(photo credit: Associated Press)
A coup in Lebanon, a civil war, an attack against Israel or just silence are
some of the options that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has to consider as he mulls how
to respond to the upcoming publication of the findings of a United Nations probe
into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
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line with his efforts to portray Hizbullah as the “defender of Lebanon,” on
Sunday Nasrallah once again tried to turn the spotlight on Israel, which he
accused of creating the UN-sanctioned tribunal to use as cover for a war it is
planning against Lebanon.
The Netherlands-based tribunal investigating
the 2005 assassination is expected to issue indictments in the coming weeks
against senior Hizbullah operatives. Nasrallah has said that Hizbullah would not
stand by and allow its top men to take the fall in a Zionist plot.
Nasrallah will do is the question everyone in the Middle East is trying to
answer. His response will ultimately depend on the findings that the tribunal
First, it is important to understand why Nasrallah is so
concerned with the findings.
The main reason is because if Hizbullah is
found guilty of assassinating Hariri, this would contradict the image it has
tried so hard to create over the years as being the defender of
That is its raison d’etre and that is why it has built up such a
powerful military. If it was defending Lebanon, why did it kill Hariri? If the
tribunal wants to try and prevent an escalation in Lebanon it could name some of
the key suspects but without affiliating them directly with
This could be an easy way out for all sides – Nasrallah would
be able to denounce the suspects and at the same time distance Hizbullah from
them, and the tribunal would be able to say that it succeeded in cracking the
If, however, the tribunal decides to go all out against Hizbullah
and directly accuse the group of Hariri’s assassination, Nasrallah could bolt
from the government, force Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign and create
Alternatively, Hizbullah could take to the streets
and try to take over Lebanon using force.
The last option would be for
Hizbullah to use the publication of the tribunal’s findings as a pretext to
attack Israel. This is deemed the least likely scenario but the possibility is
still of concern for Israel, which is keeping a close eye on developments in