The Lebanese government has detained several former high-ranking officials. They are under investigation for suspicion of involvement in the murder of former prime minister Rafiq al Hariri, an opponent of the Syrian presence in Lebanon.
Mr. Hariri and twenty others died in a February bombing in Beirut, Lebanon's capital. The widespread protests that followed forced Syria to withdraw its troops, which had been present in Lebanon for nearly thirty years.
According to news reports, those in custody include Jamil al-Sayed, the Lebanese government's former head of security; Raymond Azar, the former chief of military intelligence; Ali Hajj, a former police chief; and Mustafa Hamdan, the current leader of the Lebanese Presidential Security Guard. "This is a very dramatic development," says Anne Patterson, the deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She says, "These gentlemen who have been arrested do have...longstanding ties with Syria."
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says, "the Lebanese people deserve to know what happened":
"Out of that terrible moment, the Lebanese people came together and, as a result, they are on the pathway to reclaiming their future, a future free from occupation."
The murder of Mr. Hariri galvanized millions of Lebanese to demand the withdrawal of Syrian military forces and intelligence operatives. Syria has told the United Nations that it has withdrawn its forces, as required by U-N Security Council Resolution fifteen-fifty-nine. The U.S., says Mr. McCormack, still has "continuing concerns about the presence of Syrian operatives in Lebanon":
"We think that part of allowing Lebanon and the Lebanese people to move forward is determining what happened and who was involved in the assassination of former prime minister Hariri."
"In trying to get to the bottom of it, these arrests...are part of that effort," says State Department spokesman McCormack. He says the U.S. "welcome[s] that effort."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.