Syrian Reactions to Hariri's Assassination
Syrian reactions to Hariri’s assassination:
My sister-in-law called me at 12:00 noon to tell me to turn on Jazeera. Harriri had been killed. My mother-in-law and I turned on the TV. I immediately suspected the Syrians and said to Umm Firas, “The Syrians will be blamed for this.”
She responded, “Why Syria? It is the Israelis.” Both my sisters-in-law later concurred with this analysis. They could not believe Bashar would do this. They both know him fairly well from time spent together in Lattakia in the Late 1990s.
My father-in-law, who was a General in the Syrian Navy for 10 years, arrived from Lattakia later in the evening. He was visibly worried and depressed. He would not say who he thought was behind it, but said the bomb was clearly sophisticated. This was not something planned yesterday. It needed detailed intelligence about Hariri’s movements and real experience. He left it at that. He was clearly disgusted at the barbarity of the act and worried about world reaction and the effect it would have on Syria.
This morning, I said to my wife, “How can it be the Israelis?” It doesn’t make sense for them to do it. They had everything going their way in Lebanon and they didn’t have to do a thing. America and France were doing all the heavy lifting for them. The Lebanese opposition was organizing against Syria in a way that Israel had failed to achieve in 1982. If the world discovered there was Israeli involvement it would be devastating for Sharon.”
My wife responded: “But it doesn’t make any sense for Bashar to do it. A leader who is trying to develop his country and has been working with the Americans on the Iraqi border, why would he do this? It is not like him. This is something that Saddam or Qadhafi would do, not Bashar. It will bring the whole world down on him. If the UN imposes sanctions, it will kill Syria and everything Bashar has been trying to achieve. He doesn’t need force to control Lebanon.”
She asked, “If the Syrians were going to kill someone, why didn’t they kill Jumblatt? He is the one who has been speaking out and is anti-Syria, but even he said that if the Americans hit Syria, he would be the first to side with Syria. Why would Syria jeopardize this sentiment in Lebanon?
I suggested that perhaps no one sees Jumblat as a real threat. The Druze are only 5% of the registered voters in Lebanon. The Sunnis are roughly 23% of registered voters, and Hariri and his supporters were slated to win all of the Beirut seats in Parliament in the coming elections. They are the seats that count, and the Sunnis are the important swing factor in Lebanon. Hariri, for all intents and purposes, is the Lebanese opposition. Without him the Sunnis will be leaderless and fragmented just as they were during the Lebanese civil war.
She pointed out that just yesterday in the Tishreen newspaper the front page article was an interview with the Lebanese Defense Minister, who said that the opposition was not the majority and would not win the elections as they were insisting they would. He argued that Syria did not have to fear Lebanon going over into the American and Israeli camp. Why would Syria over-react? Bashar is trying to take our country away from this kind of violence and lawlessness. This will be a disaster for Syria,” she insisted.
I suggested, “Well, perhaps Bashar isn’t in control?”
She looked at me with disgust. We left it at that and she went off to teach at the Canadian School. Frankly, I am stumped. My in-laws have given up trying to blame it on the Israelis now. It just doesn’t make any sense. “Perhaps it was a Palestinian group or Hizballah?” they suggest, still determined that Syria could not be behind it.
There is great worry here and nervousness.
One Lebanese friend wrote:
Another Lebanese journalist friend wrote:
I couldn't believe it... The Syrians were told this stuff is off limits. I hope they [the Americans] crack down hard on them now... regime change all the way, these assholes will never change.
I love how all this is somehow blamed on the Lebanese! The crap that bothers me most is exemplified by this passage by Helena Cobban on her site, which in a sense is what is being hinted at by all the Arabist morons:It would be much, much easier for the Lebanese to prevent all these kinds of externally generated destabilization operations from succeeding if they could come to some kind of a durable national understanding among themselves. But they have never been able to do that yet. That has left their country extremely vulnerable to the often brutal machinations of their neighbors.Really!? Gee thanks Helena. It didn't dawn on her or the Arabist network that Hariri was to be part of PRECISELY that cross-sectarian coalition that was asserting Lebanese independence and sovereignty.
I'm never one to protect the Syrians, and I actually believed they remain the most likely suspects. However, the key question is which Syrians, because I cannot imagine that Bashar would have okayed a hit that will in fact prove disastrous for Syria. What I'm saying is that this affair may go beyond just killing Hariri, to other types of calculations. I'm not suggesting an Israeli plot, and often groan when I hear that, but nothing will please them more than the reaction that will come from this. In no way does Syria come out of this in one piece, whether inside Lebanon or anywhere else.A number of analysts are reading the assassination as a sign that the Syrian government is in disarray. They see in these events the jockeying for power within the Syrian regime and calculations that could add up to a coup or future break-up of the regime.
I don't buy it. I have heard this sort of speculation before, but there is no real evidence of it.
Everyone is a perplexed and only time tell.