Friday, October 28, 2005

The much anticipated Mehlis report held few surprises for anyone who is familiar
with the inner workings of Lebanese/Syrian politics. The report basically states what all Lebanese already know; Syria and it’s Lebanese toadies have the blood of the February 22nd martyrs on their hands.

Lebanon’s history is bloody and since February 14, 2005, it has become even bloodier. That black day in Lebanon’s history set off a chain of events that have been both elating and heart-rending to watch. Elating because the Lebanese have finally thrown off the shackles of Syrian terror and occupation; heart-rending because we as a country have paid such a high price in blood for our freedom. 22 people lost their lives on that day and more have been lost and maimed since then. As a people, the Lebanese are collectively asking how much more we are going to be forced to endure before we finally have some peace, freedom and stability. How many more people are we going to have to sacrifice before we can live like normal people?

The Mehlis report proved what we had suspected from the beginning and the report put names to the culprits. The first version of the report was leaked with the names of all those involved except one (this reporter has a copy). The names involved read like a who’s who of Lebanese intrigues. Sheikh Abdul Al, Mahmoud Abdul Al, Jamil El Sayyed, Mustafa Hamdan, Raymond Azar, Nassir Kandil, you think of the name, and it is likely in there. On the Syrian front, we have Maher Al Assad, Assef Shawkat, Bahjat Suleyman, and Bashar Al Assad himself.

Interestingly enough, paragraph 95 details a conversation between the hated Rustom Ghazaleh and a Mr. X. That is the only name not revealed in the report and speculation is running rampant that it is Syrian toady President Emile Lahoud. There is of course no proof of this but who else could possibly be so important in the Lebanese hierarchy that the name is kept secret. After all, if it could be proven that Lahoud is Mr. X, no Lebanese in or out of Lebanon would tolerate him breathing let alone in Baabda Palace as President of the country he has betrayed at every turn.

The report breaks down in black and white who was involved and how. The sheer scope of the crime, the planning, the explosives, the cover-up, the culprits are all laid out in stark detail. The magnitude of the planning involved shows a cold, calculated method of ridding Syria and her minions of a thorn in their collective side. This was obviously no crime of passion but premeditated murder.

In Paragraph 28 a taped conversation between Walid Mouallem and Former PM Hariri is detailed. In it, Hariri says “But Lebanon will never be ruled from Syria. This will no longer happen.” and then in paragraph 29, Mouallem warns Hariri by saying “we and the [security] services here have put you into a corner…please do not take things lightly.” This is an obvious warning. What is even more obvious is the fact that Hariri knew he was in danger. Transcript after transcript of witness statements detail the threats made by Syria against him and others. They also detail the demeanour of the Hariri after meetings with Syrian officials. The glaring duplicity of the Syrian witness statements tried to turn the investigation into a game of he said-she said and failed. From the beginning, Syria and her toadies attempted to block the investigation from any outside bodies, confident perhaps that if they kept the investigation within, they could easily cover up the crime. When that failed, they attempted to hinder the investigation at every turn.

No Syrian witness turned up for an interview without someone from the government showing up with him. Since that is not the most highly conductive manner to have an interview, those interviews are essentially worthless. Syria would not allow a single person to be interviewed outside of Syria or Lebanon. That alone should convict them but it doesn’t. What does however provide concrete proof of their perfidy is the fact that every single letter delivered to the UN investigation team contained out and out lies. This was not a country that was co-operating in any way, shape or form.

In fact, later eye-witness statements disproved many of the statements laid out in writing by Rustom Ghazaleh and others. What we do know is that Syria and her Lebanese lapdogs have their hands in this very bloody pie. What we don’t know is if all of the people who have died or been injured will have any sense of justice.

Paragraph 96 & 97 of the report detail who planned what with paragraph 97 saying “…the officer told the witness that there would soon be an “earthquake” that would rewrite the history of Lebanon”. That officer was right but not in the way he thought that he would be. That “earthquake” awoke the Lebanese collective conscious from slumber the world over. It brought us back to life with a vengeance. No more would we be sleeping, no more would we tolerate Syrian interference in our affairs. We had had enough. No more living in fear for us, we took to the streets to demand our rights and we won them. Lebanon is pseudo-free from Syria but we have a long way to go.

