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Anti-Syrian Lebanese Minister Assassinated

by @ 9:50 pm on November 21, 2006. Filed under Foreign Affairs, Lebanon, Syria

Lebanese Cabinet Member Pierre Gemayel, a vocal opponent of Syrian meddling in Lebanese affairs, was killed today in a gangland-style attack:

BEIRUT, Nov. 21 — Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, a vocal opponent of Syrian involvement in the country and a leader of the country’s Maronite Christian minority, was assassinated in Beirut Tuesday, intensifying an already volatile situation and pushing the country’s government a step closer to collapse.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora later told the nation in a televised address that the killing “will not intimidate us” but will increase the government’s determination to go ahead with an international tribunal to try those responsible for last year’s assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

Gemayel, 34, was gunned down Tuesday morning as his car drove through a Christian suburb, his sedan riddled with bullet holes. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital shortly after 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST), and a distraught crowd quickly gathered to wait for information of his condition.

No official announcement was made in the crowded lobby, but word soon spread that the young Cabinet minister was dead.

“There’s nothing left to live for,” one woman cried out, as sobs and wails rose around her.

Yet another tragic chapter in the tragic history of Lebanon, and the Gemayel family:

Gemayel was descended from one of Lebanon’s most prominent Maronite Christian families and was the grandson and namesake of the founder of the Phalangist Party, the lead Maronite political group and sponsor of one of the largest militias during the civil war.

The elder Pierre Gemayel survived an assassination attempt in April 1975 that left four other Phalangist Party members dead and helped spark that conflict.

The younger Gemayel’s uncle, Bashir, was elected president of Lebanon in 1982, but was assassinated before his inauguration. Bashir’s brother Amin, Pierre’s father, was elected to replace him.

One can only conclude that this is a sign that Syria is again cementing its control over its neighbors affairs.

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