Lebanon has put together a list of 150 cases of espionage, intended to be filed
as a complaint against Israel to the UN Security Council, Arab media sources
Lebanese Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar has announced
that the file was submitted to the Foreign Ministry and would be presented to
the Security Council following its discussion in the government.
list cites some 150 cases which the law has managed to put its hand on,
[including people] of all communities and denominations,” Najjar told the
London- based Arab daily Al- Hayat
, adding that it included findings that were
Lebanon has previously filed an official complaint
to the UN regarding Israel’s alleged attempts to recruit spies in the country.
President Michel Suleiman raised the issue in his meeting with US Vice President
Joseph Biden in May.
“Wherever you dig in Lebanon you find a spy,” said
Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University of
Beirut. He said espionage had reached endemic proportions in Lebanon over the
past few years, which had embarrassed the country.
“Spying is recognized
practice in international relations.
The case of a country appealing to
the UN on the matter is unprecedented,” he said.
Khashan viewed the
appeal to the UN as mainly a political tactic.
“Israel just launched a
complaint against Lebanon because of the border issue, and the Lebanese want to
retaliate,” he said.
Khashan also attributed the current espionage frenzy
to competition between two security agencies with overlapping jurisdiction over
spying cases in Lebanon: the Hizbullah-sympathetic Military Intelligence and the
Sunni-dominated Information Section of the Internal Security Forces, loyal to
Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Nadim Shehadi, an associate fellow of the
Middle East program at Chatham House in London, said Hizbullah was playing the
spy card in order to garner political gains.
“Hizbullah always stands to
gain with anything to do with Israel,” he said. “Any mass infiltration of spies
[into Lebanon] indicates the weakness of the state which Hizbullah uses to claim
it is needed.”
Shehadi added that Hizbullah was likely to use the
espionage claims to discredit allegations it will face by the UN International
Tribunal on Lebanon, charged with investigating the assassination of former
prime minister Rafik al-Hariri.
He added that Hizbullah claimed that many
of the spies worked for Lebanese telecommunication companies, and could
therefore fabricate calls implicating activists in the assassination, to the
benefit of Israel.
On Saturday, a Lebanese prosecuting judge accused
Milad Eid, a former employee of state telecom firm Ogero, of “dealing with the
Israeli enemy... giving them technical information in his position as head of
international communications at the Telecommunications Ministry,” Lebanon’s
Daily Star newspaper reported on Monday.
Last week, Lebanon arrested
Fayez Karam, a member of Michel Aoun’s Christian Free Patriotic Movement and an
ex-general, on accusations of spying for Israel. Karam was the first senior
political figure in Lebanon to be arrested on such charges.
Dr. Omri Nir,
an expert on Lebanon from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said the spying
accusations were a way to release internal pressure in Lebanon and direct it at
“Nabih Berri, the Shi’ite speaker of parliament, has been leading
a line of direct confrontation with Israel,” Nir said. “He recently met with
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and I imagine the two coordinated how to
direct the fire at Israel.”
The Lebanese Army issued a warning to media
outlets in Lebanon on Monday, cautioning them against making rash accusations
against military personnel following Karam’s arrest.