Will the show go on…! [Archives:2005/903/Viewpoint]

December 15 2005

Another assassination in Lebanon Gebran Tueni, An-Nahar journalist and Lebanese MP, was killed in a car bomb Monday in Beirut. At least 10 cars were destroyed in the blast. Tueni's uncle, Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh survived a 2004 assassination attempt. Former Communist party leader George Hawi was killed by a bomb placed under his car in June, the same month An-Nahar columnist Samir Kassir was killed by a bomb. Less than a month later, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Elias Al-Murr survived a car bombing that targeted his vehicle. May Chidiac of the leading anti-Syrian TV station LBC lost an arm and a leg from a bomb placed under her car in September. Now, it is another journalist/politician losing his life to terrorism.

Immediately after the incident, Lebanese Druze and prominent opposition leader Walid Jumblatt pointed an accusing finger toward Syria, while Syria sought refuge in the shadow of Russia. A Russian analyst was the featured guest at a roundtable discussion hosted by Syrian TV to discuss current updates in light of a 25-page report from the team of German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis. Just before this discussion, the Syrian president gave a detailed interview with Russian TV in which he emphasized Syria's cooperation and desire for peace. It was rather strange that this interview was conducted with a foreign TV station rather than an Arab one. Yet who can blame him after the massive letdown by Arab leaders and the comic flop called the Arab League. If leaders in the region were any good at all, then the tragedies taking place in Palestine and Iraq would not be ongoing, and Amr Musa, Secretary General of the Arab League, would not have waited two years to consider the situation in Iraq “of great concern.”

Until now, Lebanon still is struggling with investigations surrounding the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri in February of this year. Several Lebanese politicians blame Syria for everything. Desperate to clear its position, Damascus continuously denies any involvement and argues that these attacks are works of terrorism aimed at destroying Syria's image. Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister, Walid Al-Moualem, has stated clearly to the media, “There is no cause for concern and no justification for the Security Council to take any measure against Syria, unless some want to punish us for cooperating in good will with the international investigation.” However, most of the assassinated Lebanese activists were known to be anti-Syrian and this again puts the Syrian government in a corner. Adding insult to injury, the UN inquiry team says it has fresh evidence to reinforce earlier findings of Syrian involvement in Hariri's murder and that Damascus has hindered the probe.

For the international community, there is the UN and its not-so-credible reports on the one hand, and continuous accusations from Beirut and firing back from Damascus on the other. As to who is the troublemaker kindling the already flaming blaze in the Middle East, this is still unknown. Yet speculations point to Syria being the next target for U.S. interference in the region. It did not help President Al-Asad that he came forward with very non-conservative opinions about secularism and Israel, while turning a deaf ear to Lebanon's demand for an international court. No matter how cooperative his government can be, it is never enough and it seems the Saddam Hussein story – which still is ongoing – is yet to repeat itself. Only this time, because of previous experiences, the international community has become wiser – or has it?