Rafiq Hariri – Former Prime Minister and Lebanese nationalist. Assassinated by car bomb, February 14, 2005.
Samir Kassir – Crusading anti-Syrian journalist. Killed by bomb in his car, June 2. 2005.
George Hawi – Former Communist leader and anti-Syrian critic. Killed by a bomb in his car, June 21, 2005.
Ali Ramez Tohme – Anti-Syrian author. Escaped bomb in his car, September 15, 2005.
May Chidiac – Anti-Syrian television anchor. Severely wounded in car bomb explosion, September 25, 2005.
Gebran Tuinei – Anti-Syrian MP and publisher of An Nahar, largest Arab language daily in Lebanon. Killed by car bomb, December 12, 2005.
Pierre Gemayel – Minister of Industry and anti-Syrian MP. Killed by gunmen, November 21, 2006.
Walid Eido – Anti-Syrian MP. Killed by car bomb, June 13, 2007.
You’ve got to hand it to Bashar Assad, Syria’s gangster President. Even though he has more blood on his hands than Al Capone, the James Bakers and Nancy Pelosis of the world still want to treat this street thug as if he were head of a sovereign nation and carry on some kind of “dialogue” with the brute. Judging by the above blood soaked list, it would appear that Mr. Assad’s idea of dialogue is somewhat different than ours. At the very least, it makes answering bombs and assassin’s bullets with rational conversation problematic in the extreme.
What appears on the surface to be random acts of violence meant to fulfill some kind of manic bloodlust in the heart of the Syrian dictator actually has a frightening strategic element embedded in the madness. Assad wants nothing less than to murder enough members of the democratic majority government in Lebanon so that the Iranian backed Hezbullah can then seize power. Walid Phares:
After the withdrawal of regular Syrian forces from Lebanon in April 2005, Bashar Assad and his allies in Tehran designed a counter offensive (which we described then and later) aiming at crumbling the Cedars Revolution. One of the main components of this strategy was (and remain) to use all intelligence and security assets of Syria and Iran in Lebanon in order to â€œreduceâ€ the number of deputies who form the anti-Syrian majority in the Parliament. As simple as that: assassinate as many members as needed to flip the quantitative majority in the Legislative Assembly. And when that is done, the Seniora Government collapses and a Hezbollah-led cabinet forms. In addition, if the Terror war kills about 8 legislators, the remnant of the Parliament can elect a new President of the Republic who will move the country under the tutelage of the Assad regime.
As incredibly barbaric as it seems in the West, the genocide of the legislators in Lebanon at the hands of the Syrian regime and its allies is very â€œnormalâ€ by Baathist (and certainly by Jihadist) political culture. During the 1980s, Saddam Hussein executed a large segment of his own Partyâ€™s national assembly to maintain his regime intact. In the same decade, Hafez Assad eliminated systematically his political adversaries both inside Syria and across Syrian occupied Lebanon to secure his control over the two â€œsisterâ€ countries. So for Bashar to order the assassination of his opponents in Lebanon as of the fall of 2004 to perpetuate his domination of the little Baathist â€œempireâ€ is not a stunning development: it is the standing procedure in Damascus since 1970.
And to â€œachieveâ€ these goals, the junta in Syria has a plethora of tools and assets left in Lebanon. First, the vast Syrian intelligence networks still deeply rooted in the small country; second, the powerful Iranian-financed Hezbollah with its lethal security apparatus; third, the Syrian-controlled groups within the Palestinian camps from various ideological backgrounds including Baathists, Marxists, or even Islamist such as Fatah al Islam; fourth the pro-Syrian and Hezbollah sympathizers â€œinsideâ€ the Lebanese Army as well as the units and security services still under the control of General Emile Lahoud; fifth, the client militias and organizations remote-controlled by Syrian intelligence such as the Syrian National-Social Party; and sixth, operatives inserted within political groups gravitating around Damascus such as those of Sleiman Frangieh, Michel Aoun and Talal Arslan. In short, the Syro-Iranian axis has a wide array of security and intelligence assets from which it can select the most appropriate perpetrators for each â€œtake down.â€ The Assad regime has its â€œownâ€ Sunni operatives to kill Sunnis, Christians to murder Christians and Druze to eliminate Druze and has the full resources of Hezbollah terror to obstruct the Government of Lebanon and ultimately crumble it.
At the moment, due to death, retirement, and assassination, it’s four down and four to go for the Syrian President. Four more Lebanese MP’s unfortunate enough to fall victim to Assad’s terror plans and the Iranians will have a toehold in the Eastern Mediterranian with Hizbullah coming to power by virtue of having a majority of opposition members in Parliament.
The grim reality is that there are 128 members of the Lebanese Parliament. The elections of 2005 gave the democratic forces 72 seats – a clear majority. But thanks to the death of one prominent MP and retirement of another – both replaced by politicians loyal to Hezbullah ally Michel Aoun – and the assassination of Gemayel and now Edio, Assad finds himself within spitting distance of his goal; the reconquest of Lebanon using his proxy Hizbullah to bring Syria’s influence to bear in Lebanese domestic affairs.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah still holds the country hostage by refusing all efforts to end the cabinet crisis now in its 6th grueling month. The most recent overtures to end the standoff between Hassan Nasrallah’s Hezbullah, who seeks additional cabinet representation that would give him veto power over major decisions, and the government of Prime Minister Siniora, comes from France. The French have offered their good offices to bring the two sides together in Paris for talks aimed at ending the stalemate.
If Assad’s plan is to work however, it is not in the interest of Hezbullah to agree to anything at this point. Better to let his sponsor in Damascus try to hoist the black flag of Hezbullah over the government building in Beirut through terror, intimidation, and assassination. It’s worked so far so why change it?
And the “civilized” world stands by and allows all of this to happen. How can this be? How can we do “business as usual” with a country so far beyond the pale of human decency? Lebanon may be a small country, an insignificant blob on a map. They have little in the way of natural resources. They have no great army or navy. What Lebanon does have is a people with very strong ideas on freedom and independence. Perhaps the most westernized of all Arab countries, Lebanon’s historic ties to the west as a gateway to doing business in the Middle East goes back more than a century. Her people – both Christian and Muslim – are among the most literate and best educated in the region with a decidedly secular outlook on life.
And most importantly, they have recently thrown off the yoke of dependence and domination by Syria and embraced democracy. But the fragile government, coping with the “state within a state” that is Hezbullah, is beset on all sides by enemies both foreign and domestic. It remains to be seen whether Assad’s terror plan can succeed before the government can solve some of its problems and find a way to resist the tyrant on their border.
The UN sponsored International Tribunal to try the murderers of Rafiq Hariri and the others listed above will not get underway for several months. This is the time of maximum danger for Lebanon’s democrats. Assad will do everything in his power to try and prevent Lebanon from cooperating with the Tribunal thus keeping that body from bringing the Syrian and Lebanese perpetrators to justice, If that happens, Lebanese democracy will be doomed.