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    The tragic irony of Hariri’s legacy

    The sound and fury rippling out from Jamil Sayyed’s accusations has morphed the Lebanese political stage into a theater of the absurd.

    So many of the actors in the political arena have cloaked themselves in something less than glory with their competing claims of conspiracies, outlandish extortion and malfeasance in the high offices of the state. One finds it hard to decide whether it would be more absurd if these allegations turned out to be true or if public figures had actually been capable of inventing such twisted fictions and then flogging them before the eyes of the world as the unvarnished truth.

    The cognitive dissonance stems from the fact that all these very real, fevered emotions and dark threats are set in a foundation of utter conjecture. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has not yet even indicted anyone in the killing of Rafik Hariri, much less convicted anyone in a credible trial.

    Lebanon’s politicians, meanwhile, are building a monument of insinuation. Would it be too impolite of us to ask for some evidence for some – indeed, for any – of the allegations going back and forth between the players?

    Perhaps even worse then fighting over mere conjecture, the country’s politicians are creating the consequences of the indictment before the court takes any action. Broad swathes of the public space are deteriorating over pure hearsay.

    As usual, it is not the politicians who are suffering the fallout from their absurd act, but rather the people – those who see any attempt at enterprise here thwarted by constant and groundless uncertainty; the tide of emigration has not yet begun to ebb, as the Lebanese continue to scatter around the globe to toil away from their homeland.

    The state, too, is suffering from this latest saga – if we can even grant that there is a state to speak of. Alas, the state today is in worse shape than Downtown Beirut after the Civil War.

    Beyond the current – and fleeting, we hope – display of absurdity, Lebanon is enduring a tragedy of irony. While Rafik Hariri was not a flawless man, he was striving to create the institutions of a functioning state; his clear message to all was to rebuild the country. The tragic irony is that the legacy of Rafik Hariri – in the form of the investigation of his assassination – might well be disfigured into the destruction of the state that he worked hard to reconstruct.

    Every actor on this stage declares his innocence in Hariri’s killing; if none of them is the culprit, then they all – and his son, as well – would best honor his memory by dedicating themselves to help build a Lebanese state.

    Jamil MROUE
    The Daily Star
    21.09.2010

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