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August 30, 2005

On the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri: Is Syria's Assad the 5th Man?

Topics: International News

Back in March 2005 a UN fact-finding team reported that "President Assad of Syria had threatened Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, "with physical harm.""

The team said that it had received accounts of a final ten-minute meeting in Damascus last year at which Mr Hariri hoped to convince the Syrian leader not to back a three-year extension of Emil Lahoud's term as Lebanese President. Mr Assad, who refused to meet the UN team, reportedly told Mr Hariri that Mr Lahoud should be viewed as his personal representative in Lebanon and "opposing him is tantamount to opposing Assad himself". Mr Assad then added that he "would rather break Lebanon over the heads of Hariri and (Druze leader Walid) Jumblatt than see his word in Lebanon broken".

"Mr Assad then threatened both Mr Hariri and Mr Jumblatt with physical harm if they opposed the extension for Mr Lahoud," the report said.

syrialebanon.jpegToday in TCS, Michael Young writes that although the Western media have given relatively little attention to the investigation, "if Syria is found guilty, as many observers are beginning to foresee, this could lead to the destabilization of Syria's regime, if not to its actual downfall."
(...) Late last week, Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on behalf of the UN Security Council, released a preliminary report on his inquiry, scheduled to be completed by mid-September.

(...) Mehlis also highlighted the fact that Syria had refused to cooperate with the investigative team, which had asked to speak to five Syrians - four intelligence officials who had held posts in Lebanon, and, the London-based daily Al-Hayat alleged last week, President Bashar Assad himself. Initially, the Syrians, citing constitutional clauses, had refused to allow oral interrogations, and asked Mehlis to submit his questions via the Syrian Foreign Ministry, so they could be answered in writing.

(...) the latest rumors in Beirut suggest that senior Syrian officials, including members of the Assad family, will be implicated in Hariri's death.

(...) If Assad is the "fifth man", then this would be particularly revealing.

The UN mission has previously found "serious flaws" in the investigation by Lebanese authorities. There is little doubt that the Lebanese military, police and intelligence personnel, including explosives experts, "interfered with and removed items of possible evidential value," and that they also allowed the bomb crater to flood with water from fractured pipes, which resulted in the destruction of vital evidence. There is also the matter of a white pick-up truck filmed by a security camera at the nearby HSBC bank(a lead that had been compromised by investigators), in which "Parts of a pickup truck were brought to the scene by members of the security services some time after the incident and were placed in the crater and were subsequently photographed and labelled as evidence." That seems to say much about the integrity of the investigation by the Lebonese!

And what about the finding by investigators that the alleged suicide bomber couldn't drive?

In Michael Young's piece, he offers that "in the coming weeks, we will know whether the Mehlis inquiry produces the "earthquake" that many have predicted it will." For the moment, the Lebanese are holding their breath fearing the Syrian backlash, but also hoping that Hizbullah is innocent, so that Sunni-Shiite tension can be averted. Michael's only understatement is that everyone "is anxiously aware that the truth may be painful." If in fact the the real truth becomes known, the world is likely to have confirmation that Syria's Assad is indeed the 5th man, and that he is responsible for Hariri's death.

Let's hope that there will be an earthquake and that it's epicenter will be the presidency of Syria!

Posted by Richard at August 30, 2005 8:09 AM

The assassination took place just two weeks after Lebanon's Defense Minister's third visit to Teheran. At the time of the assassination Lebanon's Prime Minister was visiting Teheran. Read more on Use its Search Engine

Posted by: Willard Payne at August 31, 2005 12:31 PM

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