

News of the warrants drew applause from the recently ousted government in Beirut, known as the 14 March alliance, but silence from Hezbollah and its allies

According to a German Press Agency report published by Haaretz:

Former Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of Rafik Hariri, lauded the indictments handed to Hezbollah officials by the UN-backed tribunal probing Hariri's 2005 assassination, calling it a "historic moment."   The handover of the indictments to Lebanese prosecutor general Saeed Mirza was made during a meeting with three judges from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which has given Lebanon 30 days to respond.

The Guardian reports that the four accused "are believed to be Hezbollah's current chief operations officer, Moustafa Badreddine, another senior official, Salim Ayyash, and two lower-profile members of the group, Assad Sabra and Hassan Aneiyssi. . . . Badreddine is one of Hezbollah's founding members and a former close confidant of the group's feared military commander, Imad Mughniyeh[.]"

The issuing of the warrants has placed enormous pressure on the new prime minister, Najib Miqati, whose Hezbollah-dominated cabinet has demanded he disavow the tribunal and cut Lebanon's share of funding for it. Just as vehement is the opposition's insistence that he continue to comply with the court.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon operates under UN Security Council Resolution, 1757.  As explained by Gulf News:

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is to prosecute persons responsible for the attack of 14 February 2005 resulting in the death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and in the death or injury of other persons. The Tribunal's jurisdiction could be extended beyond February 14, 2005

The applicable law for the Special Tribunal is the Lebanese Criminal Code relating to the prosecution and punishment of acts of terrorism and crimes and offences against life and personal integrity, among others with the exclusion of penalties such as the death penalty and forced labour, which are otherwise applicable under Lebanese law.

The Special Tribunal has the power to impose penalties up to and including life imprisonment. Sentences will be served in a State designated by the President of the Special Tribunal from a list of willing states.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    Re-elect the President
    Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

    by another American on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 12:50:46 PM PDT

  •  Salim Ayyash is also a US citizen (4+ / 0-)

    according to the Daily Star.

    The next 30 days will be interesting, as Lebanon decides what course to follow.

    Hezbollah has denied involvement in the assassination, describing the accusations as an "Israeli-American project." The group also warned that "none of its members will be interrogated or questioned in this regard."

    Wonder why?

  •  Not breaking, since it was (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    announced about 10 hours ago, but still newsworthy.  

    "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

    by weasel on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 01:08:46 PM PDT

    •  To me what is newsworthy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eiron, mickT

      is the implication in the indictments that there are more to come, since this set of indictments deals with Lebanon only. I'm sure that the weakness of the Assad regime since the start of the intifada there means that they are going to go after Syria again.

      If Der Spiegel (which broke the news 2 years ago) is right about the evidence used, then it's very flimsy indeed. I'm sure a good Hizbullah operative could represent himself and thus spend the next 20 years drawing out the trial. I mean, how long has the tribunal on Yugoslavia been going on for now?

  •  Very interesting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    volleyboy1, yaque

    I hope the Arab Spring sweeps away all these dinosaurs that are caught up in their 20th century games.

    I wonder who the indicted Syrians are.

    Tipped and recced.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 01:09:54 PM PDT

  •  What, if anything, do you think will happen next? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yaque, JNEREBEL

    Given reports of Hizbollah commentary that they plan to strike Israel to take pressure off of Syria... what do you think is in the future here.

    DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

    by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 01:33:42 PM PDT

    •  The Syrian crisis complicates matters (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yaque, volleyboy1

      for Hezbollah, especially if the tribunal names officials of the Syrian regime.

      That said, an attack on Israel would seem to be a serious mistake for Hezbollah, unless, as certainly is possible, the Netanyahu government misplays its hand.

      Also, Palestiinian efforts at the UN could be collateral damage.

      Obviously, these are only preliminary thoughts.  We truly need to await (more) events.

      Re-elect the President
      Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

      by another American on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 01:37:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Logically (0+ / 0-)

      I think an attack on Israel right now might give Netanyahu the cover he needs at the UN so it might not be the best course.  But if logic ruled the day in Middle East, we probably wouldn't be in this predicament in the first place.  So who knows.  Perhaps they think another attack on Israel would provoke the obvious Israeli military response and unify the people against the common enemy.  

      "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

      by dankester on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 02:33:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  neither Hiz, Lebanon or Syria will be attacking (3+ / 0-)

        Israel soon.  I worry about the reverse, however.  

        Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

        by Eiron on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:09:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good that you do... of course Hezbollah disagrees (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          with you:

          "Hezbollah will never intervene in Syria. This is an internal issue for President Bashar to tackle. But when it sees the West gearing up to bring him down, it will not just watch," a Lebanese official close to the group's thinking told Reuters.

