Lebanon is the target

File- In this Sunday, March 3, 2011 file photo, Col. Wissam al-Hasan, head of the Internal Security Forces Information Branch is seen during a meeting in Beirut, Lebanon. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star, File)

The late Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan had a number of enemies, and they are the enemies of Lebanon.

Hasan’s job was to uncover those who have been engaged in plotting against the country, and he was a person who didn’t stop at the conventional red lines, whether it was Mossad or the Syrian regime. Because of the post he held, as the head of the Information Branch of the Internal Security Forces, he played a central role in cooperating with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. He also gained fame for overseeing the discovery and dismantling of Israeli espionage rings in the country, and most recently, Hasan acted as the lead player in foiling a plan to destabilize Lebanon once again, through violence.

The plot involved a former minister, and with the judiciary’s naming of Syrian officials in the investigation, the Information Branch’s actions were a case of putting the country’s security above any other consideration.

Hasan’s assassination in Beirut has triggered several spontaneous reactions in the streets; it’s hoped that this type of protest action represents a one-time expression of anger and will not escalate.

This is because the perpetrators of Hassan’s killing have such a scenario as an objective.

The assassination was a broad daylight car bomb attack that killed four other people in the neighborhood of Ashrafieh, wounded dozens more, and terrorized an entire country. It is in the interest of no party in Lebanon. If the goal was to divert attention from the events in Syria, then people should remember this well and head off any attempt to take Lebanon further into tension and civil strife. The leaders of all major political parties and movements must act decisively to clamp down on any possibility that even more violence will result.

The important thing is to let the authorities act; they face a huge responsibility as they pursue a serious, prompt investigation while ensuring that the general situation remains stable.

Resorting to the street will not solve matters, but only escalate them. Such moves will translate into more casualties, and with Lebanon on the brink thanks to accumulated tension, any acts of violence can easily spin rapidly out of control.

However, the resignation of the government would signal a sense of responsibility and admittance of failure – which in itself would contribute immensely to defusing the explosive situation created by this crime.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 20, 2012, on page 7.




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