LEBANON’S TRIBUNAL AS BLUDGEON
Franklin Lamb– Mideast Report, BEIRUT
“I’ve got these [expletive deleted] just where we want them Maura! Watch the 1000 slow cuts as we shred Hezbollah–who do they think they are? And we’ll do it by using 1757 and this time we’re going all the way. I told Israel to stay out of Lebanon because the IDF can’t defeat Hezbollah plus the whole region would burn.
I will handle this and it will be my Christmas present to Lebanon.” So said Jeffrey Feltman in conversation with his former office staffer, now US Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly during October 17, 2010 visit with MP Walid Jumblatt at his Clemenceau residence.
On December 12, 2008, Naharnet.com reported that “Former US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman presented Prime Minister Fuad Siniora with what the American diplomat described as his personal Christmas present to Lebanon. Mr. Feltman assured PM Siniora that he will force Israel out of Ghajar village before the end of 2008.”
As it turned out, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Lebanon never did receive Feltman’s promised 2008 Christmas present and Israel still has its tanks and troops in Lebanon’s Ghajar village even as pressure mounts for ending its four-year illegal occupation of North Ghajar which, in violation of UNSCR 1701, Israel invaded in July 2006 and from which it has refused to withdraw.
This holiday season Jeff is again assuring his Lebanese allies that he’s Santa Claus and Hezbollah’s head will adorn his sleigh during his Christmas eve rounds. The reason for his optimism is that US and Israel are quietly confident that they can achieve with UNSCR 1757 what was intended but fell short with UNSCR 1559, which is stripping Lebanon’s Resistance of its defensive weapons.
On November 11th, Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom predicted that “an STL (Special Tribunal for Lebanon) indictment against Hezbollah will lead to the implementation of Resolution 1559 and the forced disarming of the Party as well as the collapse of the effort at a Syrian-Lebanese-Iranian-Turkish alliance.
The grand trophy would be Hassan Nasrallah
The US-Israel project is said to be based on elaborate computer models among other calculations and includes the expectation that members of Hezbollah, possibly even Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, will be indicted, tried and convicted, in absentia of course, of involvement in the February 14, 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
The US State Department Office of the Legal Adviser has proudly assured the White House that because its office insisted back in 2005 that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon be established under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, anyone who the STL convicts will face sure UN justice. Chapter Seven allows for the use of unlimited international armed force to implement any verdict that the STL hands down. Washington and Tel Aviv intend that those convicted will not escape the full power of the United Nations system anymore than others earlier, including former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
Israel, serial violator of international law including more than 60 UN Resolutions is also busy boasting that international law supports the Tribunal and that high priced law firms around the world can be hired if necessary to back up the legal work of the STL office of the Prosecution, led by Daniel Bellemare of Canada.
Within hours of Israel instructing Secretary of State Clinton, not to worry, that there is no way for the STL to be stopped or its final judgment sidetracked and all the US has to do is fund it, the White House announced an additional $ 10 million for the Tribunal and got the UK to pony up another $ 1.8 million. More cash is expected from France. Today the STL is flush with cash and it will likely remain so.
Based on interviews with two former staff members of the Office of the STL prosecution, as well as numerous public statements by US officials, there are reasons to take seriously the “all the way” intensions of Jeffrey Feltman and Silvan Shalom. Their governments assert the that STL is legitimate under both international law, given that it was established in accordance with a U.N. Security Council resolution issued under Chapter 7, and also under Lebanon’s legal and constitutional principles contrary to what is being claimed by Hezbollah and STL’s adversaries in Lebanon.
In addition, the US State Department points out that the preamble to the Lebanese Constitution provides that “Lebanon is a founding and active member of the United Nations Organization and abides by its covenants and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Government shall embody these principles in all fields and areas without exception.” Moreover, the Charter of the United Natio ns obliges U.N. member states to “accept and carry out the decisions of the (U.N.) Security Council.”
According to one State Department lawyer, “If the STL indicts and convicts one member of Hezbollah we win. A driver, a boy scout, we don’t care. The Security Council can do a dozen things to topple Hezbollah. For example, can you imagine the effect of Iranian style sanctions if applied against Lebanon until the killers are handed over? The Lebanese only care about money and with all those sects hating each other anyhow, the country will quickly implode in recriminations and civil war if they’re forced to diet a bit…And very tough sanctions against Syria? The US and Israel will only have to collect the pieces and do what should have been done half a century ago and that was to install governments that understand regional and international realities.”
