Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Lebanon - Who killed Rafik Hariri?

In this great who dunnit caper where not much is for sure, one thing is, Patrick Seale writing in the Guardian doesn't have a clue who killed Hariri.

The fact that Seale is writing in the Guardian is your first clue that this expose of whodunnit is going to point the finger at the US and Israel and away from Syria. But there is more evidence of Seale's bias which I'll get to in a minute.

Seale starts out by absolving Syria of all blame in the Hariri murder.

If Syria killed Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister and mastermind of its revival after the civil war, it must be judged an act of political suicide. Syria is already under great international pressure from the US, France and Israel. To kill Hariri at this critical moment would be to destroy Syria's reputation once and for all and hand its enemies a weapon with which to deliver the blow that could finally destabilise the Damascus regime, and even possibly bring it down.

So attributing responsibility for the murder to Syria is implausible.[...]

Well that's it then. Syria is innocent. Not so fast Mr. Seale.

Why is that Hariri's murder "must be judged an act of political suicide" and not a "grave mistake" by Syria? You accuse Syria of making grave mistakes in the same paragraph.

This is not to deny that Syria has made grave mistakes in Lebanon. Its military intelligence apparatus has interfered far too much in Lebanese affairs. A big mistake was to insist on changing the Lebanese constitution to extend the mandate of President Emile Lahoud - known for his absolute allegiance to Syria - for a further three years.

Sorry, Seale, but if Assad is that dumb he is dumb enough to have murdered Hariri. There are those that believe he is that dumb.

His father's methods, yes, but not his skills. The elder Assad was a tactical genius, even if his rule ultimately failed (he never regained the Golan Heights, never came close to destroying Israel, and rode Syria's economy and culture into the ground). The younger Assad combines strategic blindness with tactical ineptitude.

Within months of Bashar's accession, questions arouse about his ability to retain control over Lebanon; not long after, his ability to hold on to power in Syria itself came under doubt. The Syrian government's rush to the side of Saddam Hussein just as he was ousted made eyebrows rise with wonder.

Bashar's pattern of promising one thing to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, then instantly breaking his word caused general bafflement.

Seale goes on to give us more "evidence" of why Syria couldn't have done it.

Hariri was not a diehard enemy of Syria.

Maybe not a "diehard" but when Assad altered the Lebanese constitution and extended Lahoud's term in office, that was the last straw.

Political sources say Hariri first contemplated quitting power minutes after he was told by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in August that Damascus wanted to extend the term in office of his rival Lahoud.

Having fallen in and out of favor with Damascus over the years, he had recently joined calls by the opposition for Syrian troops to leave Lebanon in the run-up to a general election in May.

Seale goes on to try and muddy the water as to who the real culprit is with a host of villains, finally settling on the US and Israel.

The US and Israel have been trying to rally international support against Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has condemned Iran as a prime sponsor of international terror. Syria has been condemned as a "destabilising" force in the region, and is in the dock because of Hariri's assassination.

Seale's logic is flawed. He starts from the premise that Syria didn't do it therefore someone else had to. But why rule out Syria? Because Seale has some serious bias issues.

You might want to read his guest CV at Islam Online which contains these nuggets.

He runs a consultancy on Middle East affairs for a number of international clients and writes regularly for Al-Hayat (London) and Al-Ittihad (Abu Dhabi), as well as The Daily Star (Beirut), The Saudi Gazette (Jiddah) and Gulf News (Dubai).

And his family connections to Syria might raise an eyebrow.

He is married to Rana Qabbani, a Syrian woman...

You also might be interested to read Seale's defense of the older Assad in his book, "Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East "

No friend of Bush, Seale wrote this in June 2004.

The unpalatable truth is that the Bush administration has failed in almost everything it has touched. The war in Iraq, based on lies and incompetence, has been a catastrophe, its always doubtful legitimacy fatally undermined by the torture of Iraqi detainees. The "war on terror" has greatly increased, rather than diminished, the threat from radical political Islam, both to the US itself and to its friends, as countries like Saudi Arabia are learning to their cost.

Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at the very heart of the region's discontents, has been allowed to sink to new depths of barbarism, largely owing to Bush's irresponsible support for Israel's bull-dozing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Boy he must have been pissed off watching the Afghanistanis, Palestinians and Iraqis vote.

Just a little biased, aren't we Mr. Seale?

I think we can rule out Mr. Seale's defense of his Syrian friends, don't you?

No comments:

Brain Bliss