Friday, February 18, 2005

Rafiq Hariri and cui bono?

Bill Van Auken, discussing the big cui bono? question involving the assassination of Rafiq Hariri:

"The Post's brief against Damascus is based on the well-known detective’s maxim: to discover who committed a crime, ask the question, 'Who benefits?' Washington's newspaper of record asks the question in order to supply its predetermined answer: 'the rogue regime in Damascus.'

But precisely how has Syria benefited from the murder? Its immediate concrete consequences are mass demonstrations organized by anti-Syrian political forces in Lebanon demanding that Damascus withdraw its troops from the country, a ratcheting up of Washington's threats of anti-Syrian military aggression, and the prospect of Lebanon descending into civil war."

I can't think of another example of a case where the party so generally accused of the crime was more harmed by the results of the crime. Are we supposed to believe that the Syrians are insane and/or stupid? Do they want to invite an American-Israeli attack? Do they want to provide the biggest excuse possible to force them to leave Lebanon? As Mike Whitney puts it:

"The likelihood that Syria was involved in the assassination is zilch. One can hardly imagine a greater disaster for poor Syria who has been scrambling to avoid the American bludgeon for the last four years. Few people realize that Syria provided more assistance in the first year of the war on terror after 9-11 than any other nation."

You may remember Seymour Hersh reporting how U. S. officials rebuffed Syrian efforts to cooperate in the war on terror by supplying its excellent intelligence on Muslim extremist groups. Hersh wrote:

"In Washington, there was anger about what many officials saw as the decision of the Bush Administration to choose confrontation with Syria over day-to-day help against Al Qaeda. In a sense, the issue was not so much Syria itself as a competition between ideology and practicality - and between the drive to go to war in Iraq and the need to fight terrorism - which has created a deep rift in the Bush Administration. The collapse of the liaison relationship has left many C.I.A. operatives especially frustrated. 'The guys are unbelievably pissed that we're blowing this away,' a former high-level intelligence official told me. 'There was a great channel at Aleppo. The Syrians were a lot more willing to help us, but they' - Rumsfeld and his colleagues -'want to go in there next.'

'There is no security relationship now,' a Syrian foreign-ministry official told me. 'It saddens us as much as it saddens you. We could give you information on organizations that we don't think should exist. If we help you on Al Qaeda, we are helping ourselves.' He added, almost plaintively, that if Washington had agreed to discuss certain key issues in a back channel, 'we'd have given you more. But when you publicly try to humiliate a country it'll become stubborn.'"

There has never been a more clear example of how the 'war on terror' has nothing to do with terrorism, and everything to do with hiding Washington's - and Tel Aviv's - real goals. Van Auken continues:

"The powers that most clearly stood to advance their strategic aims by having Hariri assassinated and blaming the crime on Syria are the US and Israel. Among those who play the game of speculating who organized the car bombing in Beirut, the smart money is undoubtedly on Washington and Tel Aviv."


"The maneuvers against Syria manifest as well the unprecedented coordination of US and Israeli policy in the region. Damascus is a primary target because it has provided sanctuary to Palestinian groups that have opposed Israel, including the Islamist organization Hamas. It has also failed to curb the growing influence of the Lebanese Shiite movement, Hezbollah, which forced Israeli troops out of southern Lebanon after 20 years of occupation. It is hoped in both Washington and Tel Aviv that either forcing Syrian troops out of Lebanon or carrying out 'regime change' in Damascus will undermine Hezbollah’s position and open the door for renewed Israeli control on both sides of its northern border."

and (most interesting):

"The timing of the assassination, barely a week after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced their truce in Egypt, is noteworthy. It is quite possible that any limited concessions the Israeli regime may agree to make as part of the 'peace process' with the Palestinians will be repaid by Washington giving the green light for Israeli provocations and military actions against Syria."

Van Auken concludes with a discussion of the infamous 'Clean Break' report, co-authored by David Wurmser, Cheney's adviser on the Middle East, and a short summary of Mossad assassinations, usually involving remote-controlled car bombs, in Lebanon. There are many cases where it is difficult to determine who was behind an atrocity. This one is easy.