Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Will Assad Return To Killing Lebanese Leaders?

by Elliott Abrams
April 4, 2012

Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, speaks during a news conference at his house in Maarab village, north of Beirut, October 12, 2010. (Courtesy REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir). Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, speaks during a news conference at his house in Maarab village, north of Beirut, October 12, 2010. (Courtesy REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir).


Throughout the past decade there have been a series of assassinations and attempted murders of political leaders in Lebanon. Almost all of these plots have one common element: the person whose life was threatened or taken was anti-Assad, and just about everyone in Lebanon believes Syria was behind or involved in the wave of violence.

Former prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a truck bomb in February 2005. In June, the prominent journalist Samir Kassir of the newspaper al Nahar was murdered , the first of a series of Christians who were attacked. A bomb was placed in his car. In December 2005 Gebran Tueni, publisher of al Nahar, a Christian member of parliament and relentless critic of Assad, was killed by a remote-controlled car bomb. In June 2006 the Christian cabinet member and critic of Syria Pierre Gemayel, from one of the leading Maronite families, was gunned down. In June 2007 Walid Eido, a Sunni affiliated with the Hariri-led “March 14 movement” and a critic of Syria, was murdered using a car bomb. In September 2007 a car bomb killed Antoine Ghanem, a Christian member of parliament and enemy of Syria. In December 2007 a car bomb killed Gen. Francois al-Hajj, a Christian who was the number two officer in the Lebanese Army. The pattern was simple: these were Lebanese who resisted Syria’s efforts to control Lebanon.

These were some of the successful killings, and there were failed attempts in addition. A car bomb in October 2004 badly wounded Marwan Hamadeh and killed his driver. Hamadeh is a member of parliament and former cabinet minister known as a critic of Syrian influence and affiliated with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. Press reports in March suggested that Syria is now trying to arrange for Jumblatt to be assassinated. A car bomb in September 2005 badly injured May Chidiac, a Christian journalist who was a long time opponent of Syrian domination of Lebanon.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a timely reminder. For just today an assassination attempt was made against Samir Geagea, a Christian leader who is perhaps the fiercest foe of the Assads. Under pressure in the first decade of this century, Assad turned to having Lebanese opponents killed. Under pressure again now, the bullets fired at Geagea may be a sign that Assad is returning to his previous practices. Geagea will know how to protect himself and we can only wish him luck in defeating more attempts on his life. But that effort to kill him is a reminder of the bloody history of Bashar al Assad and of the need to bring his regime to an end.

Post a Comment 4 Comments

  • Posted by Asaf Celik

    Stupid Assad have given Alevite people nothing.His poor wife Esma is a muslim so Assad’s child will not be Alevite anymore.
    His ignorance dynasty will be fallen slowly by slowly.
    And thanks to CFR not to target Alevites for future massacres.When you want to talk about Assad you should not mention Alevite people.Because there are lots of stupid people around the World that wants to start Jihad against Alevites.

  • Posted by Stephen albert

    Its worth noting that the Lebanon Tribunal is almost as slow as the I.C.T.Y. was in the case of Milosevic,Mladic and Karadzic ,when it comes to bringing the persons responsible for murdering Rafik Hariri to justice.

    One doubts whether any of the Balkan indictees would ever have seen the inside of a courtroom if N.A.T.O. hadn’t intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo.

    When opponents of intervention talk about spreading the Syrian conflict if we intervene to stop Assad, they have got things backwards. Its Assad and his Iranian allies who are spreading the conflict. If he is not stopped the consequences for the region will be serious.

  • Posted by Matt

    Probably. But it is not pressure or even strategic, it is like how dare you, don’t you know who I am. That is one of the reasons that the Arabs want him gone, all those that turned against him. Because if he gets back on his feet, he may well do the same thing to them. So that means that they will go from trying to overthrow him to keep him off balance internally. Which is why they want to arm the FSA, they have no choice. It is unlikely Syria will be back to normal anytime soon, for that reason. The US used the AL, but then left them out there alone, up a tree and that may well prove deadly for them. That alone could result in a regional war.

  • Posted by kaliteli Patikli Patiksiz Tek Alt

    It’s hard to come by well-informed people on
    this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!

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