The Hariri assassination, 14 years later

In memory of Rafik Hariri, it is worth noting that, despite the hardships it is going through, Lebanon is continuing its fight against the Iranian project.
Sunday 03/03/2019
A member of the Lebanese security forces stands guard in front of a billboard bearing a portrait of slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in downtown Beirut. (AFP) 
A living legacy. A member of the Lebanese security forces stands guard in front of a billboard bearing a portrait of slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in downtown Beirut. (AFP) 

It is hard for a Lebanese, with a deep belief in the concept of Lebanon, to accept that the assassination of Rafik Hariri 14 years ago achieved its goal, at least for the time being.

The odious crime ended the single serious attempt since 1975, to revive the only national project that could have succeeded and that was the project launched by Hariri from the heart of Beirut

The political scene in Lebanon is disheartening. Iran had effectively taken control of Lebanon through political discourse, actions on the ground and illegal armed militias, and has replaced the savage and uncivilised Syrian domination over Lebanon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif went to Beirut recently offering specific services with very clear and transparent objectives that had nothing to do with any national interest of Lebanon. On the contrary, Zarif’s plan was to find a way out for Iran from its deep crisis.

Zarif’s visit to Beirut was for Iran to prove that Hariri’s assassination and the subsequent crimes that were committed have been fruitful and Zarif was able to act with total freedom in Beirut. He was on his turf.

The state of affairs in Lebanon has made it possible for any Iranian official to say loud and clear that Tehran is in control of four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a. This is somewhat true if it weren’t for the fact that Baghdad is rebelling against Tehran and rejecting Iranian colonialism, while Beirut is still resisting.

Zarif offered Lebanon weapons and rockets that have been proven useless in countering Israel. The Syrian scene is a clear proof of that.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who knows who was behind the assassination of his father, was courageous enough to confront Zarif and state openly that the Lebanese government bases its development programme on “the interest of the Lebanese people and the higher interests of Lebanon, adding that “Lebanon respects its agreements and commitments to the Arab and international communities.”

Thus, Hariri remains the last stronghold defending Lebanon and the interests of the Lebanese people against the attack from Tehran, which pays Lebanon no significance and considers it as a mere colony of Iran.

In memory of Rafik Hariri, it is worth noting that, despite the hardships it is going through, Lebanon is continuing its fight against the Iranian project, which was taken on new dimensions since February 14, 2005, when Hariri’s convoy was attacked.

It is no secret as to who planned and executed the hideous crime. It is no secret that a series of crimes was subsequently committed to cover up the assassination.

The war with Israel in the summer of 2006 was simply a war staged against Lebanon, with Iran and Israel as accomplices. Rafik Hariri and his national project for Lebanon were the real targets of that war, which saw the destruction of part of the country’s infrastructure and made many young Lebanese flee their homeland.

Lebanon has remained an Iranian target. It was a country that needed to be tamed and penetrated.

So, when Saad Hariri visited Tehran in 2010 as prime minister, the Iranian government made three requests: the exemption of Iranian citizens from entry visas to Lebanon, as is the case with Arab nationals; signing a defence treaty between the two countries like the Iranian-Syrian treaty; and giving Iran access to the Lebanese banking system.

Hariri paid the price for rejecting all three requests. Following that refusal, Hezbollah, which represented a bloc of one-third of the Lebanese parliament, took to the streets of Beirut and defeated Hariri’s government as a prelude to imposing Najib Mikati as prime minister.

There is no need to go back to these events and point out the Christian party was behind the fall of Hariri’s government during those days.

What Iran has requested from Lebanon is nearly impossible. Lebanon may exempt Iranian citizens from entry visas, and this is what Mikati’s government did, but Lebanon cannot sign a defence treaty with and accept Iranian weapons, which would entail the presence of Iranian military experts on Lebanese soil to train the Lebanese Army on the use of the weapons.

Most important, Lebanon cannot open its banking system to Iran. Lebanese banks and financial institutions have no choice but to go along with the US sanctions on Iran if Lebanon it wants to protect what remains of its economy.

It is clear why getting rid of Rafik Hariri was needed. He was an obstacle to the Iranian expansionist plan, which was opposed not only by Lebanon but by the whole of the Arab world.

What is equally clear is that 14 years after Hariri’s death, Iran progressed in its intended plan in Lebanon. As proof, Hezbollah was able to impose its choice regarding the presidency and its choice regarding the composition of the current parliament, as a result of an unbelievably weird law the secret of which is known only to Hezbollah.

In addition, the current Lebanese government would not have seen the light without Iran’s interference in laws regulating the constitution of governments in Lebanon.

Is this the utmost Iran can do in Lebanon in the absence of an Arab action in the country? The answer is that Lebanon continues to resist but, in the end, much will depend on what happens in the region and inside Iran.

Iran, despite the show of muscles beyond its borders, remains a failed state on all levels. Besides its sectarian militias and their culture of death, it doesn’t have a real model to present to Lebanon or to any other country.

Rafik Hariri was killed by this culture of death and this same culture is about to finish off Lebanon but it won’t save Iran and its expansionist aspirations in any country in the region.