Reactions to an explosion in Beirut Friday which killed a Lebanese general, Wissam Al-Hassan, continue to occupy headlines in the Arab media Sunday.
“Lebanon: A day of anger against the government, and Assad,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, which reports “high levels of security, political and social tension” following the “ghastly” explosion in the Christian Ashrafiyah neighborhood.
“Lebanon is in mourning, and [Prime Minister] Mikati resigns with delayed implementation,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat.
‘Everyone agrees that general Wissam Hassan signed his death warrant when he exposed the explosion plans in which former minister Michel Smaha was involved’
Hassan, head of Lebanon’s internal security agency, was an opponent of the Assad regime in Syria and an ally of Lebanese opposition leader Saad Hariri.
An unnamed security source told A-Sharq Al-Awsat that at last 20 professionals were involved in preparing the car bomb that killed Hassan, and that more than one car bomb was likely prepared along the route Hassan was supposed to take.
“There is no doubt, for one moment, that the Assad regime is behind the assassination of Wissam Hassan,” writes A-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed in an editorial Sunday titled “The Assad regime and Hezbollah murderers.”
Homayed writes that he first met Hassan three years ago and befriended him a year and a half ago.
“I did not know if he was Sunni or Shiite, and didn’t ask; that was the last of my concerns. But I never heard the man utter one word stemming from sectarianism,” writes Homayed.
“Why Wissam Hassan?” asks Al-Hayat columnist Abdullah Iskandar in the headline of his Sunday editorial.
“Everyone agrees that general Wissam Hassan signed his death warrant when he exposed the explosion plans in which former minister Michel Smaha was involved, especially considering the official Syrian involvement on all levels,” writes Iskandar. “This means that Hassan’s assassination is much larger than merely an act of revenge targeting a security man. It is a political crime par excellence.”
“Wissam Hassan — the assassination exposer is assassinated,” reads the headline of a report by Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera, which reports that Hassan had also been instrumental in exposing “over 30 Israeli espionage cells between 2006 and 2010.”
Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, claims that the assassination was a personal vendetta by “an injured Assad.”
“The question that must be asked is: If the man considered to be the strongest in the Lebanese security agency is assassinated with such ease, only a day after arriving in Beirut, his assassins… would not find it difficult to reach any political o security leader in Lebanon.”
Holiday ceasefire in Syria?
While Al-Jazeera reports “international support for a holiday ceasefire in Syria,” as international envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi arrives in Damascus, Al-Hayat reports that Syria is “ignoring” the demand that Assad put down his arms.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring a photo of Brahimi meeting Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem beneath a large portrait of Bashar Assad, leads its coverage of Syria by reporting that Turkey has changed its mind on the applicability of the “Yemeni model” to Syria, claiming that Assad is now unlikely to willingly step down like former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Kuwait heads for elections
A Kuwaiti decision to amend a controversial elections law and schedule parliamentary elections for December 1 is making major headlines in Arab press Sunday.
Meanwhile, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports the Kuwaiti interior ministry announced that it will not allow public demonstrations or gatherings anywhere but the plaza across from parliament building.
‘Some prefer boycotts as a means of proving the effectiveness of foreign policy. But boycotts are ineffective in the long run, especially in the context of the Israeli-Egyptian relations’
The new law will allow voters to vote for only one candidate rather than four, Al-Hayat explains in an article titled “Kuwait: the confrontation begins this evening.”
The daily reports that the opposition considers the legal amendments ”a coup” by Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Ahmad Al-Sabah, calling for mass demonstrations and an election boycott.
The first opposition march, the daily reports, is scheduled for Sunday evening under the banner of “a march for the honor of the nation.”
Al-Jazeera: No point in diplomatically boycotting Israel
Responding to the scandal surrounding the appointment of Egypt’s ambassador to Israel last week, Al-Jazeera defends the Egyptian move of sending a new diplomat to the Jewish state.
“Some prefer boycotts as a means of proving the effectiveness of foreign policy. But boycotts are ineffective in the long run, especially in the context of the Israeli-Egyptian relations and in light of developments in the Palestinian issue. A Palestinian state cannot be established, or even negotiations resumed, without a diplomatic presence to express positions and exert pressure,” writes Al-Jazeera.