8 down, 1 to go

By Ana

Clearly, the timing of the assassination of Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel has been well-calculated: It comes a day after Russia upsets talks over the establishment of an international tribunal on the assassination of Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri in UN Security Council and in the midst of a government crisis.

On November 13, 2006, five Shi’a ministers resigned in protest of the Seniora government: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fawzi Salloukh (pro-Hezbollah); Minister of Energy and Water, Muhammad Fneish (Hezbollah party member); Minister of Labour, Trad Hamadeh (Hezbollah party member); Minister of Health, Mohamad Jawad Khalifeh (Amal movement member); and Minister of Agriculture, Talal Sahili (Amal movement member). Later that day, pro-Lahoud Minister of Environment, Yacoub Sarraf resigned, justifying his resignation by stating the government was no longer a representative entity of the entire Lebanese population, referring to the Shi’a void in the government. The Future Movement’s Minister of Interior, Hassan Sabeh had previously resigned on February 6, 2006 following his inability to control that day’s civil unrest which resulted in the stoning and burning of buildings in Tabariz, Beirut. Minister of Youth and Sports and Future Movement member, Ahmad Fatfat is currently acting Minister of Interior. Gemayel’s assassination is therefore the 8th minister to leave the Fouad Seniora government.

According to the Lebanese constitution, should one more minister leave the cabinet, the government will be forced to resign. Hours after the assassination, gunmen fired at the office of Future Movement Minister of State Michel Pharaon to further escalate sectarian tensions in the country. It is very obvious that a broader project is in the making with the objective of toppling the Seniora government.

It is interesting to note that Presidential candidate and strong ally of Hezbollah and Amal, General Michel Aoun, chose not to mention this in his only public statement made today. The general instead concluded that the assassination of Gemayel was an attempt at causing unrest among Lebanon’s Christian populations to destablize Christian power in the country. It did not occur to him that such an assassination was timely in light of UN discussions on the international tribunal or the blow the loss of yet another minister has on the current Lebanese government. He also did not mention the possible implication of Syria in the affair and was unable to connect the dots between Gemayel’s assassination and the previous series of assassinations of March 14 leaders.

General Aoun finds it more appropriate to support Hezbollah, the armed Syrian and Iranian agent that functions on Lebanese territory and is effectively hindering the Lebanese government’s ability to consolidate internal sovereignty. The General’s blind support of the movement’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is a personal tactic to gain the presidency. What General Aoun fails to notice is that should Hezbollah and its allies succeed in toppling the Seniora government and placing General Aoun as president, the Christians who currently support Aoun will lose their Christian dignity and constitutional sectarian power. With General Aoun as president, the Office of the President will be relegated to a mere Hezbollah, Syrian, and Iranian spokesperson with a Christian mask. Nasrallah will be the true director behind the scenes and General Aoun will be the actor reading out Hezbollah’s scripts to the public. In light of the recent increase in violence and tension in the country, the General has very little time to switch camps before he will be permanently associated with a group whose vision for Lebanon is violence, civil unrest, and puppet-hood. Should the General finally come to his senses, he might be able to retract himself from the Lebanese political scene without further deteriorating Christian political legitimacy.

November 21, 2006

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