Breaking: Anti-Syrian Lebanese cabinet member murdered in Beirut suburb

posted at 9:42 am on November 21, 2006 by Allahpundit

Via Snapped Shot. They’re not 100% sure yet that it was a political assassination but Fox just broke in to say the shooter was a sniper. If the Syrians are behind it, it’s both par for the course and incredibly stupid, coming as it does two days before Hezbollah is set to take to the streets to try to “peacefully” topple the government and four days before that super-keen, let-the-healing-begin summit between Iraq, Syria, and Iran. And at a moment when even people like Tony Blair are urging us to talk to Damascus.

In fact, this is so stupid that I’m thinking it might be too stupid even for Assad. What’s going on here?

Update: Syria restored full diplomatic relations with Iraq yesterday for the first time in almost 20 years. Now that they’re working the diplomacy angle in Baghdad, maybe they figure they can afford an assassination or two in Beirut? I’m at a loss.

Update: It’s not entirely clear from the article if the whole sum came from Iran or just part, but Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general claims they’ve received $300 million since the war with Israel. Purely to help repair Lebanese infrastructure, mind you.

Israeli intelligence says they also have more rockets now than they did before.

Update: Saad Hariri, whose father’s murder instigated the Cedar Revolution, is blaming Syria.

Update: At the scene.

gemayel.jpg

The Lebanon Daily Star: “Witnesses said Gemayel was shot in his car in Jdeideh. The witnesses said a car rammed Gemayel’s car from behind and then an assassin stepped out and shot him at point blank range.” It’s the fifth political assassination in Lebanon in the last two years.

Update: With tensions between Hezbollah and the government about to come to a boil, there might be some added symbolic significance here:

His grandfather, the late Pierre Gemayel, led the right-wing Christian Phalange Party that fielded the largest Christian militia during the 1975-90 civil war between Christians and Muslims

Pierre was a rising star in the party and expected to carry the mantle of the political family.

Update: Greg Tinti points to this piece published early this morning by Michael Young, the opinion editor of the Daily Star, on the significance of the UN’s investigation into the Hariri murder. His timing is impeccable to the point of prophesy:

Last Friday, the U.N. Security Council approved a draft plan for a mixed Lebanese-international court to try those responsible for Hariri’s assassination on Feb. 14, 2005. Damascus, the main suspect in the crime, is palpably anxious…

Hezbollah and its allies want enough ministerial seats so they can veto decisions they dislike that go to a cabinet vote. By so doing, they can continue to protect Syria in the Hariri investigation, and also block the majority’s policies that they don’t like. A final U.N. report is due out on Hariri’s killing in the coming months (the chief investigator, Serge Brammertz, has until mid-2007 to publish his findings), and Hezbollah fears that any accusation against Syria might also be turned against itself.

All this has significant repercussions for the U.S., particularly after the Democratic midterm elections victory. Syria never accepted its forced withdrawal from Lebanon last year, and has worked tirelessly since then to reimpose its writ here. Now there is new hope in Damascus: Influential American voices are suddenly suggesting a reversal of course toward Iraq’s neighbors…

Wherever one stands in the spectrum of U.S. foreign-policy thinking, the Hariri tribunal is a mechanism that should satisfy all… That’s why events in Lebanon are so important. Syria’s Lebanese allies are trying to undermine the Hariri investigation from within, and are expected to escalate their efforts very soon, maybe even this week. It makes no sense for the U.S. to hand them more ammunition by prematurely transacting with Mr. Assad before the U.N. completes its task and assigns responsibility for the assassination.

Among the Lebanese cabinet ministers who voted recently to support the UN tribunal: Pierre Gemayel.

Update: Assad is shocked, shocked.

Update: It’s shortly after noon on the east coast and the protests have already begun in Lebanon.

Update: Siniora is defiant:

“The killers do not scare us, not does the vile hand that wants to hurt Lebanon’s future,” Siniora said in his speech at the government building in Beirut.

“This attack on one of Lebanon’s symbols of freedom,” he added.

