Hizbullah condemns UN creation of Hariri tribunal

Syrian media: Decision is an American-Israeli effort to exact revenge on Damascus.

hariri 88 (photo credit: )
hariri 88
(photo credit: )
Hizbullah blasted Thursday the United Nations' decision establishing a tribunal to prosecute the killers of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria also criticized the move. Hizbullah, which had previously warned against the creation of the tribunal without Lebanese parliamentary approval, called the UN decision a "violation" of Lebanese sovereignty and "an attack on its internal affairs." "It amounts to a flagrant violation that makes the resolution illegal and illegitimate at the national and international level," the Shi'ite Muslim group said in a statement, adding that the resolution placed Lebanon under "international tutelage, without decision-making and sovereignty in an unprecedented development in the history of sovereign states." The UN Security Council voted late Wednesday to approve the tribunal, bypassing Lebanon's parliament which has failed to meet to endorse it. The tribunal has been at the core of a months long political crisis between the pro-Western government in Beirut and the Hizbullah-led opposition that has erupted into street clashes in recent months, killing 11 people. US-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora had asked the council earlier this month to establish the tribunal, citing the refusal of opposition-aligned Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a session to ratify the creation of the tribunal. Berri rejected these accusations Thursday, reflecting the opposition's bitterness over the government's move to take the issue to the UN Lebanon's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, expressed skepticism at the international tribunal's ability to "lead us to the truth" by identifying the assassins. But he said he would support the court if it was "fair and impartial." Syria, which has been implicated in Hariri's assassination by the UN, was also quick to criticize the tribunal, set up under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter which deals with threats to international peace and allows military enforcement. Syria's official news agency, citing an unnamed official, said late Wednesday that the "formation of the international court ... is considered as a degradation of Lebanon's sovereignty that might lead to more deterioration of the situations on the Lebanese field." Syrian newspapers on Thursday also criticized the decision as an American-Israeli effort to exact revenge on Damascus, an opponent of both. Syrian President Bashar Assad has denied involvement in the assassination and threatened not to cooperate with the tribunal if it infringes on Syrian national sovereignty. Lebanon on Thursday reopened the road where Hariri was killed by a suicide truck bomb in February 2005. Beirut Mayor Abdel-Monem al-Ariss said the spot would remain "a historic symbol in the heart of Beirut." The UN resolution gives the Lebanese parliament a last chance to establish the tribunal itself. If it doesn't act by June 10, the UN decision will automatically "enter into force." Saad Hariri, leader of the parliamentary majority and son of the late Hariri, said after the UN decision was a turning point in Lebanon that would protect the country from further assassinations. It's a "victory the world has given to oppressed Lebanon and a victory for an oppressed Lebanon in the world," he said, holding back tears at the end of his televised speech. Saniora, a longtime confidant of the late Hariri, also called the tribunal "a triumph for Lebanon against injustice, crime and tyranny" and urged the Lebanese to put their differences behind, renew dialogue and work together.