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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Syria’s New Attack on Lebanon

by Elliott Abrams
October 20, 2012


Fears are expressed almost every day that the war in Syria will spread to Lebanon, or to all of Syria’s neighbors. The problem, however, is not that the war “will spread” as if by nature, inevitably, the way spilled water spreads, but that it will be spread–deliberately, by the Assad regime.

And that is indeed what is happening. The assassination in Beirut of Wissam Hassan, by a huge car bomb, is only the latest in a long series of such murders of critics of the Assad regime. Hassan was a senior intelligence official, a Sunni, and the man who led the investigation of the murder in 2005 of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. That investigation led to the uncovering of evidence implicating both the Assad regime in Syria, and Hezbollah.

How are we to understand what is happening in Lebanon? A Lebanese friend wrote me as follows today:

“Lebanon is witnessing a return to the 2005-2008 period when Assad and Nasrallah, feeling that they were losing ground, orchestrated their series of political assassinations, bombings, armed clashes….until they finally got what they wanted through the Doha accord. Then miraculously all violence stopped. Now that they are losing again, they are resorting to the same tactics: assassinations attempts against March 14, Michel Samaha’s bombing plot, Tripoli’s fighting, weapons distribution by the Hezbollah to various militias and yesterday Wissam Hassan’s assassination.

“Wissam will be the third IB (Information Branch) chief targeted after Samir Shahade and Wissam Eid. This is a terrible blow to the intelligence-security efforts in Lebanon against Bashar and his gang. The Information Branch is the only Lebanese security agency truly confronting the threats coming from Assad and Hezbollah. They deserve our unconditional support if we care to win our battle against the Iranian and Syrian regimes in Lebanon.”

Murder in Beirut is nothing new for the Assad regime; it is how Sunni and Christian opponents are dealt with. This car bomb killing in Beirut is only the latest piece of evidence as to why Assad’s survival threatens regional stability. Well over a year ago the President of the United States said Assad must go. It is time the United States adopted an active policy that would bring that day closer–saving thousands more lives in Syria and the lives of American allies in Lebanon as well.

Post a Comment 18 Comments

  • Posted by Steve

    Please identify the “America allies” in Lebanon. Besides some “friends of yours”. I don’t see any American allies, although I do see plenty of American haters, including the plurality Shiites, many of the Sunni and Christians. I would absolutely say a majority of the population of Lebanon hates us and believes in bizarre antisemitic theories. So please, before asking me to expend either blood or treasure, who are these “allies”, that is people who support our aims in the Middle East? They are very quiet in Lebanon.

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    It would appear that since Assad won’t leave on his own he should be “taken out” … quickly and through any available means .

  • Posted by Steve

    @2: and what comes after? A Muslim brotherhood Syria and Lebanon? And this is better how? The best result for the west is civil war in Syria until the country is broken into it’s natural constituent parts. The nonsense about protecting the Lebanese, who are not our allies, who despise us, who believe in the strangest Jew conspiracy theories is just that: nonsense. We owe the Lebanese nothing. It is about time those who actively treat us as their enemy, are regarded as our enemy. Certainly not as “allies”.

  • Posted by Mela

    Steve maybe you should go and visit Lebanon – they do not despise Americans at all although I would understand it if they did.
    As a human being you should think about protecting human rights anywhere in the world, if nothing else. Shame on you and your fanatical politics – you are worse than the fundamentalists of any radical movement!

  • Posted by Fernando

    The next generations have the most rights to protect.
    give more to the indivisuals that have no knowledge an indivisual freedom. hand life to all indivisually.. build now with the ones that are not tto late to take the part of there country that has reason to become stonger in education manafactuares in a nations with laws let america and all other stand and tell your nation what you will do keeping your county america is our light of dreams let them see indivisully you will succed.americs will be right thre for all msking the changes then we work.

    industtry is old sores united in hope fimd
    pleces that turn sum with no inspiration
    and having a clear page to hold thtat take of greed and pain
    i give you a thouht whjat 3 or 5 things you really want to do for they will sre be right if you hold determined peace thid s who you are a man in a war wh can be the best soilders knowing the buildind the schooling the machines are for the growth of your own never ending country if we only had more workers thtat can show the world country is a soul to be the only streets will carrie on and


  • Posted by Matt

    I am on holidays, until after the Israel elections. It is not Said or a Pullman (CIA protecting him) but it is the same.

  • Posted by Matt

    Like Syria eat themselves from the inside out. I guess the murders are back Nick, no message.

  • Posted by Matthew John Johnston

    Have a good look Chris, it is not Jeff Bowen, it takes months to smuggle the parts into the quadrant, past the check points. You park Des out the front of HQ.

  • Posted by Matthew John Johnston

    Was that a truck bomb, my eye sight is not so good outside HQ.

  • Posted by Matthew John Johnston

    What that was going to scare me, stop me from contesting the firearms.

  • Posted by Matt

    The fact you think Des is going to scare me from turning up to contest charges, it concerns me, I worry about your thinking and strategy. Desperado, running out of chips. Do it whack the CIA.

  • Posted by Matt

    You park that hearse outside HQ. That is going to scare me from turning up. Jeff Bowen, Chris Bowen, Des Bowen. You wanted corpses. Like Colin as his eyeball, do it whack CIA.

  • Posted by Matt

    I know what you have on Des but knew the daughter in law, nice lass. No one wants a James D’eath dropping throw their roof at 3 in the morning.

  • Posted by Matt

    Not even the SAS, mate.

  • Posted by Matt

    It is like Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, the SAPOL dog is too big to defeat, then I would have lost ever war we have fought. Cop it sweet.

  • Posted by Matt

    Like the mental health nurse said in 2010, no matter what they did if it was wrong or right, they are a big dog and they will crush, you cant win accept it. Arab Spring police states.

  • Posted by Matt

    It is an intractable conflict they started all the player including me well be dead, but the war will go on past us. No one can declare victory as much as Burns would like.

  • Posted by yuval Brandstetter MD

    But who will replace Assad? Anyone less murderous? anyone more concerned with the minorities? Or is it the most fundamentalist most salafist who can prove the greatest antisemitism and christophobia?
    Chances are its the latter.
    So the best we can do is to wish success to both sides

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