The killing of Lebanon's industry minister and leading Maronite Christian figure Pierre Gemayel has been received with a mixture of shock and anger by newspapers in the Middle East, with a Lebanese paper fearing the country could be brought "to the brink of disaster".
Another Lebanese commentator points the finger at Syria, although an Israeli commentator doubts that Damascus has anything to gain by the killing.
Syrian papers suggest the killing is linked to political infighting involving a government coalition which lacks legitimacy. And a pan-Arab daily calls for a military coup to ensure stability.
LEBANON'S THE DAILY STAR
The assailants' identities and immediate demands are unknown, but their message is clear: They will bring the country to the brink of disaster to get their way. There must be no surrender to either the demands of a shadowy enemy or the temptation to take revenge by targeting innocents with no connection to the crime.
The means differ but the perpetrator is the same. Bullets replaced explosive devices and the criminal is the same: the regime of murder and terrorism in Damascus. The target is the same: independent free democratic stable Lebanon. It is the tangible evidence that the Assad regime plans to make Lebanon drown in chaos.
COMMENTARY IN LEBANON'S AL-ANWAR
The blood of martyred minister Pierre Gemayel covered the streets and revealed that the danger in Lebanon is greater than the fears expressed by many people inside and outside the country. More important than any consensus on denouncing the assassination is the translation of this consensus into political stands in a national dialogue aimed at saving and protecting the country.
COMMENTARY IN LEBANON'S AL-NAHAR
No one can believe it is pure coincidence that the assassination occurred on the day the international tribunal [to investigate the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri] was approved.
It is well known that Lebanon has turned into an arena for the activities of foreign intelligence services and [Israeli] Mossad agents. Syria, which no longer has a presence in Lebanon, denounces this crime. It is more concerned than anyone else in getting to the bottom of the series of assassinations in Lebanon.
The killer fully realises how critical the Lebanese situation is, and aims through his crime to undermine popular moves demanded by Hezbollah and other political forces in the Lebanese street, thus delaying the inevitable fall of a government which lacks legitimacy. This crime is a disgraceful indictment of the government parties.
The assassination of Pierre Gemayel is the whip the government wields to help it stay in power. It doesn't take much effort to deduce that this assassination is an attempt to protect the failing government. It is being used to undermine Syria.
COMMENTARY IN JORDAN'S AL-RA'Y
This is not only a cowardly action, but also a crime aimed at assassinating the entire Lebanese people and stealing their future... to prepare Lebanon for sectarian infighting.
COMMENTATOR IN PAN ARAB AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT
The military should take the bull by the horns by intervening to impose a solution, and staging an odious but necessary coup, much like what occurred in Mauritania. That way, the killers' pistols would not target others on the list, which is said to be long.
COMMENTATOR IN ISRAEL'S MA'ARIV
The assassination of Pierre Gemayel was mainly intended to send the message to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora that if he does not stop here, his life is also in danger... He is the executor of the international tribunal in Beirut [on the killing of Hariri]. He intends to bring [the Syrians] to the dock and they cannot allow this.
COMMENTATOR IN ISRAEL'S YEDIOT AHARONOT
If categorical proof is found that the Syrian presidential palace gave the instruction to liquidate Gemayel, the chances of preventing the international tribunal that will expose Damascus's fingerprints in a long series of assassinations will be nil. Now the key is in the hands of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. If he insists on the "march of one million" in Lebanon at the weekend, it will turn into an arena for violent, bloody struggle between the Syria-Hezbollah camp and Siniora's moderate camp. If the march is postponed, the Damascus-Tehran-Hezbollah triangle will continue to stir up the Lebanese street until the next liquidation.
COMMENTARY IN ISRAEL'S HA'ARETZ
Pure political and diplomatic logic makes it difficult to see Damascus behind the assassination. The day he was killed, Syria chalked up one of its most significant diplomatic achievements since its defeat in Lebanon in April 2005: the renewal of full diplomatic relations with Iraq. Syria is also on its way to achieving a semi-official stamp of approval from Washington as an entity capable of calming tensions in Iraq. With such achievements, the last thing Damascus needed was a new accusation of a political murder in Lebanon.
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