Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
The Hariri Murder Investigation:
T_desco has provided this report on as-Safir’s treatment of news that Hizbullah members will be named in the Hariri Investigation. I thank him. Even if Hizbullah members are implicated in the murder, many questions will still be asked: Did Hizbullah initiate the assassination planning? How much did either Iran or Syria know or approve of the action.
As Safir: Ex-U.S. Official: It Was Obvious Syrians Were Not Behind Hariri Killing
A former high-level U.S. official has said that Washington was lately aware that no Syrian stood behind the assassination of ex-Premier Saad Hariri. “It was lately obvious to us that the Syrians were not behind the assassination. However, they probably knew about it (sic!),” the former official told As Safir daily.
Asked about the political intentions of Hizbullah, the official said: “We don’t know yet. We have thought about many scenarios.” (…) Naharnet, July 20, 2010 (my emphasis) There is certainly some creative talent required to figure out the ‘motive’. Perhaps they should ask Hollywood.
As Safir: Bellemare Said Army Won’t Arrest Hizbullah Member in Case of Involvement in Hariri Murder
As-Safir quoted Bellemare as saying that the announcement of his findings would include two rounds. They will start in September and last till end of 2010.
The first round will involve 3-5 names from Hizbullah while the second will include the naming of around 20 party members, according to the report.
By not implicating the leadership they would cunningly manage to avoid all the hard questions concerning the alleged motive of the attack.
By REBECCA SANTANA (AP) – 8 hours ago
BAGHDAD — Anti-American Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took a rare, public step into the political arena Monday, meeting in neighboring Syria with the man directly challenging Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for his office.
The talks between al-Sadr, who is nominally allied with al-Maliki, and former premier Ayad Allawi, who heads the heavily Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition, appeared to be as much about showing al-Maliki that al-Sadr is keeping his options open as it was about any firm political agreement between the two men in the offing.
Al-Sadr rarely travels outside of his home base in Iran, where he lives in self-imposed exile. His followers won 39 seats in the 325-seat parliament in Iraq’s national election in March, giving him considerable sway over who becomes the next prime minister.
Following the ballot, al-Sadr joined a coalition with al-Maliki’s list, but the deep-rooted hatred many in the Sadrist camp feel toward the prime minister — who’s jailed thousands of their supporters — has stalled any further development of their alliance.
In Damascus, al-Sadr and Allawi appeared complimentary of each other following their meeting — a shocking development considering the past animosity between the two and a clear signal in Iraq’s rough-and-tumble political scene that all options are on the table when it comes to forming a new government….
But the two leaders’ appeared to put aside their differences in the meeting that was arranged by the Syrian president. In pictures, the pair sat side by side, with Allawi in his business suit and al-Sadr in his flowing robes and black turban…..
The director general of MI5 between 2002 and 2007, Eliza Manningham-Buller at the Iraq inquiry explains that:
• Saddam posed ‘limited threat’ inside UK before 2003
• CIA didn’t believe Iraq was responsible for 9/11
• Toppling of Saddam allowed Bin Laden to enter Iraq
• MI5 ‘overwhelmed’ with home-grown threats after 2003
– 20 July – The Guardian
Gareth Porter at IPS/ [thanks FLC]
“… Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism official, told IPS that his sources are CIA officials with direct knowledge of the entire Amiri operation.
The CIA contacts say that Amiri had been reporting to the CIA for some time before being brought to the U.S. during Hajj last year, Giraldi told IPS, initially using satellite-based communication. But the contacts also say Amiri was a radiation safety specialist who was “absolutely peripheral” to Iran’s nuclear programme, according to Giraldi.
Amiri provided “almost no information” about Iran’s nuclear programme, said Giraldi, but had picked up “scuttlebutt” from other nuclear scientists with whom he was acquainted that the Iranians have no active nuclear weapon programme.
Opinion: “Future of the region made in Damascus” Mideastwire.com translation
On July 20, the state-controlled Al-Watan daily carried the following opinion piece by political editor Ziad Haidar: “The most prominent thing that came out from Damascus amid the intensive diplomatic activities it witnessed yesterday was probably the statement in which the local news agency SANA quoted a Syrian presidential spokesman. During President Bashar al-Assad’s meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, as SANA focused in its coverage of the meeting on the “wish to exploit this exceptional relationship (between Turkey and Syria) to secure peace and stability in the region,” he was stressing the necessity (and this is the main point) “for the solutions to the problems in the region to come from its states and not from abroad.”
“Therefore, what was noticeable in Davutoglu’s visit was that it coincided with the presence of three extremely important guests, which would probably explain why this visit, that was supposed to be held last Friday, was postponed until this day, i.e. so that he is present during President Al-Assad’s lunch for Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’d al-Hariri, and so that he could meet with the head of the Iraqi list that won the elections, Iyad Allawi, after the latter had met with President Al-Assad and leader of the Sadrist Movement Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr who had also been visiting Damascus for the last two days. The presence of the Turkish element in Damascus’ activities could be understood as a summit meeting which brought together the leaders of the region, or those who represent them, in order to draw up its future and add more factors of stability…
“In that same context, these contacts emerged as outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki dispatched envoys and messages to Damascus, expressing “the wish to correct the course of relations between Damascus and Baghdad,” and calling for “forgetting the past and looking toward the future.” These messages coincided with the discussion of Iraqi affairs in Damascus, as part of the visit of American Senator John Kerry a while ago, especially in light of the American coldness that surfaced in regard to pushing for a prompt solution in Iraq based on the outcome of the elections. Later on, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited Baghdad and came out with a result “stressing the necessity for the government to include all the political sides that participated in the electoral process.”
“Find a Middle Ground: Armenian Church and the Getty Should Work Together,”
By Heghnar Watenpaugh, Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2010