June 15th, 2007 09:37 EST
Bush Condemns Assassination of Lebanese Parliamentarian
Washington – President Bush condemned the June 13 murder of Lebanese parliamentarian Walid Eido and urged nations to support a U.N.-sponsored investigation into a series of high-profile political killings in Lebanon.
“The perpetrators of these political assassinations must be brought to justice, and we all have an obligation to help the government of Lebanon identify, investigate, and prosecute these killers,” Bush said in a prepared statement June 13.
Tens of thousands of people turned out in Beirut June 14 to mourn Eido, who was killed in a June 13 car bombing that also claimed the lives of his son, two bodyguards and six bystanders. He was the seventh high-level Lebanese official to be assassinated in the past two years.
The incident occurred less than a mile from the site where former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was killed in a February 2005 suicide car bombing. Preliminary U.N. findings suggest that Syria’s security services may have been involved in the attack on the former prime minister, a close friend of Eido and fellow critic of Syria. (See related article.)
A wave of demonstrations in the wake of Hariri’s death known as “The Cedar Revolution” forced Syria to relinquish its decades of control over the country.
Bush said a clear pattern has emerged in attacks against Lebanon’s elected leaders.
“Those working for a sovereign and democratic Lebanon have always been the ones targeted,” he said. “The victims have always been those who sought an end to Syrian President [Bashar] Asad's interference in Lebanon's internal affairs.”
Eido’s death comes as the Lebanese government begins organizing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to investigate the Hariri killing and other recent political violence in Lebanon. Eido was a prominent supporter of the tribunal.
The United States, France and the United Kingdom led an effort at the U.N. Security Council to establish the tribunal, in reaction to pro-Syrian parties in the Lebanese government blocking an investigation supported by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and the majority of the parliament. (See related article.)
“The Lebanese people deserve to know the truth behind this attack and others like it” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a June 13 statement. “The expeditious establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an important step in bringing to justice those behind similar crimes and for putting an end to political violence in Lebanon.”
Meanwhile, fighting continued outside of Tripoli, Lebanon, where more than 140 people have been killed as Lebanese security forces continue operations to force out an Islamist militant group from Nahr-el-Bared, home to 31,000 Palestinians. The group, known as Fatah-al-Islam, is an offshoot of the pro-Syria Fatah Intifada and claims links to al-Qaida. (See related article.)
Bush issued a stern warning to Iran and Syria to stop supporting forces bent on destabilizing Lebanon.
“The assault on Lebanese state institutions by terrorists and armed extremists, cross-border arms trafficking, and efforts by the regimes in Damascus and Tehran to foment instability in Lebanon must stop now,” Bush said. (See full text of Bush’s statement.)
The full text of Rice’s statement is available on the State Department Web site.
For more information on U.S. policy, see Lebanon Assistance.
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