          "This is a battle for existence for the group and it is time to return the favor (of Syria's support). It will do that by fending off some of the international pressure," he added.

          Sucks when they contradict you on this stuff? Eh?

          DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

          by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:20:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Our government (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            seems to agree with Hizbollah that Assad should stay, and reforms should be instituted.  

            Probably Golan goes back to Syria.  

            Hizbollah would never, ever, unilaterally invade Israel and seek to occupy territory.  Sheba'a is not Israel.  And your quote doesn't say anything of the kind.  

            There is the threat that if there is another pan Arab war, Hizbollah munitions may be a big part of the operation.  

            Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

            by Eiron on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:25:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah somehow I don't think (0+ / 0-)

              our gov't agrees with Hizbollah. Given they told Assad, "lead reforms or get out of the way". Since Assad is leading ZERO reforms - I guess that only means "Get out of the way". That is a tad different message than Hizbollah is sending.

              If they attack Shebaa Farms they will get hammered and set off another war. But my quote quite clearly states that Hizbollah will do something to distract from Syria. What do you think that "take pressure off Syria means"... Perhaps challenge the U.S. to a game of tiddleywinks?

              BTW, you know that Hizbollah just moved it's mid range missles out of Syria and into Lebanon.

              As far as a Pan-Arab War.. Hizbollah will definitely have a part to play. IF it happens.

              DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

              by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:36:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  We hope it won't and I don't think it will (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Unless Israel pulls a Samson move to avoid giving up the OPT settlements.   it has happened before.  

                A symbolic set of actions in the Shebaa region is more of a possibility.  It is a provocation against Lebanese nationalism Why are ISraeli citizens/settlers there?  Even Israel concedes it isn't Israeli territory, just that it is disputed between Syria and Lebanon.  So squatting on it is OK until Syria and Lebanon sort it out who owns it.

                Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

                by Eiron on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:49:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I had no idea you were concerned with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weasel, Fire bad tree pretty

    justice for Hariri. How decent.

    That's all it takes, really...pressure and time.

    by Flyswatterbanjo on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 01:38:35 PM PDT

  •  It is hoped justice will ultimately be served (4+ / 0-)

    and the perpetrators of this cowardly and heinous act will receive the punishment they so richly deserve.


    "Stay close to the candles....the staircase can be treacherous" (-8.38,-8.51)

    by JNEREBEL on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 01:57:53 PM PDT

    •  Does anyone else find it slightly absurd (4+ / 0-)

      that members of Team Shalom, who generally support Israel's right to assassinate its opponents, even when it causes many civilian casualties, now is shocked by the "cowardly" act?  Does Team Shalom also find the Israeli pilots to be "cowards"?  I assume that they don't fine Israeli assassins to be equally "henious," presumably because Israeli assassins assassinate the right sort of people.  

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 02:06:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  HEY LOOK OVER THERE!!!! (5+ / 0-)

        They are criticizing Hizbollah... quick point the finger somewhere else.

        Well either that or "So?....."

        DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

        by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 02:29:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ??? (4+ / 0-)

          Is it so hard to hold two very similar acts (they even both used about the same sized bomb) in your mind at once, or does mention of one drive away your ability to consider the other?  

          I suspect most readers can understand the similar and oppose all such asssassinations.  It's a pity you can't even think of such things.


          "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

          by weasel on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 02:33:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Your moral compass is askew... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erush1345, JNEREBEL

        by such a comment that seeks to equate conduct, as if you want to justify this assassination of an elected leader that, so far as I know, was not a participant in an armed conflict during a time of hostilities, but merely the elected leader of the state.

        Please inform the community what was Hariri's sin, since you equate his killing with that of Hamas military wing commander Salah Shehadeh.

        You may not like the result of the Israeli investigation, which is fine.  That does not mean it was not bona fide or wrong.  At least Israel is not so coward to refuse to investigate its own.

        The murder of Hariri prompted the UN to get involved to the extent that a special tribunal was formed.

        You see, the norms for killing political leaders are not the same as for a military leader for most states and individuals.  But with a moral compass so far askew, I can understand why the distinction would be impossible to notice.

        On the other hand, I could just say get off the pompous high horse.  To disagree is right wing, yet to enable the tolerant Hamas and Hezbollah, who only want peace and harmony, sublime.

      •  hundreds of targeted assasinations (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        they do have the ratio of targeted individual to collateral deaths down to a new low of about 1:2.5

        Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

        by Eiron on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:00:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  HEY! LOOK OVER THERE (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JNEREBEL, greatdarkspot

          remind this has what to do with the Hariri assasination? Oh nothing....

