The UN Security Council is expected to vote later today on a resolution to set up the long awaited Hariri tribunal. The resolution would unilaterally establish the tribunal under the binding chapter 7 of the UN charter. Press reports expect the resolution to pass with nine "yes" votes, and five abstentions from Russia, China, Qatar, Indonesia and South Africa.
One day, someone will bother to analyze Qatar's role in Lebanon and the region since the emir decided to act on his illusions of grandeur, and try to become more than an overweight ruler with money to build ghost malls. But right now, what the emir and his media-based empire do or say is of little significance to the millions of Lebanese inside and outside Lebanon who will regard the UNSC action as a step in the right direction. It would have been a sweeter victory had Lebanese parliament convened to approve the text. But the role of parliament and government has not ended. The resolution merely establishes the tribunal, and much remains to be approved and worked out in the Lebanese institutions.
The text of the resolution gives Lebanon until June 10th to ratify the tribunal in parliament. Otherwise, the resolution would "enter into force". The Russians objected to the idea of the Security Council ratifying agreements "on behalf of a parliament of a foreign country". However, they are not expected to veto the resolution, which they know is the only way to establish the tribunal.
Saad Hariri called on all his supporters to stay home and light candles tonight, and avoid the provocations of pro-Syrian regime elements who, he said, will use the occasion to prove to the world that establishing the tribunal will create great conflicts in the country. Likewise, Walid Jumblatt urged calm, calling today a "historic day" and an occasion to remember and reflect on the martyrs of the march for Lebanese independence, the Lebanese civilians who lost their lives, the Lebanese detainees in Syria, and the Syrian prisoners of conscience.
And as Jumblatt said, this is only the "beginning of a long road". Indeed, the "opposition" said that it will not recognize the authority of the UNSC. And Syrian-installed president Emile Lahoud proposed a "six-member national salvation cabinet" to deliver the country from the evil of international justice!
But the opposition, led by the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah, has vowed it will never accept the tribunal and blocked government efforts to win parliament's endorsement for the project."Do not expect that we will recognise this tribunal, directly or indirectly," said opposition lawmaker Ali Hassan Khalil.
Lebanon's Damascus-backed President Emile Lahoud on Tuesday proposed a six-member "cabinet of national salvation" with each member representing one of the main religious communities, as a way of ending the political deadlock.
But Saad Hariri said the timing raised "suspicions" and branded it another attempt to hamper the creation of the court. (AFP)
It is a long road indeed.
Update. The Hariri tribunal is born. 10 for, 0 against, 5 abstained. The resolution is called UNSC 1757.
As expected, Qatar, Russia, China, Indonesia, South Africa abstained. China considered it interference in Lebanese affairs. Russia warned of legal implications and said Lahoud's letter should have been taken into consideration. But who cares, they abstained, and the noose around the Assad regime is tightening.
A loud explosion was just heard in Beirut. It could be fireworks, it could be the Assad regime responding.