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Sinister strategy behind an MP's murder

By Robert Fisk

06/15/07 "
The Independent" -- - - Everybody was obsessed by figures. True, the cortège was proceeding towards the Chatila martyrs' cemetery, true Saad Hariri - the son of the murdered ex-premier whose killers are now to be tried by the United Nations - walked in the vanguard. But it was the numbers that mattered.

A phone call came through on my mobile from a Lebanese MP - readers may debate his identity - when the carbonised skeleton of Walid Eido was still hot in his bombed car.

"Robert, they only need to kill three more and Siniora has no parliamentary majority."


The first words of L'Orient-Le Jour newspaper's lead story yesterday began: "70...69...68." If the MPs supporting the government of Fouad Siniora fall to 65, there is no more "majority" to support in parliament. So no wonder they were claiming yesterday that the pro-Syrian President, Emile Lahoud, must permit by-elections for the murdered assembly members, that such elections would be held even if Mr Lahoud declined to give his assent. MPs might be forgiven for losing their seats to popular dissatisfaction in Lebanon, but why should they lose their seats because of bombs or because of the accuracy - and here we speak of the ex-minister Pierre Gemayel - of an AK-47 rifle?

Eido's funeral yesterday - along with that of his son, Khaled (another eight died with them in the car-bombing in west Beirut on Wednesday), was a wearying, dismal, painful affair. "Omar, Omar," the crowds cried, clinging to their caliph, and "Hizbollah out of the southern suburbs," a demand flourished with a series of obscene references to Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader. This was a Sunni funeral and they buried their dead beside the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh al-Husseini, who tried to maintain the existence of Palestine (and frolicked with Adolf Hitler, to the disgust of Israel and the West). Saad Hariri - more noble in vision than he tends to be in words - walked at the top of the procession.

It marched past bullet-scarred buildings from the civil war - a ghostly reminder of everything we hope to avoid in the coming days -- and past the 1941 French war cemetery many of whose Free French "liberators" were Muslim Algerians and Indo-Chinese (as we would have called them then) whose Petainist French adversaries left for France under a truce that allowed them to fight again against the Allies.

Walid Eido was a respected judge, a Sunni opponent of Syria, a man who had called Hizbollah's "camp" down town an "occupation" and he was murdered, as so many of Syria's opponents have been in Lebanon.

No, of course there is no proof that Syria did the deed. Any more than there is proof that all the other opponents of Syria were murdered by Damascus (Hariri? Gibran? Kassir? Gemayel? Now Eido?). And as usual, there are no arrests. Martyr, martyr, martyr; that's what the press keep calling the Fallen of Lebanon. I guess it's easier that way.

© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited

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