Currently, the U.N. is well on the way to deciding whether or not to impose sanctions against our Syrian tormentors. In the face of all they have seen and heard, the Arab League and most especially Egypt are arguing against sanctions. Are we to be betrayed again as we were in the war, as we have been so many times by the supposedly brotherly nations? By what right do the Arab League and specifically Egypt stand up and say no to sanctions? Is the blood of our slain men and women to go in vain? Are our martyrs never to have what we all long for? We want, we need, we deserve: JUSTICE!

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Latest Victim??

The Middle East has been rocked again with the announcement of yet another death. The difference with this announcement? Ghazi Kenaan – Former Head of Syrian Intelligence in Lebanon – had been found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head and the usually recalcitrant Syrian government were quick to confirm the matter as a suicide. This in itself was unusual as normally getting anything out of the Syrians is like getting blood from a stone.

On the surface, Kenaan’s suicide looks obvious; he was found holding the gun, a single gunshot wound was declared the cause of death and no one was in his office with him. However if one digs deeper, one finds that things are not always what they seem. Ghazi Kenaan was not a peon in the Syrian Government. Ghazi Kenaan was the Syrian Government. Not only was he in power during the reign of Assad the father, he retained and gained even more power under Assad the son. This was not a man who was an aging relic of the old regime; this was a man who was very much integral to the power structure of the new regime. Simply put, this was a man who had every reason to live and none to die by his own hand.

Before he died, Ghazi Kenaan called into a Beirut show and issued a statement regarding a news report that had appeared on a rival station. In his statement, he made a point of saying that Syria “gave and took” from Lebanon (some would say they only took) and that Syria “…served Lebanon’s interests with honour and loyalty….” (again highly debateable). However, the very last sentence of the statement he made is perhaps the most puzzling and has launched a thousand conspiracy theories. The very last thing he said after thanking the newscaster was “I believe this is the last statement it is possible for me to give”. That single sentence has set off a firestorm of conspiracy theories. Critics of Syria point to that line and say he was killed to silence him so he could not give details about the Hariri murder. One could give credence to this theory except that it is counter-productive since he was interviewed by the commission two weeks prior to his death. However, now that the report has been made public and Syria has been implicated right up to the President’s office; this theory now has more weight to it. He may have been killed so that he could not confirm anything in the report.

What is clear is that Ghazi Kenaan’s death is another piece of a puzzle yet to be put together. If one looks at it clearly enough, the puzzle began not with the death of Prime Minister Hariri, but with the attempted assassination of Marwan Hamade who was against the extension of Syrian puppet Emile Lahoud. Hamade had a bomb placed in his car but survived the attempt. On February 14, 2005, Hariri didn’t. That murder has started a chain of events that could never have been predicted by anyone. After Hariri, we had George Hawi, Samir Kassir, Elias Murr (survived), Judge Nazim Khoury (survived), May Chidiac (survived) and now Ghazi Kanaan. Only when this game is played to the end will any semblance of the truth be known. Until then, the Arab street, particularly the Lebanese, can only wait and hope for justice to be served.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Never Enough

The United Nations report has been made public. The results while not unexpected are truly horrifying. To see it all laid out in black and white is truly a revelation on just how cold-blooded Syria and her allies in Lebanon were.

No matter what happens to the Syrians involved, it will never be enough. No matter what they do to the gang of four in Lebanon, to Nasser Kandil, to Sheikh Abdul Al and his cohorts; it will never be enough because no matter what they do, it will never bring back our beloved Hariri. Nothing will.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Tail that Wags the Dog

Who says blogs have no power?! My friend over at Diary of the Mad Pigeon got this lovely cease and desist from some corporation who decided to flex it's muscles. LOOOL, little did they know that they have done nothing but open up a can of whoop-ass on themselves.

Check out the link to the post and see what I mean....

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Deal with the Devil

U.N. Investigator Detlev Mehlis is making Syria nervous. His investigation has progressed far faster and deeper than anyone could have expected in such a short time. As Mr. Mehlis continues his investigation into the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Al Hariri, an increasingly nervous Syria is said to be seeking a deal similar to the Libya/Pan Am Flight 103 deal.

