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Sunday, July 24, 2005 

Murr: 'Pressing need to rebuild security structures'

Lebanon's Defence Minister Elias Murr has highlighted the incapacity of Lebanon's security system, weeks after he was targetted in a Beirut car bomb.

The pro-Syrian Minister relied on Syrian forces for 15 years to protect his country. But after their hasty withdrawal in April this year, it seems like Lebanon's police and army aren't ready to take over the job themselves.

They were criticised for their weak and flawed investigations into the series of political assasinations this year. All of those assasinations - except the first - have taken place since the start of the pullout of Syrian troops.

Murr has blamed Palestinians in the Ain Al-Helwe refugee camp for his attempted assasination. The Lebanese Army and police have had no presence in the camps since the end of the war - Palestinian militia control the areas. But in the last couple of days, for the first time, state security forces have put checkpoints around the camp.

In a sign of confusing political solidarity, US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman has visited the pro-Syrian minister three times in his hospital bed.

Murr's bodyguard and a relative were seriously injured in the car bomb which targetted Murr.

Can I ask you a question, Sasa? I am preparing to do a post on Lebanon and the threat of civil war, and given the "incapacity" of the security forces, the further stratification of the population into militant factions, etc., Is civil war looming? (I'm currently doing a poll on that on my blog.)

Hi Oscar.

No, I don't think there's any real chance of a spiral into civil war. Lebanon is in denial that another war COULD happen - these are just isolated incidents,k they tell themselves. They are scared to even think about the civil war - this year's memorial of the start of the war was the first time there has been any kind of memorial in the last 15 years.

You have to remember that there has been low level fighting in Lebanon throughout its tortured history. It is only a shock to us now because the Syrian forces were able to twist the arms of the militias and keep a lid on tensions, I expect the killings and retaliations to continue for some time - but I think it'll take a lot to force Lebanon to war (sending American troops in to bring back the Syrian-led peace might just push them over the edge though).

Sasa,

Thanks a lot for the response. I will write my post about Lebanon keeping that in mind.

I've written my post on the subject, with your opinion embedded. Thanks again.

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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