BEIRUT: International condemnations poured in Friday following the assassination of former Finance Minister Mohammad Shatah, with Western and Arab nations united in their call to preserve Lebanon’s stability.
United National Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bombing “in the strongest terms,” and pledged international support for Lebanon’s “security and stability,” according to U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky.
“The secretary-general is deeply troubled by the recurring acts of terrorism in Lebanon, which pose a severe threat to the country’s stability and national cohesion,” Nesirky said.
Ban praised efforts by Lebanese authorities and security forces to “protect the country from the impact of the crisis in neighboring Syria” and urged restraint by all sides, he added.
Ban hailed Shatah as “a tireless voice for tolerance, diversity and moderation” and called his death “a tremendous loss for Lebanon,” the spokesman said.
The U.N. Security Council also condemned the bombing in a statement released by its current president Gerard Araud. Araud said the attack was intended to “destabilize Lebanon” and called on all Lebanese parties to respect the Baabda Declaration by refraining from interfering in the crisis in Syria.
He urged an “immediate end” to the use of “intimidation and violence” against political figures.
For its part, Damascus denied outright any implied accusations that the Syrian government played a role in the bombing.
“These wrong and arbitrary accusations are made in a context of political hatred,” Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.
“Some figures in Lebanon have never stopped accusing [Damascus] every time a painful assassination takes place in the brother country of Lebanon,” Zoubi said, referring to March 14 suggestions that Syria was behind Shatah’s assassination and those of other anti-Syrian figures over the past nine years.
Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said that “he who is thirsty for the blood of Syrians is the same one spilling Lebanese blood,” in the wake of Friday’s bombing.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement on behalf of President Barack Obama condemning the “abhorrent terrorist attack.” He called Shatah’s death a “terrible loss for Lebanon, the Lebanese people and for the United States.”
“I had the privilege of spending many hours with Shatah during my visits to Beirut as a United States Senator, and I know he was a voice of reason, responsibility and moderation,” Kerry said in the statement. “His presence will be missed, but his vision for a united Lebanon, free from sectarian violence and destabilizing interference, will continue to guide our efforts.”
Kerry reiterated his government’s support for Lebanon, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces. He also called on all parties to adhere to the Taif and Baabda agreements
The American Embassy in Beirut issued its own statement condemning the attack that killed Shatah and praising his “long history of promoting Lebanon’s stability and democratic principles.”
For its part, Riyadh said it “has followed with great concern and disturbance the outrageous terrorist bombing,” that struck downtown, adding that the kingdom “strongly condemns this cowardly criminal act.”
In a separate statement by the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon, Riyadh renewed its warning against travel to Lebanon, and called on all Saudi citizens to leave immediately. The Kuwaiti Embassy also called on its citizens to leave.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry also issued a statement, calling the bombing a “criminal act that contradicts all human values, and threatens to drag the region into chaos and instability.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the “terrorist attack” and extended his condolences to Shatah’s family and to “all of those affected by this appalling crime.”
“The United Kingdom remains fully committed to supporting Lebanon’s stability and to putting an end to the culture of impunity,” Hague said in a statement released by his office. “Those responsible for this attack must be brought to justice.”
A spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, Badar Abdel-Ati, also condemned the attack. In an interview with an Egyptian television station, Abdel-Ati said the bombing “confirmed once more that terrorism is a global phenomenon that aims to bring about more violence and crush any opportunities for development.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said the bombing constituted an attack on Lebanon’s security and unity, expressing confidence that “the Lebanese people, no matter what community they belong to, will not fall into this trap.”
Jordanian Information Minister Mohammad Moumneh called the explosion “one of the most dangerous threats to regional and international peace and stability,” while the Tunisian Foreign Ministry pledged its support for Lebanon in the face of “terrorist acts.”
The U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by Friday’s attack in a statement released by his office. He described Mohammad Shatah as a “good friend,” and a “wise, courageous and patriotic man.”
The head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, strongly condemned the car bomb that struck Beirut, saying the assassination was a “criminal act,” and called on Lebanese leaders to exercise “caution” in order to limit the fallout from the incident.
The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, for his part condemned the assassination and urged all parties to foster the process of political dialogue:
“I call upon all political forces in Lebanon to continue the path of political dialogue and to prevent this country from falling into the vicious circle of violence,” he said.
Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and Defense Minister Mario Mauro both issued statements condemning the attack and emphasizing Italy’s support for Lebanon and its state institutions.