Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Counterterrorism Blog: Likely Culprits Behind Bombing of Former Lebanese Prime Minister

The Counterterrorism Blog: Likely Culprits Behind Bombing of Former Lebanese Prime Minister: "Likely Culprits Behind Bombing of Former Lebanese Prime Minister

by
Larry C. Johnson

Today's bomb blast in Lebanon, which killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, is a harbinger that a peaceful, democratic transition of Governments in the Middle East is a foolish pipe dream. Hariri, aka Fatso, has been a long time pawn of Saudi Arabia and a favorite of both Washington and Paris. His murder comes against the backdrop of increased pressure by the United States and France to force Syria to withdraw its military forces from Lebanon. This car bombing was probably designed to send an unambiguous message to both Lebanese and the international community that Syria will not stand idly by and surrender to pressures from Washington, Paris, and the United Nations. Hariri, who had been staying on the sidelines in recent months as political parties in Lebanon jockeyed for position in upcoming parliamentary elections, was a convenient and potent symbol of a Lebanese power broker perceived as too close and too accommodating of Western desires. His killers are providing a simple message, Syria will not leave Lebanon without a fight and Damascus is willing to destroy Lebanon in order to save itself.

The road to today's bombing was built starting last September when Damascus changed the Lebanese constitution to extend the mandate of President Emile Lahoud. According to press reports, 'the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, had stunned the Lebanese politicians he summoned to Damascus by telling them: I alone have the right to choose the president of Lebanon.' Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri resigned in protest."

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