"Al-Hariri" redirects here. This article is about the former Lebanese prime minister. For the writer, see Al-Hariri of Basra
Rafic Bahaa El Deen Al Hariri
: رفيق بهاء الدين الحريري
; Arabic pronunciation: [rafiːq al ħariːriː]
1 November 1944 – 14 February 2005) was a Lebanese
business tycoon and politician who served as the Prime Minister of Lebanon
from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 until his resignation on 20 October 2004.
Hariri headed five cabinets during his tenure. He was widely credited for his role in constructing the Taif Agreement
that ended the 15-year Lebanese Civil War
. He also played a huge role in reconstructing the Lebanese capital, Beirut
. He was the first post-civil war prime minister and the most influential and wealthiest Lebanese politician until his assassination
Hariri was assassinated on 14 February 2005 by a suicide truck bomb in Beirut. Four Hezbollah members were indicted for the assassination and are being tried in absentia
by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon
, but others have linked the assassination to the Syrian
government. The outcome of a 15-year investigation lead to the guilty verdict of multiple people taking part in Hezbollah's party, however the only one left alive would be Salim Ayyash
, a well-connected, mid-level operative in Hezbollah.
The assassination was a catalyst for dramatic political change in Lebanon. The massive protests of the Cedar Revolution
helped achieve the withdrawal of Syrian troops and security forces from Lebanon and a change in governments.
At one point, Hariri was one of the world's 100 wealthiest men
and the fourth-richest politician.
Early life and education
Hariri was born on 1 November 1944 to a modest Sunni Muslim
family in the Lebanese port city of Sidon
. He had two siblings (brother Shafic and sister Bahia
He attended elementary and secondary school in Sidon,
and graduated in business administration from Beirut Arab University
In 1969, Hariri established Ciconest, a small subcontracting firm, which soon went out of business. He then went in business with the French construction firm Oger for the construction of a hotel in Ta’if
, Saudi Arabia
, the timely construction of which earned praise from King Khaled
. Hariri took over Oger, forming Saudi Oger
, which became the main construction firm used by the Saudi Royal family
for all their important developments. As a result, a few years after his first contract with King Khaled, Hariri had become a multi-billionaire.
Having accumulated his wealth, Hariri started a number of philanthropic projects, including the building of educational facilities in Lebanon. His first initiative in Lebanon was the Islamic Association for Culture and Education, which he founded in 1979.
The association was later renamed the Hariri Foundation.
Hariri became progressively more embroiled in politics. His appeals to the United Nations and services as an emissary to the Saudi Royal family won him international recognition on the political stage for his humanitarian efforts.
In 1982, Hariri donated $12 million to Lebanese victims of the 1978 South Lebanon conflict
and helped clean up Beirut's streets with his company's money and contributed to early reconstruction efforts during lulls in the Lebanon war. Said to have heavily financed opposing militias during the war, his former deputy Najah Wakim
later accused him of helping to destroy downtown Beirut in order to rebuild it again and make billions of dollars in the process.
After the conflict, he acted as an envoy of the Saudi royal family
to Lebanon. He laid the groundwork that led to the 1989 Taif Accord
, which Saudi Arabia organised to bring the warring factions together. Taif put an end to the civil war
, building goodwill for Hariri politically. While acting as the Saudi envoy to Lebanon, he spent more time in Damascus than in Beirut where he ingratiated himself with the Assad regime
; he had a new presidential palace built in Damascus as a gift to the Syrian dictator but Assad didn't use it personally.
Hariri returned to Lebanon in the early 1980s as a wealthy man and began to build a name for himself by making large donations and contributions to various groups in Lebanon. However, he continued to serve as a political advisor to Prince Bandar bin Sultan
He was implanted as the Saudis' strong man following the collapse of the PLO and the paucity of any viable Sunni leadership in the country as well as a response to the rising power of the Shiite militia Amal. As a former Saudi diplomatic representative, he played a significant role in constructing the 1990 Taif Agreement
that ended Lebanon's sixteen-year civil war.
In 1992, Hariri became the first post-civil war prime minister of Lebanon under president Elias Hrawi
In addition, he was the Minister of Finance
Hariri put the country back on the financial map through the issuing of Eurobonds
and won plaudits from the World Bank
for his plan to borrow reconstruction money as the country's debt grew to become the largest per capita in the world. His first premiership lasted until 1998, and Hariri was replaced by Salim Hoss
as prime minister.
In fact, as a result of the power struggle between Hariri and newly elected president Émile Lahoud
, he left office.
