Friday, August 20, 2010

Alistair Lyon, Hezbollah handmaiden

In coming weeks, a UN tribunal is expected to indict key members of the Hezbollah terror group for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.  Anticipation of that event is having a chilling effect on Hezbollah Kingpin Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as well as many Hezbollah partisans in Lebanon including Reuters special propagandist correspondent Alistair Lyon.

In an attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the tribunal and to inoculate Hezbollah against the fallout of the expected indictments, Lyon suggests that the UN court is seen as:
... a pawn in murky tussles for influence involving Israel, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States and others. 
Lyon then serves as a mouthpiece for Hezbollah, pleading its case that Israel is actually behind the Hariri murder:
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, responding to reports that the tribunal planned to indict some of his men, has sought to discredit it by showing on television what he said was intercepted Israeli surveillance film of routes used by Hariri.

He also suggested that Lebanese arrested in recent months as spies for Israel, some of whom worked for telephone firms, could have manipulated cellphone evidence gathered by investigators.

Nasrallah, who leads Lebanon's strongest armed force, calls the court an "Israeli project" against Hezbollah and its allies. The possibility that even "rogue" Hezbollah members might face charges seemed so explosive that Syrian and Saudi heads of state jointly visited Beirut in July to calm fears of sectarian tension between Nasrallah's Shi'ite followers and Sunnis loyal to Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the slain statesman's son.

On Wednesday, Hariri welcomed Hezbollah's submission of its data on the assassination and reaffirmed his own commitment to the tribunal as "the adequate body for achieving justice".

Lebanese views on whether that is indeed the case reflect the rifts between those who see the West as a malign handmaiden of Israel and those whose worst fears focus on Iran and Syria.
Lyon doesn't mention that Nasrallah's "evidence" of Israeli involvement was dismissed by prominent leaders in Lebanon to whom it was presented:
Commenting on the evidence that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah presented during his 2 + hours press conference Elias Zoghbi told “BBC:” What has Nasrallah presented was a political case . This is not the kind of concrete and convincing evidence that we expected from him that will prove Israel was behind Hariri’s murder. Nasrallah ’s presentation was interesting …. he acted like a news anchor."
And although Lyon cites Lebanese journalist Michael Young's skepticism that formal indictments will come soon, there is no reference to Young's lambasting, in last weeks Daily Star, of Nasrallah's attempt to frame Israel for the murder:
Marvel at the contempt Hizbullah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, must feel for us all, that he would expect us to believe his presentation last Monday telling us that Israel was behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister. But that contempt may also in some ways be justified, because far too many Lebanese actually believed him, even as they observe the rapid erosion of their slender sovereignty with lethargy...
It would take an awful lot of forgetting to buy into Nasrallah’s theory, but that is precisely what the secretary general is demanding. He wants Lebanon, above all its prime minister, to forget the overwhelming evidence from the past and bury the Hariri tribunal for good. Let’s just blame Israel, Nasrallah is telling us, so that we can all live in amnesic harmony.
Most amusing however, is Lyon's suggestion that had Israel initially been suspected in the assassination:
... few in Lebanon believe an international court would ever have been created.
Because after all, there is never appetite in the international community for scapegoating the Jewish state.

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