One day after Lebanon’s opposition swept to victory in parliamentary elections, a senior anti-Syrian politician was assassinated in a Beirut car bombing.
George Hawi, a former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party, was killed instantly when his car exploded in the Wata Musaitbi neighborhood of Beirut, witnesses told reporters. A one-pound bomb was planted under the passenger seat of Hawi’s Mercedes and detonated by remote control, according to security officials. The driver apparently escaped serious injury.
It was the second killing of an anti-Syrian figure in Beirut this month. Anti-Damascus journalist Samir Kassir was assassinated June 2 when a similar explosion destroyed his car outside his home.
The United States said after Kassir’s killing it was provided with information about a Syrian hit-list targeting Lebanese leaders. Damascus has denied the claim and denounced Hawi’s killing.
Former Lebanese prime minister and opposition leader Michel Aoun, speaking briefly today with WorldNetDaily, said he is reserving judgement for now on Hawi’s assassination. He stressed Syrian security forces continue to operate in Lebanon.
“Syrian intelligence agents are still operating inside Lebanon, and have infiltrated Lebanese security forces to act on behalf of Syria,” said Aoun.
Hawi’s stepson, himself an anti-Syrian politician, also blamed pro-Syrian security agencies for today’s murder.
“The security agencies continue to kill the democrats and are trying to assassinate democracy in Lebanon and the independence uprising,” Rafi Madoyan said at a press conference. “It is not just George Hawi, there are many others on the hit list.”
Lebanon’s elections, which concluded Sunday, were won by an anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, the son of the slain former prime minister. Aoun, who forged some pro-Syrian alliances after failing to put together a coalition with opposition leaders, also came out of the polls with a sizable number of parliamentary seats.
The elections was tainted by allegations of corruption, after Aoun accused Hariri of using his father’s multi-billion-dollar fortune to purchase votes. Many on Aoun’s alliance list also accused Hariri of sparking divisions among various Lebanese sects by calling for the North’s Muslim majority to vote in high numbers for his lists.
Pro-Syrian Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who was appointed after the previous pro-Syrian prime minister stepped down, said today he would vacate his government post to pave the way for the formation of a new cabinet.
Many also are calling for pro-Syrian President Amil Lahoud to step down. Lahoud still has another two years in office, granted by a controversial Damascus-inspired extension last September. Aoun has said he would be willing to take Lahoud’s place.
Syria in April removed its troops from Lebanon after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri Feb. 14 resulted in regular anti-Syrian demonstrations and the international community uniting in its demand Syria immediately withdraw.