Hezbollah Leader Protects Accused Assassins
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has refused to cooperate with a U.N. sanctioned court that has indicted four individuals in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Nasrallah has sworn to protect the four members of Hezbollah from facing charges made by the Special Tribunal on Lebanon (STL).
While the new government of Lebanon may be less than pleased with Nasrallah's statement refusing to give up the indicted men even in "300 years," the Hezbollah leader's argument that the STL is simply an interfering arm of Israel and the U.S. may be well-received by the Lebanese public. The fact that STL moved computers for their investigation through Israel, instead of directly out of Beirut to the Netherlands, lends some creedence to his claims, at last in the minds of his countrymen. Nasrallah's implication that the Israelis were the guilty parties in the assassination of Hariri may also be met with approval in Lebanon.
Hezbollah is considered a political party in Lebanon. The U.S. has categorized it as a terrorist organization, but to the Lebanese, Nasrallah is protecting opposition party members. To them, Hezbollah is simply opposed to Israeli occupation in the region, reflecting a common opinion in the region that the Israel is not a legitimate nation, and that the Israelis are unwelcome invaders in the region.
Whether or not Nasrallah's refusal to turn over the four men indicted for the assassination of Hariri may be of little concern to the STL when one considers that the tribunal has the option of trying the men in-absentia. If convicted under such circumstances, the STL would have to enlist the assistance of Lebanon or any other nation where the men may reside, to bring them into custody. Given the current attitude expressed by Nasrallah, that the STL is determined to cause unrest in Lebanon with these proceedings, it is unlikely that the U.N. sanctioned court will receive any help from the Lebanese citizens.