Thursday, October 20, 2005

Syria: day of reckoning

Mehlis is going to submit his report on the Hariri assassination to Annan today. Tomorrow it will be presented to the UN Security Council.

Annan stressed that Mehlis would produce a purely “technical” report and warned against trying to politicize it. He also appealed for calm and restraint in anticipation of the inevitable political fallout in the Middle East.

It takes some creative power to issue such an idiotic statement; however, it is to be hoped that Annan won’t interfere with this report.

A brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, Assef Shawkat, has been questioned in Europe on suspicion of involvement in the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, a German magazine reported.

Detlev Mehlis, the German judge heading the UN investigation into the murder, said Shawkat, the current chief of Syrian military intelligence, had been questioned “not as a witness, but as a suspect”, according to an advance extract from Stern magazine’s Thursday edition.

These were prophetic words (a little background on the man):

Ultimately, however, Shawkat's power is derived from the Assad family. He has no power base of his own. Since he is not an Alawite notable, he cannot rely on the larger Alawite community to support him (indeed, there are no doubt some who resent his rapid advancement within the regime). His only chance for political survival is his alliance with the new president. As Bashar's right-hand-man, Shawkat will be at the center of future political developments in Syria.

Is Assad smart enough to use this opportunity to put his house in order and eliminate or render inoffensive those could pose a threat to him if he choses to pull a “qaddafi”? Does he realize that his best friends today are the US?

Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim, son of Saddam's half brother Sabhawi Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, was arrested in a Baghdad apartment, several days after Syrian authorities forced him to return to Iraq, the officials told The Associated Press in Cairo in a telephone interview.

The Syrians were aware of his whereabouts in Baghdad and informed U.S. authorities, who then passed the information to Iraq security forces who carried out a "fast, easy" raid on the fugitive's apartment, the Defense Ministry official said.

Is he slowly getting there?

, ,

No comments: