How Israel and the US hope to destroy Hezbollah
by Franklin Lamb/Foreign Policy Journal
November 21, 2010
BEIRUT — “I’ve got these [expletive deleted] just where we want them Maura! Watch the 1000 slow cuts as we shred Hezbollah–who do they think they are? And we’ll do it by using 1757 and this time we’re going all the way. I told Israel to stay out of Lebanon because the IDF can’t fight against Hezbollah plus the whole region would burn. I will handle this and it will be my Christmas present to Lebanon,” so said Jeffrey Feltman in a conversation with his former office staffer, now US Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly, during an October 17, 2010 visit to MP Walid Jumblatt at his Clemenceau residence.

On December 12, 2008, reported that “Former US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman presented Prime Minister Fuad Siniora with what the American diplomat described as his personal Christmas present to Lebanon.

Mr. Feltman assured PM Siniora that he will force Israel out of the Ghajar village before the end of 2008.”

As it turned out, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Lebanon never did receive Feltman’s promised 2008 Christmas present and Israel still has its tanks and troops in Lebanon’s Ghajar village even as pressure mounts for ending its four-year illegal occupation of North Ghajar which, in violation of UNSCR 1701, Israel invaded in July 2006 and from which it has refused to withdraw.

This holiday season Jeff is again assuring his Lebanese allies that he’s Santa Clause and Hezbollah’s head will adorn his sleigh during his Christmas Eve rounds. The reason for his optimism is that the US and Israel are quietly confident that they can achieve with UNSCR 1757 what was intended but fell short with UNSCR 1559, which is aimed at stripping Lebanon’s Resistance of its defensive weapons. On November 11th, Israel’s Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom predicted that “an STL indictment against Hezbollah will lead to the implementation of Resolution 1559 and the forced disarming of the Party as well as the collapse of the effort at a Syrian-Lebanese-Iranian-Turkish alliance.


The US-Israel project is said to be based on elaborate computer models among other calculations and includes the expectation that members of Hezbollah, possibly even Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, will be indicted, tried and convicted, in absentia of course, of involvement in the February 14, 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The US State Department Office of the Legal Adviser has proudly assured the White House that because its office insisted back in 2005 that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon be established under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, anyone who the STL convicts will face sure UN justice. Chapter Seven allows for the use of unlimited international armed force to implement any verdict that the STL hands down.

Israel, serial violator of international law including more than 60 UN Resolutions is also busy boasting that international law supports the Tribunal and that high priced law firms around the world can be hired if necessary to back up the legal work of the STL office of the Prosecution, led by Daniel Bellemare of Canada.

Within hours of Israel instructing US Secretary of State Clinton, not to worry, that there is no way for the STL to be stopped or its final judgment sidetracked and all the US has to do is fund it, the White House announced an additional $10 million for the Tribunal and got the UK to pony up another $1.8 million. More cash is expected from France. Today the STL is flush with cash and it will likely remain so.

Based on interviews with two former staff members of the Office of the STL prosecution, as well as numerous public statements by US officials, there are reasons to take seriously the “all the way” intensions of Jeffrey Feltman and Silvan Shalom. Their governments assert the that STL is legitimate under both international law, given that it was established in accordance with a U.N. Security Council resolution issued under Chapter 7, and also under Lebanon’s legal and constitutional principles contrary to what is being claimed by Hezbollah and STL’s adversaries in Lebanon.

According to one State Department lawyer, “If the STL indicts and convicts one member of Hezbollah we win. A driver, a boy scout, we don’t care. The Security Council can do a dozen things to topple Hezbollah. For example, can you imagine the effect of Iranian style sanctions if applied against Lebanon until the killers are handed over? The Lebanese only care about money and with all those sects hating each other anyhow, the country will quickly implode in recriminations and civil war if they’re forced to diet a bit…. And very tough sanctions against Syria? The US and Israel will only have to collect the pieces and do what should have been done half a century ago and that was to install governments that understand regional and international realities.”

