First stop Damascus – next stop Tehran? al-Hariri assassination followed by character assassination

17 February 2005

“Whatever happens, the reaction will be against the Syrians. It’s obvious … Being obvious is the name of the game these days,” a Lebanese observer told on the condition of anonymity

Recent utterances by the Bush administration about Syria have a predictably ominous ring to them that when coupled to the massive car bomb that killed the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, fit a pattern that prepares the ground for more aggressive actions, more than likely to be carried out by its proxy in the region, Israel.

In view of what happened in Lebanon today, with the bombing and assassination of the former Prime Minister, we need to implement the entire Syria Accountability Act, and the President also has some things as his disposal that he can implement as President. And I just think that we need to tell Syria that this is unacceptable and we’re going to have to do everything in our power to change their behavior, and not to tolerate this sort of thing. – House Democrat Eliot Engel of New York, co-sponsor of the Syria Accountability Act

And immediately after the assassination the US recalled its ambassador to Syria, Margaret Scobey, for “urgent consultations”.

Predictably of course, the corporate/state-run media is full of thinly veiled accusations that blame Syria for the assassination but without presenting a shred of evidence to back up the assumptions. The BBC for example, tells us that “many people blame Syria [for the assassination]” (BBC Radio 4 News at One 16/2/05), though conveniently, we are not told who these people are. And true to form, the BBC has continued with this line of ‘reasoning’ by inserting vague and unsubstantiated claims of Syrian involvement in the assassination but without directly accusing Syria in what amounts to character assassination by association. So on BBC Radio 4 AM News (17/2/05), we hear that “in Lebanon, many [people] believe that Syria is behind the assassination” but where are the voices of those who believe that it could be the US or its proxy in the region, Israel?

By contrast al-Hariri’s former consultant Mustafa al-Naser told IRNA Monday evening that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency was behind the assassination:

… aimed at creating political tension in Lebanon … Beyond doubt, the peace, stability, and high level security prevailing in Lebanon in recent years, in creation of which all Lebanese groups play a harmonious role, is in direct contrast with Israel`s political intentions for the region, and above that with the illegitimate nature of that usurper regime … Israel seeks the continuation of its existence in creation of constant tension in the region, and that was the reason why Tel Aviv imposed many years on civil war, and over a decade of occupation and instability against our nation.” – Iran News Agency, 15/2/05

But a scan of the Western media reveals not a word that contradicts the assumption that Syria is the culprit. A piece in the Guardian without actually blaming Syria nevertheless put Syria at the centre of its alleged analysis and therefore by implication blames Syria for the bomb (’Battlefield in a larger conflict Lebanon is used by and against Syria in this struggle for power’, David Hirst in Beirut, Tuesday February 15, 2005). The article doesn’t even mention Israel’s role in Lebanon, the invasion and occupation in 1982 nor about the larger ambitions of the United States and Israel in the region.

Also not reported in the Guardian was the statement by Rime Allaf, Middle East analyst at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London who said:

What exactly would the Syrians gain from this? Precisely because most people would say that this is the Syrians who have done this. It doesn’t make any sense.

More stating of the obvious that points to the fact that an uninformed public is most vulnerable to these kinds of insinuations for what do they have to compare this kind of ‘reportage’ with?

‘Reading between the lines’
The bomb, which left a crater five metres deep, was not exactly a homemade device, nor was al-Hariri’s motorcade exactly unprotected. A report from Reuters tells us that:

[S]ecurity sources [are] saying the explosive device was sophisticated enough to evade jamming equipment so hi-tech that al-Hariri’s passing convoy would interfere with cellphones and televisions.

Clearly, whoever set-up the assassination were, by most accounts, professionals. Again, unreported in the Western media we read:

“The magnitude of the blast indicates that it was the work of state security agencies and not just militant groups surfacing every now and then,” Egyptian expert, Diaa Rashwan, told Tuesday, February 15.

Rashwan goes on to say:

He stressed that the claim of the massive attack by a previously unknown group was a bid to distract attention away from the real perpetrators.

“The Group for Advocacy and Holy War in the Levant, which claimed responsibility for Hariri killing, was an invention of the parties behind the horrendous crime.

“The perpetrators of this crime made the best use of the terrorism bugaboo, which is rearing its ugly head on the world, ” Rashwan said.

One need only look at the record of Israel’s Mossad in state-sponsored assassinations in Lebanon and elsewhere to see that Israel is the most likely culprit, Israel stands the most to gain from destabilising Lebanon as the history of their actions show. So why not a single report in the Western media that at the very least raises the question of Israel’s involvement?

