A UN tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister
Rafik Hariri is expected to accuse Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei of
ordering the killing, while Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister said that
dialogue is the only way out of the country’s political crisis after a
Hizbullah-led coalition toppled his Western-backed government.
to the US-based Newsmax website, the investigative body will lay out evidence
showing that the 2005 murder was committed by Iran’s Quds force, along with
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The order to murder Hariri was transmitted to Hizbullah’s
military leader, Imad Mughniyeh, by Quds force chief Qassem Suleymani, sources
Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing in Damascus on
February 12, 2008. According to Saturday’s report, Mughniyeh put together the
hit team that carried out the attack at the behest of Iran, with the help of his
“The Iranians considered Hariri to be an agent of Saudi
Arabia, and felt that killing him would pave the way for a Hizbullah takeover of
Lebanon,” a source told Newsmax.
Iran was not the only country involved
in the assassination plot, they said. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his
brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, the head of Syrian intelligence, also played key
roles in the plan to murder Hariri, a source was reported as saying.
UN team intended to submit a draft indictment later Saturday, according to a
report by the Lebanese daily A-Nahar. According to the report, the tribunal is
set to hand in a preliminary copy to pre-trial Judge Daniel
Meanwhile, Saad Hariri, who returned to Lebanon on Friday, has
been trying to rally support in the US, France and Turkey since ministers allied
to the Shi’ite militant group resigned on Wednesday, bringing down his
government while he was in Washington meeting with President Barack
“There is no alternative to dialogue,” Hariri told reporters
Friday after meeting with President Michel Suleiman.
“Between power and
the dignity of my people and country, I choose the dignity of Lebanon and the
Lebanese,” he added, reading from a brief statement. He did not take questions.
Hizbullah denounces the Netherlandsbased tribunal as a conspiracy by the US and
Israel and demanded Hariri reject the court’s findings even before they come
out. But Hariri has refused to break cooperation with the tribunal.
effort to ease tensions that some fear could ignite sectarian violence, the US
Embassy in Beirut urged all political factions to “remain calm and exercise
restraint at this critical time.”
In Washington, President Barack Obama’s
national security adviser, Tom Donilon, strongly condemned Hizbullah for
quitting the coalition, and the White House promised to help Lebanon peacefully
reconstitute a government.
Hariri stopped in France and Turkey on his way
back to Lebanon as part of his efforts to rally international
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday after
meeting with Hariri that he would consult authorities in Iran, Syria and Qatar
on Friday to try to find a solution to the crisis, the Anatolia news agency
Lengthy negotiations lie ahead between Lebanon’s Western-backed
blocs and the Hizbullah-led alliance known as March 8. If those fail, Lebanon
could see a resurgence of the street protests and violence that have bedeviled
the country in the past.
Suleiman will launch formal talks Monday on
creating a new government, polling lawmakers on their choice before nominating a
According to Lebanon’s constitution, the president must
be Christian Maronite, the prime minister Sunni and the parliament speaker
Hariri will stay on in a caretaker role while a new government
Oussama Saad, a Sunni politician who is a Hizbullah ally and
potential candidate, called for a new prime minister who would “defend the
“We cannot accept Hariri’s return to the post of prime
minister,” he said Friday.
“We call for a new prime minister who does not
draw strength from the outside against the people of his country, and one who
doesn’t conspire against the resistance.”
Besides finding a Sunni
candidate, Hizbullah would need the backing of Walid Jumblatt, the influential
leader of the Druse sect who broke with his former allies in Hariri’s camp in
2009. Jumblatt has been a shrewd politician, known for shifting
He met with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday
night, but did not comment on the talks.
In the Netherlands, the tribunal
held a public hearing Friday to discuss a former Lebanese security chief’s
demand to see the evidence that led to his being jailed as a suspect for nearly
Maj.-Gen. Jamil a-Sayyed, Lebanon’s former chief of general
security, and three other pro-Syrian officers were freed from a Lebanese jail in
April 2009 for lack of evidence. Sayyed said the tribunal’s refusal to let him
see “false witness” testimony he claims framed him is undermining the court’s
Meanwhile, Nasrallah is expected to make a public statement
on the political turmoil in Lebanon on Sunday on Hizbullah’s Al-Manar Television
at 8.30 p.m., Hizbullah sources said.