Syria, Who Is Next?
Syria has frozen the assets of former Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam and his family in a concrete move that follows their expulsion of a man already living in exile in Paris. While it will likely have little effect on him in Paris, it will make living in Syria quite difficult for family members not with him in Paris. Such is the price to be paid for announcing to the world that no one could have pulled off the assassination of Rafik Hariri without the involvement of the upper echelons of Syrian power and that President Bashar Assad told him that he had threatened Rafik Hariri before his assassination.
Before Rafik Hariri was assassinated on February 14, 2005, there was an assassination attempt on Druze Lebanese MP Marwan Hamadeh in October 2004. Three weeks later Prime Minister Hariri resigned in protest of Syrian attempts to have the Lebanese Constitution amended to allow for the extension of pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emil Lahoud without elections, in defiance of Assad’s demands that he publicly support the move. Since his assassination four months later, there have been a string of assassinations and assassination attempts on other anti-Syrian Lebanese figures, from journalists to politicians. The Lebanese Prime Minister has asked the UN Security Council to expand the Hariri assassination investigation to include this string of terror operations.
These operations against anti-Syrian Lebanese figures, the latest barely three weeks ago, is the focus of a Flash Presentation from ThreatsWatch: Who Is Next?
In a visit to Lebanon, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said today that “it is important and essential for Lebanon’s future to uncover the truth behind all the assassinations.” Straw also called on Syria to establish formal relations with Lebanon, exchange ambassadors and recognize it as an independent state.
‘Unveiling the truth’ (and thus largely stopping the attacks on anti-Syrian Lebanese figures) is not only the key to Lebanon’s future, but also one of the keys to the future of the Middle East region as a whole. Perhaps then no one will be ‘next’.
It should not be a lost point that Lebanon is the model democracy for the Middle East, and that Beirut is the favorite vacation spot for Middle Easterners for a reason: It is free. With the support of other free nations, Lebanon will survive the heavy and destructive hand of the Syrian regime. And one day, there just may be more than one ‘Beirut’ in the Middle East.