The assassination of former Lebanese PM, Rafik Hariri was A Bad Thing, and not just for Mr. Hariri.
Lebanon is one of those many countries in the world where extreme sectarian strife bubbles just below the surface, largely because Christians and Druze hold disproportionate power and warlords control large regions of the country. Since it's a former French colony, it also suffers the disadvantage of a former colonial power thinking it has the right to butt in. And then there's Israel.
In his business dealings, Hariri was something like the Donald Trump of Lebanon. When he showed up dead (over large parts of Beirut; massive car bomb), probably the first question wasn't "Who did it?" It was more likely, "Who didn't do it?"
Knowledgeable people like Robert Fisk and Juan Cole fingered Syria as the most likely culprit.
Non-knowledgeable people like me are confused.
The Fitzgerald Commission report identifies Syria as the cuprit largely because the attack was "sophisticated." I have always thought of "sophisticated" as, for example, using krait venom delivered by a miniature electronic syringe placed in the victim's falafel as "sophisticated." Or a Predator equipped with a death ray. But I have never thought of detonating a huge amount of explosives as sophisticated.
I guess it's just me.
The latest announcement is that a Syrian defector has said he heard the plot discussed
. And there's forensic evidence recovered by divers (when I said "large parts of Beirut," I should have included the coastal waters.)
There's probably not a lot of law enforcement value in failing to release the defector's name. The Syrians probably can count noses and figure out who is missing. So, the investigators are withholding the information from the public. And they are trying the case in the court of public opinion. As to forensic evidence recovered after a massive bomb blast and seven months of sitting in the ocean, I'm doubtful. If it's biological, it wouldn't last. A car part with the VIN number of the guy who is believed to have been the bomber I might believe.
Since the investigators have given me nothing to feel they have made their case, I look at this case from a different viewpoint. Who would like it to be Syria? Well, the US would be a big beneficiary. They could use this as evidence of Syrian terrorism, thereby justifying raids on Syria. France recovers lost influence in Lebanon. by discrediting Syria. (I don't see any motive for the other players, Britain and Germany.)
Whether Syria is guilty or not, if there are US strikes on Syria, the world will be one step closer to the nightmare scenario bin Laden surely hopes for: a region-wide terror war in the Middle East. As the Guardian says, Syria is none too steady. If there is a collapse of the Syrian government, the anarchy that makes terrorism possible will be next. It would probably start civil war in Lebanon. Israel might well be tempted to intervene, as it has done historically. And downhill from there.
By the way, there is a sane way to deal with this and that could still happen: prosecute the guilty parties without making accusations against the Syrian state.