Again, Diaa Rashwan hits the nail on the head:

Rashwan said the justifications cited by the unknown group for assassinating Hariri were feeble and unconvincing.

“Such justifications would have been convincing if the group attacked an Israeli or a Saudi figure or even Hariri himself when he was a prime minister, ” he said.

He said that Lebanon is not a hotbed of the activities of Saudi militant groups as the country is an open arena for the Arab, Israeli and American intelligence and security agencies, which restrict the movement of such groups.

“Israel is the only country that benefits from Hariri assassination that came at a critical juncture for Syria, which is teetering under intense pressure [from the US] to withdraw its troops from Lebanon,” Rashwan added.

Stating the obvious

“Whatever happens, the reaction will be against the Syrians. It’s obvious. What happened with Marwan Hamadeh was also very obvious. Being obvious is the name of the game these days,” a Lebanese observer told on the condition of anonymity.

The nature of the Western propaganda process is best illustrated by the following BBC report. Under the heading “The claim of responsibility could well be a false trail”. The report, by Paul Reynolds goes on to say:

In the immediate aftermath of the bomb which killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and at least nine others, most eyes were turned towards Syria as a possible culprit.

But then in what can best be described as a bizarre turnaround, Reynolds goes on to tell us:

Then something strange happened – a video claim of responsibility was broadcast on the satellite news network al-Jazeera from an Islamist group saying that Hariri had been killed as a “just punishment” for his close links to Saudi Arabia.

Further reading of the report fails to tell us why the video is so strange. Indeed, the comment exists in a journalistic vacuum, its only claim to fame being how it plants a connection between ‘Islamists’ and the assassination. What is strange is why Reynolds used the word in the first place. But read on, as Reynolds reveals the subtext of the report when he says:

The Saudi royal family of course is one of the main targets of al-Qaeda. Suddenly the equation seemed to have changed.

But what “equation” has changed? Ah – it’s “Islamic violence” and it’s Reynolds himself who has “changed the equation” by introducing the red herring of the Saudi royal family.

Had Islamic violence entered current Lebanese politics? That would have repercussions across the region, as Syria also might be in their sights.

But why would Syria be “in their sights”? Syria, which is a close ally of Iran, seat of “evil” according to the US, is surely the last place on earth that “Islamist violence” would target. Reynolds attempts to substantiate his claim by saying that after all:

President Assad’s own father massacred Islamic fundamentalists in his day.

Though Reynolds fails to connect this with the current situation. Instead, Reynolds returns to the ‘false trail’ idea but instead of connecting it to the most obvious culprits, Israel and the US, he writes:

Or was the claim – from an unknown group called Support and Jihad in Greater Syria – a false one?

The problem Reynolds aka the BBC propaganda department has is how to draw attention away from the most obvious culprit/s without ending in a speculative dead-end? He tries to achieve this impossible objective by disassociating the assassination from reality entirely by saying:

It could have been, for example, a ploy by whoever planted the bomb to draw suspicion away from themselves, or some fringe elements trying to capitalise on the attack.

So now it’s “fringe elements” (whoever they are) and without realizing it, uncovers the real reasons for the assassination by saying:

We do not know at this stage. What we do know is that anger against Syria has increased in Lebanon recently and was evident again yesterday when opposition leaders virtually accused Syria and the Syrian-backed government in Beirut of responsibility.

But why has “anger against Syria … increased”? Reynolds completely ignores the US propaganda assault and threats (and obviously the BBC’s complicity in the process) that directly presage the assassination. By Reynolds own ‘logic’, it is surely obvious that it is the US and Israel who stand to gain the most by directing attention away from their involvement and pin the assassination on Syria. But search the BBC Website for a single story that even obliquely suggests US/Israeli involvement in destabilising the region.

The contrast between those who have a real understanding of what’s going on in the Middle East and Western media coverage is painfully obvious. Further searching of the Web reveals a wealth of background news and analysis that paints an entirely different picture than the one we get in the West as the sources I have used demonstrate. Sources moreover, that are freely available to those stalwart searchers for the truth ensconced in BBC Radio Orwell.

For clearly the Western media’s objective is in the way of yet another ‘softening up’ procedure as part of the process of preparing us for the next step in the US takeover of the Middle East, thus preparing the ground for the future subversion first of Syria through the use of terrorist tactics (the assassination of al-Hariri) that seeks to split the alliance between Syrian and Iran. First stop Damascus, next stop Tehran?

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