Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It's the Tribunal, Stupid!

From Anton Effendi, a great analyst of Lebanon in his blog "Across the Bay": "One has to give it to Syria's deputy foreign minister, the despicable Faysal Mekdad, for his candor! For those who don't remember, Faysal Mekdad was the lovely Baathist pitbull who, when the international tribunal was first requested by the Lebanese government (yes, funny coincidence that) after Assad's thugs murdered Gebran Tueni, expressed his lovely sentiments in all candor to an Arab diplomat at the UN during a closed-door council session (I covered this story and its aftermath back then):"So now every time that a dog dies in Beirut there will be an international investigation?" So the "Dog Whisperer" is back, his "honesty" intact. In another closed session today, Mekdad reportedly made the following rather telling remark to his select (by invitation only) audience members:"Syria will not accept to present any of its citizens before an international court because we are confident in our own judiciary." He contrasted Syria's "honest and independent judiciary" (more on that below) to the "collapsed judiciary" of other countries where the UN set up international courts, "like Sierra Leone and Yugoslavia." Consequently, Syria would not accept to hand over any Syrian to an international court. For "if any Syrian citizen is involved in this crime -- although Syria is 100% innocent -- then he is a criminal who would be punished like any other criminal, by the just Syrian judiciary."He added that forming an international tribunal, "would place Syria under political pressure": "When a tribunal arrives before the investigation reach any results, then the tribunal will be able to summon any person and the country would be placed under political pressure, and Syria would be condemned before public opinion even if it was judicially exonerated."Furthermore, he told his audience, Syria's international lawyers have assured Syria that they were "100% confident of Syria's innocence"! Naturally!He then invented his own interpretation of Brammertz's report, saying that Brammertz pointed to other possibilities, like "internal Lebanese forces, or other hired killers, or Arab parties, or [Islamic] extremists." And then Mekdad proposed that Brammertz's "professional" reports -- or his own delusional reading thereof -- be taught at Syrian universities! Oh and he made sure to reiterate his government's support for Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, whose latest speech (in which he called the Lebanese government "the government of [US Ambassador Jeffrey] Feltman" and labeled them agents of Israel and America that need to be toppled), Mekdad said "expresses our position." He also repeated Syria's support for the toppling of the current government, all with the typical bitchy condescension towards Lebanon and the Lebanese.Now, a word about that Syrian "independent" judiciary. It was recently blasted by Syrian dissidents Michel Kilo and Anwar Bunni, both languishing in jail by order of Bashar Assad (for more on them and their colleagues, check The Syria Monitor). Kilo dissected the blatant (and routine) abuse of the joke known as the Syrian judiciary by the regime and its security apparatus. A judge had recently approved Kilo's release on bail to await trial, but direct interference from a "prominent figure from the first rank of the Syrian regime" reversed the order, and kept Kilo in jail. Earlier, Kilo was slandered by a regime-hired pen (and some say, mistress of Maher Assad, Bashar's brother) who accused him of receiving money from Lebanese anti-Syrian minister Marwan Hamade (whom the Syrians tried to kill before they killed Hariri, and whose case will be covered by the intl. tribunal) in order to "finance terrorist activity" in Syria. Kilo and his jailed comrades wanted to sue that hired pen and the state-run newspaper that published her piece. Again, a telephone call from Maher Assad's office (er, "a prominent figure from the first rank of the regime") made sure the case was thrown out. So yes, what was the UN thinking establishing an intl. tribunal!? Besides, there will not be any such petty interferences in this case. As Bashar Assad has made abundantly clear, any Syrian found to be involved in the Hariri assassination (aside from him, his brother, his brother-in-law, and any high-ranking official of course) will be treated like a traitor, and, therefore, killed! Case closed! You gotta love the thugs of the Syrian regime, from Bashar down to the lowest functionary, like that caricature-thug, Imad Moustapha. But Mekdad's comments seem to validate Walid Jumblat's remark earlier today: "Only the tribunal will deter the killer in Damascus. Bashar is scared. That is why he opted for killing to avoid punishment."

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