After fifteen and a half years, on 7 August the international Special Tribunal for Lebanon will issue its ruling on the murder of Rafic Hariri and his companions including Bassel Fleihan, for a crime that took place on 14 February, 2005.
Unless there is a huge surprise, it is unlikely that the ruling will reveal any secrets. This is due to the fact that all of the circumstances surrounding the crime became known through what was presented by the Public Prosecution. The prosecution provided very detailed information on the preparation of the crime, how it was carried out and on an individual named Ahmad Abu Adass, who later turned out to be taken from Beirut to another area to record a tape claiming responsibility for the assassination of the Lebanese prime minister.
Abu Adass, who somehow disappeared after the suicide attack on Hariri's convoy, was not responsible for it. We still do not know from where the person who carried out the attack came. What we do know, is that a cell associated with Hezbollah observed Hariri until the fateful day the crime was committed, which was a historic turning point in Lebanon and in the region. The time prior to the death of Hariri was not the same as after.
It has also become known that the Syrian regime was not far from the preparations of the crime. This will be revealed by the ruling, which is based, among other things, on the communications network that revealed the relationship between the groups affiliated with Hezbollah that pursued Hariri for months. These partisan groups were in constant contact with the Syrian security services. This was confirmed by the information provided by the mobile communications monitors.
From the information provided by the Public Prosecution, it became evident that all the facts are known about the perpetrators, instigators and those who consider themselves beneficiaries of the crime, which also paved the way for the assassination attempt on journalist and politician Marwan Hamadeh on 1 October, 2004. Hamadeh is a Druze minister who was very close to Hariri. He was also politically affiliated with Druze politician Walid Jumblatt. Moreover, he was Gebran Tueni's uncle, who was the main influencer of the An-Nahar newspaper, at a time when it was able to influence public opinion on one hand, and to take bold and clear positions on the Syrian presence in Lebanon on the other.
With every passing day, the reasons for the need to eliminate Hariri became clearer, as he was a symbol of Lebanese nationalism. After Hariri, there was a need to eradicate every free voice that could be a hindrance to Lebanon reaching the situation it is currently in, that is, a bankrupt country residing in the "Hezbollah era" under the Hezbollah government.
Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, Walid Eido, Antoine Ghanem, Pierre Amine Gemayel and Mohamad Chatah were all assassinated too. Major Wissam Eid, who managed to figure out the communication puzzle, was also assassinated. Major General Wissam Al-Hassan, one of the most prominent Lebanese security leaders, too. There were two failed assassination attempts on Elias Murr and May Chidiac. Hezbollah then ignited the 2006 summer war with Israel. When it became clear that this war was not enough, Resolution 1701 of the Security Council was issued. There was a sit-in in downtown Beirut, which was followed by the takeover of Beirut and Al-Jabal in order to subdue the Sunnis and the Druze. The war of Nahr Al-Bared, a Palestinian camp in northern Lebanon, also came in this context. The purpose of the Nahr Al-Bared camp war only aimed to accuse the Sunnis of Lebanon of extremism and to exhaust the country and its national army further, diverting attention away from the dangers of illegal weapons in the hands of Iran's sectarian militia known as Hezbollah.
Between 2005 and 2020, Lebanon experienced the horrors of the assassinations and wars that brought the country to the situation it is currently in – Iranian guardianship and control. Hariri was able to carry Lebanon on his shoulders. It became apparent later, given the past experiences, that Lebanon could not withstand the absence of Hariri. Lebanon could not restore the "electricity" to the country in the absence of Hariri, who in 1998 was able to bring light to Lebanon 24 hours a day.
So, who won and who lost from the assassination of Hariri? This is what the court will not reveal when it delivers its verdict. Certainly, Lebanon lost, as the country's existence is at stake. Lebanon has been blown away by the wind. However, the perpetrator of the crime, who refuses to hand over the murderers to justice, if any of them are still alive, did not, and will not, know that what they caused did not only harm Lebanon, but also Syria.
The way of thinking that led to the assassination of Hariri was not just a crime against Lebanon and its citizens, it was much more than that. This was proof of the ineffectuality from which the Syrian regime was suffering, which had never understood the consequences of the assassination of Hariri. The crime in which the regime participated, in one way or another, backfired against them. What we are witnessing today confirms that this is not an exaggeration, after Syria was subjected to five occupations.
Bashar Al-Assad no longer has anything to rejoice in when he hears news of Lebanon's deteriorating situation. The deterioration of Lebanon, which began with the assassination of Hariri, has also become a Syrian deterioration as well. The assassination of Hariri was not only the assassination of Lebanon, it was also the assassination of Syria – of two countries simultaneously.
This is what the Special Tribunal will not expose. It will only name the killers who were merely instruments of a crime, a crime of which the dimensions and consequences they could not predict.
Translated from Al-Ayyam 16 July 2020
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.