What has happened since Hariri’s assassination?

The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri 11 years ago robbed the country of one its most important leaders, and thwarted his national development plans. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies killed him because they failed to sabotage his plans via incitement.

Hariri’s ambition was to attract investors to Lebanon, build international institutions’ confidence in the country, and make all Lebanese feel that they are partners in construction rather than competitors over government and parliament posts. He even offered to help Hezbollah develop its areas of influence, thinking that his opponents would realize that they could also benefit from his plans.

He convinced prominent Lebanese expats and high-ranking officials in the Gulf, Egypt, Europe, the United States and Russia of his plans, and he even went to Iran more than once to reassure it. He was welcomed by most of these figures, governments and international institutions.

Aspects of his project’s success could be seen on the ground, but then Assad decided to kill him even though Hariri had agreed to leave the premiership post and extend the term of then-President Emile Lahoud.

Motives, consequences

Hariri’s killers wanted to keep Lebanon as an open front with Israel in order to exploit the Lebanese people, and so Assad would not have to open the Golan front. Construction in Lebanon stopped since Hariri and other moderate Lebanese figures were killed. Hopes and dreams have died - this was the assassins’ goal.

Construction in Lebanon stopped since Hariri and other moderate Lebanese figures were killed. Hopes and dreams have died - this was the assassins’ goal

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

There is no longer a need to argue about the role of Assad and his allies in that crime, because six years later they committed a much bigger crime by murdering around half a million Syrians.

Although assassinating Hariri resulted in disastrous consequences for Assad, the latter still has not learnt the lessons of history. Proof of this is that he committed crimes in Syria when his victims’ blood in Lebanon had not dried yet. Instead of trying to please his citizens when protests against him erupted in 2011, Assad threatened and killed them en masse.

Although the Lebanese people bitterly recall Hariri’s assassination at this time of year, they have still not comprehended the importance of commemorating him by reviving his project, and uniting for positive change and against sectarianism.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 17, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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