Plotting a comeback!

Laila Bassam AND Tom Perry –
A friend of Syrian President Bashar al Assad who was once one of Lebanon’s most powerful men is trying to make a comeback, with the backing of the Hizbullah movement. Jamil al Sayyed rose to become Lebanon’s feared intelligence chief during Syria’s 15-year domination of the country after its 1975-90 civil war. He quit in 2005, weeks after former Prime Minister Rafik al Hariri was assassinated, and spent four years in jail until he was released without charge over his killing. Now 68, the retired general
and former spymaster is running in Lebanon’s first parliamentary election since 2009.
Prime Minister Saad al Hariri is expected to remain in power though he is likely to lose some seats to rivals including candidates allied to Hizbullah.
But Hariri, who is backed by the West and leads a government that includes Hizbullah and nearly all Lebanon’s other main parties, has signalled his concern by indirectly identifying Sayyed as “Bashar al Assad’s candidate”.
The Baalbek-Hermel constituency in eastern Lebanon, where Sayyed is running as an independent candidate, has become one of the most important battlegrounds in the election.
Sayyed says Hizbullah’s opponents have chosen it “as a point of confrontation”
“I am an independent but not neutral,” Sayyed said in an interview in his home village of Nabi Ayla in the fertile Bekaa Valley.
Making clear his allegiance is with Hizbullah, he said: “I have firm political convictions in support of the resistance.”
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said he will go to the district if necessary to support Hizbullah and its allies against Hariri’s Future Movement and the Lebanese Forces party led by Samir Geagea, a former militia leader.
Sayyed’s critics say his potential comeback and that of his wartime opponents from the anti-Syria camp, such as Geagea, could entrench old divisions.
One of the biggest anti-Syria dissidents of that time, politician Michel Aoun, is now president of the country of 4 million. But Sayyed said he was unfazed that Lebanon is mostly run by leaders from the civil war era.
“I know their secrets and what they hide — their history — because I worked as required in the state in security, in politics,” he said.
— Reuters