Posted by Joshua on Thursday, May 10th, 2007
Assad Rules out Cooperation with Hariri Tirbunal if Sovereignty Threatened
Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday ruled out cooperation with the international tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins if it threatened Syria's sovereignty and independence. "We consider that the international tribunal concerns only Lebanon and the United Nations and that we are not directly concerned," Assad said in a speech to the newly elected parliament.
"Any cooperation requested from Syria which could compromise our national sovereignty is rejected."
"Syria is cooperating with the commission (investigating Hariri's murder) but not with the tribunal. There is a difference between cooperation and abandoning our independence," Assad told parliament.
"We have cooperated with the international commission of inquiry and we reiterate our readiness to cooperate with it as long as it respects our laws and our sovereignty," he added.
Assad also said that the current Israeli government was weak and is not prepared for a just peace with the Arabs.
"Israel is not ready on the official and popular level for a just and comprehensive peace, which requires strong leadership that can take decisive decisions, in addition to a mature public opinion that can push its government in that direction," he said.
"Both are not available now in Israel, particularly in the presence of a weak government which is unable to take a strategic decision (for peace), the Syrian leader said.
But, he cautioned, "we have to be careful" because "in the history of Israel, weak governments are able to wage war."(AFP-AP-Naharnet)
Ban Ki-moon will meet next week with members of the Security Council to discuss what steps the Council would take on the tribunal. It said the Council could act to break the deadlock on the court before the end of May after Ban was convinced that the tribunal wouldn't be formed locally.
“The Lebanese daily An Nahar chose to post [Rice’s article] as its main editorial to allow the aforementioned minister to address her message against Hezbollah and all those who are against the current Lebanese government. This government is in such a difficult position that it needs international ministers to come to Lebanon to support it at times, and at others, an article that will revive its faltering team. However, this is not the issue… The issue is that through her article, Ms. “Condi” wanted to threaten that she was pursuing her plan to have the international tribunal resolution issued through Chapter 7.
“This has two interpretations: she either wanted to send a message which was hard for her to send through the diplomatic channels to the permanent members of the Security Council, telling them that the situation could no longer be tolerated and that she wanted them to settle their reluctant position regarding the ratification under the aforementioned chapter, or a message to the Lebanese forces among others, telling them that she decided to shut the door and not to adopt the middle-ground formula of issuing the resolution under Chapter 6 and with a Lebanese concord.
“For your information Ms. Condi, one of the first principles of politics which you used to teach in college, is never to close the door… We teach our children in college that the policy of the “half-open door” and the policy of “never close the road before your enemy and always keep a way out for him…”, are the best crisis management policies. Managing crises is not conducted by closing doors and turning our backs on the main parties in the conflict. Ms. Condi, in political science, turning one’s back on the key forces and shutting the window of dialogue or compromise with them, pushes [things] towards an explosion.
“And just as a reminder, professor and colleague, the explosion starts with a resolution or a blocked horizon but can’t be extinguished with a resolution. Managing the crisis through an explosion could have massive repercussions on the option of compromise in the overall package of regional-international issues in which you are involved… Ms. Rice, you are defeated in Iraq and in South Lebanon… Your project is collapsing… and not even your Creative Chaos can succeed without burning you with its flames like what is happening in Iraq… and like what happened to your ally in Lebanon. Yes, you are defeated but no one wants to break it to you.
“You can withdraw with the highest level of media commotion… We have no problem with it. This gives you the chance to exit while defeated, while saving face… However, the problem resides in implicating those who believe you in Lebanon or in provoking a resolution that will block the way before all choices and chances of concord, in what would force you to seek a strategy to exit Lebanon instead of a strategy to exit Iraq. Ms. Rice, the first rule about political and military action says: “Do not open two fronts at the same time, let alone if you are defeated on the first front and in shock on the second…”
Qoleilat ’sheds light on who killed Hariri’: The Daily Star
Comments: In his latest press conference, Brammertz did not rule out the possibility of a conncetion between the Al-Madina and the Hariri case, but he stressed that the evidence gathered so far did not suggest a strong link concerning the motive of the crime, according to this report by Al-Akhbar.
Later Monday, Rice responded with another public indication that Assad may soon have a partner for cooperation, telling Charlie Rose:
"If there is to be a better relationship, of course, we can't have a situation in which the Syrians are permitting foreign forces to come across that border and kill Iraqis and kill Americans. And so that would — it would be a good step to have cooperation about border security for Iraq."
The Secretary of State does not choose her vocabulary carelessly. "Cooperation" has become the new buzzword she is using when talking about Iraq-Syria border security. The US may "take this one step at a time," but Syria watchers can expect the next step to be a pretty big one.
Michael Young dissapointed in America for Rice meeting with Syrians. America moves forward to the past, Thursday, May 10, 2007
… The Syrians will not really give anything up to the Americans or anybody else, whether in Lebanon, on the Palestinian front, in eventual talks with Israel, or in their relations with Iran. Why should they? Assad's door is being scratched so frantically that he has little incentive to surrender the leverage that brought this about.
The Syrian president has two priorities: saving his regime by undermining the Hariri tribunal and reimposing Syrian hegemony over Lebanon.
The US has emerged as a fairly futile superpower, at least in the Middle East. For those of us who thought that the ousting of a tyrant like Saddam Hussein might usher in an era of pluralist change in the region, the disappointment is doubly felt.