CAIRO: Sources in Cairo have told the Egyptian press that Lebanese security foiled an assassination attempt on Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, close to the Lebanese-Syrian border Saturday night.
Moussa was in Lebanon to mediate between rival political parties to try and resolve the country’s political deadlock.
According to the sources, Lebanese security spotted a suspicious-looking car parked close to the border and destroyed it. It is unknown whether the car contained explosives.
The car is said to have been owned by an Egyptian national living in Lebanon who has been named “Hisham A.D. Lebanese authorities, in cooperation with their Egyptian counterparts, are currently searching for him.
A spokesman for the Arab League, Abdel Alim El-Abyad, told Daily News Egypt that there were no further clues as to the identity of the car-owner, or what interests may have been behind the alleged assassination attempt.
He said that Moussa was unperturbed by the event and was currently back at work.
“Everything is okay, he is back in the office, El-Abyad said. “We have no further details for now, apart from what [Moussa] has said himself.
The incident has received little or no coverage in the Lebanese media.
Walid Kazziha, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo, believes that both the lack of information available and the “discovery of the car bomb – which is a common form of assassination in Lebanon – indicate that the assassination attempt was a “fabrication.
“This was made up by the Seniora government, he told Daily News Egypt.
“How did they discover this bomb before it blew up? Car bombs are never discovered, he said, referring to the recent car bomb targeting US diplomats, which killed three passersby and wounded 26.
Professor of Political Science at the American University in Beirut, Charles Chartouni, said that a number of interested parties, including Syrians, Al-Qaeda and Shias, could be behind the alleged attempt on Moussa’s life.
These actors, Chartouni told Daily News Egypt, aimed to reinforce the “political hopelessness taking hold in Lebanon, and undermine efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution.
He added that Lebanon’s Shias are becoming increasingly outspoken about their wariness of the Arab League, which they regard as a Sunni-oriented institution.
The loss of its Secretary General, he said, would dramatically weaken its role in mediating Middle Eastern conflicts.
Emad Gad, a researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, agreed that anyone with an interest in preventing a peaceful resolution to Lebanon’s political crisis could be behind the alleged attempt on Moussa’s life.
Israel, Syria, Iran and non-state actors like militant fundamentalist groups would all stand accused, he said.
“This was a message to Arab and foreign partners in the Lebanese process to stop their efforts. There are many people interested in perpetuating the Lebanese impasse, said Gad.
Fayek Fahim, professor of politics at Misr International University, strongly disagreed with Gad and Chartouni.
Describing Lebanon as a “wild political jungle, Fahim said that it was more likely to have been the government camp that made the assassination attempt.
The government, he told Daily News Egypt, is unhappy firstly that Amr Moussa gives the opposition an equal hearing in trying to resolve the country’s political problems, and secondly that he is trying to further the role of the Arab League in Lebanon in this way.
“The Hariris, the Jumblatts, the Maronites – they want Moussa to condemn the Shias and Hezbollah, and because he won’t they intimidate him.
“The government camp has a long history of assassinations, unlike the Shias who are involved in guerrilla warfare and the fight against Israel.