Basil Fuleihan, R.I.P.

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The last victim of the Hariri assassination died today in Paris: the 42-year-old former Economy Minister and MP Basil Fuleihan put up a two-month fight, but one that was always heavily weighed in his disfavor given that he was burned on virtually all of his body.

Though I was never very close to Fuleihan, we acknowledged each other at around 15, and were on friendly terms ever since, particularly at the American University of Beirut. Even in Lebanon's darkest days it was clear he would succeed, and he did. The last time I saw him, at a dinner to which we were both invited, he predicted that Lebanon's president, Emile Lahoud, would not have his mandate extended. He was wrong there, unfortunately, and his death was one consequence of that appalling Syrian decision.

Perhaps the greatest compliment one can pay to Fuleihan was that he was truly competent, and that his death is a blow to those, like him, from the wartime generation who decided to return to Lebanon when they had plenty of incentives to remain abroad. He was also, if nothing else, much liked, as this website tracking his progress, or lack thereof, attests. A shame, to say the least.

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