FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Politics of Assassination

The assassination of Lebanese politician Antoine Ghanem on September 19 is likely to be used, predictably, to further US and Israeli interests in the region. Most Western and some Arab media have industriously argued that Syria is the greatest beneficiary from the death of Ghanem, a member of the Phalange party responsible for much of Lebanon’s bloodshed during the civil war years between 1975 and 1990. The reasoning provided is that Syria needs to maintain a measure of political control over Lebanon after being pressured to withdraw its troops. This political clout could only be maintained through the purging of anti-Syrian critics in Lebanon, and by ensuring a Lebanese parliament friendly to Syria. And indeed, with the elimination of Ghanem, the anti-Syrian coalition at the fractious Lebanese parliament is now left with an even slimmer majority – 68 MPs in a 128-member assembly.

Case solved.

Or is it?

The Syrian regime may, in fact, be responsible for the murder of six Lebanese political figures, including Ghanem, since the tragic car-bombing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. However, to understand the situation in Lebanon, one needs to refrain from any simplistic conclusions. This is not an easy task, however, given that media reports pertaining to Lebanon classify every Lebanese political figure as ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ Syrian. Such reporting rests on the idea that the Syrian regime-and only the Syrian regime-has a keen interest in bringing death and chaos to a small but strategically important Lebanon. By the same logic, all of Syria’s allies – Iran, Hizbollah in Lebanon, and the Damascus-based Palestinian groups, including Hamas and various socialist factions – are regularly implicated by the Western media.

Considering the elaborate politics of assassination in Lebanon and the many bloody events that were justified on the basis of such killings – notwithstanding the rationalization of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and
the massacre of Sabra and Shatila in 1982 – one would assume that media reporters and commentators have learned to become extra cautious before following official American and Israeli lines.

As a country either fully or partially responsible for destabilizing Lebanon, Syria may be a probable culprit in Ghanem’s death. This is a view underscored daily by both those who are either genuinely seeking to liberate Lebanon from foreign influence and those who wish to dominate the Lebanese political landscape. But self-interested as it may be, Syria is also known for being politically savvy and judicious. It has shown this by serving as a valuable ally in the US ‘war on terror’ since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; it willingly collaborated in securing its borders with Iraq, and even went as far as torturing America’s prisoners in the CIA’s infamous ‘extraordinary renditions.’

Why would a country that was willing to sink so low now provide pretexts for hostilities by carrying out brazen assassinations against America’s allies in Lebanon? Each such assassination only helps cement the anti-Syrian cries stemming from Washington, Tel Aviv and Beirut. The Syrian regime’s past is indisputably cruel, but inanity has hardly been one of its features.

Could it be plausible that Syria is innocent of the most recent bloodletting in Lebanon? It is mind-boggling to imagine a country which has managed to survive amidst the incalculable hostility stemming from across all its borders being so foolish as to carry out such ludicrous crimes with such harmful consequences at such a critical time. Despite Lebanon’s value in the Middle East’s ongoing Cold War, Syria, like any other regime under threat, should be less concerned about dominating a smaller neighbour than in securing its own survival.

So who are the other possible culprits? Considering Lebanon’s bloodstained past and the numerous players, sects and factions operating within its borders, the list seems endless. However, taking into account the nature of the assassinations (all targeting ‘anti-Syrian’ figures) and the official line championed by the US and Israel, one can reasonably include those who wish to drive Syria into a military confrontation, or perhaps a humiliating political settlement with Israel (which Damascus has refused since its talks with Tel Aviv broke off in 2000), including a compromise on the occupied ‘Golan Heights’. It would be worth noting here the neoconservative doctrine prepared by Richard Perle in 1996 for then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Tellingly entitled ‘A Clean Break: Securing the Realm,’ it outlines plans to subdue Syria through the Lebanese route. Could this help to explain why the U.S. and Israeli governments are no longer pursuing previously concerted efforts and publicly declared objectives and instead blaming Israel’s military setback in Lebanon in 2006 largely on Syria’s ­ and Iran’s – backing of Hizbollah?

It might also be helpful for those who insist that Syria alone is capable of inflicting such mayhem in Lebanon to remember that Netanyahu recently and unsurprisingly admitted that the ‘mysterious’ air strike inside Syrian territories on September 6 – clearly an attempt to coerce Syria into a military confrontation – was indeed deliberate. US diplomats scrambled to justify the palpable act of war on the mediocre claim that the Syrian target bombed by Israeli US-supplied F15 jets ‘may have had links to North Korean nuclear arms,’ according to the British Guardian. Mediocre or not, a case against Syria that involves the US, Israel and their allies in the region is being diligently weaved, and one should not be surprised if the next military confrontation against Hizbollah will widen to include Syrian territories as well.

As media and official efforts have conveniently overlooked all other possible culprits behind the determined efforts to destabilise Lebanon, the region seems headed for another military confrontation and Lebanon for a possible civil war. This will most likely be blamed on Syria, Iran, Hizbollah and Palestinian factions, and Israel will once again be presented as acting in self-defence and the US as defending the cause of Israel, democracy and human rights.

RAMZY BAROUD teaches mass communication at Curtin University of Technology and is the author of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle. He is also the editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com. He can be contacted at: editor@palestinechronicle.com

 

More articles by:

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.

December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail