Pierre Amine Gemayel

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Pierre Amine Gemayel
Pierre Amine Gemayel.jpg
2005 photo of Pierre Amine Gemayel during a visit to Canada.
Born (1972-09-23)23 September 1972
Beirut
Died 21 November 2006(2006-11-21) (aged 34)
Beirut
Resting place
Family Grave, Bikfaya
Nationality Lebanese
Occupation Lawyer
Parents Amine Gemayel
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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Lebanon

Pierre Amine Gemayel (Arabic: بيار أمين الجميل; commonly known as Pierre Gemayel Jr., or simply Pierre Gemayel; 23 September 1972 – 21 November 2006) was a Lebanese politician in the Kataeb Party, also known as the Phalange Party in English.

Early life and education[edit]

Pierre Gemayel was born in Beirut on 24 September 1972 to a family that has long been involved in Lebanese politics.[1] Gemayel, a Maronite Christian, was the eldest son of former President Amine Gemayel and grandson of Pierre Gemayel (after whom he was named), who founded the Kataeb Party.[2] He was also a nephew of former president-elect Bachir Gemayel, who was assassinated in Beirut in 1982.[3][4]

Gemayel studied law in Beirut and Paris, and began his legal career at a firm in Beirut. A short while later he took over the legal practice of his father.[5]

Political career[edit]

Gemayel started his political life in the year 2000, when he was elected to Parliament in the Matn District as an independent.[6][7][8] An active member of the Kataeb movement (an offshoot of the Kataeb Party), he rejoined his father in the Qornet Shehwan Gathering.[9] He was re-elected in 2005.[10] On the other hand, he was the only member of the Alliance list of 14 March to win a parliamentary seat in the Metn district.[11]

He was well known for his opposition to Syrian occupation and influence in Lebanon. He was against the mandate ruling of President Émile Lahoud, and took part in the Cedar Revolution after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.[12] In July 2005, he was named minister of industry in Fouad Siniora's government.[12] He served as the representative of the Phalange party in the Siniora government.[13]

Assassination[edit]

Supporters gather at Gemayel's funeral

On 21 November 2006, the day before Lebanon's Independence Day, at least three to four gunmen opened fire at close range on Gemayel with five different types of silenced automatic weapons, all using 9 mm bullets, after ramming his car from the front in the Jdeideh suburb north of Beirut with a Honda CRV with tinted windows that they were driving.[14][15][16] Gemayel was the fifth prominent anti-Syrian figure to be killed in Lebanon in two years.[17]

Gemayel was visiting his electoral district of Metn, in Jdeideh that day.[11] Gemayel refused escorts, and was himself driving his car unshielded during the assassination.[11] The method by which Gemayel was assassinated is much more brazen than that used in the past - gunmen killing in broad daylight, rather than anonymous car bombs detonated remotely.[11] He was rushed by his driver, who escaped the attack unhurt, to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was declared dead.[18] His bodyguard Sameer Chartouni was also killed in the attack.[11]

Perpetrators[edit]

His killers issued a communique in which they referred to themselves the "Fighters for the Unity and Liberty of Greater Syria." They said that they killed Gemayel because he was "one of those who unceasingly spouted their venom against Syria and against [Hizbullah], shamelessly and without any trepidation."[19]

A report by Kuwaiti daily Al Seyassah alleged that an editor from the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency contacted a Lebanese pro-Syrian newspaper 55 minutes prior to the assassination to inquire about the murder. The story claims the SANA reporter called back 10 minutes later to apologize for the original call. Al Seyassah further states it did not name the Lebanese newspaper to protect its identity.[20]

Lebanese law requires the dissolution of the government if one third of the 24-member Cabinet resign or become unavailable. It has been speculated that Gemayel’s assassination was an attempt by pro-Syrian groups to reach the required third, and so force the current Government from power. With the recent resignation of six Hezbollah MPs from the Cabinet, added to Gemayel’s death, the resignation or death of only two more ministers would topple the government.[21]

Others have, however, put forward many conspiracy theories regarding the murder [22] such as a possible false flag operation. Many have questioned Syria's interest in targeting the Christian society as that could have the effect of destabilising a rival Christian party, namely Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement which, together with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's Shi'i Hezbollah, forms the largest parliamentary pro-Syrian block. However the pro-Syrian coalition managed to establish a sit-in, later growing into a protest camp, in the martyr's square downtown Beirut, to insist on their demands.

