Lebanon – A Thorn in Syria’s Side

Rafik Bahaa Edine Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, was assassinated as he drove past the St George Hotel in Beirut on 14 February 2005. Explosives equivalent to around 1000 kg of TNT were detonated, causing extensive damage to the surrounding buildings. A public rift between Hariri and Damascus just before his resignation as president, along with the fact that the Syrian government is known to have an extensive military and intelligence presence in Lebanon, has placed the accusatory finger of blame firmly in Syria’s direction, although as yet no substantial evidence to implicate any particular individual or group in the killing has been established.

Arya Kazemi provides us with a view through the lens of Beirut, a city where anti-Syrian sentiment is high and Rafik Hariri may be gone but is not forgotten. – Editor



The aftermath of Lebanon’s Valentine’s Day Massacre, the massive explosion that not only killed former PM Hariri, but 19 others as well.



A close-up of the remains of a building gutted by the blast.



Just a couple of miles away from the blast site is Martyr’s Square, which was the focal point of downtown Beirut before (and a key battleground during) the 15-year civil war (1975-90) that reduced much of the city to rubble. You may remember that around a million people filled up this spot on two different occasions after Hariri’s murder – once in support of Syria’s presence in Lebanon and another time in opposition.



Posters showing one of the aforementioned demonstrations.



Martyr’s statue (still riddled with bullet holes from the war) with the huge Ottoman-style El-Amin mosque in the background. Ironically Rafik Hariri was the impetus behind the construction of the mosque, which was completed in 2003, and now his coffin lies in state next to the entrance. The Statue also is a bit ironic because it portrays Christian and Muslim Lebanese that were killed for their united opposition to Ottoman rule.



Under the statue, the brother of Jirjis Al-Khouri hands out copies of an Amnesty International report regarding the ill treatment of his brother and former Lebanese Christian Militia leader Samir Geagea, who were being held together as prisoners. The report can be seen here
Geagea managed to secure a Parliamentary pardon on July 18th, but Al-Khouri still lingers in captivity.



A poster demanding the release of information regarding Lebanese prisoners believed to be in the hands of Syrian authorities.



A poster in Martyr’s Square showing the former PM’s role in reconstruction of Downtown Beirut. Hariri earned a fortune estimated to be around 3.8 billion American dollars in the construction business (mostly through buildings in Saudi Arabia).






_13Various slogans written on the walls surrounding El-Amin mosque and Hariri’s coffin.



The entrance to the memorial for Hariri and some of the other 19 casualties of the February 14 blast.


An electronic display showing the number of days since the blast, along with a call for truth in the criminal investigation.



A traditional display of the Holy Koran next to Hariri’s burial site


The former PM’s flower-laden coffin. In the background pictures of some of the other victims of the blast including Hariri’s bodyguards) are evident. Some of their respective resting places are located immediately behind the poster.

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