Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri described the arrest warrants issued by Syria against 33 Lebanese figures – including figures affiliated to the March 14 alliance and close associates of al-Hariri himself – following a complaint made by Major General Jamil Sayyed to the Syrian judicial authorities as being “unfortunate.” Others in Lebanon considered these arrest warrants to represent an escalation, and [Lebanese Forces leader] Samir Geagea went so far as to describe them as a violation of Lebanese institutions. The fact of the matter is that this is neither this nor that, and we must disagree with the descriptions put forward by Hariri and Geagea of these arrest warrants.
I am convinced that these warrants represent an extremely positive development, especially if we bear in mind that Major General Jamil Sayyed previously threatened to take what is rightfully his from Hariri with his own hands, he then returned [to Lebanon] and threatened to take to the streets. Following this statement, we asked ourselves; what street will he take to following all of these emotional insults? However today we find that Jamil Sayyed has instead taken to the Syrian judiciary – not the Lebanese judiciary – and this is a development in itself.
The other important issue is that the arrest warrants issued against the 33 figures represents protection for these figures against anybody from anywhere seeking to take their rights from them with their own hands, especially as one of the figures included on this list of 33 has previous experience of this, and that is Mr. Marwan Hamada who was previously subject to an assassination attempt.
From here, resorting to the judiciary, even if this is the Syrian judiciary, is in itself a positive development with regards to the tools that are being utilized in this Lebanese conflict, especially as the language of threats in Lebanon is one that never ends. We saw and heard Major General Sayyed ranting and raving in front of the television cameras, and we also saw how Hezbollah announced that Jamil Sayyed was under their protection, and indeed Hezbollah transformed the Major General into a hero, presenting him as a new leader who has joined their leadership; and they even met him in the same [airport] VIP lounge in Beirut!
Therefore the Lebanese – whether this is the Prime Minister, Geagea, or the March 14 Alliance – should not be concerned about the arrest warrants, but rather they should hope that the rules of the game have changed and developed in Lebanon, away from assassinations of all kinds and the use of force, and that this is now taking place in the circles of the judiciary, even if the motives behind this are political. Even this is a good thing in itself, for those who claimed that the international tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri and his companions is politicized are today embroiling themselves in the Syrian judiciary in a clear and blatant politicized game.
As a result of this, what is happening in Lebanon is – for the moment – a positive thing, and the alarmists should therefore save their alarm until after the Hariri tribunal issues its expected decision and until after we have seen whether Hezbollah has developed the tools of their game, or whether they will return to utilizing the rhetoric that they know so well. This [rhetoric] is either brandishing a gun [in threat], or actually using it, whether this is in the hands of its militiamen, or its agents, deploying them throughout Beirut. This is the greatest cause of concern today, not the arrest warrants.