An update on a story we posted in Daybreak: This afternoon there was a massive car bomb in the middle of Beirut, which took the lives of eight people and wounded nearly eighty others. In addition to being the first car bombing in Beirut since 2008, one of the eight victims has been identified as Wissam al-Hassan.
Described as a top security official in Lebanon, al-Hassan is credited with heading up the arrest of former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha, a major Assad ally in Lebanon who was accused of plotting to unleash several bombs in Lebanon. Based on the magnitude of the attack, it would be very easy to say this is retaliatory and point the finger in the direction of Assad and Iran.
Salman Shaikh, Director of the Brookings Center in Doha tweeted this:
Death of Wissam Hassan is designed to shake the foundations of social & sectarian harmony in #Lebanon. We should be v worried for #Lebanon
The climate in Lebanon, which is still largely divided by the fissures from its fifteen-year-long civil war, remains a tangle of conflicting ethnic and religious groups. This brazen attack is likely have far-reaching implications for the stability of Lebanon, already hemmed in by a powerful pro-Assad Hezbollah force, the spillover from the Syrian civil war at its borders, and the large Sunni population who will be furious about this attack.
We’ll keep you posted as this develops.