The mob business added three new names to its ranks with the indictment of former Minister Michel Smaha (and the Syrian chief of national security and a Brigadier-General of the Syrian Army) on charges of plotting to carry out assassinations and destabilize Lebanon. The official charges against Smaha along with gruesome allegations leaked by media outlets could not be more serious: Some of them, such as smuggling explosives from Syria with the purpose of assassinating Lebanese religious and political personalities, inciting violence and strife among his own people, for the benefit of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, are shocking and hard to comprehend.
While the evidence against him is clear and damning, an investigation is now underway to find out the details of this terror plot and its past ramifications. It is only appropriate to find out how long has this “service” been provided to Syrian authorities and at what cost to Lebanon and the Lebanese. Lebanon has been plagued with assassinations and the list has grown especially since the 2005 assassination of former Premier Rafic Hariri. Smaha’s crime is not only against his country. It is personal as well, against all the Lebanese individually and collectively. Some of Lebanon’s best minds were killed by way of car explosives, very much like those found in Smaha’s house, possibly even the same ones. Although fingers pointed at Syria and its local supporters after almost every assassination or assassination attempt, Syria has always denied the charges. Now with the new evidence, it will be hard to dodge the responsibility.
The Lebanese who lost friends, colleagues, neighbors or family members in assassinations in the past decades, will want to know the truth. They will demand answers. Lebanon has lost great men for the simple reason that they dared speak up against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon or not support it: These were thinkers, intellectuals, and journalists, influential people who believed in freedom and sought it. Bystanders from all walks of life were also victims of the hate plots that detonated to silence and terrorize.
It is not shocking that Michel Smaha served the Syrian agenda in Lebanon. This was his specialty and exactly how many of us came to know him: Appearing on TV to attack his countrymen of contrarian politics and defend Syria and its president as if his life depended on it. Pulling notebooks from his pockets to read names and provide “evidence” – mostly wrong and never of any value but with the sole purpose of detracting the attention from Syria. Now we know what all the dramatics he put on so masterfully meant. Now he is charged in a malicious conspiratorial scheme against his own country and his own people. The irony is that this is exactly what he often arrogantly accused others of.
Many people are sighing a sigh of relief that Michel Smaha was arrested, charged and is now undergoing a thorough investigation. What is worrisome is that we don’t know how many like him are out there carrying the orders of Syria or any other foreign country against the helpless nation of Lebanon. How many are using their diplomatic status to smuggle more explosives and weapons with the same intention of creating havoc to distract from others’ problems?
If Michel Smaha’s behavior is an indication, we should then be looking for the loud and obnoxious politicians who love to point fingers at others but do nothing for their country. Look for those who seem too comfortable making groundless accusations, calling opponents all sorts of names and using curt speech unreservedly instead of sound arguments. Look for those who never miss a chance to defend a foreign nation against their own people. They usually love to call anyone who does not agree with them, “liar,” “traitor” and a series of cliché derogatory expressions. To describe their opponents, they often use insulting, sometimes filthy, adjectives inappropriate for publication.
Right now those voices are mute. Maybe because, to much of their chagrin, the truth is shining beyond the shadow of a doubt and there is nothing to be said or done to turn things around. Maybe they are only on a break to confer with each other and get ready for a counter attack. One thing is clear however: Right now, their silence is deafening.