2011-01-26 Lebanon: Reaction to Hezbollah-backed nomination of Mikati

Anger has flooded the streets of Beirut, Tripoli, and other cities in Lebanon, where supporters of caretaker prime minister Saad al-Hariri have been protesting the nomination of Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati.

Lawmakers in Beirut voted on Tuesday to back Najib Mikati, the candidate Hezbollah had proposed, as a prime minister. He gained 68 votes to Hariri's 60, putting the Hezbollah-led opposition in a position to form a government. (Source)

Al Jazeera and BBC report that journalists are being targeted for being “too sympathetic” to Mikati and his supporters.

Mikati is an American-educated billionaire, founder of M1 group and close family friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The nomination of Mikati is perceived as victory for Hezbollah, which is trying to prevent a U.N.-backed international tribunal investigation into the 2005 assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, former prime minister and father of Saad al-Hariri. (Source)

Though it had been rumoured that the United Nations-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon was looking to implicate Syria in Rafiq al-Hariri's killing, the tribunal is now reportedly preparing to indict senior members of Hezbollah, the armed Shia nationalist movement that leads the March 8 coalition but is also considered a terrorist organisation by Egypt, Israel, and some Western countries, including the United States. (Source)

Despite support from Hezbollah, MiKati has said that he is “for the benefit of everyone" and does not “wish to exclude anyone." He also states that he has no aspirations for revenge on his opponents and presents himself as "a moderate".

Perceived as a terrorist organization by many, including Israel and the U.S., Hezbollah has been accused of being part of "Iran's larger terrorist network." However, as William O. Beeman points out, "Hezbollah has not been under Iranian political or military control for nearly a decade. It is now an organization operating on its own recognizance, although it continues to receive a fraction of its operating funds from Iran -- much of it in the form of religious charitable contributions from its Shia brethren."

Hezbollah (Party of God) was founded in the early 1980s in response to the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, which houses the majority of the Lebanon’s Shia Islamic population.

Unlike the other major political parties that have historically dominated Lebanon’s political system, which are elite-based, led by generations of the same families and generally uninterested in the country’s poor majority, Hezbollah has embraced a populist … agenda and is now the largest single political party in the country. (Source)

It has therefore been argued that "Hezbollah cannot afford the blow to its popular legitimacy that would occur if it is pinned with the Hariri killing. The group’s power depends on the unconditional backing of its roughly 1 million supporters."

In response to the allegations being made regarding his involvement with Hezbollah, Mikati said in a BBC interview, "I am not at all related to Hezbollah by any means. I accepted to be prime minister not to create problems but to solve problems.”

Reaction to Hezbollah-backed nomination

This article lacks important background. BBC’s article “Lebanon’s intelligence war with Israel” shows Agents of Israel have for years infiltrated Lebanese telecommunications. (updated at 04:48 GMT, Saturday, 30 May 2009) The U.N. team investigating Hariri’s murder has collected data from mobile phone calls made the day of Hariri's murder as evidence. On 16 July 2010 Hezbollah suggested the telecom evidence being used by the tribunal could have been planted by these spies. In CounterPunch (July 23-25, 2010) Rannie Amiri(“The Hariri Assassination”) concluded the breakup of Israeli spy rings should prompt the UN tribunal to shift its focus to the only regional player that has benefited from Hariri’s murder, namely Israel. The US is counting on the results of the tribunal to allow the Lebanese govt to arrest Hezbollah members and start another civil war. By dumping the younger Hariri, the majority of members in the Lebanese Parliament have decided not to fall into this US trap. The REACTION you report is an attempt by the US to overturn the legal outcome of the vote in Parliament. See also http://www.darkpolitricks.com/2011/01/lebanon-a-welcome-end-to-the-harir....

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Ken Sievers

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