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Rafik Hariri

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Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
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Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

Rafik Bahaa Edine Hariri (1 November 194414 February 2005), was a Lebanese self-made billionaire and business tycoon, and was twice Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 to 2004. He last resigned from office on 20 October 2004. Hariri was assassinated on 14 February 2005 when explosives equivalent to around 1000 kg of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove past the St George Hotel in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The Syrian government has borne the brunt of Lebanese and international outrage at the murder, due to its extensive military and intelligence influence in Lebanon, as well as the public rift between Hariri and Damascus just before his last resignation. No actual substantial evidence implicating any party or individual to the actual killing has yet been uncovered in the case.

Lebanese Druze 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 in 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."[1] (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/20/international/middleeast/20lebanon.html?ei=5094&en=441b692d8c0ef46a&hp=&ex=1111294800&partner=homepage&pagewanted=all&position=). He was quoted as saying "When I heard him telling us those words, I knew that it was his condemnation of death." The United States, the EU and the UN have stopped short of any accusations, choosing instead to demand a Syrian pullout from Lebanon and an open and international investigation of the Assassination. Jumblatt's comments are not without controversy; the BBC describes him as "being seen by many as the country's political weathervane" - consistently changing allegiances to emerge on the winning side of the issues de jour through the turmoil of the 1975-90 civil war and its troubled aftermath. [2] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4348129.stm) He was a supporter of Syria after the war but switched sides after the death of former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad in 2000. His account is quoted, but not confirmed, in the UN's Fitzgerald Report. The report stops short of directly accusing Damascus or any other party, saying that only a further thorough international inquest can identify the culprit. [3] (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/25/international/middleeast/25hariri.html?pagewanted=all&position=): The Lebanese government has agreed to this inquiry, though calling for the full participation, not supremacy, of its own agencies and the respect of Lebanese sovereignty. [4] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4383321.stm)

According to these testimonies, Mr. Hariri reminded Mr. Assad of his pledge not to seek an extension for Mr. Lahouds term, and Mr. Assad replied that there was a policy shift and that the decision was already taken. He added that Mr. Lahoud should be viewed as his personal representative in Lebanon and that opposing him is tantamount to opposing Assad himself. He then added that he (Mr. Assad) would rather break Lebanon over the heads of [Mr.] Hariri and [Druze leader] Walid Jumblatt than see his word in Lebanon broken. According to the testimonies, Mr. Assad then threatened both Mr. Hariri and Mr. Jumblatt with physical harm if they opposed the extension for Mr. Lahoud. The meeting reportedly lasted for ten minutes, and was the last time Mr. Hariri met with Mr. Assad. After that meeting, Mr. Hariri told his supporters that they had no other option but to support the extension for Mr. Lahoud. The Mission has also received accounts of further threats made to Mr. Hariri by security officials in case he abstained from voting in favor of the extension or even thought of leaving the country.
— "Report of the Fact-Finding Mission to Lebanon inquiring into the causes, circumstances and consequences of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, 25 February 24 March 2005" (the Fitzgerald Report)


Contents

Biography

Youth & family, studies and business career

Born to a Sunni Muslim family of modest means in the Lebanese port city of Sidon, Hariri attended elementary and secondary school in his city and pursued his business administration studies at the Beirut Arab University. He has a brother, Shafic, and a sister, Bahia. After training as a teacher he left Lebanon, in 1965, to work in Saudi Arabia for a construction company. There he married Nazik Audeh in 1965. In 1969, Hariri established his own construction company CICONEST, which benefitted greatly from the oil price boom of the 1970s, accumulating vast amounts of wealth in a short period of time, Hariri emerging as a powerful construction tycoon. Somewhat later, in 1978, Hariri became a citizen of Saudi Arabia as a reward from the Saudi royal family for the high quality of his entrepreneurial services, and became the kingdom's emissary to Lebanon. Hariri then went on to become Saudi Arabia's leading entrepreneur, acquiring Oger in 1979, and founding Oger International, based in Paris. His interests extended across banking, real estate, oil, industry and telecommunications. Rafik and Nazik Hariri had seven children, and seven grandchildren.

Links with Lebanon

In 1993, he founded a television station, Future TV, in Beirut, and purchased stakes in several Lebanese newspapers. He founded his own newspaper Al-mustaqbal (The Future). The former Prime Minister was also the biggest shareholder in Solidere, the joint-stock company that almost single handedly transformed and revived central Beirut following the Lebanese civil war. In 1982, he donated $12 million to Lebanese victims of Israel's invasion and helped clean up Beirut's streets with his own money. He also used his personal wealth to finance the Taif Accord in 1989, which put an end to the civil war.

