Friday, November 18, 2005

Assad asks Mehlis commission for protection

Syrian president Basher al-Assad has told a UN commission of inquiry into the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri that he is willing to collaborate with it on condition that he and his family receive protection, an investigator working for the commission revealed on Friday.

What is going on?

"The Syrian president asked if the commission is in a position to set up a (witness) protection programme for himself and his family," the investigator told AKI, without indicating when Assad made the request. "He was told that the commission has not been granted such powers and only a national state or the United Nations can take such a measure," the investigator said. Assad's name appears on a list of people the commission is seeking to question in connection with Hariri's murder, he added. According to the investigator, the commission has granted Assad the possibility to choose the venue in which he would eventually be questioned - unlike six other top Syrian officials who Mehlis wants to interrogate at the commission's Beirut headquarters.

A few weeks ago, I said:

Even if Assad wanted to pull a “Qaddafi” however, the problem lies in having him survive it at home; convincing Assad to change his spots and having him killed the next day is not very constructive.

Was my assessment correct? We'll see soon enough.

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