Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

What Does the Perpetrator Want? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It seems that after the recent assassination of the young minister Pierre Gamayel, everybody has taken on the role of investigator in search of the identity of the perpetrators of this crime. From my point of view, the only important question that is yet to be asked is what will it cost for the perpetrator to stop carrying out such criminal acts?

We are not dealing with a murder mystery in which detectives are in search of fingerprints and witnesses; rather, an unequivocal political crime has been executed. The perpetrator is well-known to the families of the deceased, most recently to the family of Pierre Gamayel. The perpetrator is also known to those who survived previous assassination attempts such as Minister Marwan Hamadeh and media figure, May Chidiac. The families of the deceased and the survivors agree that the perpetrator is Syria. Therefore, it is no longer important to discuss the identity of the criminal as long as we are not the judges who are bound by evidence and witnesses and as long as we remain observers of a clearly political-driven crime. All those who have been injured by similar crimes point in one direction without hesitation just as Chidiac did this week when she delivered a speech in Cairo in front of the Syrian Minister of Information pointing the finger in his direction. Undoubtedly, details on the other side are only important in Syria, that is whether the perpetrator was the ruling regime itself or an entity within the regime that seeks to embroil the government in this dilemma or even a dissident entity that is against the regime. An important point for politicians, the Lebanese and the Arabs was raised by a Lebanese woman who stated that we are prepared to forget all the crimes and even halt international prosecution including abandoning the International Tribunal as long as Syria does not carry out anymore assassinations. But what is the price for this?

General Oun once said that each party can live within the borders of its country and occupy itself with its own daily matters. But is this enough?

If we were to assume that Syria carried out the crime, it would be difficult to imagine that the purpose was to end tension and criticism or even to cancel the anticipated trial. Waging a war of assassinations is a risk that has a price that leaders of Lebanon must accept and declare, only then will the murders stop. This is the most probable scenario.

The flaw of such a conception opens the door to a number of hazards and implies that paying the price means opening the door to new wars that would be more destructive than the current crimes that are taking place. Perhaps Syria does not aim to directly re-administer Lebanon after it was forced to give up power following the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The image of queues of military vehicles heading towards the Syrian border was unbelievable for many. Syria will not return militarily to Lebanon unless a civil war was to break out in that country and only then would Syria consider returning as a peace-keeping force that likes its new location. Such a scenario is improbable.

The required political price to end the killings is likely to be very high. The first matter would be the elimination of anti-Syrian or even anti-Iranian political forces. This automatically means putting Lebanon at risk once again of a battle with Israel for the sake of Damascus that insists upon the closure of the Golan Heights and working in the interests of Iran. This would also mean a return to regional military conflict in Lebanon. Though there would be an end to the assassinations, Lebanon would be embroiled in a state of war.