While Lebanon's police have yet to solve a single murder mystery, one cannot help but identify the obvious - the Syrian regime and president Lahoud have a clear motive at each juncture.
Syrian protégé slash Lebanese president Emile Lahoud had completed his term and was due to be replaced in 2004. Syria decided that no other candidate would serve its interests better than Lahoud, and decided to impose its will upon the Lebanese government. Several members of Lebanon's government refused to manipulate the constitution to serve Syria's interests and extend the term of one of Lebanon's worst presidents. Minister Marwan Hamade dared to question Syria's intentions and paid the price in October 2004, when his vehicle was trapped between newly installed, gigantic speed bumps in Beirut and blown up. The very same speed bumps requested by president Lahoud just months previously. Hamade miraculously survived.
As documented in the U.N. investigation, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad made his motives and threats well known, particularly to former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. According to the Mehlis report, Assad told Hariri: "I will crush anyone who tries to oppose our decisions."
Hariri opposed the extension of Lahoud's term by another 3 years, but was forced by president Assad of Syria to support the extension which he did under duress, but resigned afterwards as Prime Minister in protest. On February 14, 2005, he paid the ultimate price for crossing the Syrian regime.
Following Hariri's unthinkable murder, Lebanon erupted with outrage. The killing prompted over a million Lebanese to take the streets and demand freedom from Syria and the resignation of Lahoud. The spectacular event, coined the Cedar Revolution, on March 14, 2005 was a turning point in Lebanon's history. The people shed the fear they had to endure for 29 years, and six weeks later the Syrian regime was out of Lebanon.
Throughout the campaign for independence, Lahoud remained loyal to the Syrian regime, as did Hezbollah and their supporters. They continuously defended Syria and blamed the U.S. and Israel for any issues in Lebanon.
The summer elections of 2005 resulted in a landslide victory for Lebanon's anti-Syrian majority. Needless to say, the bad press emerging from Lebanon made the Syrian regime even more angry. Prior to the elections, on June 2, a prominent and outspoken critic of the Syrian regime was silenced. Samir Kassir had just published a piece in An-Nahar criticizing Bashar al-Assad that resulted in his car being rigged with a bomb underneath his seat. Freedom of expression cost Kassir his life.
Following the election victory for Rafik's son Saad Hariri, two days later George Hawi was assassinated. Hawi, an anti-Syrian ex-communist leader, was killed instantly when a bomb detonated as he was getting into his car. Why Hawi? In an interview with Aljazeera, few days before his assassination, George Hawi said he knew who killed Kamal Jumblatt (in 1977), slain father of Walid Jumblatt, the anti-Syrian opposition leader in Lebanon.
He said "We knew for a long time who killed Kamal Jumblatt. And today I am going to disclose in a responsible manner the name of the killer. It is a Syrian Leader, and I am sure, the killing took place without the knowledge of Hafez Al Assad and this information is clear and very well known. Dr. Rifaat Al Assad is behind the murder of Jumblatt."
Rifaat is the, brother of the former president Hafez Al Assad and the uncle of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.
Minister of Defense Elias el Murr was another assassination target who miraculously survived a massive car bomb on July 12, 2006. The attempt to kill a former staunch ally of Syria and son-in-law of president Lahoud shocked many. Months later, after severing ties with the Lahoud family and the Syrian mafia, Murr explained the mystery.
According to Murr, in January 2005, he confronted Syria’s representative in Lebanon, Rustom Ghazaleh after he instructed one of his subordinates to “tongue lash” Lebanon’s deputy Prime Minister. Murr engaged in a quarrel with Ghazaleh over the appropriate protocol between a subordinate Syrian officer and a senior Lebanese official. Through intelligence channels, Murr unraveled the plans by Ghazaleh to assassinate him.
With a U.N. investigation underway and overwhelming evidence mounting against the Syrian regime, a mysterious suicide takes place in Damascus. Syria's Interior Minister Ghazi Kenaan shoots himself in the head according to local authorities. Kanaan was the chief intelligence officer in Lebanon prior to Rustom Ghazaleh, who left Lebanon when Syria withdrew in April. He died two weeks after being interviewed by UN officials investigating the death of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was blown up by a truck bomb in Beirut on 14 February. Kanaan's "suicide" came after he was recalled from Lebanon following his objection to keeping Lahoud at the head.
Fast forward to November 2006, when Ghazi Kenaan's brother also "committed suicide". He knew the truth about his brother's murder, and was eager to clear his brother from the shame of suicide. The murderers had enough blood on their hands to be guilty, and did not want any more material in the hands of investigators.
May Chidiac, a leading Lebanese television anchorwoman, miraculously survived a bomb blast that ripped through her Range Rover. Chidiac was the first woman targeted, but not the first journalist who was critical of the Syrian occupation and hegemony over Lebanon. As was the case with Marwan Hamadeh and Elias Murr, May Chidiac’s survival was viewed as a resurgent second life and have all dedicated themselves to fighting for Lebanon’s independence.
The survivors embarrassed their assassins, who failed at the one thing they are capable of – silencing by murder.
Unfortunately for Gibran Tueni, the assassins were determined to kill when he was targeted. The fearless visionary was a Parliamentarian as well as a prominent journalist at An-Nahar.
In the week leading up to his death, Tueni published damning editorials titled “When will the Syrian Regime come to its senses?” and “Why Is the Regime Lying?”. Just days before being murdered, Tueni wrote about the discovery of mass graves in the backyard of Syria’s former intelligence HQ in Anjar, Lebanon.
Tueni’s niece spoke proudly of her slain relative: “Lebanon, wipe away your tears. Listen to his now seemingly silence. Gibran still speaks!”
Many suspected the assassination rampage was a diversion tactic by the Syrian regime to delay the U.N. investigative report being issued by Detlev Mehlis in December 2005.
Back to the present – since the murder of Gibran Tueni Lebanon has endured a crippling war whose repercussions are proving to be worse than the conflict. A war was initiated behind the back of the Lebanese people and the nation’s proud democracy is being disregarded by Syria’s allies.
Then came the return to chaos - nearly a full year after the last political assassination, the murders struck again. Pierre Gemayel suffered the same fate as his cousin and uncle – a brutal and bloody murder. The 34 year old minister was a rising star with a bright future that was shattered by savages unable to accept progress in Lebanon.
The undeniable fact of the matter is the obvious intent on the part of Syria and their embedded agents to destabilize and create chaos in Lebanon.
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