Friday, January 7, 2011

Obama and the Hariri murder investigation

Saudi Arabia and Syria are currently working on a joint initiative to undermine the UN Special Tribunal's investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri. Details of the Saudi-Syria initiative remain under wraps. But one thing is certain: The Saudis and Syrians are taking whatever steps are necessary to either squash the investigation completely or to dilute the indictment, so that Syria and Hezbollah can continue to maintain their choke hold over Lebanon. The Saudis apparently believe that placating Syria and Hezbollah is their only option.

The question, however, arises: Where does President Obama stand on the issue?

Both the Obama administration and the mainstream media would have us believe that the President would like nothing more than for the perpetrators of Hariri's murder to receive their due justice and to be punished to the full extent of the law. But I suspect otherwise.

While the President perhaps is not seeking to totally squash the investigation, I suspect that, like the Saudis, he would prefer that Syria and Hezbollah come out of this mess in one piece. For indeed, the President is not only the ultimate appeaser, he, by his own admission, has little interest in bolstering Democracy. Hence, he couldn't care less whether Syria and Hezbollah tighten their noose around Lebanon's neck.

Incidentally, Barack Obama's chief adviser on counter-terrorism, John Brennan said about Hezbollah in 2009: "Hezbollah started out as purely a terrorist organization back in the early ’80s and has evolved significantly over time. And now it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hezbollah organization... And so, quite frankly, I’m pleased to see that a lot of Hezbollah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process [in Lebanon] in a very legitimate fashion. "

Nevertheless, the following tidbits will perhaps shed some additional light on the matter and help us to better ascertain Obama's position on the STL [Special Tribunal for Lebanon] investigation:

In July of 2010, Syrian President Bashar Assad met with Saudi King Abdullah and, according to the Lebanese media, proclaimed: "The international tribunal’s work should come to an end. We in Syria feel the tribunal’s investigation has become a heavy diplomatic burden on Lebanon and its stability." This meeting, I suppose, was likely the prelude to the Syrian/Saudi initiative [mentioned at the onset of this post].

Arab news outlets reported that the Syrian President called King Abdullah on December 26, while the King was recuperating from back surgery in a New York hospital. The two leaders reportedly discussed the Saudi-Syrian initiative. The very same day, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri traveled to New York to visit the King. He met with him the following day, on December 27. It goes without saying that the Saudi-Syrian initiative was the primary focus of their discussion. According to the aforementioned sources, Hariri's visit to New York suggested that progress had been made with regard to the Saudi-Syrian initiative. President Obama, coincidentally, also placed a call to the King on December 26. He reportedly, "wished the King well and congratulated him on the progress that he had made toward a full recovery.”

Question: Did the President also make the call [on the same day Assad spoke to the King] in order to discuss the Saudi/Syrian initiative prior to Hariri's meeting with the King the following day,?

I don't know.

Mr. Hariri, in November, met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the situation in Lebanon. One month prior to that meeting, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri met with Sarkozy. A 1982 profile of Mr. Berri, from History Commons, pretty much sums up where his sympathies lie:

Nabih Berri takes over the Amal Militia, a Shi’a Lebanese paramilitary organization... Although not a fundamentalist Muslim, Berri allies himself with the new regime in Iran and Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Lebanese Shi’a party backed by Iran. Berri also manages to convince Syrian authorities that he will represent their interests in Lebanon...
Last week a Lebanese news outlet reported as follows:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to head to Beirut as soon as a compromise settlement over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indictment is announced to end the country’s political impasse , French diplomatic sources revealed on Friday.

The sources told [a Kuwaiti newspaper] that the visit would be aimed at asserting France’s support to the compromise settlement.

Sarkozy recently stated that it is unacceptable for Lebanon to slip again into violence...

Saudi and Syrian officials have reportedly been working on a compromise [settlement]...
Sarkozy is traveling to the US next week to meet with President Obama. The two of them, will discuss, among other things, the situation in Lebanon, according to an Arab daily.

The President, last week, bypassed the senate, during the holiday recess, and appointed the first US ambassador to Syria since 2005. The Bush administration withdrew its ambassador from Syria in February 2005 in response to the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

So, to answer the question I posed earlier: Where does President Obama stand with regards to the STL investigation?

Well, whether the information I cited above provides a 100% concrete answer, I do not know. But it does raise my suspicion level significantly higher, and my suspicions were already quite high, due to the fact that Obama is the ultimate appeaser, who finds no greater pleasure in life than to coddle tyrants.

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