[This is the headline over an article published today on the website of the Gulf Daily News. It reads in part:]
Here we go again. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a UN-backed body investigating the killing of Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri in 2005, has accused four people of his murder. They belong to Hizbollah, the militant Lebanese Shi'ite movement, but may not be guilty. (...)
Arrest warrants have now been issued for Hizbollah's chief operations officer Mustafa Badreddin, and three other officials - but some argue they are being framed by Western intelligence agencies because Hizbollah is a threat to Israel.
If this sounds paranoid, consider the case of the Lockerbie bombing. The bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 killed 270 people, mostly American.
At first, US intelligence blamed Iran, claiming it used an Arab terrorist group based in Syria to carry out the operation.
So Syria was under pressure too, but then in 1990 Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait and Washington needed the Syrians as allies. Suddenly, the Iran-Syria case was abandoned and the new suspect was Libya. [RB: As Rolfe has more than once pointed out, there are real difficulties with this explanation.]
Libya, under Muammar Gadaffi, was an enemy of the West, so new evidence was found linking Libyan intelligence agents to the attack.
Gadaffi was brought to heel and Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was tried by an international court and sentenced to life in prison. [RB: The court was a Scottish one although it sat in the Netherlands.]
Alas, the new "evidence" was then gradually discredited as key "witnesses" turned out to be incredible.
In 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said it would refer Al Megrahi's case to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh (the Libyan was being held in a Scottish prison) because he "may have suffered a miscarriage of justice".
To avoid all this coming out into the open in a new trial, Al Megrahi was released in 2009 and sent home on the grounds that he was a dying man and wouldn't last three months (he's still alive).
If Western intelligence agencies played this kind of game over the Lockerbie bombing, what's to stop them from doing the same over Hariri's murder?
Hizbollah and its Christian and Druze allies now dominate the Lebanese government and are seen as a threat to Israeli and US interests.
The Middle East is a hotbed of conspiracy theories, mostly implausible, but maybe this one is real.