“Lebanon Unrest Puts Hariri Tribunal In Peril” by Solomon

The WSJ article (copied below) claims that the Hariri tribunal is still in doubt. Neither China nor Russia have given assurances that they will not veto the resolution for a tribunal under Chapter VII. They claim they are still studying the draft resolution.

Addendum: Before posting the WSJ article here is a piece posted by Col. Pat Lange on his site on the subject of Fatah al-Islam. (Sorry for the previous attribution confusion to some readers.)

Col. Pat Lange, who was head of Military Intelligence for the Middle East for a number of years, argues that Fatah al-Islam is probably not linked to Syria, but a home grown Lebanese phenomena. This was the gist of Anthony Shadid's reporting for the Washington Post of a month ago. Lebanese authorities insist that the group takes orders from Damascus. The origins of the the fighting, which began with a botched bank robbery, do not sound planned by either side. Here is the WSJ article: 

there are the 200,000 odd permanent Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.  They are not Lebanese citizens.  They have no political vote, are overwhelmingly Sunni, are excluded from good jobs, and therefore good housing.  They are excluded from many Lebanese schools.  They and those who came before them have been living in those camps on a kind of "dole" from the UN for a long time, many of them for 50 years.  They have no prospects, zero.  People who have no prospects are dangerous.

So, they are susceptible to the takfiri jihadi message and influence drifting on the winds of the internets and in the minds of returned fighters from Iraq.  Not surprisingly some of them have accepted the call, the call to drive foreign, kaffir influence out of the Lebanon, the call to vent their rage against a political system that offers them nothing.

The "players" in the Siniora/Hariri coalition do not have clean hands in the matter of the creation and encouragement of Sunni zealotry in Lebanon.  Lebanese political leaders have "played" to the Sunni Lebanese of the north for many years, seeking their support in the maze of Lebanese politics.  Did they think that the Sunni Palestinians in the camps would not hear the same message?

So, now we have fighting between the Lebanese Army and Palestinian zealots.  What a surprise!  If it spreads to camps in the south of Lebanon, the Lebanese Army will be hard pressed.  Their commander said so yesterday, urging restraint.

The 24/7 news networks were hard at work today trying to make Syria responsible for the Sunni zealots in the camps.  The statement was being made today that these groups were connected to AQ.  No evidence was offered, but the assertion was repeatedly made based on the "possibility" that had supposedly been voiced by some nameless person in the Lebanese government.  Various Lebanese were asked that question – "Is this Al-Qa'ida?"  Nobody could be found who was willing to say that there was an organizational link to Al-Qa'ida, but the question was asked over and over again.  This question was paired with another – "Is Syria controlling and "behind" this group?"  Nobody could be found who would say that either, but the question was asked over and over again.

Now, think about it, folks  Al-Qa'ida is a virulently anti-Shia Sunni group.   Everyone "knows" how much Syria supports Hizbullah, a virulently anti-Sunni Shia group.  So, which is it? Which side does the syrian government support?  Does the Syrian government support both at the same time?  If you believe that, then you really are a sucker for propaganda.

It would be interesting to know who sets the agenda for the content of 24/7 news.  Very interesting.  pl

Lebanon Unrest Puts Hariri Tribunal In Peril (thanks to Ehsani)
2007-05-21 19:47 (From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
By Jay Solomon 

WASHINGTON: As violence in Lebanon escalated, the Bush administration braced for a possible showdown with Russia and China over the establishment of a United Nations court to try suspects in the 2005 killing of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

U.S. and Lebanese officials anticipate a vote at the U.N. Security Council in the coming days on a draft resolution that would unilaterally establish a Hariri court, after pro-Syria critics inside the Lebanese Parliament opposed such a move.

U.S. diplomats said there are increasing fears that Moscow and Beijing may seek to veto the plan, citing recent violence, with deadly clashes between Lebanese army troops and a Sunni militia in Tripoli and bomb explosions in Beirut.

A senior U.S. official working on the Hariri case said within the Security Council there isn't "any agreement to move forward" on the court and that Bush administration officials are debating whether to push for the resolution without a clear indication on how China and Russia will vote. "It's all up to whether the U.S. has the backbone to dare them to veto" the resolution, the official said.

