This blog of the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) aims at granting the public opinion access to all information related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon : daily press review in english, french and arabic ; UN documents, etc...

Ce blog du
Centre Libanais des droits humains (CLDH) a pour objectif de rendre accessible à l'opinion publique toute l'information relative au Tribunal Spécial pour le Liban : revue de presse quotidienne en anglais, francais et arabe ; documents onusiens ; rapports, etc...


August 11, 2010 - Daily Star - Nasrallah’s speech fails to meet high expectations

Natacha Yazbeck
Agence France Presse

BEIRUT: Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s “evidence” implicating Israel in the murder of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has failed to sway his political rivals and left analysts divided over its impact.

“The press conference is likely part and parcel of a strategy of self-defense,” Mustafa Alloush, a former MP and member of the Future Movement, founded by Hariri, told AFP on Tuesday.

“If the aim is to convince us of Israel’s guilt, then this evidence should be placed in the hands of the relevant authorities and jurisdiction.”

At a Monday night press conference, Nasrallah produced several undated clips of aerial views of various areas in Lebanon, including the site of the Hariri assassination in mainly Sunni west Beirut several years prior to the murder.

Nasrallah, who has accused Israel of the February 14, 2005, bombing which killed Hariri and 22 others, said the footage was intercepted from unmanned Israeli MK surveillance drones.

He conceded the images were not conclusive proof but noted that his party – which is believed constantly under surveillance by its arch-foe Israel – had no offices, positions or presence in the areas surveyed.

Hariri’s allies initially blamed Syria for his killing but Damascus has consistently denied the allegations. Syria nonetheless withdrew its troops from Lebanon under international pressure in April 2005, ending a 29-year presence.

Nasrallah last month said he was aware the UN-backed tribunal on the Hariri murder, which is expected to issue an indictment this year, would indict members of his Syrian- and Iranian-backed party, slamming it as an Israeli project.

But his highly anticipated address Monday failed to live up to the expectations of the Lebanese and was at best received as circumstantial evidence – and a show of counter-espionage prowess.

“No one took the evidence seriously or considered it objective,” said Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut.

“Nasrallah was simply addressing his public,” Khashan told AFP. “He promised solid proof but instead offered new elements to support his rebuttal of the tribunal’s credibility and request they start anew.”

Asaad Abu Khalil, a political science professor at California State University at Stanislaus, said the event was “a great political show” that aimed to sway Arab public opinion.

“The expectations were high for the speech: in Lebanon, Hizbullah’s enemies did not want anything less than pictures of Israelis pulling the triggers on Hariri. That was not provided,” Abu Khalil wrote on his “Angry Arab” blog.

“Hizbullah did something entirely different in this press conference: it recaptured Arab political opinion … with images, and visual effects and background music and graphics.”

But Fadia Kiwan, who heads the political science department at Saint Joseph University, said Nasrallah’s revelation was “extremely dangerous.”

“There is no conclusive evidence on the involvement of Israel but [Nasrallah presented] relevant arguments that make it inevitable that this hypothesis be seriously examined,” she told AFP.

Nasrallah’s statements have raised fears of a replay of the events of May 2008, when 100 people were killed in a week of fighting sparked by a government crackdown on the party’s private communications network. The government later repealed its decision.

The Hizbullah leader on Monday said he was willing to cooperate with the Lebanese government on the Hariri murder and present the Cabinet, which includes two Hizbullah ministers, with his findings.

He refused to specify what measures Hizbullah would take should the UN tribunal implicate the Shiite party.

But a high-ranking government official, who requested his name be withheld, told AFP on Tuesday that he did not expect Hizbullah to take any drastic measures.

“The indictment will be issued by an international body so even withdrawing from the government would be a very artificial, contrived step that would cause problems here in Lebanon without presenting any corroboration of the evidence presented yesterday,” the official said.

“Turning the table on the Lebanese government would seem to me taking Lebanon hostage and saying ‘I’m threatening the international community that my own country will be paying the price,’” he added. “I don’t expect that.”

Israel on Tuesday dismissed Hizbullah’s claims of their guilt as “ridiculous.”

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Background - خلفية

On 13 December 2005 the Government of the Lebanese Republic requested the UN to establish a tribunal of an international character to try all those who are alleged responsible for the attack of 14 february 2005 that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. The United Nations and the Lebanese Republic consequently negotiated an agreement on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Liens - Links - مواقع ذات صلة

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, David Schenker , March 30, 2010 . Beirut Spring: The Hariri Tribunal Goes Hunting for Hizballah

Frederic Megret, McGill University, 2008. A special tribunal for Lebanon: the UN Security Council and the emancipation of International Criminal Justice

International Center for Transitional Justice Handbook on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, April 10, 2008

United Nations
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 19 Sept 2007
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 27 Mars 2008

Département d'Etat américain
* 2009 Human Rights report
* 2008 Human Rights report
* 2007 Human Rights report
* 2006 Human Rights report
* 2005 Human Rights report

ICG - International Crisis Group
The Hariri Tribunal: Separate the Political and the Judicial, 19 July, 2007. [Fr]

HCSS - Hague Centre for strategic studies
Hariri, Homicide and the Hague

Human Rights Watch
* Hariri Tribunal can restore faith in law, 11 may 2006
* Letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, april 27, 2006

Amnesty International
* STL insufficient without wider action to combat impunity
* Liban : le Tribunal de tous les dangers, mai 2007
* Jeu de mecano

Courrier de l'ACAT - Wadih Al Asmar
Le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban : entre espoir et inquiétude

Georges Corm
La justice penale internationale pour le Liban : bienfait ou malediction?

Nadim Shedadi and Elizabeth Wilmshurt, Chatham House
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon : the UN on Trial?, July 2007

Issam Michael Saliba, Law Library of Congress
International Tribunals, National Crimes and the Hariri Assassination : a novel development in International Criminal Law, June 2007

Mona Yacoubian, Council on Foreign Relations
Linkages between Special UN Tribunal, Lebanon, and Syria, June 1, 2007