MENAFN - Arab News
Scandal of Damascus in Beirut
(MENAFN - Arab News) WHAT happened in Lebanon last Thursday was huge and surprising in terms of its size and timing. It will definitely have political implications, which may be larger than the incident itself.
On the morning of that day, the Lebanese security forces busted the home of Michel Samaha, a former Lebanese minister and an ex-MP and arrested him against the backdrop of information, which were audio-visually documented.
According to the Lebanese security forces, Samaha was involved in a plot to carry out explosions in the northern Akkar district so as to assassinate political and non-political figures. This is a grave accusation against a man who was once a minister and a Parliament member.
The security forces said that through this plot Samaha was carrying out the instructions of the Syrian intelligence. According to the Lebanese security forces, the former minister had confessed to the charges against him.
Reporting the incident, Al-Safeer and Al-Hayat newspapers said a man, identified by his first initials M. K. came to the security forces' Information Department and informed officials that Samaha had asked him to provide a number of trustworthy young men to carry explosives to the northern areas with a view to exploding them there.
The informant asked the security forces to give guarantees that he and his family would be safe so as to complete informing them about the plot. After coordinating with the general prosecutor, the security forces gave the man the guarantees he had asked for.
The security forces gave the informer a pen with a small camera implanted in it to record his meetings with Samaha. Through this small camera, M.K. was able to film Samaha giving him 170,000 for carrying explosives to the northern areas of the country.
Al-Safeer newspaper said that after he was confronted with the evidence, Samaha confessed to preparing the plot and thanked God that it was unearthed before anyone was hurt or injured. "I thank Allah that you have uncovered the plot before the explosions were made. I do not want to bear the burden of bloodshed and victims," he said.
It is obvious that the charges against Samaha were correct but why would a former minister and a former MP get involved in such a heinous terrorist plot against his own people whom he represented in the Parliament? How did he allow himself to be under suspicion?
The people targeted with the explosions were the elements of the Syrian Free Amy and the opponents of the regime in Lebanon. The plot was also aimed at igniting sectarian conflicts between the Sunnis and the Alawites or the Sunnis and the Christians.
The accused was a strong ally to the forces of 8 March group especially Hezbollah who are very close to the Syrian regime. Samaha himself was very close to the Syrian leadership. Some Lebanese newspapers claimed that Samaha was actually a consultant to the Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Was it possible that the Syrian regime had forced its ally to supervise the execution of the plot? If true, what were the elements and means of pressure it used against him? Did Samaha's position with the Syrian leadership made him a target for pressure to carry out such acts or did he feel that it was his duty to do something inside his own country to reduce the pressure the Syrian regime was facing as a result of the popular revolution?
The discovery of the plot proves that Lebanon is an open arena for intelligence organs from all Arab countries and a haven for political assassinations which included presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians, religious men, journalists and thinkers. The latest wave of the phenomenon of political assassinations took place in 2005 when Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated and international tribunal was formed to investigate the crime.
Many Lebanese officials and others have always accused the Syrian regime of being behind the assassinations that took place in Lebanon especially during the presence of the Syrian forces in Lebanon from 1976 to 2005.
The accusations that Syria was behind many political murders were very strong but lacked criminal evidence to support them. Everybody is convinced that it was the Syrian regime that was behind the assassination of prominent Lebanese politician Kamal Junbulat in 1978 but there was not strong evidence incriminating it. Four Syrian security men died in the operation including Hisham Bakhtiyar, chief of national security in Syria.
Waleed Junbulat, the son of the victim, said it was Bakhtiyar who murdered his father. These convictions, however, lack material evidence to support them.
The case of Samaha is different. It has enough evidence proving that the man was conspiring in favor of Syria. Samaha's arrest will have great implications. The Syrian role in Lebanon intersected with a number of other Arab and international roles.
The detention of Samaha was a proof that the circumstances, which would prevent the announcement of such arrests in the past were gone with the revolution in Syria. It also means that using Samaha to carry out explosions against Syrian elements in Lebanon is an indication that the internal conditions of Syrian regime were more difficult than they actually appear.
The incident coincided with another serious incident - skirmishes between the Syrian and Jordanian forces along the common borders. Fighting along the borders corroborates the opposition's view that Syria is trying to export its crisis to the outside world.
Why did the Syrian regime turn to Samaha to carry out its plots in Lebanon and not used Hezbollah, which has strong security and logistical abilities? Did the Syrian regime ask Hezbollah to do something on its behalf in
What was the attitude of Hezbollah regarding this request? The Syrian regime's choice of a man such as Samaha indicates that the regime was obliged to do so because all the other available options were closed.
If this is true, can we say that Syria's allies in Lebanon are unable to serve the regime as in the past because of the revolution, which makes it difficult for them to get involved in the plots and machinations of the regime?
Hezbollah has joined hands with the Syrian regime to repress the revolution so it will be difficult for it to do something on its behalf in Lebanon. The leadership of Hezbollah is aware that its strategic objectives are in Syria not in Lebanon. It is trying to save the regime because if it falls, Hezbollah will face grave consequences. Therefore Hezbollah is not willing to get involved in the Syrian plots on the Lebanese soil.
Apart from Hezbollah, what about the other allies? Most probably these allies are convinced that the Syrian regime was a thing of the past. It no longer has anything to do with the future of the region.
The arrest of Samaha is an indication that the influence of the Syrian regime and its powers in Lebanon are dwindling.
- Courtesy of Al-Hayat newspaper.
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