The U.S., France and the United Kingdom see the Hariri court as central to stabilizing Lebanon and ridding the country of Syrian influence. Initial U.N. investigative reports released in 2005 implicated senior Syrian intelligence officials in Mr. Hariri's death, a charge Damascus has denied repeatedly.

The U.N. also is investigating allegations of Damascus's ties to more than a dozen attacks on anti-Syrian activists in the past two years. Senior members of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's government yesterday charged Syria with inciting the latest violence in an effort to derail the establishment of the tribunal. "This is the new Syrian counterattack to try and destabilize Lebanon," said Walid Jumblatt, a Druze leader in the government's parliamentary bloc, in a telephone interview from Beirut. "They're trying to tell us that if we move ahead with the tribunal, this will be the answer.

Syria denies the charge and says it has no ties to the militant group battling Lebanese troops. Many Lebanese officials fear the current political crisis could push Lebanon back into the type of sectarian conflict that gripped the country during its 1975-90 civil war. Lebanon has developed into the latest proxy battle between pro-Western factions in the Middle East and Iran and Syria. Both Tehran and Damascus have backed the Lebanese political party and militia, Hezbollah, in its bid to topple the current Lebanese government.

Russian and Chinese diplomats at the U.N. have said in recent days that their governments are still studying the draft resolution on the Hariri court. Moscow sent a parliamentary delegation to Lebanon last week to confer with government and opposition figures on the status of the international tribunal. "We'll come to a conclusion this week," said a spokeswoman at the Russian mission to the U.N. Russia has been among Damascus's closest allies, tracing back to the Cold War. China is seen as adverse to the U.N.'s unilateral establishment of a tribunal on the principle of protecting national sovereignty.

The clashes in the past two days have pitted Lebanese army troops in the northern city of Tripoli against a Sunni militia called Fatah Islam. Senior Lebanese security officials say the militia's leadership was based in Damascus until late last year and many of its members entered Lebanon after fighting U.S. forces in Iraq. Leaders of Fatah Islam say they share the same world view as al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and fight to contain the spread of American and Israeli hegemony.

About 300 Fatah Islam militants are based inside the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli, they said.The current fighting was sparked by a bank robbery allegedly conducted by Fatah Islam members that grew into an all-out battle between Lebanese army troops and the militia.

Lebanese tanks and armored personnel carriers shelled Nahr el-Bared yesterday in a bid to flesh out the Fatah Islam members from the camp's population, which is estimated at 40,000 people. At least 50 combatants have been killed in the fighting, and Palestinian leaders said they feared that members of the camp's refugee population have been killed. They pressed Mr. Siniora's government for restraint.

The Bush administration has publicly voiced support for the Lebanese military's response. A State Department spokesman said Beirut's military was working in a "legitimate manner" against "provocations by violent extremists." Lebanese leaders have sought support from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to flush out civilians from Nahr el-Bared so that Lebanese troops can crush Fatah Islam. "If not, there will be a civil war," Mr. Jumblatt said. Yesterday, a second bomb in as many days exploded in downtown Beirut. This one struck the upscale Sunni neighborhood of Verdun.

Lebanese officials again pointed their fingers at Damascus. Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, denied that his government had any role in supporting Fatah Islam or overseeing the bombings and stressed that Damascus had sought to arrest its leadership. "Our forces have been after them, even through Interpol," Mr. Moallem said in a lecture at Damascus University, according to Reuters. "We reject this organization." Mr. Moallem described the Hariri tribunal as "one of the tools of the U.S. to undermine Syria and the region. This is why we said we will not deal with it."

The Hariri tribunal has been at the heart of a Lebanese political crisis that has stretched on for six months. The country's largely Shiite opposition, led by Hezbollah, pulled its support for Mr. Siniora's government in November, in part because of its opposition to the terms of the Hariri probe. Beirut's parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri, subsequently, has refused to convene a legislative session to ratify the U.N.'s international tribunal, because of the lack of Shiite ministers in the Lebanese government.

Mr. Siniora wrote U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon this month to request the Security Council move forward with the international tribunal without Beirut's parliamentary approval. That has required the U.S., France and Britain to try and pass a resolution through the Security Council that would empower the U.N. to act without Lebanon's legislative support. The U.S. completed a draft form of the resolution Thursday, according to U.S. officials.