Efforts by Hezbollah and Syria to derail the STL are viewed in Tel Aviv and Washington as futile, because Lebanon is thought to have nothing to say about the STL. It is created by the UNSC and nothing the Lebanese Parliament, Cabinet or people do will affect it. The only reason Lebanon is in the picture at all is that it is the crime scene. And it happens to harbor some suspects. Apart from that, Lebanon is essentially irrelevant to the STL work.

One congressional staffer advised: “What we will use are all the many tools, enforcement and other, available to the international community to bring down Hezbollah. The coming phase need not even look like the US and Israel have much involvement. We will just watch like football spectators from the sideline as the UN employs myriad legal and political measures to bring to justice those found to be involved. That’s the beauty of this and it’s also why Hezbollah is very, worried. Or for sure they should be.”

Another staffer in the same office added in an email: “Don’t you see, the STL is the perfect international law instrument to destroy Hezbollah, achieve regime change in Syria, create deadly Sunni-Shia conflicts everywhere, cause civil a war in Lebanon and topple the Mullahs in Iran. It’s going to be like Cheney never left office.”

Following the STL indictments, assuming they include Hezbollah, Washington sources expect that the Israel lobby will launch perhaps history’s most massive and expensive international media campaign of defamation against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran and they will be joined by the US government and some of its European allies, plus the ever-rentable Micronesia.

The objective will be to essentially unite the world’s population against the presumed Shia killers of the Sunni Prime Minister. More than a dozen US-Israel projects that failed in Lebanon over the past decade, from an airbase in Kleiat to street battles to cutting optic telecommunication lines may come back into play when stamped with the imprimatur of international law and full UN Security Council legitimacy.

The current project includes continuing the public threats and hyping threats that Israel is ready to attack Lebanon whereas the Pentagon believes Israel is not ready and may never be ready again and is being rejected regionally and internationally.

According to Loyalty to the Resistance Parliamentary bloc member MP Kamel al-Rifai, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and U.S. Senator John Kerry informed Lebanese officials during their recent visits to Lebanon that Israel is serious in its threats to attack Lebanon and might just attack. Al-Rifai told the daily Asharq al-Awsat on 11/15/10 that Hezbollah was told that the American administration gave Israel the green light to do as it pleases in Lebanon, adding that Kerry sent this message to the Syrian leadership as well.

For these reasons the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is seen as an extraordinary US-Israel opportunity to maintain control of the region. The coming media campaign will employ especially sharp personal attacks on Sayed Nasrallah who the US and Israel fear as an Arab leader in the mold of Nasser and as a Muslim leader without modern parallel. Sayed Nasrallah is seen as a leader who has the potential to heal many Shia-Sunni divisions and for this, he is viewed in Washington and Tel Aviv as very dangerous.


On November 11, 2010 Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah discussed the STL at a neighborhood Martyr’s Day gathering in South Beirut. Offering his views on the US-Israel project, he told his audience that Hezbollah knows the US-Israel strategy, which he explained is:

“Let’s accuse Shiite men of assassinating the most important Sunnite leader and consequently issue an indictment in this regard. We will call on the Lebanese government which had signed an agreement with us to arrest these men. The latter would set to arrest them and dispatch army troops and security forces which would be engaged in a clash with the Resistance.”

Nasrallah continued, “Primarily this is the plot. It is not important for the Americans, the “Israelis” and the sponsors of the STL what would happen or what might happen in Lebanon. Lebanon in itself is not important, neither is martyr Hariri, the Sunnites, the Shiites, the Muslims, the Christians, the Future Movement, March 14 Bloc nor March 8 Bloc. What is important is Israel, and “Israel’s” interest is that the Resistance be hit, eliminated, isolated, besieged, weakened, snatched away from its popular environment and its image be distorted. Its morals, belief and will must be harmed and consequently, it would be ready to be hit or to surrender to this plot.”

