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Rafik Hariri

Tag Archives | Rafik Hariri

Turkey’s Foreign Policy: No Longer Neutral, Far From a Leader

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American Patriot missile batteries being delivered to Turkey to bolster their defenses amid heightened tensions

Responding to Turkey’s request for protection against a possible attack from Syria, the NATO Council mobilized six Patriot missile batteries to assist Ankara in defending the south-east and south-central provinces.

American Patriot missile batteries being delivered to Turkey to bolster their defenses amid heightened tensions

With materiel and personnel support becoming increasingly operational over the coming days, Turkey is further shifting its ‘zero problems with neighbors’ policy in favor of a proactive response to regional issues, which affords Ankara the opportunity to forge a new path in its foreign policy initiatives. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu developed the ‘zero problems with neighbors’ policy in 2009 as a means to push Turkey into a more international position that fulfilled Ataturk’s desire for ‘peace at home, peace in the world.’ Intending to position the nation into a more centralized role in global affairs, the Turkish government sought out opportunities to mediate inter- and intra-state disputes as a means to broker regional peace.

Through these measures, Ankara attempted to promote stronger relations with its autocratic neighbors, and the policy was initially utilized to justify signing the Tehran Declaration, as well as voting against United Nations sanctions against Iran. The initiative was short-lived and began to be dismantled after a 2010 NATO Summit where Ankara agreed to a radar-defense system deployed in its territory. Prior to the agreement, Tehran believed Turkey was distancing itself from its Western allies; however, the NATO agreement severely soured relations between the two countries. The escalating chaos that manifested from the Arab Spring showed the Turkish leadership that the ‘zero problems’ policy was an over-simplified solution to broad, complex problems throughout the region.

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Samir Geagea, the Last Relic of a Dirty War

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Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces

If there’s an oddity about former Lebanese militia leaders turning into suit-and-tie wearing politicians, the former Christian militia leader, Samir Geagea, deserves the richest degree of attention.

Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces

The 59 year old has spent most of his life in a militia identified with violent sectarianism of a colossal proportion. Today, with his blood soaked hands, implications in notorious civil-war era massacres, years in solitary confinement and now a mouthpiece for belligerent politics - he’s about as old school as they get.

During Lebanon’s disastrous 15-year civil war, the deadly Christian-Muslim tussle resulted in the death and displacement of thousands of people. This was also the peak of Mr. Geagea’s notoriety. He was second-in-command of the Lebanese Forces, a militia designed to defend Christian communities, from what it deemed as dominance and to an extent, annihilation, from Muslims and their allied Palestinian fighters. In 1994, four years after the official end of the Lebanese civil war, he was tried and found guilty for ordering several politically motivated assassinations. He was sentenced to four death sentences, each of which was commuted to life in prison.

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Hariri Indictments: The view from South Beirut

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Rafiq Hariri in his Parisian home in 1992. Source: Ammar Abd Rabbo

Finally, the long awaited but highly politicised 47-page indictments were released. The United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) took two and half years of painstaking investigations, more than 120 million US dollars in budget and United Nations Security Council endorsement for its work to eventually culminate into the findings that the STL presented. It had issued arrest warrants back in June calling for four Lebanese suspects it says were involved in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Rafiq Hariri in his Parisian home in 1992. Source: Ammar Abd Rabbo

They all happened to be members of Hezbollah. The most notable among them was Mustafa Badreddine, the brother-in-law of Hezbollah’s former top military commander, Imad Mugniyeh. All along the STL had made everyone believe that it was riding on a crest wave. It had amassed the best of international experts, forensic scientists and modern technology in its quest to expose the perpetrators of the massive 2,500 kg truck bombing which brutally murdered the man commonly known as Mr. Lebanon, along with 22 others.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, we were assured, was neither laggard in conducting themselves, nor slack in preparation. Despite claims of some early mistakes, there was to be no flaw in its eventual conclusion. It now confidently released enough evidence to implicate the four suspects in the spectacular bomb blast some six and a half years ago. The evidence, it turns out, is overwhelmingly circumstantial and based on five different phone networks allegedly used to plot the assassination.

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