Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Analysing an assassination – several whodunits

Posted by worriedlebanese on 23/11/2006

Who benefits from the crime?
Since yesterday evening, journalists and politicians alike have been speculating on the identity of the perpetrator. They have been asking themselves the very classical whodunit question: who benefits from the crime. This kind of questionning is not very helpful because instead of revealing the criminal’s motives, it constructs a theory founded on hindsight.
The Syrian regime has argued justly that its opponents in Lebanon have gained the most from Gemayel’s death. It enabled them to mobilise hundreds of thousands of Lebanese in support of the Government at a time when the opposition was preparing for demonstrations. It also tightened the alliance between the Lebanese opponents to the Syrian regime and strengthened the Christian parties within this alliance. Put together, the Kataeb, the Lebanese Forces, the National Bloc, the National Liberal Party, the Democratic Left and the Democratic Renewal party hardly mustered a third of the Christian votes during the 2005 parliamentary elections.
The killing of a Gemayel, an important political symbol for the Christians, triggered a strong emotional wave in the Christian regions that was greatly exploited by several political parties and the media that is linked to them. This wave was directed against Michel Aoun, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), who gathered most of the Christian votes in 2005. His portraits were burnt, the party flags destroyed, his supporters harrassed and blamed as being responsible for the killing.
Amine Gemayel, the father of the assassinated Minister, refused to talk to Michel Aoun and accept his condoleances. And flags of the Kataeb party were raised everywhere.
Pierre Gemayel’s funeral was transformed into a massive political rally and those who participated in it or watched it, felt that they were witnessing the rebirth of the Kataeb, once Lebanon’s largest party.
This exploitation has encouraged supporters of the FPM to claim that the assassination was an inside job done by someone within the governing coalition. In other words, the polarisation within the Christian community is so strong that most people hold very improbable views and elaborate conspiracy theories holding the FPM accountable to the minister’s death, or one of the former minister’s political allies. As one minister said, if they go on with these theories, they will soon be claiming that Pierre Gemayel actually committed suicide.

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