          Sad distraction attempt.

          DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

          by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:08:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Syria or its agents whacks a political opponent (0+ / 0-)

            in a sovereign country, it  is a big deal.   Israel whacks hundreds of political opponents, often in foreign countries, and always extrajudicially, not so much.  

            assasination is assasination, we can argue, and maybe even agree if is specific action was necessary, but the contours of the crime itself are the same.  

            Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

            by Eiron on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:17:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Again... Bringing in Israel here serves what (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JNEREBEL, greatdarkspot


              Oh right... to distract from what Hizbollah did.

              It's as I said..... HEY! Look over there!

              DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

              by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:21:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not at all (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                "all countries do it", "look over there" that is the tactic more commonly associated with the ersatz Pro-I coffee Klatch

                Let me simplify.
                Israel wanted the Syrian military to leave Lebanon
                Hezbollah wanted them to stay, as a deterrent to yet another Israeli invasion.

                Under Bush and Bolton , an International consensus forced the Syrian military to withdraw with UNSC 1559.

                Hezbollah not happy with Hariri.   They viewed the Syrian military withdrawl as increasing the risk of an Israeli invasion.  Remember Israel invaded and occupied Southern Lebanon from 1982-2000.  

                what happened? Syria withdrew its military in 2005.

                Israel invaded in 2006!!!!

                Both sides use political asassinations against those they perceive as political enemies.  

                Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

                by Eiron on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:42:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well... so much wrong with this post and so little (0+ / 0-)

                  inclination on  my part to point everything there.

                  But again... The Israelis have what to do with this? Oh right. nothing.

                  Let's talk about the diary.

                  The Syrians and their proxies in Lebanon Hizbollah killed Hariri. They will probably get away with it. In fact, not probably, they will get away with it. What do you think should be done?

                  DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

                  by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:59:27 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  answering your own rhetorical questions (0+ / 0-)

                is a sign of demagoguery, you know this, right?

                Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

                by Eiron on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:54:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Haaretz Report on (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JNEREBEL, greatdarkspot

    DK4: For those times when pissing in the hummus isn't enough

    by volleyboy1 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 at 03:28:03 PM PDT

  •  It's not as if it'll be any different... (0+ / 0-)

    Fat chance any faction other than Syria and Hezbollah will be blamed.

  •  Yawn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fire bad tree pretty, capelza

    This is from an anti-Syrian paper:

    Several hundred meters away, customers at cafes showed little interest in the STL indictment.

    Lebanese, Arab and foreign tourists were sitting in cafes and restaurants near the Parliament building, as children played nearby.

    A woman wandering near the clock tower in Nijmeh Square said she hadn’t heard that the indictment was released.

    The Daily Star

    Yes, the echelon beyond reality crowd have deemed this a 'big deal'. But the people on the street, who have watched this farce of a procedure for years, don't trust it. In fact, given that it could ruin yet another tourist season, are a bit pissed about it.

    Of course all the folks who hate families that rule because of unfair control of the government by a particular family are upset that Hariri's son is no longer in charge of Lebanon. He has all the West wants in a leader...spends his time between Paris, Riyadh, and Washington D.C.  Actually spending time in Lebanon and caring about the average Lebanese? Not so much. He learned that from daddy. Who as PM would steal prime real estate from the poor owners, then use his company to build massive development programs that no one in Lebanon could afford (but Gulf States could).

    You know. The kind of democracy Thomas Friedman loves (being one of the billionaire club).

  •  Great rundown of the corruption of the STL (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in this here.

    Did any US newspaper report that the second-in-command of the court went around offer sales of tapes of interviews with key witnesses and New TV obtained them and aired them?  That what we heard from those tapes show beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was a most unprofessional and corrupt proceeding, even in comparison to the corrupt justice system in Lebanon?  That the Hariri family were allowed to control the entire affair and to provide witnesses some of whom turned out to be false witnesses?  That we have a tape in which Hariri and his aides are feeding and influencing the testimony of the worst false witness in the case, Muhammad Zuhayr As-Siddiq?  That the meetings with the tirbunal's people were clearly (from the tapes of New TV) chit chat sessions?  American traffic courts are run more professionally.  Or the negotiations between the court and the Hariri family to delay the release of the four generals?  Or the arrest of the four generals for purely political reasons??   One of the four generals talked about how he got an offer for cooperation if he fingered Syria.  And what about those Wikileaks documents that show court's higher ups taking instructions from US diplomats?  

    Even Sunni Muslims in Lebanon know that the STL is a joke.

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