In October 2000, Hariri was again appointed prime minister, replacing Salim Hoss, and formed the cabinet.
In September 2004, Hariri defended UN Security Council Resolution 1559
, which called for "all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon."
On 20 October 2004, his second term ended when he resigned from office. Omar Karami
succeeded him as prime minister.
1992–1998 economic policies
Rafic Hariri's former residence in Paris
Hariri implemented an aggressive new economic policy. Perhaps Hariri's most important creation in the beginning of his career was "Horizon 2000" the government's name for its new rejuvenation plan. A large component of "Horizon 2000" was Solidere
, the privately owned
construction company that was established to reconstruct post-war Lebanon. Solidere was owned by the government and private investors. Solidere was largely focused on redeveloping Beirut's downtown and turning it into a new urban center as quickly as possible as one aspect of the various infrastructure redevelopment plans that would be implemented by "Horizon 2000". Solidere was given powers of compulsory purchase
, compensating in Solidere shares rather than cash, and was accused of harassment and underpaying former land owners.
Another aspect of the decade-long plan was the privatization of major industries. Numerous contracts were awarded in important industries such as energy, telecommunications, electricity, airports and roads.
The last and perhaps most significant aspect of "Horizon 2000" was economic stimulus via foreign direct investment. Specifically, Hariri supported foreign firms and individuals taking an interest in Lebanon's developmental potential. Hariri simplified tax codes and provided tax breaks to foreign investors. Due to his previous successes in the private sector and the numerous resulting international connections, Hariri was able to garner a significant amount of low-interest loans from foreign investors. Hariri also pursued aggressive macroeconomic policy such as maintaining strict regulations on bank reserves and inter-bank interest rates to curb inflation and raise the value of the Lebanese pound relative to the dollar.
Hariri's economic policies were a remarkable success during his first year in office. From 1992 to 1993 there was a 6 percent increase in real national income, the capital base of commercial banks effectively doubled, the budgetary earnings hovered at around a billion dollars, and commercial banks' consolidated balance sheets increased about 25%. By 1998, however, real GDP growth was around 1%, a year later it would be -1%, national debt had skyrocketed 540% from two to eighteen billion dollars, Lebanon's economy was in a miserable state.
Hariri and Lebanon's political environment
Amid the political crisis brought on by the extension of President Émile Lahoud
's term, Hariri resigned as Prime Minister, saying: "I have... submitted the resignation of the government, and I have declared that I will not be a candidate to head the (next) government."
During a BBC interview in 2001,
Harīrī was asked by Tim Sebastian
why he refused to hand over members of Hezbollah
that were accused by America of being terrorists. He responded that Hezbollah were the ones protecting Lebanon against the Israeli occupation and called for implementation of passed United Nations resolutions against Israel. He was further accused of making the American coalition in the war on terrorism
worthless and asked if he was ready for the consequences of his refusal, reminding him that George W. Bush
had said: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
He replied that he had hoped there would be no consequences, but would deal with them if they arrive. Hariri further said that he opposed the killing of all humans – Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian or Lebanese – and believed in dialogue as a solution. He further went on to say that Syria would have to stay in Lebanon for protection of Lebanon until they are no longer needed and Lebanon asks them to leave.
leader Walid Jumblatt
, a recent recruit of the anti-Syrian opposition, emboldened by popular anger and civic action now being called Lebanon's Cedar Revolution
, alleged in the wake of the assassination that on 26 August 2004 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
threatened Hariri, saying "[President of Lebanon] Lahoud is me. ... If you and Chirac want me out of Lebanon, I will break Lebanon."
He was quoted as saying "When I heard him telling us those words, I knew that it was his condemnation of death." This meeting between Hariri and Assad, which had been on 26 August 2004, lasted for just fifteen minutes.
On 22 June 2005, Beirut International Airport was renamed Rafic Hariri International Airport
Additionally, Beirut General University hospital was renamed Rafiq Hariri Hospital.
Rafic Hariri was succeeded by his son Saad Hariri
as leader of the Future Party.
Hariri was accused of corruption that plagued Lebanon during the Syrian occupation
. Among the allegations made against him was that his wealth grew from less than $1 billion when he was appointed prime minister in 1992, to over $16 billion when he died. The Company for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut's Central District, known as Solidere
, in which Hariri is the primary shareholder, expropriated most property in the central business district
of Beirut, compensating each owner with shares in the company which were worth as little as 15% of the property's value. That Hariri and his business associates profited immensely from this project was an open secret.