“This attack against a symbol of freedom in Lebanon will only make us more determined to hold on to the liberty and independence of this homeland… and more determined to set up the international court, the tribunal that would stop the criminals and is the means to protect all Lebanese,” Siniora said.


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I’m thinking it might be too stupid even for Assad.

I think you’re giving them too much credit. Obedience is required, understanding… no so much.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on November 21, 2006 at 9:46 AM

Well,imagine if Americans did not follow the “rules” and we financed our own little attack squads to run around the world,independent of any direct orders.There are alot of jihadis pretty much on their ownout there trying to make a name for themselves, some knucklehead or another may have gone off on his own,OR not. Instability in the region is in the Syian’s interest.

bbz123 on November 21, 2006 at 9:49 AM

I blame Bush.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on November 21, 2006 at 9:58 AM

This is probably Syria opening up cabinet positions for Hezballah.

xyan on November 21, 2006 at 10:04 AM

I think Hezbollah is certainly stupid bold enough. They are feeling like top of the world these days. I am thinking their ‘peaceful’ overthrow of the government if going to be par for the course when coming from the Religon of Peace. Peacefully convert to our religon / turn over your government or we will peacefully saw off your head.

BohicaTwentyTwo on November 21, 2006 at 10:08 AM

I blame Bush.

I question the timing

JasonG on November 21, 2006 at 10:10 AM

I question the timing

I blame Ahmadinejad & Kofi…

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on November 21, 2006 at 10:12 AM

Oh! and the dead guy was a Christian. So it more than likely wasn’t really a murder… just a forced conversion to Islam.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on November 21, 2006 at 10:14 AM

What’s going on here?

Assad is sending the same message he sent when he killed Hariri; oppose Syria and die.

Even more specific in this case – no one is safe. Gemayel is a member of one of the most powerful and respected families in Lebanon. His targeting was no accident.

rick moran on November 21, 2006 at 10:16 AM

But why would he do it now when the west is ready to talk to him? This is only going to force us to take a hard line with him.

Allahpundit on November 21, 2006 at 10:17 AM

Of course it was Hezbollah, duh? What is their down side? None, zip , zero, nada.
We are watching Lebanon become an Iranian province, so what is one Christian political assassination? A 13 hour blip in the 24 hour news cycle. No action will be taken, that you can be sure. You can also be sure that Christians in Lebanon are an endagered species.
Do you remember Germany taking ove the Sudetenland. Austria. Alsace-Lorraine, well this is the same s*#t, differnet day!

War’s a comin’ folks, and were going take heavy incoming before this is all done.

Keep your powder dry.

Da Bear

ursa5000 on November 21, 2006 at 10:18 AM

There goes that pesky Lebanese democratic process again. Whoops!

Squid Vicious on November 21, 2006 at 10:21 AM

Allah:

More than anything, Assad fears the Tribunal – probably because he himself can be implicated in Hariri’s death. We know that the Mehlis report implicated his brother in law as well as several other high ranking Syrian government officials.

What would the world do about a head of state implicated in one or more murders? I don’t think Assad wants to find out. At the very least, it would be hard not to impose stiff sanctions on Syria, something that their fragile economy could not withstand.

That’s also why I think he’s egging Nasrallah on in Lebanon. The Tribunal must be derailed and the only way to do that is by giving Hez a veto over goverment actions – including and especially the Tribunal.

rick moran on November 21, 2006 at 10:24 AM

I’m thinking it might be too stupid even for Assad.

I’m not so sure about that. He may rightly conclude from the recent mid-term elections, with talk of bugging out of Iraq, that he can act with impunity. You have to consider the mentality of the Syrian regime. They have figured out that their best bargaining position is to get the U.S. and others in the region to make concessions in exchange for promises to reign in Hezbollah, etc. Theirs is a protection racket writ large.

SWLiP on November 21, 2006 at 10:26 AM

Ouch – perfect time for a power outage.

Snapped Shot will be unavailable for a little bit, at least until Dominion gets their act together. I’ll post updates here until my DNS server comes back up. Grr.