Comments (18)

Ziad said:

question:So, which is it? Which side does the syrian government support? Does the Syrian government support both at the same time? If you believe that, then you really are a sucker for propaganda.

It’s not the same kind of support…the relation between the syrian regime and hezballah is strong and is deep rooted for several reasons one of them is that as minorities in the arab world they think that they should unite their forces to survive,they are natural allies .
When it came to small qaida style groups which are marginal and never more than few hundreds with lack of popular support,they use them as political tool and troublemakers through middlemen from mukhabarat(al qaqa and co) in order to play the pyromaniac-firefighter ,the syrian regime and even the iranian regime are using them in lebanon as well in iraq.

May 22nd, 2007, 5:16 am


R said:

I am sorry Mr Solomon is quite wrong – Lebanon unrest gives even more impetus for the Hariri Tribunal – no matter how you spin it. Saying the Hariri tribuna “is a bust” at evry turn – you have become like the “the boy who cried wolf!”

May 22nd, 2007, 5:41 am


Enlightened said:

On a personal level my mother is in Tripoli at the moment she was visiting my very sick grandmother.

It seems a coincidence, doesnt it, the draft tribunal gets circulated and presto and by magic, violence flares in Lebanon, and the Syrian Presidential elections are five days away are they not?

It just goes to prove that the Middle East is just one sick place and in desperate need of a cure!

Alex has been rather silent the last few days? On holidays?

May 22nd, 2007, 6:18 am


Resident counter apologist said:

“Now, think about it, folks Al-Qa’ida is a virulently anti-Shia Sunni group. Everyone “knows” how much Syria supports Hizbullah, a virulently anti-Sunni Shia group. So, which is it? Which side does the syrian government support? Does the Syrian government support both at the same time? If you believe that, then you really are a sucker for propaganda.”

How idiotic is this statement? Which side does the Syrian government support? Both sides!!!

How can you be writing for the WSJ and come to the conclusion that Syria supports one side or the other? Syria is intent on creating a conflict situation and what better then to replicate an Iraq like situation. Please avoid ridiculing yourself further.

May 22nd, 2007, 6:21 am


MSK said:

Dear Josh,

The article you cited (Col. Pat Lang) is from his blog, not the WSJ.



May 22nd, 2007, 7:16 am


DJ said:

Those allegations that Syria might have connections to FI (Fateh Al Islam) are ridiculous, they remind me of the linkage the US and UK were trying to fabricate between Saddam and Al Qaeda before invading Iraq. Intelligence my ass, build the case and then establish your intell around it. Isn’t that what the (British Eyes Only) report has said?
I mean for heaven sake how come that those Kamikazi die-hards are willing to die just to serve Syria’s agenda?

May 22nd, 2007, 7:41 am


Ziad said:

DJ,they are not diying for the regime,these young jihadists are unaware of the plot ,they are infiltred and manipulated by agents who present themselves as men of jihad and spirituality ,in our society in crisis and frustration , it’s easy to find such easy preys.

May 22nd, 2007, 8:05 am


DJ said:

I am sorry Ziad, but this doesn’t make any sense. It’s quite unlikely that hundreds of trained are willing to die for a cause that they are unaware of.
Come to think of it, are those who are planting the bombs are unaware of what they are doing too?. You have to remember that those Takfiries draw their extremism form the ideology of Takfeer. And I don’t believe that there is any regime out there that is able to control such an ideology and funnel it to serve its own interests. After all, most Arab governments are deemed ‘Infidels’ by those extremists.

May 22nd, 2007, 8:49 am


Ziad said:

DJ ,no they think that they die for the sake of a noble cause and but what i meant they are unaware that they could be manipulated by other parties and yes there is fertile ground in the arab world for such activism because the accumulation of frustrations and lack of freedom in the muslim societies.(more than poverty and ignorance).
You will rarely find a Muslim scholar or a student in religion who have chosen to be a kamikaze or terrorist ;but a lot are product of modernity, with good diplomas , from secular and westernized background.So the reason must be searched in the arab modernity crisis and the lack of political freedom not in theology.
Salafi extremist sheikh as Al Albany or Ben Baz considered the so called martyr operations even inside palestine as suicidal acts…their fatwas say that the kamikaze will go to hell whatever the target and the reason is.
Btw,Takfirism is not only a salafi matter ,and you will find more takfirism in shia books than in salafi books.