Efforts by Hezbollah and Syria to derail the STL are viewed in Tel Aviv and Washington as futile, because Lebanon is thought to have nothing to say about the STL. It is created by the UNSC and nothing the Lebanese Parliament, Cabinet or people do will affect it. The only reason Lebanon is in the picture at all is that it is the crime scene. And it happens to harbor some suspects. Apart from that Lebanon is essentially irrelevant to the STL work.
One congressional staffer advised: “What we will use are all the many tools, enforcement and other, available to the international community to bring down Hezbollah. The coming phase need not even look like the US and Israel have much involvement. We will just watch like football spectators from the sideline as the UN employs myriad legal and political measures to bring to justice those found to be involved. That’s the beauty of this and it’s also why Hezbollah is very, worried. Or for sure they should be.”
Another staffer in the same office added in an email: “Don’t you see, the STL is the perfect international law instrument to destroy Hezbollah, achieve regime change in Syria, create deadly Sunni-Shia conflicts everywhere, cause civil a war in Lebanon and topple the Mullahs in Iran. It’s going to be like Cheney never left office.”
Following the STL indictments, assuming they include Hezbollah, Washington sources expect that the Israel lobby will launch perhaps history’s most massive and expensive international media campaign of defamation against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran and they will be joined by the US government and some of its European allies, plus the ever-rentable Micronesia.
The objective will be to essentially unite the world’s population against the presumed Shia killers of the Sunni Prime Minister. More than a dozen US-Israel projects that failed in Lebanon over the past decade, from an airbase in Kleiat to street battles to cutting optic telecommunication lines may come back into play when stamped with the imprimatur of international law and full UN Security Council legitimacy.
The current project includes continuing the public threats and hyping threats that Israel is ready to attack Lebanon whereas the Pentagon believes Israel is not ready and may never be ready again and is being rejected regionally and internationally. According to Hezbollah MP Kamel al-Rifai U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and U.S. Senator John Kerry informed Lebanese officials during their recent visits to Lebanon that Israel is serious in its threats to attack Lebanon and might just attack. Al-Rifai told the daily Asharq al-Awsat on 11/15/10 that Hezbollah was told that the American administration gave Israel the green light to do as it pleases in Lebanon, adding that Kerry sent this message to the Syrian leadership as well.
For these reasons the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is seen as an extraordinary US-Israel opportunity to maintain control of the region. The coming media campaign will employ especially sharp personal attacks on Hassan Nasrallah who the US and Israel fear as an Arab leader in the mold of Nasser and as a Muslim leader without modern parallel. Nasrallah is seen as a leader who has the potential to heal many Shia-Sunni divisions and for this he is viewed in Washington and Tel Aviv as very dangerous.
On November 11, 2010 Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah discussed the STL at a neighborhood Martyr’s day gathering in South Beirut. Offering his views on the US-Israel project, he told his audience that Hezbollah knows the US-Israel strategy, which he explained is:
“Let’s accuse Shiite men of assassinating the most important Sunnite leader and consequently issue an indictment in this regard. We will call on the Lebanese government which had signed an agreement with us to arrest these men. The latter would set to arrest them and dispatch army troops and security forces which would be engaged in a clash with the Resistance.”
Nasrallah continued, “Primarily this is the plot. It is not important for the Americans, the Israelis and the sponsors of the STL what would happen or what might happen in Lebanon. Lebanon in itself is not important, neither is martyr PM Rafiq Hariri, the Sunnites, the Shiites, the Muslims, the Christians, the Future Movement, March 14 Bloc nor March 8 Bloc. What is important is Israel, and Israel’s interest is that the Resistance be hit, eliminated, isolated, besieged, weakened, snatched away from its popular environment and its image be distorted. Its morals, belief and will must be harmed and consequently, it would be ready to be hit or to surrender to this plot.”
Hezbollah MP Nawaf Mousawi, one of the most sought after Hezbollah officials for discussions by visiting American and foreign delegations due to his intellect and clarity, advised the media a short time later that:
“The Resistance party is prepared for all scenarios,” adding that “nothing would surprise Hezbollah…. Hezbollah has prepared a series of responses.
Every option corresponds to a specific scenario. Thus if things are positive, we’re ready. But if things are negative and the efforts failed in reaching a solution to the crisis, we’re also ready. In brief, we’re ready to face all options,” Mousawi said.
Franklin Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon and is doing research in Lebanon for his next book. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org