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ICC Note: An assassination of a Christian MP may be the nail in the coffin for Christian political power in Lebanon. The Syrians are killing off those in favor of investigations into their machinations and murders in Lebanon. At the same time, Sunnis and Shiites are squaring off and starting to tear each other apart. We assume the Christian exodus will continue from Lebanon as well as the rest of the Middle East.


Assassination Brings Lebanon Closer to Brink

Lebanon (for the full piece, go to Zmag) A sign of the times. I arrive home in Beirut from Paris, am just 20 minutes into my apartment when the windows of my office blow open with a single “crack”. A tremendous explosion rolls across the Lebanese capital. Out of the house, 500 metres running down the Corniche and smoke is billowing from the Staff Sporting Club. Soldiers shouting, cops trying to keep the first reporters away, but I skulk through the ruins next to the sea with an old Lebanese photographer friend and we find ourselves in the wreckage of a tourist ghost train, all mangled tracks and carriages. “Enter at Your Risk,” it says over the tunnel and on the other side is a burning car containing the corpse of Lebanon’s latest assassination victim.

And not just “any” victim. The man in the smouldering vehicle is Walid Eido, a Beirut member of parliament, a former judge, much revered – anti-Syrian, of course, otherwise he would not be dead, would he? – and a supporter of Saad Hariri, son of the murdered former prime minister Rafik who was killed in an even bigger explosion on 14 February 2005, a thousand metres on the other side of my apartment. What is it about Beirut that turns this beautiful, sun-blessed city into a crematorium so quickly?

. . .And what a knife into the body politic of the Hariri camp. Hariri’s majority party is the reason why the government of Fouad Siniora survives, supported – heaven help them – by the Americans, abandoned by the Hizbollah who persuaded six Shia ministers to resign from the cabinet last year. Could there have been a more devastating target for the government’s enemies last night?

. . .It is to the enormous esteem of the Lebanese that they have refused to embark on another civil war despite every provocation. But the provocations have not run out. It can get much, much worse. Next to the dodgems last night lay a burned registration: 101437. Lebanese detectives duly made note of the number. But – and I tire of repeating this in my reports – not a single Lebanese assassination has been solved since 1976.