Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Who Killed Rafiq Hariri?

Belmont Club:
Nobody knows yet. But here's a roundup of plausible speculation.

Larry Johnson at the Counterterrorism Blog thinks it is Syria.

Today's bomb blast in Lebanon, which killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, is a harbinger that a peaceful, democratic transition of Governments in the Middle East is a foolish pipe dream. Hariri, aka Fatso, has been a long time pawn of Saudi Arabia and a favorite of both Washington and Paris. His murder comes against the backdrop of increased pressure by the United States and France to force Syria to withdraw its military forces from Lebanon.

This car bombing was probably designed to send an unambiguous message
to both Lebanese and the international community that Syria will not stand idly by and surrender to pressures from Washington, Paris, and the United Nations.

Hariri, who had been staying on the sidelines in recent months as political parties in Lebanon jockeyed for position in upcoming parliamentary elections, was a convenient and potent symbol of a Lebanese power broker perceived as too close and too accommodating of Western desires. His killers are providing a simple message, Syria will not leave Lebanon without a fight and Damascus is willing to destroy Lebanon in order to save itself.

Juan Cole thinks it was either Al Qaeda one of Hariri's business rivals.

Personally, I find the likelihood of the Saudi connection generating al-Qaeda-type violence against him somewhat more plausible than that it came out of local politics, since local politics had been fairly civil in Lebanon. It is also possible, since al-Hariri was worth $4 billion and had all sorts of shady deals going on even when he was PM, that this assassination had an economic/ mafia-type background that we are not aware of.

More can be found on the Belmont Club blog...