Regards,
Brian L.

Brian on November 21, 2006 at 10:29 AM

But why would he do it now when the west is ready to talk to him? This is only going to force us to take a hard line with him.

AP, the two most likely scenarios are a) Assad ordered the hit or b) that independent agencies acting outside of the Syrian gov’t ordered the hit.

Of the two the former is most likely. Very little happens in a dictatorship that the head of state does not know about. However, the assassin may have been a Hizballah agent as well.

As to why, that is the question. For the former scenario, that Assad ordered the hit, removing this guy takes out a potential ally for democracy in the Middle East. If Syria does not want a friendly liberal democracy on one of its borders, do you think it wants two? Another reason might be to force the US to take a harder approach, allowing Iran and Syria to play the victims once again. “We tried to use diplomacy, but the Great Satan would have none of it!”

Of course it could be nothing more than a dim-witted attempt to intimidate us.

As for the latter scenario, an independent organization, the reason are too varied. From simply not wanting peace in the region to furthering Muslim Arab hegemony the reasons are too varied until we know which organization.

Of course, Assad could have ordered the hit through an independent organization.

JasonG on November 21, 2006 at 10:32 AM

Ironically, Michael Young has a piece in the Wall Street Journal today urging the US not to let Syria get away with killing Rafik Hariri.

Greg Tinti on November 21, 2006 at 10:34 AM

I blame Putin.

SouthernGent on November 21, 2006 at 10:35 AM

I blame the authorities at Minneapolis airport.

JammieWearingFool on November 21, 2006 at 10:38 AM

This is so very not, suprising.

Terrorism IS the politcs of the Middle East, it is systemic, a part of the culture. *shrug*

And I hope we stay out of the “finding the real killers” in regards to Rafik Hariri. Lebanon has already paid the price, and will continue to pay as long as Hizbollah remains in their midst. Let sanctions and the collapse of their tourism industry do the talking.

Theworldisnotenough on November 21, 2006 at 10:40 AM

I blame Olmert.

Kid from Brooklyn on November 21, 2006 at 10:57 AM

I vote with bohica, and ursa:
This is a Nasralla putsch.
The coming ‘peacfull’ street demonstrations should be interesting.

rockhauler on November 21, 2006 at 11:06 AM

In fact, this is so stupid that I’m thinking it might be too stupid even for Assad.

…if it were that stupid, it would seep down to the point that the shooter wouldn’t be able to find the trigger. Assad has the survival instincts of a lemming….

Puritan1648 on November 21, 2006 at 11:11 AM

I question the timing — JasonG

I blame the distributor cap.

Puritan1648 on November 21, 2006 at 11:11 AM

Okay I am going outside the box. What if this hit was ordered from Iran. President Tom using his lackeys in Hezbollah to send a statement to Assad. Events are getting hard to understand over there even more then before. We have Iran announcing that they will open up talks with Syria and iraq to address teh security issues. President Tom could solve most of it by giving the order for his minions to stop carrying out attacks in Iraq. Syria is on the other side giving safe haven for the Baathists, (Sunni), to carry out attacks across the other border. Now try to follow my line of reasoning, flawed though it may be. Iran gives the orders to assasinate a Lebanese leader, the finger gets pointed at Syria who is acting bewildered about the invitation to sit down with Iran and Iraq to discuss Iraq’s security problems. Hezbollah threatens to take over the Lebanese goverment effectively putting Syria in the middle with the clear message from President Tom being either get on board or be next.
I think the hidden power broker is Ahmadinnerjacket and he is moving the chess pieces around.
Oh well all of you international state department types have at it explaining why the reasoning is flawed.

LakeRuins on November 21, 2006 at 11:29 AM

I blame the distributor cap. -Puritan1648

It’s clearly the alternator.

JasonG on November 21, 2006 at 11:30 AM

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Tuesday his depleted cabinet was legitimate despite the resignation of six pro-Syrian ministers, and warned that any anti-government protests could turn violent.

from Brian at snappedshot.com

Is this a little Middle East ‘balance’ along with a hush crime? It also sends a message to any others with anti-Syrian aspirations.

shooter on November 21, 2006 at 11:35 AM

Typical car-jacking.
No evidence of terrorism.
Move along.

