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An Assassination in Beirut

Leading from the front against Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran, Wissam al-Hassan was an American ally.

4:32 PM, Oct 20, 2012 • By LEE SMITH
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Assad has now entered a new phase. The Obama administration seemed to have lent a sympathetic ear to Assad’s story that they shared the same enemy—al Qaeda and affiliated Sunni jihadists. And thus the White House was predisposed to see all the terrorist attacks in the Levant as the work of Sunni fanatics. This attack suggests that Assad believes the ruse is no longer necessary, or adequate. Now he has moved to direct threats, for his project is transparent.

A campaign of terror in Lebanon, or better yet sectarian warfare there, will so alarm the international community, especially the Sunni Arab powers led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the United States, that they will have no choice but to petition the arsonist for relief from the inferno. For peace in Lebanon, Assad is going to charge a steep price. The Obama administration says that Assad is finished, that it’s only a matter of time before he falls, but he’s gambling that he can make them see things his way, and toss him a life preserver.

With the White House’s track record, why wouldn’t Assad give it a shot, since the only power capable of stopping him has sat itself down on the sidelines to look on with a self-imposed helplessness? After all, Assad shelled a NATO ally across the Syrian border in Turkey and the White House did nothing. When he downed a Turkish jet, the administration took sides against Ankara. So what if Wissam al-Hassan was also an American ally, leading from the front in the battle against Assad, Hezbollah and its Iranian patron? Assad’s betting this doesn’t matter too much to the White House.

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