Saturday 13 April 2024 - 21:22

Pascal Suleiman’s Murder: Why’s Tel Aviv the Top Suspect?

Story Code : 1128402
Pascal Suleiman’s Murder: Why’s Tel Aviv the Top Suspect?
In the middle of last week, the Lebanese army announced in a statement that Suleiman was killed by a Syrian criminal gang. 

The Lebanese army added on Monday night that its intelligence managed to detain a majority of the Syrian band members involved in the killing of the Christian politician. The investigation found, the army stated, that the kidnapped man was killed as the thiefs tried to steal his car In Jubail. 

The army added that the gang transferred the body to Syria and investigation is underway under the auspecies of the general prosecutor. 

At the same time, the media published CCTV images from the moment the kidnappers attacked Suleiman's car on the way from Tertaj to Jubail. In this footage, Suleiman's car is attacked by armed men while he was driving towards Batroun coastal region in the north.

Additionally, media outlets have published an audio file, which is said to be the recorded voice of Suleiman begging the criminals not to kill him in the last moments.

But after the army's statement, a wave of reactions swept the political and media atmosphere of Lebanon, and there were widespread comments and debates, especially on social networks, among Lebanese users. 

Meanwhile, one of the most important reactions to this crime came from the Lebanese Forces that inflamed the political tensions and street protests. Samir Geagea, the leader of the party, immediately took a stance against the army's narrative of the identify of the kidnappers and the motivations of the murder, arguing that it was a politically-motivated organized assassination. 

The party's media center said that this "crime was politically-motivated and the official narrative is weak and fragile."

"The kidnapping and murder of Pascal Suleiman had nothing to do with theft or asking for ransom, and no one asked for it," the center stated, adding: "The executive arm may be Syrian agents, but the decision is political."

The party in another statement added that the information provided about the motivations of the murder seem to contradict the reality, and it asked the security government to conduct a more serious investigation on the detainees to know the truth. 

Organized hate campaign against Syrians 

Following the party's statements, its supporters took to the streets and chanted against Syrian refugees and Hezbollah. 

In the past two days, Burj Hammoud, Sadd al-Bochriyeh, Al-Jadedeh, Bechara, Al-Jubail, Jounieh, Zouk Mesbah, Zouk Mikael, Tabarja and other neighborhoods have witnessed a series of attacks against Syrian refugees. 

Lebanese official news agency on Thursday reported that unknown men stopped a taxi and kidnapped two Syrian nationals on board in Rayak-Qa'a international highway near Sha'ath town in north of Beqaa governorate. 

Additionally, in many cities of Lebanon tight measures were implemented to restrict movement of Syrians during the day.

At the same time, Lebanon’s social media went full of content of hate against the Syrian nationals and comments about the motivation of the murderers and the dangerous consequences of Syrian refugees' presence on the country's unity, social stability, and economy and called for their expulsion.

Social media platforms also witnessed circulation of footages of attacks on Syrians and burning their properties in Jubail and the capital Beirut.

The inflamed anti-Syrian atmosphere in society showed its effects immediately in the positions of government leaders.

In one of the most important stances, Bassam Mawlawi, the Minister of the Interior of Lebanon, after the meeting of the Security Council of this country, explicitly called for "introducing more restrictions on Syrian refugees" and emphasized that the presence of Syria in Lebanon "must be limited." 

On the other hand, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Thursday talked about working on an important solution to the case of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, adding that details of the plan will be released later in April. 

"Earlier, solutions and plans were presented regarding the issue of refugees, but not all of them were implemented, but today the solutions are for implementation," he went on. 

The minister of refugees Issam Sharafaddin on Thursday in an interview to a radio station talked about a plan to deport the Syrian refugees regardless of international stances on the case. 

" After Eid Al-Fitr, the convoys [of refugees] will move to Syria," he said. 

Sharafuddin held that next month's conference on Syrian refugees "will include Lebanon's demands and will not be limited to financial aid, but will demand the return of refugees because of the danger they pose to Lebanon."

Suspicious murder and Hezbollah chief's warning about ethno-sectarian sedition 

Although with the death of Suleiman the Lebanese Forces and some other factions have pointed the finger of blame to Hezbollah and talked about behind-the-scenes plots against them with political motivations, on the other side there are questions and even clear signs that talk about a contrived conspiracy serving the agenda of enemies of Hezbollah and Axis of Resistance. 

In the first place, a look at the massive wave of media reactions in Lebanon and Arab world and also on social media that seeks to attribute the crime to Hezbollah and Syria without any documents shows that the case is likely to unfold in the coming days and weeks. For example, the Lebanese Forces have once again found a pretext to politically attack Hezbollah and label its arms as a source of instability in the country. 

Another aspect of the incident is its timing. The suspicious murder of an official of Lebanese Forces, which is known as leading anti-Hezbollah actor in Lebanon and its leader Samir Geagea has been the main choice of foreign players such as the US, the Israeli regime, and Saudi Arabia for politically challenging Hezbollah in the parliament, comes at a time when during the past six months, Hezbollah's main focus has been on fighting the Israeli regime on the southern fronts in support of the Gaza resistance, and the war against the Israeli enemy is approaching its critical and final stages, and the Israelis are finding no other way than accepting defeat without making any gains on the ground. 

While the Israeli army over the past weeks has removed a majority of its forces from Gaza, there are possibilities that the hardline Israeli cabinet may invade Lebanon in a bid to prevent its collapse and also pave the way for return of tens of thousands of displaced Israelis in the border areas with Lebanon. Over the past weeks, Israeli officials talked about the need for Hezbollah forces to move back to other other side of the Blue Line and threatened a military actions to implement this demand. So, fomenting a Lebanese home crisis and tying Hezbollah down into it best serves the Israeli interests. 

Currently, about 1.5 to 2 million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, most of them are working outside the refugee camps and in different cities of this country, and indeed, blowing into a Syriaphobic atmosphere carries the potential of causing unrest in this country.

This was mentioned by Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during his address of Suleiman's murder. On Monday, in a televised address, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah categorically rejected Hezbollah’s involvement in the case and said the accusers intend to stir a sectarian conflict.

The third part of signs that can bear witness to hatching of a plot in favor of enemies of Lebanon is the targeting of Lebanese-Syrian unity and alliance in the reactions to the murder. 

One of the statements of Lebanese Forces points to the 'unity of fronts' — a theory that suggests an attack on one branch of the Axis of Resistance draws reactions from other branches— and suggests that Hezbollah under the unity of fronts theory as the strategic line between Tehran and Beirut has blurred the border lines. "There is no way but closing down and controlling the illegal crossings. So, anyone who opens the crossings is directly or indirectly responsible for the committed crimes." 

The fact that kidnappers killed Suleiman and transferred his body to the Syrian province of Homs, one of key strongholds of Hezbollah in Syria, and facilitated easy tracking of his body is suspicious and directs the opponents of Hezbollah and Damascus to point the fingers of blame to these two. 

It must be stated that if the murder of Suleiman was not driven by financial motivations of criminal gangs, considering the clues, the top possibility in this case is that Hezbollah's enemies, including the Israeli regime, played a role in this murder.