Special Lebanese tribunal to deliver Hariri assassination verdict

Lebanon Reuters
Photo: Reuters

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will today return a verdict concerning the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri.

Instrumental in the signing of the Taif Agreement that ended the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), Hariri was seen by many Lebanese as the leadership needed to reconstruct the country. Regardless of the nature of the STL’s verdict—concerning whether four low-ranking Hezbollah operatives are guilty of the assassination—many Lebanese likely feel the real culprits escaped justice due to the STL’s inability to adjudicate on the role of top Syrian and Lebanese officials.

Despite already heightened public opprobrium towards Hezbollah owing to the country’s recent economic collapse, demonstrations may be limited. With Lebanon teetering on the edge of disintegration following the Beirut port explosion, there is consensus that the country urgently needs an interim government. Saad Hariri, son of the assassinated Rafic, has emerged as a possible leadership choice due to his relative domestic and international credibility. But Hezbollah’s effective veto regarding the candidacy of another top contender, Nawaf Salam, illustrates that Hariri will need Hezbollah’s approval, which could lead him to ask supporters to curtail protests related to his father’s assassination.

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