News / Middle East

    Tensions High in Lebanon After Deadly Bombing

    Smoke from burning tires rises over the Tripoli, Lebanon, skyline as people protest the killing Friday in Beirut of the country's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan and at least seven others, October 20, 2012.
    Smoke from burning tires rises over the Tripoli, Lebanon, skyline as people protest the killing Friday in Beirut of the country's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan and at least seven others, October 20, 2012.
    Edward Yeranian
    Tensions are high in Lebanon a day after a deadly bombing that killed the country's police intelligence chief and at least seven other people.  Militiamen forced businesses to close in the the coastal port city of Tripoli, and army troops shot at protestors blocking roads in the Bekaa Valley.   

    Lebanese Army tanks deployed along strategic routes in the capital Beirut Saturday, removing burning tires and rubbish which protesters had dumped to block traffic. Army troops also fanned out in the coastal cities of Sidon and Tripoli, as well as across the Bekaa Valley.

    Emergency Cabinet meeting

    The deployments came after the Lebanese government met in an urgent session at the presidential palace in Baabda to discuss Friday's explosion which killed police Colonel, Wissam al-Hassan who was the senior police intelligence officer in the country.  

    Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati told journalists that he had informed President Michel Suleiman of his desire to resign, but that Suleiman had urged him to stay on a while longer:

    He says that he expressed his desire not to continue in his post during a meeting with the president and the need to form a new government. But, he adds that the president urged him to be a patriot and remain while talks take place, in order to avoid a political vacuum.

    Leaders of Lebanon's opposition March 14 coalition had called on the prime minister to resign, insisting that his government bore responsibility for Friday's assassination of Colonel Hassan. Mikati's government is supported by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah group.

    Opposition accuses Syria

    Opposition leaders Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt both accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being behind the bombing which killed Hassan. Christian leader Samir Geagea noted that Friday's explosion was just the latest in a long series to target opposition leaders.

    He says that the latest assassination is the 22nd or 23rd in a long string of killings. He notes that he too was targeted for assassination five months ago, along with another opposition leader. He adds that Colonel Hassan was killed for having uncovered a plot by a pro-Syrian politician to kill opposition leaders.

    • A Sunni Muslim man hangs up a poster with an image of senior intelligence official Wissam al-Hassan, in the Tariq al-Jadideh district in Beirut, October 20, 2012.
    • Protesters march in the Achrafieh neighborhood a day after a car bomb attack that killed Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan and at least seven others in Beirut, Lebanon, October 20, 2012.
    • A protester carries a tire to add to burning tires used as a roadblock to protest the death of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan in a car bomb attack, in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, October 20, 2012.
    • Women walk through a road block of burning garbage containers laid by Sunni protesters angry at the killing of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut, Lebanon, October 20, 2012.
    • Lebanese soldiers and security personnel walk in rubble after an explosion in central Beirut, October 19, 2012.
    • A Lebanese rescue worker, center, helps an wounded man at the scene of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012.
    • Firefighters extinguish fire at the scene of an explosion Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012.
    • Lebanese rescue workers and civilians carry a wounded man from the scene of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012.
    • Lebanese Red Cross and civil defence personnel work at the site of an explosion in central Beirut, October 19, 2012.
    • Lebanese soldiers inspect damaged buildings at the scene of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012.
    • Firefighters try to extinguish a fire as a car burns at the scene of an explosion in Ashafriyeh, central Beirut, October 19, 2012.

    Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, says that the latest assassination represents a major attempt to destabilize Lebanon.

    He says that the killing of Hassan places Lebanon in the eye of the storm, and delivers a major blow to Western interests, since Hassan represents the independent wing of Lebanon's police force, which coordinated with Western nations. He argues that his death was a major victory for Iran and Syria in the region.

    Peace envoy for Syria in Damascus

    Meanwhile, in Damascus Saturday, United Nations-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. Brahimi told reporters that he was working to arrange a three-day ceasefire and to lessen violence across the country:

    He says that he has come to discuss the situation in the country and the need to reduce violence and the possibility of putting in place a three-day halt in the conflict for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

    Over 30,000 Syrians have been killed since the start of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March of last year. Thousands of others have also disappeared and are being held in government detention centers across the country.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Michael from: USA
    October 21, 2012 2:20 AM
    It would be helpful if a new direction were to be given to the idea of democracy by non-violent developments. The gap between administration and cultural consent is very wide

    by: Muhamad Latif Ali from: Beirut
    October 20, 2012 7:38 PM
    Saifa, I know you, you are Christian, I am Muslim, i was born in Zahle, i was told all my life that US/Israel/UK is there to enslave and torture us and scarifies us to their God. i was told that it is our obligation to kill them... are you saying that we were told lies???

    by: H.2. from: Beirut, Lebanon.
    October 20, 2012 4:12 PM
    the lie that will kill us is buried under a bigger lie that called the Hizbullah to "defend" us against Israel... the truth is that we never did need to be "defended" against Israel until Iran installed the Hizbullah in Lebanon. Hizbullah is a terrorist organization and it sucks the marrow of our country - the cancer in our body has become so big that now we live to feed the cancer...

    by: Saifa Al Mugrah from: Lebanon
    October 20, 2012 8:43 AM
    why does it take so long for the EU to understand and recognize that the Hizbullah is a pernicious metastatic terrorist organization that is bent on the internal destruction of Lebanon as a sovereign state?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora