It’s amazing how few seconds can change a nation. The assassination of the General happened within seconds, but its repercussions will shape Lebanon’s political future. As if time stopped and brought us back to the 14th of February 2012. Yet it’s not much of a déjà vu. 2012 is not 2005, and this time, things have deeply changed.
M14 found in the assassination the perfect timing. They wanted to bring the government down, and now they can easily take it down. The bomb is big enough to destroy the government with it. They wanted a popular boost, ” a Cedar Revolution II” and got the alibi to move. Samir Geagea wanted to take the Christian advantage over Aoun for good, and he got it. The explosion happened in the heart of Achrafieh, a Christian region, and the bombing made Geagea – quite awkwardly – the strong man. Hariri and the FM are on the rise again: Mikati seems weaker than ever, and we might be on the eve of another 14 March 2005.
Should Mikati Resign?
If Mikati doesn’t leave the premiership, he will be heavily and continuously attacked by M14. That will only make him weaker. But if he does leave his post, it will be probably beneficial for him. At first there will be a void, then he will probably be named again. Hariri is Self-exiled, Siniora is definitely not going to lead the government. None of the hardcore M8 Sunnis will be welcomed to head the government and the other independent Sunnis like Layla Solh will hardly be named too. Mikati is very likely to occupy the post again, except that this time he will be less M8-dependent and a lot more powerful: They couldn’t agree on someone else. He did after all successfully lead the country in similar circumstances back in 2005.
The scary link with 2005
The resemblance between Friday’s explosion and the 2005 ones are crystal clear. Exactly like Gebran Tueni, Al Hassan got assassinated few hours after ha came back to Lebanon. That means that the assassins were probably the same, and used the same ways to track him. That means they know who enters and leaves the airport, which means they have eyes over there. They also knew what the General and Tueni were going to do and what road will they going to take in a very short lapse of time. They clearly knew everything some time earlier: That they were coming back, that they were going to use that specific road, and that they were going to be there. Someone leaked the info – but the persons who knew weren’t many – or someone was keeping in eye on his phone calls and was following him. Anyway, the way both were made victims clearly shows that the machine that did what it did in 2005 wasn’t stopped or dismantled but rather went to sleep for some time and can be activated anytime.
The Truth: “Al Haqiqa”
That’s what people started yelling in the streets seven years ago. Everyone wanted to know who killed Hariri, and today everyone wants to know who did that to Wissam Al Hassan. The President and his Prime Minister indirectly accused the regime by connecting the explosion with the Samaha case. Even an FPM MP, Ghassan Moukhaiber made the connection. M14 have already publicly blamed Syria, while the M8 factions are mainly interestingly silent. Deep down, everyone feels – like 2005, 2007, 2007 and 2008 – that it is Syria. Some even said that it might be Iran. But why on earth would the Syrian regime or Iran repeat the same mistakes that happened in 2005 or 2008? Why would the Syrian regime assassinate Al Hassan if he already has his allies in the government? who is he trying to scare? In 2005, the assassination of Hariri sent everyone on the streets, ousted the Syrian army and made the Pro-Syrian government fall. 6 years later, they manage to bring another Pro-Syrian government, so why make the same mistake again and put the Prime Minister in such a position? If it is Syria that did it, Wissam Hassan knew too much or was a big threat. He knew something or was doing something that was so important that they were ready to give up on the Pro-Syrian government and on whatever’s left of their influence in Lebanon. Or were they that stupid not to think of the consequences of such an act?
Is it Iran?
If it is Iran that did it, then it is the same thing. On May 7th 2008, Hezbollah’s attack was a huge blow to Hezbollah before anyone else. It weakened Michel Aoun electorally and strengthened Future Movement and the PSP within their sects. M8’s electoral loss was a direct result of M14’s criticism of Hezbollah’s coup de force and the Vilayet Al Faqih propaganda. Hezbollah generated a phobia within the Christians and Sunnis which led to M8’s loss a year after. The same scenario repeats today: If it is truly Iran, why did it want to weaken its allies in Lebanon 8 month before the elections? Why, in the particular moment where Michel Aoun was enjoying a rise in his popularity because of a Jihadi rise in Syria and why, in the particular moment when Mikati was getting stronger and stronger in the Sunni regions because of the incompetence of the self-exiled Hariri and because of the Sunni political void, would the Iranians or Syrians destroy what they worked so hard to achieve? If it is Syria, or Iran, then they made one of the most strategical mistakes in this century.
One should also take a look at what happened with Michel Samaha: He was going to use the explosions to make the public opinion Sunniphobic (Something related to the Patriach’s visit to the North). But the strategy which was used here was different: It wasn’t done to shift the public opinion to one side (The Pro-Syrian one). In fact it made them shift to the opposite side. Which means that if the assassination was done by the Regime, it wasn’t done to generate fear and bring the Lebanese back to the Pro-Syrian side (like the Samaha case). It was made to silence an M14 loyal general in Lebanon. And if one of them actually did what was done back in 2005, it’s even worse, for they didn’t learn that political assassinations will bring nothing but despise, wrath and a shrinking influence.
And how was that general annoying? Maybe he knew something, or maybe he didn’t. Maybe it’s because of what happened with Samaha. But if the Syrians were the ones that orchestrated the assassination they don’t need Michel Samaha and his car, and the whole issue is a setup. If they already have professional men capable of taking down the most important intelligence man in Lebanon, why would they need Michel Samaha and use a former minister to carry bombs in his car? Don’t they have other agents that are trained to do that? The whole issue after Al Hassan’s assassination seems to miss something. But his assassination is a message for M14. The one that was supposed to protect the M14 politicians and make sure they are safe and not threatened is gone. That even the head of the Information Branch of the ISF, one of Lebanon’s most powerful intelligence officer can be taken down by foreign intelligence men. The message that was going to be transmitted is clear: No One Is Safe.
And is it the Mossad? that’s even more hard to see. Al Hassan did arrest Israeli spies and agents in Lebanon. Fayez Karam and the 30 or so group of spies arrested were achievements of Al Hassan. That’s a perfect example of the despise that the Mossad might have had for him. Perhaps he found out something else and they decided to take him down? But he was loyal to M14, and repugnant to Hezbollah. So why would the Mossad destroy him and risk the appointment of an M8 Loyalist in his place? It is even said – according to As’ad Bou Khalil – that his men found out about the Israeli agents while they were tracking members of Hezbollah . The possibility of the Mossad taking him down is possible but unlikely.
The issue is complicated and confusing. Al Hassan was almost everyone’s enemy. He is after all a senior intelligence officer, and that’s normal. But something here is fishy. There’s a piece missing in every possible puzzle. But of course, some puzzle are more complete than the others. One thing’s for sure, What happened yesterday and what will happen in these two days will shape Lebanon’s political future for 2013. I can’t but agree with Qifa Nabki here