Unrest continues to rise along the Lebanese border, with Lebanese officials linking Friday’s car bombing to the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria. Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan was one of a reported eight killed in that bombing, which has been attributed to a Syrian plot to provoke conflict in Lebanon through bombings and assassinations. Lebanese protestors have risen to their own defense, constructing roadblocks as gunmen patrol the streets. Al-Hassan led an investigation during the summer that discovered the alleged Syrian conspiracy, which Prime Minister Najib Mikati believes may have been one of the motivations behind the attack.
“I don’t want to prejudge the investigation, but in fact we cannot separate yesterday’s crime from the revelation of the explosions that could have happened,” Mikati said during a news conference Saturday.
The prime minister has been accused of being close to Syria and Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group responsible for violence along the border. Mikati offered his resignation after the bombing, but President Michel Suleiman asked him to stay on in his role to prevent further chaos, according to the Associated Press.
For decades Syria has a heavy influence on Lebanon, but as the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad falters, the Lebanese are eager to exert their own agency. The army released a statement asking the people to stay united to deny “the criminal killers who tried through the crime to incite strife and split the country” another victory.
The possibility of military intervention by the U.S. was a topic during this month’s vice presidential debate. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who worked as the special envoy to Syria until August, believes that intervention could lead to further escalation in Syria. Annan resigned from his post when his peace plan failed, but Republican candidate Paul Ryan believes that the U.S. should have intervened before Annan’s agreement, and that the talks gave Assad more time. During an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakira GPS,” Annan countered Ryan’s claims, saying the candidate was “dead wrong.”