Political career

Hariri returned to Lebanon in 1992 as prime minister. He 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.

Hariri served as Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998, then again from 2000 until late 2004.

Amid the political crisis brought on by the extension of President Emile Lahoud's term under Syrian pressure, Hariri resigned as Prime Minister (he resigned in 1998 for about the same reason), 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."

On 14 February 2005 Hariri was killed, along with 20 others, when explosives equivalent to around 1000 kg of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove near the St George Hotel in Beirut. Among the dead were several of Hariri's bodyguards, and his friend and former Minister of Economy Bassel Fleihan. It is currently not known who carried out the attack.

Hariri's contributions were numerous. Among the most notable is the fact that he educated 30,000 Lebanese students inside and outside of Lebanon, and spent millions of dollars of his own personal money to redefine the face of social hierarchies in Lebanon. He donated a great deal of money to charity, and invested in Lebanon when few others were willing to risk doing so. Like all prime ministers since the end of the French mandate in 1943, he was a Sunni Muslim. He worked towards unity of the different religious and ethnic groups and rebuilding.

But his economic record was mixed: his ambitious borrow-and-build schemes resulted in massive public debt and budget deficits, which pushed up interest rates and hampered growth. He was accused of ignoring the poor as a matter of public policy, despite his long personal record of funding charitable causes. During his time in office, several government officials were investigated for corruption. He has been exposed to extensive conflict of interest criticism due to his massive financial holdings and investments in Lebanon being actively administered by himself and his family while simultaneously holding high office. Conversely, it is acknowledged by some critics that in the atmosphere of the post civil war era, his extensive entrepreneurial activities in Lebanon played a pivotal role in spurring international investment and economic revival.

Hariri was well regarded among international leaders counting French President Jacques Chirac as a close friend, enjoying the envied record of being the political figure most often received by the French President. Chirac was one of the first foreign dignitaries to offer condolences to Hariri's widow in person at her home in Beirut.

Fortune

By the 1980s, Hariri entered the Forbes top 100. In 2002 Harriri became the fourth-richest politician in the world. Forbes estimated at $3.8 billion on its 2003 World's richest people

Rafik Hariri had interests stretching from Riyadh to Paris to Houston. His son Saad Hariri runs Saudi Oger, a USD $3.15 billion (sales) construction conglomerate. Oger paid $375 million to increase its ownership in Arab Bank in order to keep out interested Arab-American investors. Some of Lebanon's USD $29 billion public debt is held by Hariri's $625 million diversified financial services company, Groupe Mediterrane. Hariri owned more than 2 million square feet (186,000 m²) of prime office space in Houston.

In 1990, on the occasion of the graduation of his son, Bahaa, from Boston University, Mr. Hariri made the naming gift for what became The Rafik B. Hariri Building, home of Boston University's School of Management.

See also

References

External links

Template:Wikinews

Obituaries

  • Obituaries-Rafik Hariri (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1485702,00.html)-The Times of London February 16, 2005
  • Obituary-Rafik Hariri (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4264359.stm)-BBC News February 14, 2005
  • Obituary-Rafik Hariri (http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/02/15/db1502.xml)-The Daily Telegraph London February 15, 2005

Related Print Articles

  • Family of Slain Lebanese Leader Demands Probe Into Killing -The Associated Press/New York Times February 17, 2005
  • Rice Says Syria Is at Least Indirectly Responsible for the Blast By Brinkley Joel The New York Times-February 17, 2005
  • Death of Businessman By Ajami, Fouad The Wall Street Journal-February 17, 2005 Page A12
  • Wails at Loss of Lebanese Leader, Cries for His Vision By Fattah, Hassan M. The New York Times-February 17, 2005
  • Huge Crowds Mourn Lebanon's Ex-Premier By Saidi, Leena The New York Times-February 16, 2005
  • Hama Rules By Friedman,Thomas L.-The New York Times February 17, 2005


Preceded by:
Rashid as-Solh
Prime Minister of Lebanon
1992–1998
Succeeded by:
Selim al-Hoss
Preceded by:
Selim al-Hoss
Prime Minister of Lebanon
2000–2004
Succeeded by:
Omar Karami

Template:End boxar:رفيق الحريري bg:Рафик Харири da:Rafiq Al-Hariri de:Rafiq al-Hariri eo:Rafik HARIRI fr:Rafiq Hariri id:Rafik Hariri he:רפיק אל-חרירי nl:Rafik Hariri ja:ラフィーク・ハリーリー no:Rafiq Hariri pl:Rafiq Hariri zh:拉菲克·哈里里

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