Wonderful news, even if Russia and China couldn’t quite bring themselves to endorse it. This has been Assad’s greatest fear since Rafiq Hariri, the anti-Syrian former prime minister of Lebanon, was assassinated two years ago: all signs point to the Syrian government’s involvement and he knows it and soon the rest of the world will know it too. That’s why people ended up dying every time the UN inched a little closer to approving the tribunal — it was Assad’s version of a shot across the bow, a warning of what could and would happen in Lebanon if the UN went ahead with the investigation. His puppet was already making threats in advance of the vote:

Damascus denies involvement but has indicated it will not cooperate with the court. Washington’s U.N. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, warned Syria on Tuesday it would face “increased pressure” if it did not do so.

Despite warnings by pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and others that setting up the court could trigger a fresh wave of violence, Western leaders say it is essential as a matter of principle to try Hariri’s murderers…

Lebanese authorities are currently holding eight people over the Hariri killing. They are four pro-Syrian generals who headed Lebanese security departments at the time and four members of a small Syrian-backed Sunni Muslim group alleged to have played a role in monitoring Hariri’s movements.

The celebrations in Lebanon had already begun by the time of the vote this afternoon. The government’s imposed a ban on gunfire and fireworks for the time being for fear of it being used as a pretext for bomb-throwing between the pro- and anti-Syrian sides, so the anti-Syrians have come up with something better:

The slain leader’s supporters began celebrating in Rafik Hariri’s hometown in the southern city of Sidon more than six hours before the Security Council was to meet in New York to vote on the tribunal resolution.

Carrying Lebanese flags and pictures of Hariri, supporters set up what they called “love checkpoints” in Sidon’s main roads and intersections handing out sweets and flowers to motorists.

Lebanese journo-blogger Abu Kais rejoices but notes that there’s still a long road ahead before the tribunal is formed. He’s also hearing reports of an explosion already in Beirut. Stand by for possible/likely updates.

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Update: Let the veiled threats issue forth!

Update: The right-wing blogosphere’s best Lebanon reporter weighs in.

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