A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Troubling Weekend in Lebanon

Lebanon moved closer to the brink over the weekend. Jamil al-Sayyed, the former head of Lebanon's General Security Directorate, and who spent four years in prison without charges in the Hariri assassination investigation, has been attacking Sa‘d Hariri and his Mustaqbal movement for supporting "false witnesses" against him. Until this weekend many had dismissed Sayyed's rhetoric as his own vendetta, representing neither Syria nor Hizbullah, his sometime allies. This weekend, however, he returned to Beirut, throwing down the gauntlet to enemies; amid threats that he might be arrested, Hizbullah met him at the airport with an armed escort in what their opponents called an "invasion" of the airport; he gave a press conference after commandeering the VIP Lounge, and Hizbullah then escorted him to his home. It would appear that Hizbullah, still apprehensive about expected Special Tribunal for Lebanon indictments of some of its members, is prepared to risk open confrontation.

General Sayyed's defiant return has a whiff of Mussolini's March on Rome in it; once one of the most powerful security men in the country, he could be a potent allly for Hizbullah in any new confrontation.

It's a trying time for Lebanon right now, and misjudgments can easily lead to violence.

Qifa Nabki here.


JRT said...

He was jailed for four years and vilified as the murderer of a national hero.

Grounds for being bitter about his treatment. And those who vilified him.

Blame the victim for the crime?

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Blaming the victim? No; I don't blame Sayyed for anything except raising the level of confrontation and Hizbullah for again flaunting its xtate-within-a-state power.

On the other hand, a lot of folks who dealt with the Surete Generale during the years may have trouble with the idea of Jamal al-Sayyed as a "victim."