Tags: lebanon | threat

Iran, Syria Threaten Lebanon Leaders

Friday, 26 Oct 2007 02:07 PM

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Lebanese leaders fear that Iran and Syria are planning a new assassination campaign in Lebanon as part of an effort to derail the complex negotiations now underway to elect a new president.

Newsmax has learned of the plot from interviews with key political and religious leaders in Lebanon.

Lebanese cabinet ministers and some 40 anti-Syrian members of parliament have holed themselves up in an annex to the luxury hotel Phoenicia in downtown Beirut, to protect themselves from assassination.

Many have not even seen daylight for the past month, living in separate wing of the hotel with heavy curtains, complex security arrangements, and restricted access, even for family members.

One cabinet member was not even allowed to go out this week to attend his father’s funeral.

“It’s either this or the cemetery,” said Wael Bou Faour, one of the deputies.

Six anti-Syrian members of parliament, including a government minister, have been assassinated since 2005. The latest victim was Antoine Ghanem, a constitutional scholar murdered along with four others on Sept. 19.

Ghanem was a key strategist for the opposition Cedars Revolution who explored constitutional precedent for electing a president with a simple majority of Lebanon’s 126 member parliament, instead of a two-thirds quorum, as the pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian parties are insisting.

“The constitution is very clear on this point,” said Roger Edde, a prominent businessman who is also a lawyer. “It says that on the first round of the election, the winner must have two-thirds of those present. But there is no mention of a quorum.”

If no one is elected on the first round, Eddé added, then whoever gets more than 50 percent of the votes will be elected.

Hezbollah and the pro-Syrian parties have been insisting on the two-thirds quarum because they feel confident that can intimidate enough members of parliament to stay home from the special session that will be called for the election, as happened earlier this week.

Fear of assassination has forced Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to literally camp out in his office for most of the past year.

After Ghanem’s assassination last month, the U.S. embassy in Beirut issued a statement tacitly accusing Syria and Iran of masterminding the terror campaign.

“It is not a coincidence that these attacks target those figures who have been working to secure Lebanon's independence from renewed Syrian hegemony,” embassy members said.

“We note with concern that many Lebanese politicians allied with Syria have in fact warned that murder and violence would be the results of any effort to exercise genuine parliamentary democracy."

Those warnings continued this week.

“They have prepared 21 cars, and are planning to kill several top leaders over the next two weeks,” a prominent figure in the Cedars Revolution told Newsmax.

“I received a call on my cell phone a month ago,” he said. “They were laughing. ‘You think you are protected in your bulletproof car? We will melt you into the pavement with our C4.’”

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