/FBI

bofh on November 21, 2006 at 11:46 AM

I blame the shooter… And Bush ,and Rumsfelt,and the
Dutch cartoonist.

Texyank on November 21, 2006 at 12:01 PM

Maybe it was a French Peacekeeper thinking he was an Israeli jet. Keep up the wonderful disarmament process mon amis.

BohicaTwentyTwo on November 21, 2006 at 12:02 PM

And so it begins. Welcome to the newest front in World War III.

Neo on November 21, 2006 at 12:08 PM

People, people. Now, more than ever, we all need the Orgasm for Peace. If only it had been planned sooner, this poor man might still be alive.

Carin on November 21, 2006 at 12:09 PM

It seems pretty logical to me: They see we have a Democratic majority in Congress now, and they sense weakness in Bush’s foreign policy of the last couple of years.

They hear us talking about working with Syria to bring order to Iraq. So why change? Why not go back to openly supporting terrorism? After all, we are not going to invade their country and topple their government. Bush won’t do things like that anymore.

The worst thing that could happen would be that Israel might again try to clean up Hezbollah, be blamed for it, and be urged to restraint by Rice.

They are testing our resolve.

januarius on November 21, 2006 at 12:09 PM

I blame the shooter… And Bush ,and Rumsfelt,and the
Dutch cartoonist.
Texyank on November 21, 2006 at 12:01 PM

Careful now….

shooter on November 21, 2006 at 12:10 PM

I blame the shooter… And Bush ,and Rumsfelt,and the
Dutch cartoonist.
Texyank on November 21, 2006 at 12:01 PM

Careful now….

shooter on November 21, 2006 at 12:10 PM

Oops. The actual shooter.

Texyank on November 21, 2006 at 12:13 PM

Aren’t we all just ignoring the 800lbs. fascist gorilla in the corner?

*looks around* J-O-O-O-S did it.

Seriously though, if this sparks a more vicious backlash than the Hariri assassination did, we may just see the end of Syrian control over Lebanon. That would just make me all kinds of sad. If the Hizzy fought back that would be mighty interesting.

thelinyguy on November 21, 2006 at 12:43 PM

We have no one to blame but ourselves. So we did it!

Seriously, the Lebanese are a freedom loving people. They will never stand for this.

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on November 21, 2006 at 12:59 PM

It’s time to redefine the Axis of Evil!

Entelechy on November 21, 2006 at 1:02 PM

I’m a little surprised Drudge doesn’t have a single thing on this. His main story is Google’s stock price and a blurb about Altman. Weird.

thelinyguy on November 21, 2006 at 1:03 PM

In agreement with ursa 5000, I vote, “It’s Hezbollah, stupid”.

Who else has everything to gain, and nothing to lose? That said, Lebanese politics are a combination of Da Mafia, the Daley Chicago machine, and the Clintons: anyone can get whacked, anytime, for anything

Janos Hunyadi on November 21, 2006 at 1:04 PM

They’re not 100% sure yet that it was a political assassination but Fox just broke in to say the shooter was a sniper.

I count possibly 15 holes in that shot group. Which seems more typical of a burst of automatic rifle or machine gun fire, not bolt action or semiautomatic rifle fire.

Let’s say it takes an average of 3 seconds per bolt action rifle shot. That’s about 45 seconds of firing.

Let’s say it takes an average of 1.5 seconds per semiautomatic rifle fire. That about 22.5 seconds of firing. Which is a lot longer than most snipers will stay in place for a shot. Most of them will shoot and scoot, instead of hanging arround like that.

I’m not saying it is impossible. But it sure seems out of character.

EFG on November 21, 2006 at 1:29 PM

Look at it this way…who benefits from the assassination?

This part is included in the CNN report on the murder:

“The Lebanese government is currently locked in a power struggle with pro-Syrian factions led by Hezbollah.

