The struggle over the future of Lebanon cost former Lebanese finance minister Mohammad Chatah his life on Friday, when he and at least four others were killed in a massive bombing that rocked downtown Beirut.
Chatah was an adviser to former prime minister Saad Hariri, the leader of the March 14 coalition, which opposes Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war and has supported the Syrian opposition against the regime of Bashar Assad.
Chatah was on his way to host a meeting for March 14 members at Hariri’s residence in Beirut, while the former PM is abroad.
His assassination served as a painful reminder to those who oppose Syria and Hezbollah of who really runs Lebanon. It was essentially a warning sent by the Shiite terror organization and the Syrian regime to their opponents, telling them to think twice before publicly challenging Hezbollah’s authority.
Chatah was evidently another Lebanese politician who had crossed the terror group’s red lines. On Friday morning, mere hours before he was killed, he published a tweet criticizing Hezbollah.
#Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 yrs.
— Mohamad B Chatah (@mohamad_chatah) December 27, 2013
Hezbollah and Syria are in essence “returning fire,” after several blows dealt to them in recent months by Sunni extremists, who have bombed Shiite strongholds around the country.
But Hezbollah chose to hit back at a weak target; members of March 14 are unarmed and were not involved in the attacks against the group.
Perhaps Hezbollah is also settling a score with Saudi Arabia, with which Hariri, Chatah and others are considered close. Hezbollah, after all, believes that Riyadh has played a key role in the attacks against it.
One thing is for certain, this latest assassination won’t be the last act of violence in the bloody rivalry between the terror group and its opponents in Lebanon.