Hezbollah MP Nawaf Mousawi advised the media a short time later that: “The Resistance party is prepared for all scenarios”, adding that nothing would surprise Hezbollah…. Hezbollah has prepared a series of responses. Every option corresponds to a specific scenario. Thus if things are positive, we’re ready. But if things are negative and the efforts failed in reaching a solution to the crisis, we’re also ready. In brief, we’re ready to face all options,” Mousawi said.

Lebanon: What Were They Thinking?
by Franklin Lamb/Foreign Policy Journal
November 1, 2010

What were the International Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigators imagining as they walked into Dr. Iman Charara’s private obstetrics and gynecology clinic this week demanding personal information on her patients? 

Perhaps more interestingly, what was Jeffrey Feltman’s ‘Special STL Unit’ housed on the 6th floor of the U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC thinking when their clearly exasperated boss, according to a Hill Rag source, recently shouted by phone to the STL investigators in the Hague: “Just hold your […]. Stop chasing Dutch […], and get your […] over to Hezbollahistan for Christ’s sake!”

Surely the STL delegation knew, or should have known, that given the predictable ethical, culture, social, legal, humanitarian, political, and security aspects involved, even the very idea itself, should have been thought through.

There remain several unanswered questions that only Mr. Bellemare’s Office and Mr. Feltman’s Special Unit are obliged to answer:

  • What exactly were they looking for?
  • Did they carry a valid Lebanese judicial subpoena clearly indentifying the information they were seeking: If so, were they based on common jurisprudential underpinnings of probable cause?
  • Were valid search warrants served on each of the patients as well as Dr. Charara?
  • Who in the Lebanese government gave permission for the visit that appeared to be an end run around local municipal authorities, not to mention Lebanese law?
  • Which of the countries of the STL’s investigators, lawyers and judges, including Bellemare’s Canada, would allow such an invasion of privacy?
  • If they were targeting husbands of Dr. Charara’s patients, what about relevant principles of spousal immunity?
  • What was the rational of the Lebanese Order of Physicians if they affixed their imprimatur to the scheme and what is now left of medical privacy laws in Lebanon? Showing up and demanding the names and files of Dr. Charara patients without the permission of the women concerned is clearly outrageous and unacceptable in Lebanon and in most countries.
  • On whose administrative or judicial orders did the relevant Lebanese government Ministries appear to allow a shotgun, over broad, fishing expedition approach not jurisprudentially acceptable in any of the countries comprising the STL, or for that matter by the provisions of UNSCR 1757, as well as local laws incorporated by reference? Of course the same questions apply to the reported throwing fishing nets over student, DNA, telecoms, social security, and other records in Lebanon to gather information for the STL.

Under most legal systems evidence gathered in such circumstances would be deemed to be tainted and not admissible in a court proceeding. Also disqualified from giving testimony would be the ‘tainted’ staff who attempted such wrongdoing. Attempting such a stunt in most UN member states might see careers suspended if not terminated.

In Muslim countries, and increasingly in the West, most women prefer women gynecologists and would not condone foreign men perhaps pruriently flipping through intimate medical information looking for “evidence.” It is unacceptable as a matter of family honor to examine the personal medical information of wives, sisters, mothers and daughters as Hezbollah’s Secretary General stated following the melee and rejection by the local community. Most people would agree.

Member of Parliament Walid Jumblatt condemned “the unethical behavior of UN investigators,” noting that he understands Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s political and moral objections against such an act.

The STL so far is silent on its investigative methodology including details such as which court issued the order and indentified which patients were to have their records examined and what probable cause standard was used in each affidavit, if there even were any, that underpinned the STL request.

One Christian MP, Nabil Nkoula, seemed to speak for many Lebanese following the invasion:

“Hizbullah Secretary General Nasrallah has every right to ask the Lebanese not to deal with the international investigators and tribunal. He stressed that the action taken by the international tribunal is a violation of the Lebanese and international even humanitarian laws…. All over the world and including Lebanon there are special laws pertaining to the patients and this law is called secret medical records and they are considered sacred just like a confession in a church. The doctor has no right to reveal any information on any patient even in court without prior approval from the patient. This kind of behavior will push a person not to cooperate with such types of tribunal that are not aimed at reaching the truth but rather silence the Lebanese.”

