Mohamad Chatah was killed by terrorists in Beirut today. Chatah was a former ambassador to the United States and minister of finance, and chief adviser to Fouad Siniora when Siniora was prime minister. For many years he was a key adviser to the Hariri family.
I had numerous chances to meet with Chatah when he was a Lebanese official and I worked at the NSC, and most recently he visited me in Washington this past July. Mohamad was unfailingly courteous, sensible, thoughtful, with a wonderful sense of humor. He was killed because he opposed Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria–the same reason so many Lebanese patriots who are Christian or Sunni have been murdered over the past decade. Saad Hariri said after the murder that his killers “are the ones who assassinated Rafiq Hariri” and that is surely right: who else had the motivation but the Syrians and Hezbollah? In fact Mohamad was killed just a few blocks from the site of Hariri’s assassination in 2005.
That Hezbollah/Assad alliance continues to plague Lebanon and to take the lives of political leaders and journalists who resist their control. Mohamad Chatah bravely criticized the Assad regime and Hezbollah, even tweeting what proved to be his last critique on the day of his death: “Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 yrs.” Surely he knew the risks he was taking, which makes his courage and patriotism remarkable.