May 22nd, 2007, 9:15 am


why-discuss said:

The potential danger of the 1969 accord that prevents the lebanese army to enter palestinians camps , has been overlooked, among other dangerous issues, by that business-like governement whose obsession is to bring tourists to Lebanon and a biased international tribunal as the solution to all the country’s problems. Now the pandora box is open and all the ghosts under the bed are coming out to haunt this governement and show its inability to deal with the priorities of this country. Of course, the easy solution is to be the blame on Syria…

May 22nd, 2007, 9:51 am


Resident counter apologist said:

I am amazed at the level of discussion here. As if everyone was reading some other news source, or living on another planet or something.

Fatah el Islam is a Syrian proxy. You can twist and turn it around however you like, facts remain facts.

May 22nd, 2007, 10:56 am


al-baluzi said:

Resident Counter Apologist

Facts remain facts? The point made above about the intelligence reports in Britain in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq is that facts can be made to fit the world-view one supports.

Just because the American media portrays most Muslims as supporters of terrorism does that make it a fact?

May 22nd, 2007, 11:09 am


idaf said:

“Resident counter apologist”..
An how exactly did it become an established “fact” that “Fatah el Islam is a Syrian proxy”. Appreciate if you list the sources of these facts. And please spare us the news sources associated with Saudi, the M14 warlords and zaiims). Better yet, please spare us media sources all together. They are not a source for fact.

May 22nd, 2007, 12:25 pm


DJ said:

Resident counter apologist said:
Fatah el Islam is a Syrian proxy.

Wallah? Who told you?
I’d say it’s Sa’ad Hariri’s proxy. Either him or Bandar. Or any one of those buffoons who are scared about the precarious establishing of the international tribunal. They want to set a big fire so that they could call the fire engine for it…
Now this is how I see the facts, so knock it off and get a life….

May 22nd, 2007, 1:23 pm


eRamzi said:

First of all, it’s always a pleasure to read comments from the various corners of the world. So here i go:

Seriously…i mean Seriously…. take a chill pill everyone

1- Terrorism has no religion, terrorism serves an agenda (and you can quote me on that). When interests lie on the same side, tactics meet and alliances are formed and the most prominent example is Israel and Hamas (please research before arguing i’m wrong). Fatah al Islam is -for now- serving the syrian agenda.

2- always put ur feelings aside when analyzing situations my dear DJ. your hatred to the sunnis just show how biased your comments are. if in fact those thugs were saad’s proxy why would they target the most prominent sunni neighborhood?-wait a second, want a propaganda?- they targetted verdun to show that it’s actually not the sunnis since they’re being hit. i bet the orange camp would love that propaganda (the same way they spread the word that it was actually the LF that killed Pierre Gemayel).

3- should i remind everyone here of the famous Bashar Speech he made? or should i remind you of the various mo’allem quotes concerning igniting civil war if the tribunal goes thru?

4- i am not here to defend the sunnis, in fact i despise them for covering up for the palestinians. but one has to know that palestinians and fateh al islam are not the same.

I don’t mean to brag or anything, all i wanna say is that commentors here are suckers for propaganda, and thinking that syria will only back one party is…well…idiocy.

my prayers go to the families of the dead soldiers and to the soldiers out there.

May 22nd, 2007, 2:06 pm


Abu Takla said:

DJ: “knock it off and get a life”


IDAF, when a group/ party/ movement, makes all the right moves to get Syria’s message across, it becomes pretty hard to argue that it is being manipulated and controlled by the enemies of Syria, don’t you think? Unless we’re just arguing for argument’s sake.

With respect,
Abu Takla.

May 22nd, 2007, 2:54 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Why is it necessary to let Lebanon go to hell for the sake of this damned Tribunal? I mean, let’s roll back the clock and try the conspirators in the assassination of Martin Luther King, a likely back channel government-sponsored assassination?

May 22nd, 2007, 5:49 pm


zenobia said:


very good points….i think you about summed it up correctly.

May 22nd, 2007, 7:20 pm


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