Tuesday, January 03, 2006

QUESTION TIME

They might have done sweet F.A. about the genocide in Sudan, but have the UN finally had enough of Bashar Assad, the man “Syria is lucky to have as her President”?

From the Times:
A UN commission is seeking to interview Bashar Assad, the President of Syria, in light of revelations that implicate him in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister.

...

Ahmed Haj Ali, an official with the ruling Baath party in Syria, said that President Assad would not meet the commission because he was immune under international law.
Ah, the old ones are always the best. But this approach hasn't exactly worked wonders for Messrs. Hussein and Milosevic though has it?
Syria is under threat of UN sanctions if it fails to co-operate, but it is doubtful that President Assad will accept the humiliation of being questioned by the UN panel.
Now that's a shame. I'm not sure what he's so scared of. Couldn't he just pull a Galloway, ignore all the questions and blame Mossad or the Project for the New American Century? That kind of thing tends to go down quite well at the UN.

Even if he were found guilty, what exactly would the UN be able to do about it? Threaten Syria with more sanctions unless Bashar starts to play nicely?

Despite all that, I'll be very surprised if pressure from the UN alone forces Assad's hand on this one. If sanctions are meted out to Syria in response to Bashar failing to show up, he'll be able to play the victim card. It wouldn't be the first time an Arab dictator has used that tactic to buy themselves more time.
The UN inquiry has also requested interviews with Farouq al-Sharaa, the Syrian Foreign Minister, and Abdul-Halim Khaddam, the former Vice-President of Syria, whose allegations in a television interview shocked Beirut and Damascus and intensified the pressure on the beleaguered Syrian regime.
Oh yes, those allegations:
"I will destroy anyone who tries to hinder our decisions," Khaddam quoted Assad as telling Hariri during a meeting in Damascus.

Khaddam, who broke his silence for the first time since resigning in June and was speaking from Paris where he and his family now live, said the meeting took place a few months before the February 14 assassination of Hariri.
I hope the French security services are up to the job because if the allegations are true, Khaddam could be in a lot of trouble with Assad's regime who don't take too kindly to whistleblowers.

Not that he isn't already in a spot of bother, mind you. From Yahoo! News:
The Syrian government said Monday it will put on trial former vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam, who has linked Damascus to Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri's murder, for high treason and investigate him for corruption.

"The Council of Ministers will take the necessary measures to try Khaddam for high treason, and to open an inquiry into corruption in a series of matters which will include seizing his assets," official daily newspaper Ath-Thawra said.

The newspaper said the government announcement meant it would follow up on demands made by loyalist MPs, who called for Khaddam to be tried for treason and corruption.

Ath-Thawra also quoted ordinary Syrians interviewed about the situation who said "punishing him is a national duty," and called Khaddam "a traitor who sold his conscience for a fistful of dollars".

Syria's ruling Baath party has said it had expelled the ex-vice president for comments it described as "slander which violates the principles of the nation".
Well, we'll see about that won't we?

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