18 years pass since Hariri’s assassination

February 14, 2023 marks the 18th anniversary of the assassination of Rafic Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon. Hariri was killed, along with 21 others, in a suicide bombing near the St. George Hotel in Beirut. Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, visited his father’s tomb in downtown Beirut to recite prayers in front of his grave and pay his respects. Many supporters, waving the blue flags of the Future Movement founded by Rafic Hariri, were present.

Last year, a UN tribunal found two members of the Lebanese political party and armed group Hezbollah guilty in absentia of being accomplices to the attack. Another Hezbollah operative was convicted over his role in 2020, while Hezbollah denies any involvement.

Rafic Hariri, who served as Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 until his resignation in 2004, was largely considered the de facto leader of the majority of the Sunni community and the Future Movement party. Following the assassination of Hariri, the outraged Lebanese public took to the streets, leading to the Cedar Revolution and the withdrawal of Syrian troops and security forces from Lebanon.

The Taif Agreement, which Hariri played a huge role in constructing to divide the government, parliament, and presidential offices according to sect to put an end to the 15-year Lebanese Civil War, is now widely considered a failed agreement that divided Lebanon into a sectarian country and caused various political tensions among the different sects.

While Hariri was well-regarded in the international political community and backed by Saudi Arabia, his legacy is a topic of mixed opinions among the general Lebanese public. Some younger generations are skeptical of his role in corruption and politics at the time.

Saad Hariri, who succeeded his father as head of the Future Movement and later as Prime Minister, unexpectedly announced his withdrawal from political life last year and urged members of the Future Movement to follow suit. His withdrawal meant lower voter turnouts in Sunni areas and the departure of a key leader of the community from the political scene. The Hariri political legacy now continues with Bahaa Hariri, Rafic Hariri’s other son, who declared in January 2022 that he would follow in the footsteps of his father and brother to “take back the country.”

Image Credit: RAMZI HAIDAR (AFP/Archives)

Tags : Lebanon