|False accusations flying over Beirut bombing||
Lebanon’s opposition March 14 alliance has blamed Hezbollah and Syria for the recent terrorist bombing in the Ashrafieh neighborhood of east Beirut, which killed Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, the head of the intelligence unit of the Lebanese Interior Ministry.
The intelligence unit was established when Rafik Hariri was the prime minister, and al-Hassan himself was one of the main figures in the March 14 alliance, which is currently led by Hariri’s son Saad.
Shortly after the incident and before any detailed investigation could be conducted, the opposition leaders announced that Hezbollah and Syria were behind the bombing. This shows that the March 14 camp is still trying to use terrorist attacks for political reprisals.
Over the past few months, al-Hassan was reported to have played a major role in the provision of funds and weapons to Syrian rebels, and his assassination provided the anti-Syria camp a good opportunity to point the finger at the Syrian government and its allies, mainly Hezbollah. The opposition called Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati the prime suspect in order to undermine his coalition government and pave the way for Saad Hariri to return to power.
With the defection of Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt from the March 14 camp in January 2011, the group lost its majority in parliament. Now, by stirring up violence and bloodshed in Lebanon, the opposition is trying to regain the support of Jumblatt in order to attain a parliamentary majority and form a new government. This would create an advantage for the Western and regional governments that are trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The stances adopted by the leaders of the March 14 alliance encouraged the supporters of the group in the Sunni-dominated city of Tripoli to attack one of Hezbollah’s main offices. This provided more proof that the March 14 group and its supporters are looking for an opportunity to take revenge on Hezbollah and prepare the ground for a civil war in a country that is known to have deep sectarian divisions.
And Israel’s role in the attack should not be overlooked. Over the years since the assassination of Rafik Hariri, Israel has greatly increased its influence over the March 14 camp with the goal of playing a more active role in Lebanon. And there are some elements in the March 14 group who continue to facilitate Israel’s intervention in the country. The recent bombing in Beirut could also be interpreted as an Israel-March 14 group joint operation to weaken Hezbollah and Lebanon’s democratically elected government.
Hossein Ruivaran is a Middle East expert based in Tehran.
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