The Syrian Government has been quietly putting out feelers to the U.N. member countries with some clout to see if they can quietly cut a deal whereby they hand over some low level operatives and keep the fingers from pointing higher in the Syrian Government (at Rustom Ghazaleh for example). Considering the fact that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad is quoted in the German magazine Der Spiegel as saying:
“We have an interest in the investigation, because we are convinced that we will be given a clean slate -- if the results are not falsified for political reasons-, Syria had nothing to do with this murder, absolutely nothing”
it is pathetic that one month after the Syrian President is quoted denying Syria’s role in the murder, the Washington Post exposes their tawdry attempt at deal making so they can cover up the blood on their hands.

This deal attempt comes at a time when Bashar Al Assad (not half the strategist his father was) has a very tenuous hold on power in Syria. The Washington posts quotes a senior European diplomat familiar with the U.N. probe as saying: “Bashar is moving toward the moment of truth, the defining moment of his presidency, the Mehlis report is due on October 25, and if he reports that this goes all the way to the top of Damascus, there will be a political earthquake”. As it stands right now, neither the old guard loyal to his father nor the younger generation who were promised reforms that never materialized are please with his handling of Syrian domestic and international affairs. The old guard consider him too lenient and the younger generation are bitter about the lack of promised reforms. Bashar Al Assad, in his first inaugural speech, promised sweeping changes in the way things were/are done in Syria. He promised that opposition parties could be formed with no opposition from the government, and that the press could freely criticize the government policies it didn’t like with no fear of the brutal retribution the Mukhabarat are known for. Neither of those things has materialized. In fact, the Mukhabarat are cracking down more brutally than usual to perhaps serve notice that the kind of uprising we all saw in Lebanon will not be tolerated in Syria.

What has become apparent to all is that instead of the promised reforms, Syria is running on a “business as usual” basis. Few if any of the reforms that Assad promised have come to fruition. The Syrian economy is in a slump that is sure to get worse. Syria is also facing serious international pressure that is turning into isolation due to it’s “alleged” part in the murder of Hariri and it’s constant interference in Lebanon’s internal politics. Syria is also under intense pressure due to the consistent flow of insurgents over it’s border to Iraq.

Under such pressure, one must ask just how long Assad et al think they can hold on to power. To say their hold is tenuous at best would be a massive understatement; in fact, Assad is so worried about the fallout from Mehlis’s report that he also went to Egypt on September 25 to meet with U.S. puppet Husni Mubarak to garner support in advance of the U.N. report release. In true stick-together dictator fashion, Egypt’s presidential spokesperson Ambassador Suleiman Awad told reporters:

“Egypt categorically refuses the isolation of Syria, calls for the stability of this country and warns against creating new hotspots of tension.”

Taking into consideration that Husni Mubarak is known to be both a brutal dictator and a U.S. puppet and that Egypt is rumoured to be leading mediations between the international community and the Assad regime, this statement is both a joke and an insult to the millions of Lebanese who mourn our slain leader. The Arab street is taking this all in as business as usual. None of us really pay attention to the bleating of government sheep; we prefer to put our intelligence to better use and form our own opinions. Syria will eventually pay a heavy price. The truth will out whether it be in one year, one decade or one hundred years. Not one single Lebanese citizen will forget the brutality visited upon us by the Syrian forces nor will we forget the continued subversion of our freedom to choose our own governing bodies. Syria has consistently reeked havoc in Lebanon both openly and covertly. It would be therefore wise to assume that regardless of the U.N. report, the Syrian regime will never be exonerated in the eyes of the common Lebanese citizen.

It is supremely ironic that Syria is trying to make a deal with the U.N. since they are the regime that is first in line to whip up Arab Nationalist sentiment when things get hairy for them or their fellow dictatorships. The regime in Syria is the first to say that ``other forces`` are working against them to blacken the already black reputations in the Arab world when in reality it is they and regimes just like them who force the poor to turn to fundamentalism because they have no where else to turn because their governments and the great Pan-Arab nationalist dreams have failed them. Assad and all those like them had better watch their backs very carefully because one day, it will all catch up to them in the ugliest of ways.

It has become very clear that Assad will do anything to stay in power. It is also deliciously ironic that he is trying to make deals with the very nations he stirs up sentiment against when fingers get pointed at him for his bumbling ineptitude.