Monday, October 22, 2012

Lebanese on Edge After Deadly Car Bomb Linked to Syria

by Boaz Bismuth

Lebanese Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud has threatened to sue the producers of the popular U.S. television drama "Homeland" because of how it depicts Beirut, the Lebanese capital. Speaking before Friday’s car bomb went off in the heart of the city, Abboud said he believed the show was detrimental to the tourism industry in his country, and Beirut was a thriving, safe city. 

Abboud was angry because of a scene in the TV show in which American snipers are perched on a rooftop watching a meeting between terrorists and a fictional Hezbollah leader in the heart of Beirut. 

But the tourism minister would be better off taking Hezbollah and the Syrian regime to court, especially after this latest car bombing, in which Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, the head of Lebanon's most elite intelligence unit, was assassinated.

Abboud should be angry with Damascus and Hezbollah because calm had in fact been maintained since a deadly 2008 car bombing in Beirut. Friday’s bombing, judging from reports in the Lebanese media, threatens the calm achieved by the Doha accords (as reported by the daily As-Safir).

The March 14 Alliance, a coalition of Lebanese political parties and independents united by their anti-Syrian regime stance, led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was quick to point an accusatory finger at the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hariri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt blamed Assad for the death of al-Hassan, but opted to refrain from explicitly implicating Hezbollah, despite the terrorist organization's obvious fingerprints on the attack.

"Let's be careful not to come out and blame elements inside Lebanon; let's avoid divisions," said Jumblatt, highlighting the fear prevalent in Lebanon over re-igniting sectarian-based violence. Lebanese commentator Saleh Mashnouk came out and directly accused Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's organization: "Hezbollah's assassins — we're sick and tired of burying our loved ones without saying who is responsible for what is happening in the country."

Hezbollah has had its back to the wall recently. The organization is witnessing members of its political coalition (the March 8 Coalition) distancing themselves from the Syrian regime in light of Lebanese public opinion, specifically in the city of Tripoli. Hezbollah, fearful for the fate of its patron, has upped the ante. For this reason, the organization openly declared two weeks ago that it had dispatched its fighters to fight alongside Assad's forces in Syria. It is why it admitted to dispatching a reconnaissance drone over Israel to gather intelligence, and it is why it is responsible for the terrorist attack on Friday.

Hezbollah is responsible for this politically motivated murder par excellence, meant to warn Lebanon's political system not to distance itself too far from Assad. Unlike Hamas, Hezbollah cannot afford to turn its back on the Syrian dictator. Such a move would be tantamount to suicide.

Boaz Bismuth


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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