Hariri and his protégés were not the only beneficiaries of this spending spree. In order to secure support from militia chieftains, and pro-Syrian ideologues that Damascus had installed in the government, Hariri allowed kickbacks from public spending to enrich all major government figures. Contracts for the import of petroleum were awarded to the two sons of President Elias Hrawi
As result of the growing criticism and popular discontent with Hariri's policies, the government banned public demonstrations in 1994 and relied upon the Army
to enforce the decree.
In return for a relatively free hand in economic matters, Hariri cooperated with Syria's drive to consolidate its control over Lebanon. Under the guise of "regulating" the audiovisual media, the government placed control of all major television and radio stations in the hands of pro-Syrian elites. Supporters of Michel Aoun
were also perpetually harassed and detained.
Hariri married twice. He had six children. In 1965, he married an Iraqi woman, Nidal Bustani, who is the mother of his three sons; Bahaa
(born 1967), who is a businessman, Saad
, who succeeded his father as leader of the future movement, and Houssam—who died in a traffic accident in the US in the late 1980s.
They divorced. He married his second spouse, Nazik Audi
, in 1976 and she is the mother of three of Hariri's children, including Ayman Hariri
, Fahd Hariri
and Hind Hariri
Buildings damaged by the car bomb.
Ministry of the Interior soldier guarding the site of the attack that killed Hariri.
On 14 February 2005, Hariri was killed when explosives equivalent to around 1,800 kilograms (4,000 lb) of TNT
concealed inside a parked Mitsubishi
van were detonated
as his motorcade
drove near the St. George Hotel in Beirut.
23 people, including Hariri himself, were killed.
Among the dead were several of Hariri's bodyguards and his friend and former Minister of the Economy Bassel Fleihan
. Hariri was buried along with his bodyguards, who died in the bombing, in a location near Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque
Hezbollah blamed the assassination on Israel.
Hariri was well regarded among international leaders, for example, he was a close friend of French President Jacques Chirac
. Chirac was one of the first foreign dignitaries to offer condolences to Hariri's widow in person at her home in Beirut. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon
was also created at his instigation. Syria was initially accused of the assassination, which led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon following widespread protests.
Hariri memorial shrine
Major General Jamil Al Sayyed
, then head of Lebanese General Security, Brigadier General Mustafa Hamdan
, Major General Ali Hajj
and Brigadier General Raymond Azar
were all arrested in August 2005 at the request of German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis
, who was carrying out the UN investigation about the assassination.
Sayyed was one of the persons who decided to assassinate Rafik Hariri according to a leaked draft version of the Mehlis report
along with other Syrian high-rank intelligence and security officers and officials, namely Assef Shawkat
, Maher Assad
, Hassan Khalil and Bahjat Suleyman.
However, later reports about the assassination did not repeat the allegations against Jamil Al Sayyed and other three Lebanese generals.
Four Lebanese generals were held in Roumieh prison, northeast of Beirut from 2005 to 2009.
They were released from the prison due to lack of evidence in 2009.
An indictment against alleged Hezbollah members Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine
, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra was issued and confirmed by the Pre-Trial Judge of the United Nations special tribunal (see Special Tribunal for Lebanon
) in 2011.
In February 2014, the case against Hassan Habib Merhi was joined with the Ayyash et al.
Proceedings against the accused Mustafa Badreddine
were terminated in July 2016
following credible reports of his death.Salim Jamil Ayyash
, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra
currently remain on trial in absentia
Rafic Hariri Statue in Beirut near to the assassination site
Hezbollah accused Israel of the assassination of Hariri. According to Hezbollah officials, the assassination of Hariri was planned by the Mossad as a means of expelling the Syrian army from Lebanon. In August 2010, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah presented evidence, consisting of intercepted Israeli spy-drone video footage, which he said implicated Israel in the assassination of Hariri.
After an altercation between male Tribunal staff and women at a gynecology clinic in October 2010, Hezbollah demanded that the Lebanese government stop all cooperation with the Special Tribunal
, claiming the tribunal to be an infringement on Lebanese sovereignty by western governments. On 1 November 2010, a report was leaked by Al Akhbar
, a local secular, leftist newspaper, stating that Hezbollah drafted plans for a quick takeover of the country in the case an indictment against its members is issued by the UN Special Tribunal
The report states that Hezbollah conducted a simulation of the plan on 28 October, immediately following a speech by its secretary general.
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