After watching control of Parliament pass out of the hands of their collaborators and into the hands of their oppponents, the Syrians sent a message to Lebanon this morning. Instead of congratulating them on their successful, free elections, Bashar Assad reminded them of their previous vassal status by blowing up another anti-Syrian public figure:
An anti-Syrian politician in Lebanon was killed on Tuesday when a bomb ripped through his car, two days after parliamentary elections brought victory for an alliance opposed to Damascus’s role in the country.
George Hawi, a former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party, died instantly in the blast in the Wata Musaitbi neighborhood of Beirut, witnesses and security sources.
“The car kept going and then I saw the driver screaming and he jumped out of the window. We rushed to the car and saw Hawi in the passenger seat with his guts out,” Rami Abu Dargham, who owns a sandwich shop nearby, told Reuters.
The bomb was placed under the passenger seat of Hawi’s Mercedes and detonated by remote-control, security sources said. The driver apparently escaped serious injuries.
It was the second killing of an anti-Syrian figure in Beirut this month. Newspaper columnist Samir Kassir was killed on June 2 when a similar explosion destroyed his car outside his home.
The Bush administration warned that it had acquired a Syrian hit list through its intelligence sources after Kassir’s assassination, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Hawi’s name appeared on it. Either Syria has its security agents still in the country — which the UN promised to investigate but has yet to report — or its collaborators, such as Hezbollah, have been conducting these murders on their behalf.
Bashar Assad seems intent on sending messages to the Lebanese people. Perhaps the time has come for the United States to send a message to Assad. He appears to want insurgencies operating within both countries on his borders. We should keep him too busy at home having to deal with one of his own to continue meddling in Iraq and Lebanon. It’s time to take a much more active role with democratization within Syria and to open the former opthalmologist’s eyes as to the limits of his power.