Den internasjonale straffedomstolen i Haag vil i nærmeste fremtid anklage ni medlemmer av Hizbollah for delaktighet i attentat på Libanons tidligere statsminister Rafik Hariri. To av medlemmene er høystående.
Ni medlemmer kan ikke ha handlet på egen hånd i en så delikat affære. Hvis ledelsen for Hizbollah visste, visste også ledelsen i Iran.
If the latest reports are correct, within the next few weeks the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague will reveal the names of nine members of the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah for alleged participation in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Sources close to the ICC tell us that the list of those likely to be indicted includes the names of at least two senior members of Hezbollah.
Once the list is published, the question would be how to detain those indicted and bring them to trial in The Hague?
Since Lebanon is not a signatory of the ICC treaty, it is unlikely that it will order any arrests. The accused may also decide to run to Iran as soon as they get wind of their indictment. As Iran is not an ICC member either, there would be little chance of any arrests on its soil. Over the past 30 years several pro-Iranian Lebanese militants have fled to Iran after being indicted by courts in a number of European countries.
Thus, some might wonder what is point of issuing warrants that cannot be enforced.
The answer is that arrest warrants issued by the ICC or similar international tribunals carry a political, and some might say even a moral, weight that cannot be ignored.
No one would believe that individual members could organize a sophisticated operation to carry out a high profile assassination in the heart of Beirut without anyone in their party knowing what was going one.
And, if someone high-level in the Lebanese branch knew of the plot, is it possible that Tehran was not informed? Would a branch of the movement go for such a high risk operation without obtaining at least a nod from the ‘mother country’?
Judging by a series of recent statements from senior Iranian figures, the answer must be no.
Hezbollah was originally founded by a group of mullahs, led by Ayatollah Hadi Ghaffari, while they were in the Shah’s prisons in Iran in 1975.
In 1980, the government, headed by the then Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, approved a budget of $60 million to help create branches of Hezbollah in s many Arab countries as possible. The idea was that these groups would help switch Arab public opinion in favor of the Islamic Republic during its bloody war with Saddam Hussein.
The model taken was that of the Communist International which helped create more than 60 pro-Soviet parties across the globe during the 1920s and 1930s.
Over the eight years that followed the Tehran decision, 10 foreign branches of Hezbollah were created abroad.
The Lebanese branch became the best known because of its involvement in a series of dramatic operations, including the taking of over 100 foreign hostages.