Six years after the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the U.N.'s Special Tribunal for Lebanon has finally released confidential indictments to Lebanon's judicial system. The Tribunal's decision has tightened the thumb screws on Hizballah and Syria, who have been heavily implicated in the indictments.
"Today, we stand before a new fact that requires a rational and reasonable approach; we put our country's higher interest, civil peace, national unity, and concern to know the truth above anything else," Lebanon's sitting Prime Minister Nijab Miqati was quoted saying on Hizballah's al-Manar news site. "We should act responsibly with the event. No matter what the source of these indictments is, these are not verdicts, and accusations require solid evidences that include no doubt. The accused is innocent until proven guilty."
Leaked names from the indictment are: Mustafa Badreddine, the man responsible for many of Hizballah's biggest foreign and domestic attacks, Salim Ayyash, who headed the cell that carried out the assassination; Hasan Aineysseh; and, Assad Sabra. The document follows the April 2009 release of four generals who were being held for their assumed role in the attack. It also confirms two of the names found in Der Spiegel's May 2009 article, which was supposedly based on leaked sources.
Hizballah has previously rejected the Tribunal, although the group's al-Manar website did not carry any direct statements about their reaction to the recent indictments. "We absolutely reject accusing any Hezbollah member of the killing of Hariri," Nasrallah said last year. "We will not accept any indictment to anyone in Hezbollah." In August 2010, Hizballah blamed Israel for the killing.
But analysts are saying this will be a big hit for Hizballah and its regional sponsor, Syria. "I think the Syrian regime is facing an existential crisis, one I believe it will lose," said Beirut journalist Michael Young. "[T]he pro-Syrian government in Beirut will have a tough domestic and international fight as it struggles to deal with the (tribunal's) indictments, and Hezbollah is facing enough worries with the situation in Syria."