Killing of Senior Lebanese Forces Official in S.Lebanon Deepens Political, Sectarian Tensions

Elias Hasrouni.
Elias Hasrouni.
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Killing of Senior Lebanese Forces Official in S.Lebanon Deepens Political, Sectarian Tensions

Elias Hasrouni.
Elias Hasrouni.

The killing of a senior member of the Lebanese Forces in southern Lebanon is threatening to deepen political and sectarian tensions in the country.

Elias Hasrouni, 72, was a member of the LF central council and former coordinator of the party in the Bint Jbeil region in the South. He was a resident of the Ain Ebel town near the border with Israel.

He had left his house in his car days ago and reported dead soon after, allegedly in an accident. However, videos taken from local surveillance cameras and posted on social media showed that his vehicle was intercepted by two others and led to another area. He was found dead soon after.

Ain Ebel is one of four Christian villages in the Bint Jbeil province. It is surrounded by predominantly Shiite villages in a region where Hezbollah wields wide influence.

Sources from Ain Ebel told Asharq Al-Awsat that no signs of violence or blood were found on Hasrouni’s body, which had led to the dismissal of claims of foul play. However, suspicions first arose when he left his house at night without informing his family.

The man was well-loved in his town, they added.

The videos showed that Hasrouni was lured to an area where he was killed, they said.

An autopsy revealed that Hasrouni was strangled and dealt a blow to the head and chest with a gun. His ribs were broken and one of his lungs was pierced, which ultimately led to his death.

His family has since resorted to the judiciary to find the criminals.

The death is threatening the delicate political and sectarian balance in Bint Jbeil, while anger has simmered in the victim’s hometown.

Hasrouni’s brother told Al-Jadeed television that the family will put its faith in the judiciary to uncover the truth.

“We will not accuse anyone. We live in this area in harmony with all sects and parties,” he added. He stressed that his brother was loved by everyone, regardless of their sects, casting doubt that his murder was politically motivated.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea called for uncovering the perpetrators “as soon as possible” given the tensions in Ain Ebel and the surrounding areas.



Allawi to Asharq Al-Awsat Biden Tried to Persuade Me to Abandon Premiership in 2010

Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. (Getty Images)
Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. (Getty Images)
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Allawi to Asharq Al-Awsat Biden Tried to Persuade Me to Abandon Premiership in 2010

Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. (Getty Images)
Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. (Getty Images)

Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi revealed the details of how he was prevented from assuming the post of PM after winning a majority of seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections.

In a detailed account to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said then US Vice President Joe Biden had requested that he assume the post of president - which is reserved for Sunnis - and to work on persuading the Sunnis to accept this proposal. Biden said he would work on persuading the Kurds.

Allawi was responding to a three-part interview Asharq Al-Awsat held with Iraqi politician Fakhri Karim during which he spoke at length about the political process in Iraq in the post-Saddam Hussein era.

Karim acknowledged that he made a grave error when he opted for Nouri al-Maliki remaining in his position as PM even though Allawi had won the parliamentary majority.

Allawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that Biden proposed to him that he assume the position of president.

“Biden visited me after we won the elections in 2010. He requested that we talk in another room. He was accompanied by Llyod Austin, current Defense Secretary and then commander of the US forces in Iraq, then American Ambassador James Jeffrey and then State Department official Antony Blinken, who is now Secretary of State,” he revealed.

Biden proposed that Allawi become president to which he replied that he would be faced by “two major hurdles”: the Sunnis and the Kurds.

He also cited a third hurdle, the Iraqi people, “who had entrusted me to become head of government.”

Allawi then revealed that prominent Sunni figures, such as former Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, Saleh al-Matlaq and former parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi had agreed to him becoming president.

“They agreed even though Biden informed them [the Sunnis] that they will get nothing in the state. They replied that this doesn’t matter,” recalled Allawi.

Allawi agreed Karim about the circumstances that led to ISIS’ takeover of swathes of Iraq and with his account of events related to attempts to withdraw confidence from former PM Maliki.

Karim had told Asharq Al-Awsat that Maliki did not heed Masoud Barzani’s warnings about the movement of extremists near Mosul city, which eventually led to ISIS’ takeover.