Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Demand for the Freedom to Assassinate! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Much has been said about the ongoing ‘special’ negotiations on Lebanon, in anticipation of the potential reaction to the indictment rulings, in the event that elements of Hezbollah, or otherwise, are accused. The indictments of the International Tribunal, performing an inquest into the death of the late Rafik Hariri, are expected to be issued at any time, although no specific date has been set.

The bulk of what we hear and read, stemming from leaked information, is that the objective of these negotiations is to strengthen stability in Lebanon, and preserve civil peace. Essentially, this means that there is a group in Lebanon, with external support, that wants the blessing of Arabs, and others, to have the ‘freedom to assassinate’ in Lebanon. Thus, [according to this principle], anyone who assassinates a Prime Minister, a politician of any rank, or a media personality, should not be harmed; otherwise civil peace in Lebanon will be severely jeopardized. This means that the Arabs are following a ‘mafia-mentality’ in their management of the Lebanese crisis, instead of established laws.

This is the crisis that exists in Lebanon today, and it is the crux of the current negotiations, regarding the future of Lebanon, as well as the future of the International Tribunal of Rafik Hariri, and other Lebanese victims. Subsequently, we hear phrases such as “avenger of blood”, or “choose between justice and stability”, or that the International Tribunal “has become politicized”. In reality, almost all parties concerned are not looking to put a stop to assassinations, and to support Lebanon’s stability both now and in the future. The simplest example of what we are saying here came from Michel Aoun, who was not alone in this regard, when he warned that issuing indictments before clarifying the issue of false witnesses, “will lead to the outbreak of hostilities”. Aoun believes that Hezbollah’s response will be stronger, because it considers itself to be innocent. Yet it is well-known that those who are innocent seek to prove their innocence, instead of destroying everything and everybody around them, and bringing down the house from the inside!

Here we are not accusing Hezbollah, or anyone else, but we demand that the innocent seek to show their innocence, without threat or menace. We also demand an end to solutions along the lines of “the Lebanese must choose between justice and stability”, as these only entrench the idea that assassination is an act of politics, an act which unfortunately has been happening in Lebanon for decades.

The unfortunate reality in Lebanon is that whenever the relevant parties, whether in Lebanon or the surrounding area, reach an ‘acceptable’ solution, this simply means that they have lowered their demand from the ‘freedom to assassinate’, to simply arguing that the punishment for the offence is too severe. Yet there does not seem to be a consensus that because assassination is a crime, the offender must pay a price to ensure it does not reoccur.

For the benefit of our region, one hopes that the United Nations will have a hand in the investigation of assassinations, or disappearances, in our region. This includes Lebanon, Iraq, or Somalia, or any region where there is no respect for human life. Otherwise, we will continue in our approach of “let bygones be bygones”, and we will accept assassinations as part of the political process in our region. Who can guarantee that an assassination will not occur tomorrow in Lebanon, or that a national political figure in Iraq will not be targeted, for example, if there is no one to pay the price?