The talk is all centred now on who is responsible, or more accurately, who ordered his killing.
Apparently an investigation has been set up, with Lebanon requesting the help of Swiss investigators in the search for evidence.
Most of the fingers of accusations are being pointed now towards Syria. After all, Rafik Al Hariri notoriously defected from being a supporter of Syria's stance in Lebanon, refusing for a long time to endorse amending the constitution to allow president Emile Lahoud (إميل لحود) to extend his presidency.
I for some reason, however, have my doubts over this theory. I simply cannot see what Syria had to benefit from killing Al Hariri in such a spectacular display. All this has caused is to focus the international eyes squarely on Lebanon and Syria's role in Lebanon, which is the last thing Syria needs with American presence in Iraq, and the tensions already existing with regards to UN resolution 1559, which in all essence demands that Syria withdraws its troops from Lebanon.
Why would Syria cause his death in such an eye-grabbing manner, with a horrific car bomb that left neighbourhoods miles away shaking from its force? Isn't this just a recipe to attract the world's attention, with Syria being the main target? Wouldn't it have made more sense for them to use a sniper or something less eye-grabbing (which should not be any more difficult for Syria than a car explosion considering they control all of the military present in Lebanon)?
What exactly did Syria as well have to gain from this? Although Al Hariri was against amending the constitution (primarily because of his political rivalry with Lahoud), he was not against Syria's main concern with Lebanon, which is Syrian troops remaining in Lebanon. In fact, he was considered a traditional supporter of Syria on this issue. Furthermore, it seems that Syria's main aim over the last decade or so in Lebanon was to keep the country stable and under its own control (although it did not go doing this in the best manner available). How did this assassination help that exactly? It seems to me all it has done is to intensify the differences between the opposing the factions in Lebanon and to galvanize support for the Syrian opposition.
For these reasons, I am quite sceptical of Syria being the instigator of this attack. What about the alternatives?
Well, the other points of accusations have been pointed mainly to four different parties: Islamic militants (maybe backed up Al Qaeda), Israel, the United States, and opposing Lebanese factions.
As to some kind of Islamic militant perpetrating the attack, the main evidence is that of a Group calling themselves Victory and Jihad(or more accurately, one person called Ahmed Tayseer Abu Adas), claiming responsibility for the bombing, apparently because of Hariri's business ties in Saudi Arabia (where he made his money), one of the main targets of Islamic movements. Furthermore, the method of assassination seems to follow the methods used by other Islamic insurgents elsewhere, particularly in Iraq: A suicide bomber using an explosive-laden car. One could also conceivably argue that the militants have a strong interest in seeing instability and tensions returning in the region, as is apparent from their actions in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and recently Kuwait.
Another suspect could be Israel. Israel's interest and part in Lebanon's turmoil is long, starting with their involvement in the Lebanese civil war and their continued animosity towards Lebanese and Syrian backed Hizbullah. One could also argue that Israel can see some advantages from the international focus, pressure, and ramifications of such events on Syria, which could weaken its rival's position seriously (as is already evident).
One could also (at the risk of being accused of venturing into conspiracy theories) wonder whether the United States had any benefits from the attack. After all, the United States animosity towards Syria is very public, which has been gathering momentum recently, with new unilateral sanctions imposed and pressure for a security council resolution asking for Syrian troops to withdraw from Lebanon. This incident has provided the perfect background to increase pressure on Syria, which is evident by the White House spokesman mentioning Syria in the first official American reaction to the assassination. The United States also sees Hizbullah and some Palestinian groups, such as Islamic Jihad, as terrorist groups mainly backed up by Syria, that are an obstacle to a settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Anyway, unlike what many others have done, I am not going to jump to conclusions, and I'm not going to level far-strung accusations without any more clear cut evidence. Let us wait for the results of the investigation, and see what preliminary conclusions they come up with.
Prominent Pan-Arabist Socialist, whose main goals was an Independent Lebanon, a strong Arabic wide cooperation, and the creation and preservation of a Palestinian homeland. Assassinated in 1977, with the killing widely blamed on Israel.
Leader of the Al Kataeb faction in Lebanon, and one of the main opponents of Syrian and Palestinian influence in Lebanon. Killed in an explosion in the Kataeb headquarters in 1982. Most blame Syrian or Palestinian parties for the assasination.
Elected president in 1989. He was considered a moderate with leanings towards the Syrian stance in Lebanon. Had many local foes, including general Michel Aoun and Bechara Khouri. His assassination is a mystery but is usually blamed on his domestic opponents.
Most of the assassinations, although accusations have been levelled, remain unsolved. We will have to wait and see the conclusions of this most recent investigations and the ramifications it will have.