Drone of silence

File - LF leader Samir Geagea speaks during a press conference in Maarab, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)

The news late last week that a drone aircraft was hovering over the residence of a prominent Lebanese politician has seemingly come and gone with little in the way of official action or even rhetoric.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea was the reported target of Friday’s aerial reconnaissance, but there has been a deafening silence from the Army. In the vacuum that necessarily accompanies such a lack of official clarification, the public is left with media reports.

In one of the versions being put out, the Army managed to verify that the drone was not Israeli but could do no more, because it lacked both the equipment to make a precise identification and the permission to act. According to this account, a meeting of the long-paralyzed Cabinet is needed to free the Army’s hand – but there is no explanation for why earlier Cabinet directives to the Army to do whatever is needed to maintain security were suddenly forgotten.

Again, the crux of the matter is official silence. One figure in the government, the interior minister, said this weekend that all politicians in Lebanon were under the threat of assassination, but when a specific threat appears to emerge, there is a blanket silence. This is what feeds speculation and rumors, which in turn can do even more harm in the form of panic or other reactions to the country’s endemic instability.

One may also ask whether such a silence would linger if another leading figure, or government official, was being targeted in such a blatant matter. In the end, the identity of the target is irrelevant while it’s clear the entire country suffers from the lack of official transparency on something as vital as security.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 03, 2014, on page 7.




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