A bomb explodes in central Beirut killing what many believe to be Lebanon’s best hope for peace in decades. Twenty-one others died when the 2200 pound bomb exploded near the 446-room InterContinental Phoenicia Hotel while another two-hundred and twenty others were injured in the blast as well. Last week marked the 5th anniversary of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s death, and no one knows for sure or perhaps even cares anymore, who killed him.
Last month in Dubai, the murderer of children and arms merchant to the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hamas, is killed in a well-orchestrated operation that leaves no collateral impact. The media explodes with stories of Mossad responsibility and London summons the Ambassador of Israel to the Court of St James.
And we thought only Alice went down the rabbit hole.
I haven’t the faintest idea of who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. I do know that Syria has quashed all substantive attempts to determine Hariri’s killers to the point that the international community no longer impedes its Syrian relationships despite strong and convincing evidence of Syrian involvement with the Prime Minister’s death.
Since Hariri’s assassination, Lebanon remains within Syrian hegemony despite Syria’s troop withdrawal. Its security forces play an intricate role in Lebanon’s every day affairs and Hezbollah’s political role has been enhanced.
The impact of Al-Mabhouh‘s death; one less arms dealing terrorist to worry about.
Hamas, of which Al-Mabhouh served as a senior member, is designated a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, Israel, Canada and Australia. He founded Hamas’ Izz Eddin al-Qassam Brigades, the terrorist group’s armed wing responsible for most attacks on Israeli civilians. He was traveling on a forged passport from his home in Damascus to Dubai to plan a weapons shipment to Gaza.
Meanwhile, Jordanian authorities arrested and extradited to Dubai two Palestinian intelligence operatives as suspects in Al-Mabhouh’s assassination and many security experts cast doubt on Mossad involvement given the use of passports associated with Israeli citizens. Besides, Al-Mabhouh’s enemy list stretched from Egypt to Jordan to Fatah and even other members of Hamas.
Defeating organizations bent on utilizing terror to achieve political and/or religious goals requires a multipronged strategy that is not always ideal. A successful policy must include holding accountable States supporting terror organizations that propagate the assassination of duly elected leaders.
A full-pronged strategy includes more than armed response. Developing appropriate infrastructures that can withstand the allure of terror must be central to any genuine effort to defeat Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. But allowing Syria to “get away with” Hariri’s assassination while condemning the elimination of a world-class terrorist, regardless of who may be responsible, creates an environment not conducive to eliminating terror as the central tool in Middle East diplomacy.