The International Tribunal and Siniora
Abdullah Iskandar Al-Hayat - 05/12/06//
The issue of the International Tribunal that will prosecute those accused of murder and attempted murder is the fundamental topic in Lebanon. But it is no good going into the details and ramifications. Campaigning against Siniora's government, disclosing its economic and social failures, and demanding its resignation does not conceal the desire to prevent this government from taking a final decision about the formation of the Tribunal. A critical stance regarding a government and demanding it to respond to popular claims, even when they are asking it to step down, does not justify the act of pushing this country to the verge of internal conflict. Any government, no matter how 'pure' it is, will be obliged for many years to adopt a program that will deal with the consequences of this conflict, and nothing else. And this is true if we suppose that all those who oppose a government's decision have the right to occupy the streets until a government is formed which suits them.

Gradualism should be readopted in Lebanon, for example, in demanding the missing 'broken third side of the triangle' of a government that is still headed by Siniora, where his ministerial statement is the government's program; or in conducting the personal campaign against this man, who is accused of being involved in all the evil of the world. Readopting such gradualism would be enough to deduce that Siniora's only problem, according to the opposition, is that he will not renounce his endorsement of the International Tribunal, and will not allow it to be thwarted as long as he has a majority in parliament.

In the meantime, internal attempts are being made to avoid the deadlock, but they are clashing with the opposition's non-compliance with the endorsement of the Tribunal in the Chamber of Deputies, regardless of the form that the next government could successfully give to this trial.

From the opposition's statements and clarifications, it may be inferred that the International Tribunal will be a reflection of tension, turmoil and threats to internal peace in Lebanon. Some members of the opposition said that the price the country will have to pay because of the International Tribunal will be much higher than the benefit it might obtain by finding out the truth about the assassinations. Others even consider one person's case - and here, we are referring to Rafik al-Hariri's - is not more important than the country and internal peace. Others have questioned the reasons why the majority is sticking to a single homicide, while overlooking the massacres committed by Israel in the July War. Finally, some have gone as far as to say that Lebanon cannot remain in a state the perennial sorrow it has been in since the murder of Rafik al-Hariri.

Such stances have been justified in different ways. On the one hand, there is the constitutional dispute between the Head of State and the Prime Minister. On the other, there is the fact that, after the resignation of the current opposition's ministers, the government lost the legitimacy that allowed it to endorse the draft resolution to establish the Tribunal. These ministers' membership had been suspended in the government in the first place, when the cabinet discussed the UN Secretary General's request to form the International Tribunal. Now, they have handed in their resignations after Siniora included this very step in the schedule. People wanted all these justifications to be constitutional and legal, while jurists and experts unanimously saw them as political. What is more, such justifications did not include any indication that could reassure Siniora that the formation of the Tribunal is supported. The Lebanese opposition is not accused of the killings that the Tribunal will deal with. Nevertheless, it is using its details as a pretext to refuse the trial itself, and this is especially true for the party that is afraid that such a court could turn into an instrument to hold Hezbollah and the resistance accountable.

The accusation of monopolization has betrayed those who have addressed it to the government. In fact, the government itself has monopolized nothing, except for the decision concerning the Tribunal, knowing that it is entitled to rule the country through constitutional instruments.

Why does the tribunal polarize all this attention, even though it will only deal with a few murder cases at best? For it will talk about the driving forces behind these killings, and the ways in which they were carried out. And if murders have targeted political personalities, the Tribunal will address political assassinations and will announce who was behind them. This, in turn, will reveal that physical terrorism is a political mechanism used to govern and to eliminate political adversaries and opponents.

Since the constitutional balance in Lebanon is still giving Siniora the right of being prime minister and of sticking to the Tribunal, disposing of Siniora specifically has become the basic demand. And all that Lebanon is witnessing hinges on this issue. Some options are to dispose of Siniora, to abandon the idea of the Tribunal, to create chaos and escalate unrest, and finally, to disrupt all constitutional mechanisms. In this way, the idea of the Tribunal will be abandoned. In other words, what Lebanon is witnessing is aiming to prevent Siniora from continuing to be the prime minister, and to keep any other government from endorsing the International Tribunal. And all means will be used in order to achieve these two goals