Six Hezbollah members of the 24-member Lebanese Cabinet have resigned from the panel and have called for the government to step down.

But Siniora has refused to resign, saying the Lebanese constitution allows the government to stand so long as two-thirds of its members remain in office. With the death of Gemayel, that majority has been reduced and the assassination or resignation of other ministers could cause the government to fall.” (http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/11/21/lebanon.shooting/index.html)

So, the death of gemayal reduces the percentage of the (surviving) cabinet supporting the government to a bit more than 67%. Hezbollah is getting closer to a takeover.

So I ask again: who benefits?

Blaise on November 21, 2006 at 1:29 PM

So

I ask again: who benefits?

Uh, I know this one. Is it Haliburton?

Editor on November 21, 2006 at 1:37 PM

They are not stupid! They don’t care what the world thinks anymore because they know they are winning. And there’s no one, now, who will even try to stop them. It’s going to get really ugly. It could have all been slowed if this Administration and our representatives in the UN had been supported by all Americans. The “division” of our “House” has made this entire process escalate and so here we are…

jatfla on November 21, 2006 at 1:38 PM

jafla, I’m strapped in. Though, it might be easier to jump out the door when the car starts to roll if I’m not. Oh, decisions, decisions.

Editor on November 21, 2006 at 1:42 PM

On a more parochial level, here’s this odd statement by newsman Mike Scott at WIND radio in Chicago: “…it is the first assassination of an anti-Syrian politician in Lebanon since December, 2005…”

I am awaiting response from Scott and the GM at WIND to the question “WTF are you talking about?!”

This station airs Prager, Medved, Ingraham, Hewitt, and (the apalling) Savage.

Jaibones on November 21, 2006 at 2:13 PM

Editor…reading Kos again, eh?

The sad thing is that someone, somewhere, sometime will be advancing that idea. Jokes become leftie positions.

Blaise on November 21, 2006 at 2:15 PM

And it starts also on the BBC board. “Its all BUSH’s and the Israelis fault they are behind this assassination to discredit Hezbullah”

The Islamos do speakith

http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?sortBy=1&threadID=4792&start=15&tstart=0&edition=2&ttl=20061121192630&#paginator

Only very naïve people would believe that this is a job done by Syrians or Hezbollah. They have nothing to gain from this as they didn’t with the Hariri’s murder!! This is done to stop Hezbollah’s from gaining support and more power in Lebanon, to revive the anti-Syrian and Hezbollah movement that lost its momentum after the war with Israel and to get the international community to put Syria & Hezbollah under the anti-terror microscope. This is so staged beyond belief!!

Rez, Leicester, UK

Hmm, stance to Syria in the West has to be eased because of US mid-term results. Swiftly another event occurs which can be blamed on Syria. This is all getting a bit obvious Mossad, don’t you think?

Mike R, London, United Kingdom

This dirty game of Cat & Mouse has caused another waste of Human Life (a high profile one). It is obvious that either Israel or pro is behind this killing, on the contrary of anyone else says. And the reasons are just to divert the attention of the Media from Iran Summit for absolute solution to the Iraq & Mid East problems as well stir civil disorder in Lebanon so as to elaborate why the government in Beirut has failed Lebanon, which is due to Western interventions.

ahmed

I think this is more consequences from Bush’s failure to engage in middle east talks when he first became president. The administrations domestic and foreign policies were conceived by the axis of idiots (Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld). I presume Blair is waiting for Bush to make a formal statement so he will know what to say…

Nick Mason, Biloxi, Mississippi USA

William Amos on November 21, 2006 at 2:31 PM

RE: “sniper” fire. It simply didn’t happen that way. EFG is correct.

His vehicle was pinned by two cars in the hit team, and those shots thorough the driver’s side window were clustered in a way that highly suggests fully automatic weapons fire (probably from an AK) at close range, measured in feet, not yards.

Bob Owens on November 21, 2006 at 3:35 PM

Bob,

Exactly. Apparently some snipers actually stand next to your car while the “snipe”.

