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March 23, 2005
Second Bombing In Lebanon Kills Three

The second bombing in Lebanon this week has people pointing towards Damascus again, believing that Bashar Assad may want to destabilize Lebanon in order to build a pretense for a re-occupation of their country:

A bomb killed three people in a Christian commercial center early Wednesday, the second attack in an anti-Syrian stronghold in five days, raising fears that agitators were trying to show a need for Syria's military presence in Lebanon.

A major opposition group, Qornet Shehwan, accused the pro-Damascus authorities of seeking to "terrorize" the people through the blasts. The local member of parliament called on his constituents to resist attempts to draw them into sectarian strife.

Meanwhile, the magistrate investigating the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which brought Syria's long domination of the country into the spotlight, has asked to step down, the Justice Ministry said Wednesday. The move comes ahead of a report by U.N. investigators reportedly accusing authorities of negligence and tampering with evidence in the aftermath of the blast that killed Hariri and 17 other people in central Beirut.

Unfortunately, this type of action was all too predictable. Those who benefit from the Syrian occupation understand that their position post-withdrawal may quickly become untenable, as the Lebanese react to the presence of collaborators among them. Historically, those who have enabled foreign oppressors have short life spans after the foreigners leave, and therefore they have strong motivations to do whatever they can to either get out or keep the foreigners in.

The most likely suspects will either be Hezbollah, which will face demands to disarm after Syria leaves, or the Syrian intelligence forces that want to remain within Lebanon, covertly or overtly. Probably the bombings are a combination of both. The two factions would like nothing better than to restart the civil war that Syria used as a pretense for a three-decade occupation of its wealthier neighbor, mostly for its economic exploitation.

France and the US must remain firm on complete and verifiable withdrawal of all Syrian forces from Lebanon, especially in the Bekaa valley. Even if Syria didn't store Saddam's WMD there, it provides too strategic a position to allow the Syrian military to remain there, supporting Hezbollah in the south and staging a force that could recapture Beirut before anyone could intervene. Now is not the time to value the stability of dictatorship and oppression over the dynamics of liberty, no matter how many bombs Assad drops in his wake.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 23, 2005 7:40 AM

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