Hezbollah has been largely silent the past few years as STL investigators have rummaged across Lebanon and even made available Party members for questioning. This cooperative phase is now over as Hezbollah realizes that its destruction, not justice, is the goal behind what it perceives as the latest US-Israel project to aggress on Lebanon.

Many in Lebanon and abroad suspect that “evidence” gathered by the STL is BCC’d to Feltman’s Unit in Washington and to Tel Aviv. Their faltering confidence in the STL is not stemmed by statements made by the likes of Israeli Military Intelligence Major-General Amos Yadlin to the effect that in the past four and a half years, a large number of Mossad cells were reformulated, and Telecoms networks penetrated. “Thanks to Hariri’s killing, Israel was able to launch more than one project in Lebanon,” he said.

The suspicion is that against the backdrop of so many Mossad networks being dismantled recently, Israeli intelligence has been able to gather information through the UN-created STL even while Bellemare’s office are reportedly unwilling to even consider Israel’s involvement, knowing well that Israel is the sole beneficiary of the assassination.

At best, this invasion of Dahiyeh was poorly conceived, clumsily executed, and had led to more accusations concerning the STL’s politicization. It also lends weight to the growing body of public opinion in Lebanon and internationally that the STL indictments, reportedly already drawn up, are not to be credited.

Israeli Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkinazi has said that the STL indictment will implicate Hezbollah in the Hariri assassination.

His remarks had also popped up in the German Der Spiegel magazine as well as France’s Le Figaro and Kuwait’s Assiyassa newspapers. Even the French Ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton’s slip that “it’s not the end of the world if members of Hezbollah, not the party, were accused” was solid evidence that the STL indictment has been already set down in writing.

If the indictments have already been drawn up why the ongoing search for evidence presumably designed to lead to one?

It is also the recent backdrop to the bizarre events of October 17 in Dr. Charara’s clinic that should also be born in mind. US Officials have increasingly been repeating their manta: “We Are All the Way with the STL Even if This Leads to Lebanon’s Instability.”

Stability in Lebanon is a primary goal of the Lebanese people and Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Iran.

Instability in Lebanon seems to be the goal of Tel Aviv and Washington. US officials told As-Safir newspaper in remarks published the day before the incident at the medical clinic that Jeffrey Feltman’s visit was to underscore Washington’s position on the International Tribunal and its support for the work of the Court “even if this led to Lebanon’s instability and was opposed by Saudi Arabia.

Feltman, reportedly believes the Saudi’s have miscalculated and are now part of the problem, having become too chummy with Syria, and he reportedly sees nothing but problems coming to Israel from Tel Aviv’s “3rd favorite Arab country” cavorting with Persians. This is likely part of what is behind the “comprehensive dialogue” Washington intends to launch with Riyadh.

What Washington and Tel Aviv fear most in the region, a Syria-Saudi-Iranian-Turkey rapprochement, was observed this week between the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Assiri and the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Rokn-Abadi at the celebration of Turkey’s Independence.

Assiri reportedly told Abadi: “Here is the A, meaning Ali, and G, meaning Ghazanfar, and there is the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali,” meaning that the solution to the crisis in Lebanon now requires an A-A-G equation.

Fetlman presumably was not amused and advised the White House to demand an emergency session of the UN Security Council to counter what he sees as “pernicious developments pertaining to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL)”.

The US Undersecretary of States’ ‘really great plan’ to sucker Lebanon and Hezbollah — “Let’s blame (Imad) Mughniyah for killing Hariri. He’s dead so the investigative trail ends. Just say, ‘We had no idea what he was doing’. No more tribunal. Everyone is happy. And as a sweetener we’ll take Hezbollah off our Terrorism list” — is in tatters.

So is the confidence of many that the International Tribunal for Lebanon seeks to bring to justice the assassins of Rafiq Hariri.