Jaibones on November 21, 2006 at 4:06 PM

Any ideas why Drudge might consider this insignificant?

Entelechy on November 21, 2006 at 4:13 PM

I count possibly 15 holes in that shot group. Which seems more typical of a burst of automatic rifle or machine gun fire, not bolt action or semiautomatic rifle fire. — EFG

His vehicle was pinned by two cars in the hit team, and those shots thorough the driver’s side window were clustered in a way that highly suggests fully automatic weapons fire (probably from an AK) at close range, measured in feet, not yards. — Bob Owens

…now, guys…don’t go muddying this thing up with facts informed by experience.

If the media says “sniper”, it can mean anything from a marksman concealed in a book depository to a guy with a poison-dart umbrella. Don’t make ‘em do homework on what a “sniper” is. They’re convinced that “sniper” and “assasin” are synonyms.

The hit was pretty blatant and pretty by-the-book. Block the car in, put a magazine of whatever — AK series, MP5, one of those sexy little Italian numbers, maybe a captured Uzi — through the appropriate window, blow the side of the guy’s face off. Simple, effective, repeat as needed.

Was it stupid? Did anyone *EVER* note the Bozos (my pet name for Hezbollah, based in no small part on antics like this) for being brainiacs? They’re sly, yes. They’re sometimes surprising. They just aren’t very subtle and certainly aren’t very smart.

Who killed him? If the Bozos acted, meaning that it’s the Bozos primarily who wanted him gone, they’d’ve had to kiss Assad’s hand and get his go-ahead. If it was the Syrians, they might’ve used Bozo muscle or their own, thick on the ground in Leb-bozo-non. Could’ve been the Iranians, who’re hip-deep in things there. Might’ve been rival falangists, but that’s doubtful.

Then again, it might’ve been Santa Clause, delivering early on little Hassan’s wish of a dead rival for Christmas. “…an’ I wanna pony, an’ I wanna Flexible Flyer, an’ I wanna botulism toxin lab, an’ I want more missles, an’ I wanna dead Christian falangist, an’ I wanna GI Mohammed with jihad-grip…”.

…but that last one could just be me…after too much coffee….

Puritan1648 on November 21, 2006 at 4:36 PM

Uh, I know this one. Is it Haliburton?

Editor on November 21, 2006 at 1:37 PM

Is that the only company people on the left know? There are hundreds of companies making more money during this war, that are larger and more influential, yet it is the only one mentioned. The left doesn’t get out much, do they?

…and the most obvious was missed, that evil bastard Karl Rove.

right2bright on November 21, 2006 at 5:06 PM

You know, as long as I can remember I’ve been seeing footage from the Middle East of cars with bullet holes in them. I’m 36, by the way.

jaleach on November 21, 2006 at 5:11 PM

Neo, WW3 is over. We won. This is 4. But I know what you mean and agree whole heartedly. I see a storm brewing on the horizon. And I see this to be part of the “grand plan” in our invasion of Iraq. Our presence over there, and the disruption of Iraq’s previous euphoric military state, has caused and entire region (the whole of the middle east) to be put into turmoil. Think about it. These savages are just a hair’s breath away from ripping at each other’s throats. If civil wars in and between these countries start up, we don’t have to worry about the terrorists over on this side of the world any time soon. Twenty years from now, President Bush and the administration will be hailed as geniuses for bringing this upheaval about. Because when these animals start killing each other, look out. You think there’s been a lot of blood shed the past couple of months. You haven’t seen anything yet. I hear and read about all these little rifts between Muslim factions and sit back and think, “Are these people (ooops, savages) going to destroy themselves.” The answer I keep coming up with is yes.

rayvet on November 21, 2006 at 5:35 PM

I feel sorry for his family.

I wish death upon the assassins.

I want to be young again.

Ugly on November 22, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Neo, WW3 is over. We won. This is 4

.

Ja, but WW IV is gonna make WW III look like a Unitarian-Universalist Sunday School picnic

Janos Hunyadi on November 22, 2006 at 2:12 AM