News Release

Lebanon: Behind the Assassination

CLOVIS MAKSOUD
Available for a limited number of interviews, Maksoud is a Lebanese national and former ambassador of the Arab League to the United Nations. He is currently director of the Center for the Global South at American University. Maksoud said today: “Such events are largely the product of a sectarian system in Lebanon. This system polarizes the political terrain especially when things are viewed through the prism of regional and international confrontations. All this prevents the formation of a unified Lebanon. Rational restraint is needed on the part of the political establishment now if a civil war is to be avoided.”

AS’AD ABUKHALIL
AbuKhalil is author of several books on the Mideast including Historical Dictionary of Lebanon.
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REINOUD LEENDERS
Currently in Lebanon, Leenders is assistant professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam and was an analyst with the International Crisis Group based in Beirut.
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RANIA MASRI
Masri is currently in Lebanon working as assistant director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Balamand in northern Lebanon. She said today: “It’s very simplistic to just call Pierre Gemayel a Christian leader. He was in the right-wing Christian Phalange party. It is one of the smaller parties in the so-called March 14 coalition which is pro-Hariri and pro-U.S. government. That movement is in competition with the coalition between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement, which actually has the largest Christian following. That coalition supports Emile Lahoud, the president of Lebanon [a Christian] — who has said the pro-Hariri, pro-U.S. cabinet is now constitutionally questionable. So there are Christians and Muslims of all sects on both sides.

“It’s also extremely simplistic to immediately blame Syria. The one person who we know bears some responsibility is the interior minister who failed to give proper warning or protection — and he is part of the March 14 coalition.

“Bush says he backs democracy in Lebanon and then singles out specific leaders for support, like prime minister Siniora, as if they embody democracy — which Siniora doesn’t.”
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