Is Walid Jumblatt the Lebanese Druze Leader Next on Assad’s Assassination List?

2003

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According to Lebanese media sources a Lebanese Judge indicted two men last week for planning to assassinate Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt at the behest of a Syrian intelligence agent.

In May 2015 Walid Jumblatt testified before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) at The Hague which is investigating the assassination in 2005 of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Jumblatt and Hariri were close political allies and Jumblatt has had a tumultuous relationship with the Syrian leadership for years, worsened by the assassination of Rafiq Hariri and the subsequent investigation into the perpetrators of the massive bombing that claimed Hariri and 21 others.

His evidence to the tribunal was described as clear, straightforward and precise. He accused the Syrian regime, and more specifically Assad, for orchestrating the killing of Hariri.

Jumblatt is no stranger to the Syrian campaign of assassinations in Lebanon. His own father Kamal Jumblatt, was murdered on 16 March 1977, less than a year after the military intervention of Bashar al Assads father Hafez al-Assad’s army in Lebanon.

Mr. Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese Druze Leader.
Mr. Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese Druze Leader.

Walid Jumblatt recalled his father’s last stormy meeting with the Syrian regime three months before his assassination. This meeting was similar to the last one that took place between Hariri and Assad on 26 August 2004.

The Druze leader stressed in The Hague that the Syrian regime was behind the assassination He reiterated the assassination of Hariri was a political crime, classified as such by the International Tribunal itself. He also referred to the series of “mysterious and sudden deaths” of senior Syrian officers, the last of whom being Rustom Ghazali, a major general who was Lebanon’s actual governor from the eve of Hariri’s assassination until the Syrian army’s withdrawal on 26 April 2005.

Jumblatt said these “political liquidations” specifically targeted the officers who served in Lebanon or were linked to the Lebanese file and who received their orders from Bashar al-Assad.

A Catalogue of Syrian Orchestrated Assassinations:

At least half a dozen Lebanese politicians and journalists were liquidated by Syrian agents including Samir Kassir a journalist killed on 2nd June 2005. George Hawi, a former Communist Party leader and anti-Syrian politician, was killed by a bomb planted under his car on 21st June 2005.

Elias Murr, deputy prime minister and defence minister, survived a car bombing that targets his vehicle as he drove in north Beirut. May Chidiac, prominent TV anchor-woman, of the leading anti-Syrian TV station LBC lost an arm and a leg from a bomb placed under her car on 25th September 2005. Gibran Tueni, a prominent anti-Syrian newspaper editor and politician, was killed by a car bomb on 12 December 2005. Pierre Gemayel, the industry minister and a prominent Christian politician, was shot dead by gunmen in a Beirut suburb on 21 November 2006. Captain Wissam Eid a senior police intelligence officer was killed by car bomb, along with a bodyguard and at least four others in Hazmieh, a Christian neighbourhood on the edge of Beirut 25 January 2008.

The Head of Lebanons internal intelligence Wissam al-Hassan was murdered in October 2012. The Daily Telegraph reported on 10th October 2012 that Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a long-time critic of Damascus, said: “I openly accuse Bashar al-Assad and his regime of killing Wissam al-Hassan.” The prospect that Syria’s war might spread to Lebanon has increased after fighting broke out in February between supporters and opponents of Assad in the northern city of Tripoli.

mouawadPresident Rene Mouawad was killed on Independence Day, Wednesday 22nd November 1989, when a massive bomb exploded as his motorcade drove through West Beirut.

Less than 24 hours before his death, President Mouawad had given his first – and, it would turn out, only – official address to the Lebanese, calling on them to “come together, rejoice, reunite and rebuild the country.” Mouawad’s assassination was not the first or the last. Bashir Gemayel who was elected in 1982, while most of Lebanon was under Israeli occupation, had been assassinated before he could be sworn in. At the time most Lebanese accused the Syrian regime of orchestrating the murder.

On 27th December 2013 Mohamad Chatah, a fierce critic of Assad, was killed along with at least 4 others. Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, opposed to Hezbollah’s political and military role in Lebanon, was on his way to attend a meeting when the explosion occurred. An hour before he was killed, Chatah tweeted messages slamming the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Mr. Rafiq Hariri and Mr. Jibran Tueni.
Mr. Rafiq Hariri and Mr. Jibran Tueni (Both murdered by Assad in 2005)

Common Link Between Victims

The common link between the victims was that all of them were opposed to the Syrian regime.

The list is too long to include all victims due to space limitations.

Many observers in the Middle East, believe that the Syrian regime will continue its campaign of assassinations in Lebanon to destabilize the country. It has tried but so far failed to destabilize Jordan and Turkey.

Nehad Ismail is a writer and broadcaster, who writes about issues related to the Middle East from his home in London.