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Pierre Amine Gemayel prior to his assassination


Pierre Amine Gemayel (Arabic: ; commonly known as Pierre Gemayel Jr., Pierre Amine or simply Pierre Gemayel; September 24, 1972 – November 21, 2006) was a Lebanese politician in the Kataeb Party, better known in English as the Phalange Party. Lebanon's second-youngest MP, he was a rising star in his party. He was a vocal critic of Syria's military presence in and political domination of Lebanon, and an active member of the anti-Syrian and pro-Western parliamentary majority, the March 14 Alliance.

He was serving as Minister of Industry when he was assassinated on November 21, 2006. He was the third member of his family to be assassinated in 25 years. His uncle Bachir Gemayel was assassinated in 1982, also at age 34, and Bachir's 1-year-old daughter was killed in a car bomb attack in 1980, initially supposed to target him.

Gemayel was the fifth prominent anti-Syrian figure to be killed in Lebanon in two years.

Political family

His family has long been involved in Lebanese politics. Gemayel, a Maronite Christian, was the son of former President Amine Gemayel who in 1983 signed the May 17 Accords with Israelmarker, and a grandson of Pierre Gemayel (after whom he was named), who founded the Kataeb Party, also known as the Phalange, a right-wing party supported largely by Maronite Christians and one of the major players on Lebanon's political scene.

He was also a nephew of former president-elect Bachir Gemayel, who was assassinated in Beirut in 1982.

Law studies and career

Gemayel was educated in law in Beirutmarker and Parismarker, and began his legal career at a firm in Beirut. A short while later he took over the legal practice of his father.

Political career

He started his political life in the year 2000, when he was elected to Parliamentmarker in the Matn District as an independent. An active member of the Kataeb movement (an offshoot of the Kataeb Party), he rejoined his father in the Qornet Shehwan Gathering. He was re-elected in 2005.

He was well known for his opposition to Syrianmarker occupation and influence in Lebanon. He was against the mandate ruling of President Émile Lahoud, and took part in the Cedar Revolution after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In July 2005, he was named Minister of Industry in Fouad Siniora's government.

Assassination

On November 21, 2006, the day before Lebanonmarker's Independence Day, at least three to four gunmen opened fired at close range on Gemayel with five different types of silenced automatic weapons, all using 9 mm bullets, after ramming his car from the front in the Jdeidehmarker suburb of Beirutmarker with a Honda CRV with tinted windows that they were driving. [387022] [387023] [387024] He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead. His bodyguard Sameer Chartouni was also killed. The method by which Gemayel was assassinated is much more brazen than that used in the past - gunmen killing in broad daylight, rather than anonymous car bombs detonated remotely.

Gemayel's killers issued a communique in which they referred to themselves the "Fighters for the Unity and Liberty of Greater Syria." They said that they killed Gemayel because he was "one of those who unceasingly spouted their venom against Syria and against [Hizbullah], shamelessly and without any trepidation."

A report by Arab language Kuwaitimarker daily Al Seyassah alleged that an editor from the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency contacted a Lebanese pro-Syrian newspaper 55 minutes prior to the assassination to inquire about the murder. The story claims the SANA reporter called back 10 minutes later to apologize for the original call. Al Seyassah further states it did not name the Lebanese newspaper to protect its identity.

Lebanese law requires the dissolution of the government if one third of the 24-member Cabinet resign or become unavailable. It has been speculated that Gemayel’s assassination was an attempt by pro-Syrian groups to reach the required third, and so force the current Government from power. With the recent resignation of six Hezbollah MPs from the Cabinet, added to Gemayel’s death, the resignation or death of only two more ministers would topple the government.

Others have, however, put forward many conspiracy theories regarding the murder[387025] [387026] [387027] such as a possible false flag operation. Many have questioned Syria's interest in targeting the Christian society as that could have the effect of destabilising a rival Christian party, namely Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement which, together with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's Shiite Hezbollah, forms the largest parliamentary pro-Syrian block. They had planned to stage a huge protest on Thursday 23 November in downtown Beirutmarker calling for the government's resignation. But in spite of the colossal size of the protest (about one million people), the anti-Syrian government resisted the pressure. However the pro-Syrian coalition managed to establish a sit-in, later growing into a protest camp, in the martyr's square downtown Beirut, to insist on their demands.

Lebanese reaction

Saad Hariri, the majority leader of the Lebanese Parliament and the head of the Current for the Future political movement, accused Syriamarker of ordering the killing. The Syrian government denied any involvement, and condemned the killings

Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt also blamed Syria for the assassination, and said he expected more such killings aimed at undermining the Lebanese parliament's ruling majority. "I bluntly accuse the Syrian regime," Jumblatt said.

Samir Geagea, the leader of The Lebanese Forces, one of the major Christian parties, demanded President Émile Lahoud resign, and also accused Syria of ordering the killing.

Michel Aoun, leader of The Free Patriotic Movement, strongly condemned the murder, and argued that it was aimed at generating chaos and uncertainty, primarily among the Christian society in Lebanon.

Similar remarks and condemnation were issued by almost all of the major Lebanese political players.

World reaction

In an emergency session, the U.N. Security Council condemned Gemayel's assassination.

Pope Benedict XVI condemned the “unspeakable” assassination in a message read at Gemayel's funeral by a Jesuit priest. [387028]

British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the murder.Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the United Kingdommarker, called the killing "contrary to the interests of all in the region" in a press conference aired on Al Jazeera English approximately an hour after Gemayel's death was confirmed.

In the US, the White Housemarker also condemned the murder. U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said Gemayel's assassination brought new attention to the danger that Syria and Iran are attempting, through allies such as Hezbollah, to conduct a coup d'état against the Lebanese government, and came the closest of any administration official to blaming Damascusmarker. "One pattern we discern in these political assassinations of Lebanese leaders — journalists, members of parliament — they are all anti-Syrian. So I suppose one can draw conclusions from that," he said.

Liberal Canadianmarker MP Irwin Cotler, part of a two-member Canadian delegation that went to Beirut for the funeral of Gemayel, pointed to Syria as being most likely responsible for the death of Gemayel. “It appears to be that,” Cotler answered when asked if he felt Syria was behind Gemayel’s death. [387029]

Family

Gemayel married Patricia Daif, a Lebanese Christian, in 1999, and they had two sons, Amine and Iskander (Alexander). The wedding was held in Limassolmarker, Cyprusmarker, so that Gemayel's father, who was then exiled from Lebanon, could attend. ( source)

See also



External links



References

  1. Pierre Gemayel - Comment - Times Online
  2. Killing seen as bid by Damascus, Tehran to hit U.S. role in Mideast - Sharon Behn, The Washington times - November 22, 2006
  3. Perthes, Volker. Arab Elites: Negotiating the Politics of Change. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004. ISBN 978-1-58826-266-0
  4. (Link dead as of 15 January 2007)
  5. Jerusalem Post: "The Gemayel warning"
  6. Pierre Gemayel obituary in The Times
  7. Lebanese Christian politician killed for CNN.com, retrieved at April 1, 2007.
  8. Crowds mourn Lebanon politician from BBC.com, retrieved at April 1, 2007.
  9. http://yalibnan.com/site/archives/2006/11/jumblatt_blames.php Ya Libnan: Jumblatt blames Syria for Gemayel's murder
  10. Washington Post: "Assination increases tensions with Syria, Iran
  11. (Link dead as of 15 January 2007)
  12. (registration required)
  13. Washington Post: "Assassination increases tensions with Syria, Iran


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