EU's Ashton warns against political vacuum in Lebanon
BEIRUT: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton warned yesterday against a political vacuum in Lebanon after the opposition called for the premier to step down over a deadly blast blamed on Syria, state media said.
She also claimed, without pointing a finger, that "there are some who are trying to divert attention from the situation in the region by causing problems in Lebanon," the National News Agency reported.
|So she should send in the mighty EU army...|
handwringing concerns were highlighted when an opposition MP said he and four colleagues had received texted death threats from a Syrian telephone number before and after Friday's car bombing.
The blast in Beirut killed police intelligence chief General Wissam Al-Hassan, who led a series of investigations linking the regime of President Bashar Assad to political assassinations in Lebanon.
"This attack is a terrible thing; we are concerned about the stability of Lebanon," Ashton was quoted as saying after meeting Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
|Did she say that with moist eyes and a quivering voice?|
Ammar Houry, an MP with the fiercely anti-Assad opposition movement of Saad Hariri, said Monday night that, "on the eve of the attack, we received an SMS from a Syrian number that read: 'Sons of bitches, we will get you one by one'." He said they did not pay much attention to it until Hassan was killed.
| The eyes were bright with bravely unshed tears, the voice quavered with suppressed passion. |
Afterwards, "we received a second SMS that read: 'Congratulations, the countdown has begun. One of 10 eliminated.'" Hassan's murder has sparked fears of new inter-confessional strife in Lebanon, where much of the Sunni Muslim community opposes the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and most Shiites support him.
Since the bombing, at least 12 people have been killed and wounded in fighting in the northern city of Tripoli, including a woman who died yesterday. There has also been scattered violence in Beirut since Friday's bombing, in which a Palestinian youth was killed.
Anti-Syria opposition chief Saad Hariri and other political figures have blamed Damascus for the assassination and demanded the resignation of Mikati, whose cabinet is dominated by Syrian ally Hezbollah. Mikati, who expressed his desire to step down, said on Saturday he would stay at the request of President Michel Sleiman in the "national interest."
In a separate meeting with Sleiman yesterday, Ashton expressed her concerns of a possible political vacuum and the EU's commitment to the "sovereignty, independence and stability of Lebanon," the National News Agency said.
|But they're not concerned enough to do anything, of course...|
Posted by: Steve White