Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Following the state funeral of the assassinated Lebanese intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan – whereby thousands descended onto Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square to mourn the loss and protest against the suspected perpetrators – violent clashes have broken out in the southern districts of the Lebanese capital. The unrest was sparked by opposition leaders calling for Prime Minister Najib Mikati to step down, claiming that he is too close to Hezbollah and the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, both of whom they believe are implicated in al-Hassan’s death.
Across the border, the news of the assassination has not escaped the attention of Syrian activists, despite the ongoing military operations and the al-Assad regime’s continual targeting of several Syrian regions. Here, activists have been busy voicing their opinions on social networking sites. The Kurdish opposition member and former political prisoner Bakr Sidqi wrote on his Facebook page: “Wissam al-Hassan is one of the martyrs of the Syrian revolution, may God have mercy on him and grant his family patience and solace”. In a second comment, he added “Wissam al-Hassan played a prominent role in keeping pace with Hezbollah and the Syrian regime’s criminals in Lebanon, the latest of which being Michel Samaha”. He concluded that “the agent of Bashar and the Wali al-Faqih was behind the Ashrafiya bombing [that killed Wissam al-Hassan]”, in reference to the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah.
Basheer al-Baker, a Syrian dissident residing in the UAE, wrote on his Facebook page: “Wissam al-Hassan will be remembered as a man who sought ordinary happiness, a man who did not know a world outside working for his country. Bashar al-Assad has killed thousands of Syrians and Lebanese of this ilk, who do not dream of more than a roof over their head, a family and a normal life”. In another comment he added “if the axis of resistance really were what they claim to be, then they would have put aside their differences with Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan thanks to his role in uncovering around 30 Israeli spy networks in Lebanon. Yet instead of giving him a national medal, they killed him because he exposed their falsehood and their false claims of resistance, which they used to cover their crimes against the Syrians and the Lebanese”.
For his part, Adib Shishakli, a member of the Syrian National Council, wrote a comment on the assassination saying: “The Syrian and Lebanese people are going through the same ordeal, suffering the same wounds, and are pursuing the same freedom. They have the right to overthrow the Zionist-Assad regime”.
As for Omar Kaddour, a Syrian dissident based in Damascus, he wrote on his Facebook page: “I don’t want to undermine the investigation, but even if I heard it from Wissam al-Hassan himself that the Syrian regime and Hezbollah were innocent of his bloodshed and the blood of Samir Kassir, Gebran Tueni and Rafik Hariri, I would still insist on accusing them, and I am coming from a purely objective standpoint”.
Finally, Bassam Jaarah, the official spokesman for the Syrian Revolution General Commission, told Al-Jazeera in an interview that Wissam al-Hassan was a martyr of the Syrian revolution and accused the Syrian regime of carrying out his assassination.