Posted by Joshua on Friday, September 3rd, 2010
Tony Blair confirms in his memoirs, A Journey, that Bashar al-Assad was correct to believe that George W Bush’s White House was deadly serious about destroying the Syrian state. Phils Sands of the National writes:
Describing the former US vice president as an advocate of “hard, hard power”, Mr Blair said Damascus was next on Mr Cheney’s hit list.
“He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it – Hizbollah, Hamas, etc,” Mr Blair wrote in his autobiography, A Journey. “In other words, he thought the whole world had to be made anew, and that after September 11, it had to be done by force and with urgency.”
Syria’s correct assumption that powerful US forces wanted to attack it had profound implications, domestically and in Iraq. Although no friend of Saddam Hussein, Damascus had every reason to want the American occupation to fail and, therefore, no incentive to stop Islamist militants crossing the border to fight US troops. For years, US military officials complained that insurgents entering from Syria were among their most deadly opponents, playing a key role in undermining US attempts to build a Washington friendly Iraq.
Faced with this very real US threat, the Syrian authorities also moved to quash growing domestic dissent, arresting and jailing dozens of pro-democracy activists. That crackdown continues to this day.
We do not know who killed Rafiq Hariri, but President Bush’s intention to overturn the balance of power in the region included convincing Hariri to act as a spearhead in the US led attempt to make the world anew. We can only conclude that US ambitions had a lot to do with Hariri’s murder. The White House wanted to destroy Hizbullah, weaken Iran and Syrian, and eventually overturn their states. This gave all three regional powers a compelling interest in thwarting American plans. The fastest and most sure method of doing this was to eliminate Lebanon’s Prime Minister. After all, was he not the tent-post holding up the modern Lebanese state? Rafiq al-Hariri was Mr. Lebanon. He had been the architect — almost single-handedly — of the modern Lebanese state. He patched up the age old alliance between Sunnis and Christians that had formed the original cornerstone of the Lebanese National Pact, but had come apart with the civil war. He found an accommodation with the Shiite community and Hizbullah within that framework. He used gobs of Saudi money, his ample personal charm, and uncommon international connections to grease the wheels of Lebanon’s new convivienda.
Destroying Hariri dissolved the glue that held together Lebanon’s waring communities. Hariri knew that President Bush and Jacque Chirac were gambling with his life. His reluctance to face down Syria and Hizbullah is well documented. Of course, Bush and Chirac coated their entreaties with promises of aid, assurances that they would bring along the Saudis, and insistence that this time, realities had changed. Syria was a house of cards, they insisted; Bashar al-Assad, a paper tiger; and Hizbullah, a puppet that could be easily eliminated. America would follow through. 9-11 had changed America and changed the world. President Bush and Dick Cheney’s soaring ambition did not ignite the car bomb that killed Hariri, but in many ways it set the region on fire. For Hariri, it was the beginning of the end. Fortunately for Lebanon, the insecurity that followed Hariri’s death enduring for only a short period. In Iraq, the instability that engulfed the country following the destruction of its state continues today; the killing is far from over.
In 2006, Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech in January 2006 in which he tried to explain the context of Hariri’s murder. This is the first paragraph of the post I wrote about it, entitled: “Who Killed Hariri? The “Pushed Against the Wall” Thesis” as elaborated by Nasrallah”
Who killed Hariri? This is the question that runs through Hassan Nasrallah’s interview with al-Hayat. Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, absolves Syria of responsibility, but he also tries to explain the context which led to Hariri’s murder. He blames Walid Jumblatt’s intransigent refusal to reconcile with the Syrians in December 2004 and join a Hariri government under Lahoud for leading to Hariri’s death. It is in this context that Hariri’s murder, according to Nasrallah, becomes understandable. In his explanation of the context, Nasrallah elaborates the “Pushed to the Wall” thesis…..
It is well worth going back to that speech today in the light of the International investigation and revelations made by Tony Blair.
BEIRUT — A Lebanese Shiite cleric known as a critic of Syrian-backed Hezbollah has been arrested in Syria on suspicion of spying for Israel, a high-ranking Lebanese security official said on Thursday.
“Sheikh Hassan Msheymish was arrested in July in Syria based on data Lebanese police intelligence had sent to Syrian authorities indicating that he was implicated in collaborating with Israel,” the official told AFP.
Msheymish was still being interrogated by Syrian authorities as preliminary information gathered by Lebanese intelligence indicated he may have spied on targets in Syria, the official said.
The cleric’s son, Ali Msheymish, told AFP there was no proof to the allegations against his father.
“These are unfounded accusations. How come we still know nothing of the results of the investigation two months after his arrest?” he asked, while confirming the Shiite cleric was a vocal critic of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
“His continued arrest is with the approval of political parties, especially Hezbollah,” he said.
The sheikh’s family told AFP in July that Msheymish had been detained while on his way for a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in western Saudi Arabia.
A judicial source, meanwhile, said two Lebanese nationals and two Palestinians have been charged in military court with collaboration with Israel, including a telecom ministry official, Toni Boutros.
The other Lebanese, Joseph Kassis, is on the run, he said.
More than 100 people have been arrested in Lebanon on suspicion of espionage since April 2009, including several telecom employees, members of the security forces and active members of the military.
Many of the suspects are accused of having helped Israel identify targets during its devastating 2006 war with Hezbollah.
Five of those tried have been sentenced to death for spying for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
Lebanon and Israel remain technically in a state of war, and convicted spies face life in prison with hard labour or the death penalty if found guilty of contributing to Lebanese loss of life.