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.