Just as a preponderance of evidence increasingly implicated Syria in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri last February, another dramatic assassination killed an outspoken critic of Syrian interference in Lebanon. If the U.N. Security Council fails to take action against Syria now, it will not only undermine its credibility, it could also endanger the stability of Lebanon by compelling its citizens to force justice their own way.
On Monday, Gebran Tueni, a lawmaker and publisher and editor of the an-Nahar newspaper in Lebanon, was assassinated by a car bomb that killed two other people. That same day, German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, who is investigating the Hariri assassination for the Security Council, said in his second report that new evidence corroborated his earlier judgment that Syrian security officials were behind the killing. He also said Syrian officials were interfering with his probe.
The latter allegation is especially a call to action for the council. Syria was given the opportunity to come clean on the participating of any of its officials in the Hariri slaying. Instead, it is crudely using intimidation and potentially worse to impede the investigation. In a rare moment of unanimity, the Security Council on Oct. 31 passed a resolution requiring Syria to cooperate fully and unconditionally with an investigation or face “further action.”
While Syria does not have a monopoly on potential motive for killing Messrs. Hariri and Tueni — given the internecine competition for power in the Middle East — the Security Council’s impartial investigator is pointing at Syria and that must be the council’s basis for action.