Now that the tribunal proved that Hezbollah assassinated Hariri, Nasrallah is bound to receive a mark of Cain for undermining Lebanese national interests.
Abetted by its military might, Hezbollah is also a
multi-dimensional organization, with a strong political arm, a vast social and
economic system and a powerful religious apparatus, all of which effectively
serve its campaign to threaten and terrorize its adversaries. According to
leaks from the tribunal’s investigation, it is likely that Hezbollah militants
were indeed those behind the planning and execution of Hariri’s murder.
Not surprisingly, then, Hezbollah has been determined to
thwart the investigation using all means, abasing the tribunal’s credibility by
calling it the “Israeli Project,” and targeting its members and informants.
Nonetheless, the evidence already disclosed is enough to
put Nasrallah’s eulogy over Hariri’s grave, in which he praised the slain prime
minister as a “Lebanese patriot,” in a ridiculous light.
Now that the tribunal’s final conclusions prove publicly
that Hezbollah is culpable for Hariri’s assassination, Nasrallah is bound to
receive a mark of Cain for undermining Lebanese national interests. Ironically,
under the same claim of patriotism, Hezbollah not only continued its armed
struggle against Israel after its unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon
in 2000, but also attained its special status as the leader of Lebanese
resistance against its enemies without submitting to the authority of the
elected political representatives. Hezbollah also used its military force to
impose its will in internal disputes, such as the 2008 violent takeover of
several Beirut neighborhoods by Shi’ite gunmen, which nearly drove the country
into a new civil war.
After continuously building its strength with its
patrons’ assistance, over the past few years, a dramatic development has
occurred between Syria and Hezbollah, who have upgraded their partnership to
“strategic alliance.” Iran, on the other hand, has preserved its position as
the traditional patron of the Lebanese Shi’ite party, a role it undertook when
the Iranian Revolutionary Guards trained and organized Hezbollah troops in the
Thus, although the tribunal declared it would prosecute
“only individuals – and not groups, organizations, states,” anyone knowledgeable
about Hezbollah’s relationship with these two regimes could affirm that the
leadership of both Syria and Iran would not only have been well informed about
the assassination, but also have approved it.
Such a grand-scale operation, targeting a political
leader with international prestige, could not have occurred without prior
intense dialogue between Hezbollah and its patrons; an operational approval
from the highest-ranking officials in Assad’s regime, along with the explicit
consent of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei.
Furthermore, if Hezbollah members are indicted in the
upcoming trial, there should be no doubt that Nasrallah himself approved the
operation, and that his military commander Imad Mughniyeh (killed a year later
in Damascus) planned and personally supervised the execution.
Iran and Syria are likely to use the “probable denial”
tactic often used by state sponsors of terrorism to rebuff any evidence of
legal responsibility. However, since in our era confidential information often
finds its way to the media, and due to the possibility of Assad’s fall, we are
likely to see documented evidence of that crime in the future.
**Yoram Schweitzer is director of the Low-Intensity
Conflict and Terror Project at the INSS, and Gilad Stern is an intern at the