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October 31, 2007
Is Syria Targeting Another Hariri for Assassination?
Parliamentary Majority Leader Saad Hariri disclosed that he and Prime Minister Siniora are targets of an assassination plot being planned by Syria:
Hariri made the revelation in response to a question about information circulating in Cairo regarding assassination plots against him by Syrian President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law and head of intelligence Assef Shawkat. Less than 1000 days ago, Hariri's father Rafiq was assassinated by a massive car bomb. The resulting UN investigation has Syria's fingerprints all over that as well as subsequent assassinations of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians.
"We have intelligence about this and we are following it up," he told reporters. "The intelligence is correct and our security services are working on it.
"There is cooperation between Lebanese security services and Arab security services to avoid such assassinations," he said, without specifying which countries were helping in intercepting the scheme.
Several anti-Syrian figures have been assassinated in Lebanon since Hariri's own father and former premier Rafik was killed by a powerful bomb blast targeting his motorcade in 2005. An initial UN inquiry into that killing implicated Damascus and its allies in Lebanon, where four pro-Syrian security commanders were arrested in late 2005. Syria denies involvement.
It is curious that the younger Hariri would use the venue of a visit to Mubarak to make the claim of being a target of Syrian assassins. He was criticized for doing so in the usually supportive Daily Star:
The faux theater that is Middle East politics reached a new level of absurdity on Tuesday when the leader of the majority in the Lebanese Parliament, MP Saad Hariri, used one of the grandest stages in the region to make a damning accusation. Speaking after talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose country's leadership position in the Arab world is unmatched, Hariri said he had evidence that both he and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora were the targets of assassination plans being prepared by Syrian intelligence. The venue seemed to serve notice that Hariri had the support of Cairo, which has long been at odds with Damascus over the latter's policies in Lebanon. But no confirmation - or denial - of the charges was forthcoming from Mubarak or Egyptian officials. Hariri will meet today with a key opposition leader, Michel Aoun of the Christian Free Patriotic Movement and a key partner in the Hezb'allah led coalition, to try and resolve the impasse over choosing a sucecssor to President Emil Lahoud. It is widely feared that if a super majority (3/4) in Parliament cannot come to an agreement on a candidate, then both sides will set up rival governments - an almost guaranteed path to civil war.
This was not a case of a junior Lebanese politician getting on a Lebanese talk show and saying that one or another of his allies had been slain by Syrian agents. Instead, it was the leader of the majority in the national legislature, son of a five-time prime minister whose own murder a little less than 1,000 days ago is widely blamed on Damascus, warning of his own possible demise with the Egyptian presidency as a chosen backdrop.