The release of Westerners imprisoned in Syria was mediated by a Lebanese intelligence chief who also served as a mediator within Lebanon. He resigned on Wednesday after attempts to extend his term was unsuccessful.
On Thursday, when he reaches Lebanon’s retirement age of 64, Major General Abbas Ibrahim’s tenure as the General Security Directorate’s director comes to an end. He left his position as acting head of the agency on Wednesday afternoon. Brig. Gen. Elias Baisary took his place.
“Before leaving, Ibrahim declared, “We will continue the march in various fields to serve Lebanon.
Ibrahim, who has been in charge of the General Security Directorate since 2011, is renowned for his extensive connections with a variety of local, regional, and global figures, including the Syrian government, the Hezbollah militant organization, and Western nations.
He was expected to eventually succeed longtime Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Shiite Muslim who turned 85 in January. When asked by local media if he planned to take the speaker’s place, Ibrahim responded: “I pray that Speaker Berri lives a long life.
According to Lebanon’s power-sharing arrangement, the speaker of parliament must be a Shiite, the prime minister must be a Sunni, and the president must be a Maronite Christian. Ibrahim stated that he would like to become the foreign minister if given the opportunity.
Since Michel Aoun’s term ended in late October and a bitterly divided parliament was unable to choose a replacement, Ibrahim’s term ends at a time when Lebanon does not have a president. Additionally, there is no fully operational government in the nation; instead, Prime Minister Najib Mikati leads a caretaker Cabinet.
Mikati suggested last week that Ibrahim’s term might be extended, but neither Berri nor the parliament held a session to discuss this.
Ibrahim, a rarity in Lebanon, was an important political mediator thanks to his strong relationships with Hezbollah, the US, and other nations. He occasionally served as Lebanon’s ambassador abroad, a duty that is typically not assigned to a top security official.
Austin Tice, an American journalist who has been missing in Syria since August 2012, was one of his most significant cases. Tice is allegedly being held by the Syrian government, but Syria denies this. Ibrahim attempted to mediate Tice’s release last year by meeting with US officials in Washington and traveling to Damascus, Syria, but he was unsuccessful.
Samuel Goodwin, an American who had been detained in Syria for two months, was released in 2019 as a result of Ibrahim’s mediation. Ibrahim arranged for the release of Canadian national Kristian Lee Baxter, who had spent nearly a year imprisoned in Syria.
Ibrahim was one of eight Lebanese officials charged in January by the judge overseeing the investigation into the deadly port explosion in Beirut in August 2020 that claimed nearly 220 lives. The costs were never made clear.