Hariri knew sooner or later it would come; TIME - 1993:
Hariri regards the risk of assassination philosophically; his Muslim faith clearly helps. "I believe if my life is finished, it will be finished," he says. "It is written." But the businessman in him improved the odds of survival by spending $2 million of his own money to install blast-resistant armor plating and bulletproof glass in the government palace. He employs 40 private bodyguards and drives in a convoy of six armored Mercedes with smoked-glass windows. Even the Lebanese soldiers who ride shotgun in Range Rovers interspersed with the Mercedes cars do not know which vehicle carries the Prime Minister.
... his Saudi connections have proved a source of tension in Lebanon, where foreign sponsorship of competing religious communities has often aggravated sectarian strife. Some pro-Iranian Shi'ites view the return of the Sunni Muslim billionaire with suspicion. [emphasis added - reliapundit.]
After 27 years in the kingdom, Hariri speaks with a Saudi accent. He has encouraged other wealthy Saudis to invest in Lebanese reconstruction projects. Twice last month he met with King Fahd in Saudi Arabia, where his Palestinian-born wife Nazek and five children still live when they are not in Paris. While acknowledging his friendship with the King, Hariri denies he is "Saudi Arabia's man" in Lebanon. "King Fahd doesn't need a man in Lebanon," says Hariri. "Saudi Arabia doesn't have a policy of expansion or of trying to be influential in Lebanon. He is my friend. But I'm not here on a Saudi mission."
Neither is he Syria's man, he says. Unlike his recent predecessors, Hariri claims he does not seek approval for policy decisions from Damascus, which continues to maintain 40,000 troops in his country. But since it is virtually impossible to hold high political office in postwar Lebanon without Syria's stamp of approval, Hariri has cultivated ties there. Abdel Halim Khaddam, the Syrian Vice President responsible for his country's involvement in Lebanon, is a close friend. And Hariri's firm recently completed President Hafez Assad's hilltop palace in Damascus, a gift from Saudi Arabia. In addition, Lebanese allies of Syria retain key portfolios in Hariri's Cabinet. Though a September 1992 deadline for Syrian forces to withdraw to eastern Lebanon was not observed, Hariri says the redeployment is "not an issue" because the Lebanese army isn't yet strong enough to preserve law and order on its own. He declines to set a deadline for the Syrians' departure: "We cannot sacrifice the security of the country to satisfy some people. The Syrians don't want to stay, and we don't want them to stay. But they are needed."
Well... it looks like Hariri's wealth, contacts, his penchant for security - and his ability to broker deals with anyone and everyone who might help or hurt him - did him ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD, in the end.
Whoever wanted him dead, did to him what we could not do to Saddam. That alone suggests it was done by people with vast and safe and powerful contacts in Beirut. That means Syria or Iran.
I think it is more likely Iran and Hizb'allah: they have the most to lose if Hariri had been able to broker a deal with Assad (to get him out of Lebanon) - and it is MUCH more likely that Hariri could do a deal with Assad than with Iran - a nation with which he has had NO PERSONAL/COMMERCIALCONTACTS; (he only met with Iranians in an official capacity while PM).
Therefore, I would GUESS that the White House and the US State Department were wrong to finger Syria - or (in good ol' cop fashion) they were strategically putting the BIG pressure on the lesser thug, the thug who was most likely to break - which in this case is Syria.
If - in the comeing weeks - the neojihadist thug who appeared in the video claiming repsonsibility for the murder can be traced to Iran, then expect a MAJOR MOVE by the USA in the UN against Iran. One that would justify a US military "OPERATION DESERT FOX"-like attack that will destroy their all their nuclear assets. RATIONALE: a nation that uses assassination against adversaries inside a nation that it's supposed to be allied with is NOT to be trusted with a nuke; therefore, if Iran will not agree to invasive inspections by May, then WHAM! I'd expect that IF WE PRESENT PROOF to the UNSC that Iran was involved in the assassination of Hariri that we could get a unanimous UNSCR. One that would even have the OPEN support of many Muslim nations, including Syria and Saudi Arabia and Libya and Pakistan.
Three months after Israel was "driven out" of southern Lebanon there were elections in Lebanon, won, against the Syrian leadership's wishes, by the current prime minister, Rafiq al-Hariri, and his allies, the Druze. Hariri hopes to put an end to Hizballah activity because it threatens the prospects for reviving the Lebanese economy. Harari's message was: Lebanon cannot be both "Hong Kong" (today, Lebanon carries on its shoulders the ability of Syria to survive economically) and "Hanoi" (an adventurous revolutionary state).
Nasrallah is acutely aware of the will of the majority of Lebanese and has had to tread carefully over the past two and a half years in order not to overstay his welcome. At Syria's instructions, Lebanon has allowed Hizballah free rein in the areas from which Israel withdrew in May 2000. There is no real governmental authority and no international presence in these areas, which have become "Hizballah-land."
Nevertheless, Hizballah is acutely aware that this sufferance is tenuous. If it actually crosses a certain line and provokes a massive Israeli reaction that will disrupt and destroy everything that Hariri has been trying to build in Lebanon over the last few years, Hizballah might suffer the consequences from within the Lebanese system.
The Syrians are also a factor. There is a balance of deterrence between Israel and Syria today and for the foreseeable future. The Syrians have a very large standing army that can inflict a lot of pain. They have systematically and deliberately provided Hizballah with the ability to inflict even greater pain in some ways, since it can now hit large populated areas of Israel relatively quickly, without having to deploy the Syrian military. At the same time, conventional deterrence of Syria works. Bashar Assad is under no illusions whatsoever as to what will happen to Syria in a general conflict, and this has acted to modify and restrain Hizballah on a day-to-day basis.
During the past two and a half years there have been limited breaches of the peace, such as attacks on Israeli positions at the "Shib'ah Farms." There were some artillery duels with Hizballah in the north during Israeli operations in Jenin. There has been one major Hizballah-sponsored terrorist attack across the border near Hanita that killed five civilians and one soldier. Yet this is nowhere near the full use of Hizballah capabilities. How do we keep it this way in time of crisis?
Hizballah, and the Iranians who back them, have to some extent reduced the level of direct activity across the border because they have turned much of their energy toward the manipulation of terrorist activity within the Palestinian areas and within Israel. Essentially, the Iranian establishment is more focused on supporting terrorist organizations in the Palestinian arena, with Hizballah as backers and suppliers of arms and technology. The major conduit they use is Islamic Jihad, which is directly responsive to Iranian directives. The infusion of Iranian money, support, and technology accounts for the tremendous rise in the effectiveness of Islamic Jihad operations, as compared to a couple of years ago.
Hizballah has also infiltrated the Palestinian Authority itself. The use of mortars in Gaza was begun by PA officers working under the influence and direction of Hizballah. The bombing on Tel Aviv's Neve Sha'anan Street, which took 23 lives, was also the result of a link with Hizballah.
I think the link between Iran and Palestinian and Lebanese neojihadism is stronger than the link between Syria and the neojihadists; Syria is not ruled by Muslims (Assad is an Alawite), and they use only use Hizballah as a wedge against Israel for geopolitical reasons, not for ideological/reliigious ones. The Hariri hit was perpetrated by neojihadists - who are fanatical ideologues; furthermore, Hariri's assassination does NOT serve Assad well at this time. Therefore, I feel EVEN MORE strongly that Hariri was whacked by Iran.