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SYRIA - The Lebanon Factor.

Ms Rice on June 21 blamed Syria for contributing to an "atmosphere" of instability in Lebanon following the assassination of George Hawi, the former head of the Lebanese Community Party. This was another anti-Syria figure and the second assassination in June. She said: "I do not know who was responsible for this. But there is a context and an atmosphere of instability. Syria's activities are a part of that context and that atmosphere and they need to knock it off".

Hawi was killed in the morning of June 21 in a car bomb in Beirut. The assasination came two days after the end of Lebanon's month-long general elections during which the anti-Syria coalition won a majority of parliament seats. The killing of Hawi appeared to confirm fears raised recently by Washington and Lebanese anti-Syria figures about a hit list of politicians and journalists, probably targeted because of their anti-Syria stances.

Rafi Madoyan, Hawi's stepson, said: "Those who killed him are the same as those who killed Rafiq Hariri and Samir Qassir, it's the [pro-Syria] security regime that is in power". He was referring to Lebanon's former prime minister Hariri who was assasinated on Feb. 14 and the anti-Syria columnist killed on June 2, respectively.

Madoyan echoed many in the opposition who blamed Syria and its allies in Lebanon for the violence. Damascus has denied any involvement. (Hawi had just left his home at around 10 am in the working class neighbourhood of Wata Museitbeh in West Beirut and was reportedly on his way to meet another anti-Syria politician to discuss the election triumph).

The anti-Syria opposition parties in Lebanon, now in the process of forming a new government, say Damascus has thousands of secret agents in various parts of their country. Lebanon's Minister of Interior Hassan Al-Sabeh, who has been in his post since April and is close to the opposition, said: "This terrorist crime aims to disrupt the success achieved in holding the parliamentary elections and is a futile attempt to create division among the Lebanese and prevent the restoration of the country's well-being".

There has been criticism of the interior ministry's inability to stop the assassinations. But Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader prominent in the opposition, says even if the anti-Syria coalition controlled the next government, the violence would continue until all the country's security services were purged of pro-Syria elements.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Fate of the Arabian Peninsula
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Jul 4, 2005
Words:393
Previous Article:SYRIA - The US Role.
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