Thursday, November 23, 2006

The assassination of Pierre Gemayel

Including Rafik Hariri, there have been five successful political assassinations in Lebanon in the past year and a half. (Hariri, Kassir, Hawi, Tueni, Gemayel) Then there is the defense minister who survived one car bombing, and a reporter who lost an arm and a leg (literally) in another. Undoubtedly Syria is in one way or another responsible for all of these, just like it was most likely responsible for the assassination of Bachir Gemayel (Pierre's uncle) about 25 years ago.

Syria just resumed ties with Iraq and is reconsolidating its power base in Lebanon after Hizbollah's popular war with Israel. It is now killing off domestic opposition. There are also numerous reports suggesting that Lebanon is again on the verge of a civil war, and of course this is in Syria's best interest. Syria has been fostering the myth that Lebanon would inevitably descend in to civil war without Syrian presence on Lebanese soil. Of course after the Cedar Revolution threatened to show how false that really was, Syria is trying to make it true.

It is important to keep in mind that the last time a Gemayel was assassinated (again, most likely by Syria via Hobeika) it led directly to the Sabra and Shatilla Massacres. (Deja vu?) Syria is undoubtedly trying to recreate that tension in Lebanon. Syria is trying to kill off enough Maronite leaders to provoke them to massacre another few hundred Muslims. If that happens Syria wins two victories. First there is anti-Maronite sympathy, meaning people will be more likely to hate the Lebanese Christians and continue to support the Shites. Secondly, Syria will have an excuse and support to march right back in to Lebanon to "help stabilize the region".

Given the situation in Lebanon, it is unreasonable to expect the Maronites to stay quiet for long. We can expect something really bad to happen to Muslims by Maronites pretty soon. On the other hand that is exactly what Syria wants, and it will ultimately make things worse. The only way to proceed is to go to the heart of the problem and get at the Syrians.

But that is getting harder with Syria being helped by Iran, which seems willing to fight Israel to the last Syrian, Lebanese, and perhaps Iranian. While I don't see a full scale civil war in Lebanon happening anytime soon, I do predict some small scale violence.

This is real bad my friends.

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