Christian Politician Assassinated in Lebanon

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 21, 2006 11:28 AM

From the Lebanon Daily Star:

Prominent Christian politician Pierre Gemayel was assassinated in a suburb of Beirut on Tuesday his death will heighten the political tension in Lebanon, where Hezbollah has threatened to topple the government if it does not get a bigger say in Cabinet decision making.

Witnesses said Gemayel was shot in his car in Jdeideh. The witnesses said a car rammed Gemayel's car from behind and then an assassin stepped out and shot him at point blank range.

Gemayel was rushed to a nearby hospital seriously wounded he was later confirmed as dead.

Gemayel, the minister of industry and son of former President Amin Gemayel, was a member of the Kataeb party and supporter of parliamentary majority, which is locked in a power struggle with different parties led by Hezbollah.

Gemayel is the fifth figure to be assassinated in the past two years in Lebanon. Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a massive car bombing in February 2005. The journalist and activist Samir Kassir and former Communist Party leader George Hawi were killed in separate car bombings in June last year in addition to lawmaker and newspaper manager Gibran Tueni was killed in a car bombing in December.

A short profile:

Pierre Gemayel was first elected to parliament in 2005 and was believed to be the youngest legislator in the legislature.

He came from a prominent family of politicians.

His father, Amin, served as president between 1982 and 1988 and his grandfather, the late Pierre Gemayel, led the right-wing Christian Phalanage Party that fielded the largest Christian militia during the 1975-90 civil war between Christians and Muslims.

Amin Gemayel is the current leader of the party.

Pierre was a rising star in the party and expected to carry the mantle of the political family to the next generation.

Syria is, of course, suspected, but...

If the Syrians are behind it, it’s both par for the course and incredibly stupid, coming as it does two days before Hezbollah is set to take to the streets to try to “peacefully” topple the government and four days before that super-keen, let-the-healing-begin summit between Iraq, Syria, and Iran. And at a moment when even people like Tony Blair are urging us to talk to Damascus.

In fact, this is so stupid that I’m thinking it might be too stupid even for Assad. What’s going on here?