|RAFIK HARIRI: A STATESMAN WHO DIED A HERO
15 March 2005
Lebanese Statesman Rafik Hariri accomplished in his death what he had tried in vain all his life. Whatever
the criminals who murdered him so vengefully intended, the outcome was an outpouring of unity among
Lebanese of all factions.
"We want the truth" was the rallying cry. The withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanese territory
became a priority. As a politician and Prime Minister for about 12 years, he tried to accommodate all
powerful players, particularly, of course, Damascus. He walked a fine thin line between asserting his
official power as Prime Minister and maintaining his status as a leader while always pursuing his dream
of rebuilding Beirut. He loved his country, respected its neighbours and opened lively channels to the
world. A practical supporter of the United Nations, he was behind building an impressive site in downtown
central to become a unified U.N. compound. One of his amazing international feats was his close personal
friendship with French President Jacques Chirac, while maintaining special admiration by senior
American officials. He tried several times to bring the two presidents closer. After his violent death,
the U.S. and French presidents met in Brussels with the situation in Lebanon as a main priority. Rafik
Hariri lived a dynamic and full life. A billionaire who contributed generously to the poor, he was
keen not only on thoughtful help but on human development. As a politician, he did what politicians
do. But there was more to him than met the headlines. He was a genuine man of the people, his people.
He lived like a statesman and died a hero. God bless his soul.