Lebanon crisis may be averted

Israeli intelligence believes that serious turmoil can be avoided in Lebanon by a toning down of the results of the Special Tribunal investigating the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Central operatives of Hizbollah are expected to be indicted by the tribunal and Hizbollah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has issued dire warnings that "political upheaval" would result from such accusations.

Senior figures in the Israeli military, including IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, have argued that Hizbollah has the capability to overcome the Lebanese Army and bring about an Islamist revolution in the country.

Despite the warnings, the assessment of Israeli intelligence services is that the report will indict the suspects but refrain from identifying them as members of Hizbollah or specifically fingering the organisation for responsibility.

In Lebanon, a tribunal spokesman said that though the indictments were due in a few weeks, they could be sealed at the request of Lebanese prosecutors and their contents are unlikely to be known for months, until an actual trial takes place.

    Last updated: 1:50pm, December 9 2010