On Valentine's Day 2005, former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri, nicknamed 'Mr Lebanon' for his local power and patronage, was killed by a massive explosion as he drove along the Beirut seafront. Ten weeks later, Syrian troops had withdrawn from Lebanon after an occupation of nearly thirty years. In this compelling book, Nicholas Blanford looks at how the murder of a businessman provoked such a seismic shift in Middle Eastern politics. He examines Hariri's past, inextricably linked with that of Lebanon, and uncovers a murky world of shifting alliances between businesses, security services, politicians and diplomats. Based on exclusive interviews with the key players in the Syrian, Lebanese and international arenas, Blanford traces the last weeks of Hariri's life, and reveals who and what stood to gain from his death. Gaining access to material never before made public, Blanford shows how right up until the morning of his assassination, Hariri was building up a unique political movement which would have upset the balance of power in Middle Eastern politics.
Larger than life figures emerge in this Shakespearean political drama: the wily Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, the much-feared head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, Rustom Ghazaleh and the young Syrian leader eager to stamp his authority, Bashar al-Assad. With Lebanon reeling from the explosion of regional tensions in the summer of 2006, Blanford traces the impact of the Hariri assassination on Hizbullah, Syria and Israel. Full of intrigue, shady characters and suspense, "Killing Mr Lebanon" is the definitive account of how Beirut became once again the flashpoint of the Middle East.