Despite these claims, the unidentified perpetrators are still at large and the investigation on the attack has been inconclusive.[23]

Funeral[edit]

A funeral ceremony for him was held on Martyrs' Square on 23 November 2006 with the participation of hundreds of thousands of supporters of the March 14 Alliance, and turned to be a political character.[11] His body was buried in his hometown Bikfaya after Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir performed the rites in Beirut.[1][24]

Lebanese reaction[edit]

Gemayel's coffin making its way through the crowds

Saad Hariri, then majority leader of the Lebanese Parliament and the head of the Current for the Future political movement, accused Syria of ordering the killing.[25] The Syrian government denied any involvement, and condemned the killings[26]

Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt also blamed Syria for the assassination, and said he expected more such killings aimed at undermining the Lebanese parliament's ruling majority. "I bluntly accuse the Syrian regime," Jumblatt said.[27]

Samir Geagea, the leader of The Lebanese Forces, one of the major Christian parties, demanded President Émile Lahoud resign, and also accused Syria of ordering the killing.

Michel Aoun, leader of The Free Patriotic Movement, strongly condemned the murder, and argued that it was aimed at generating chaos and uncertainty, primarily among the Christian society in Lebanon.

Similar remarks and condemnation were issued by almost all of the major Lebanese political players.

World reaction[edit]

The U.N. Security Council condemned Gemayel's assassination.[28]

Pope Benedict XVI's representative at the funeral condemned the "unspeakable" assassination.[29]

British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the murder.[30] Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the United Kingdom, called the killing "contrary to the interests of all in the region" in a press conference aired on Al Jazeera English approximately an hour after Gemayel's death was confirmed.

The White House also condemned the murder.[31] The U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said, "One pattern we discern in these political assassinations of Lebanese leaders — journalists, members of parliament — they are all anti-Syrian. So I suppose one can draw conclusions from that," he said.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Gemayel married Patricia Daif, a Lebanese Christian, in 1999, and they had two sons, Amine and Iskander (Alexander).[1] The wedding was held in Limassol, Cyprus, so that Gemayel's father, who was then in self-exile, could attend.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Karam, Zeina (23 November 2006). "Son of political dynasty earned his place in party". SMH (Beirut). Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Lebanese Christian leader killed". BBC news. 21 November 2006. 
  3. ^ "Gemayel's Death One More Blow to Lebanese Political Dynasty". Voice of America. 31 October 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Asser, Martin (21 November 2006). "Obituary". BBC. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Perthes, Volker. Arab Elites: Negotiating the Politics of Change. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004. ISBN 978-1-58826-266-0
  6. ^ "Opposition Candidates Win Elections". APS Diplomat Recorder. 9 September 2000. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Rabil, Robert G. (1 September 2001). "The Maronites and Syrian withdrawal: from "isolationists" to "traitors"?". Middle East Policy. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Yehia, Ranwa (31 August – 6 September 2000). "A lighter Syrian shadow". Al Ahram 497. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Qornet Shehwan Gathering". Middle East Mirror. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Wimmen, Heiko (27 August 2007). "Rallying Around the Renegade". MERIP. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Sheikh Pierre Amine Gemayel". Kataeb Online. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel quick biography". The Daily Star. 21 November 2006. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Lebanon on the Brink of Civil War (3)" (Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.302). MEMRI. 23 November 2006. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  14. ^ Hatoum, Leila (28 November 2006). "Politics Investigations into Gemayel murder focus on fingerprints, surveillance footage". The Daily Star. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Assassination sparks new Lebanon crisis
  16. ^ Brammertz visits site of Gemayel assassination
  17. ^ Killing seen as bid by Damascus, Tehran to hit U.S. role in Mideast - Sharon Behn, The Washington Times 22 November 2006
  18. ^ "Anti-Syrian Leader Killed In Lebanon". APS Diplomat Recorder. 18 November 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  19. ^ The Gemayel warning Jerusalem Post
  20. ^ Nahfawi, Ghina (2006). "The Situation in Lebanon after the Assassination of Pierre Gemayel". Current Concerns. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  21. ^ Pierre Gemayel obituary The Times
  22. ^ Mark Levine: Who Killed Pierre Gemayel? The Huffington Post
  23. ^ "Lebanese Power-brokers: The Most Powerful Families of Lebanon". Marcopolis. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Crowds defy Syria at Gemayel's funeral". Jamaica Gleaner (Beirut). Reuters. 24 November 2006. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "March 14 minister killed in terrorist attack". From Beirut to the Beltway. 21 November 2006. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  26. ^ Crowds mourn Lebanon politician BBC, Retrieved 1 April 2007.
  27. ^ Jumblatt blames Syria for Gemayel's murder Ya Libnan
  28. ^ a b Assassination increases tensions with Syria, Iran Washington Post 21 November 2006
  29. ^ "Pope condemns assassination of leading Catholic politician". Catholic News Agency (Vatican City). 22 November 2006. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  30. ^ "Blair 'utterly condemns' Lebanon assassination". Politics. 21 November 2006. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  31. ^ Slackman, Michael (21 November 2006). "Anti-Syrian Minister Is Assassinated in Lebanon". The New York Times. p. 2. Retrieved 21 November 2006. 

News coverage[edit]