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Gebran Tueni is an idea, not an individual...so who kills ideas? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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This time around, the quick production for the tale of the assassination of the Lebanese journalist opposed to Syrian hegemony, Gebran Tueni, was more plausible than that which followed Rafik Hariri’s murder.

Both productions came from the same source; with the benefit of experience and past mistakes, this time the tale was more complex. In the case of Hariri, the killer was made out to be an extremist who supports al Qaeda. The unfortunate Palestinian, Ahmad Abu Adas, appeared as the star of the show, if even for a short time. It was later discovered, from the UN probe report, that he was a sacrificial lamb in the hands of Syrian security officials, who forced him to take part in this theatrical production… they place a video camera before him and taught him to use extremism as a pretext.

In the first instance, they claimed Hariri was killed, in a huge explosion, by a jihadist group, Victory and Jihad in the Levant (al Nusra wal Jihad fi Bilad al Sham). Pleased to meet you! They also claimed Hariri was targeted because he was an “agent” for Saudi Arabia. In his wretched statement, broadcast by Aljazeera, Abu Adas said he murdered Hariri to avenge those killed in Saudi Arabia, in reference to al Qaeda who had declared an open war against the Saudi government. Truly ridiculous justifications; what a muddle!

Clearly, the producer was still in training at the time and had not yet become a true professional. Therefore, he displayed more intelligently after the murder of Gebran Tueni, the driving force behind the independence and truth revolution that swept Lebanon after the death of Hariri.

On this occasion, the assassination was carried out against the so-called enemies of Lebanon’s Arab identity and not the enemies of Islam, as if the murderers acted on pure nationalist considerations. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, assist me in welcoming the “fighters for the unity and freedom of the Levant”, this new group which has emerged from the same misleading mechanism as Abu Adas’s producer. In an unknown fax and using methods that resemble Abu Adas’s videotaped confession, the group announced its responsibility for the death of Gebran Tueni. The ghost fighters announced, “The fate of both Kassir and Tueni will be meted out to anyone who undermines those who have offered and still do so much for the sake of Arab nationalism and Lebanon”.

The same talk which followed the murder of Hariri, Bassil Fuleihan, Samir Kassir, Georges Hawi and the attempted killings of Marwan Hamadeh, May Chidiac and Elias al Murr, will be repeated once more: the Zionist enemy. The difficulty with such way of thinking is repletion; it forces one to doubt everyone who enthusiastically attempts to blame Israel. It makes you suspect they are diverting your attention from a matter they would rather you forgot about.

As viewers and followers, we lack legal evidence, in the “specialist” sense, suggested by the Syrian media. But we have what goes beyond evidence and objections, namely logic and common sense, the historical precedents of the Syrian security forces in Lebanon and we have the answer to the age old forensic question: who benefits?

Perhaps the Syrian ruling elite feel they are on the brink of catastrophe. This is largely true. This is why, in order to defend themselves, they might act without considering the results, following the logic: I am drowning, why should I fear getting wet?

Things are rapidly changing between Lebanon and Syria. Some figures in Damascus believe these changes will harm and therefore try to halt them. Many in Lebanon support this transformation which they have yearned for and are therefore working to see it attain maturity. Gebran Tueni belonged to this camp. When suspected of conspiracy, he had agreed but said he was conspiring in order to achieve freedom and democracy and the departure of Syrian troops and the end of its security rule.

The Syrian regime is living through difficult times. Events indicate it is unlikely to remain strong in the future, despite talk of resoluteness and manifold options and no matter how many letters of condolences the Syria regime sends to the families of those killed by the victims.

As many have already noticed, international condemnation of the Syrian regime is far greater than that of Saddam’s regime in Iraq! On the eve of the Iraq war, a number of important countries disagreed with the U.S. position. This time, however, the United States and France- the great journalist Ghassan Tueni, Gebran’s father was in Paris to receive an the Legion d’honneur. Europe is demanding Hariri’s killers are held accountable and that Syrian troops and intelligence services leave Lebanon. The U.N Security Council has adopted a resolution in this regard and appointed Detlev Mehlis to probe the crime. His team continues to investigate and will present its findings to the Security Council. As for Arab countries, Saudi Arabia was angered by Hariri’s heinous murder and Egypt has advised President Assad to cooperate.

This is why President Bashar Assad’s recent claim that imposing sanctions on Syria will endanger regional stability is not a sufficient deterrent. No longer is maneuvering with the international consensus and decision sufficient. Syria will be left with Iran, under Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, as its only ally.

The point is that murdering influential figures who defend an important cause does not get rid of the underlying issue. To use an example frequently featured in the Syrian media: does Israel’s assassination of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah leaders make the cause they espoused redundant?

The Lebanese youths who took to the streets of Beirut in the hundreds of thousands for several days, demanding the truth be uncovered and the Syrian army and its intelligence services leave Lebanon are a real and considerable group, even if they were met by a counter demonstration by Syria’s ally, Hezbollah, the Baath party in Lebanon and Palestinian refugees who sang the praise of Syria’s presence in Lebanon.

Individuals and groups are a façade that express facts on the ground which cannot be intimidated. It is possible to threaten a person but not an idea. One cannot eliminate a certain issue and a collective by merely killing a few prominent figures.

If threatened, beliefs and ideas are capable of avenging themselves, even after a certain time has elapsed!

Accordingly, Fouad Siniora has succeeded Hariri and reaffirmed the Lebanese will not be cowed. He announced the assassination of Gebran will be forwarded to Security Council to be added to the Mehlis report and added that the blood of the dead will not be in vain. Instead, it will be serve to liberate Lebanon.

No one wishes to see chaos reign in Syria. But there are some who are doing an excellent job at harming themselves and those around them! The damage that will target the ruling regime in Syria, as a consequence of these repeated mistakes, will not be restricted to the elite or even normal citizens. It will engulf a wider circle as President Bashar has rightly indicated. Is anyone surprised anymore? Won’t this instability be viewed as standard?

After Baghdad, there is no surprise left! Nothing amazes us anymore!

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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