The Man Who Wrote the Mehlis Report on Rafiq al-Hariri’s Murder Claims Third Witness was a “full-blown mythomaniac”

Bo Åström, who wrote the Mehlis Report

The Man Who Wrote the Mehlis Report on Rafiq al-Hariri’s Murder Speaks Out about the Quality of their WitnessesSiddiq, Hossam, and Antonios Bani Auda – a “full-blown mythomaniac”
by Aron Lund
For Syria Comment
May 5, 2011

====================

Swedish public television (SVT1) just aired an episode of Uppdrag granskning, a popular show specialized in tracking down government abuses and miscarriages of justice. This episode was headlined “Don’t fuck with the UN”, and concerned a witness in the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) for the Mehlis report. Below is a summary of the show, which can be seen in its entirety here. It’s in Swedish, but some of the interviews and taped segments are in original English.

***

The show is focused on a Mr. Bo Åström, a veteran Swedish police investigator who worked under Mehlis in the UNIIIC. He left the investigation with Mehlis in 2006, and they still work together, now on another assignment in the Philippines.

Åström was deeply involved in the preparation of the first Mehlis report, and at one point says (it’s possible he wasn’t aware that the camera was rolling) that he wrote most of it, since he was the investigator, while Mehlis more or less only did the preface.

The reporters summarize his view of the Hariri assassination. Åström and Mehlis develop the theory that the main culprits are the four Lebanese generals (Azar, Hajj, Hamdan, Sayyed), on orders of Rustom Ghazaleh and Asef Shawkat. Early on they found two witnesses to corroborate this theory, namely Siddiq and Hossam. Then both witnesses start causing trouble. First, Hossam shows up in Damascus and switches his story. Then, Siddiq is proven to be unreliable, after they investigate the apartment in the Dahiye where he claims the murder plot was hatched, and find that it had not been used by anyone during the relevant period. Åström is very frustrated by all this.

***

Antonios Bani Auda, the "third witness" after Siddiq and Hossam

At that point however, in October 2005, a certain Abdelbaset Ahmed Bani Auda, known as Antonios Bani Auda is referred to the UNIIIC by Lebanese authorities. Bani Auda is an Arab Israeli with a really shady history as a double or triple agent in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, having been a team leader of some sorts in the Israeli Shabak, while simultaneously working for Arafat. He was married to the Lebanese singer Nada Rizq, also an Israeli agent. When she revealed his double-agent role, he had to flee from Israel to Lebanon. There, he explains, he was put in prison, where he claims he was visited by Lebanese intelligence. They tell him that he’ll stay there for the rest of his life unless he agrees to work for them. He accepts, and is freed.

After his release, he says, he is fortunate enough to get asylum in Sweden on a UN quota, and moves to the northern town of Umeå, where he still lives as a refugee with asylum (no citizenship). Lebanese security continue to contact him, and comes to visit him in Umeå repeatedly. They give him money, promise him government jobs and all sorts of things, and start demanding that he must kill Rafiq el-Hariri. He is taken to Lebanon a few times, shown the Qureitem and Hariri’s car, etc. The mission is for him to place bombs in two places, in Lebanon and in another country in Europe, to kill Hariri. He is also taken to meet Syrian officers in Greece and Syria, including Maher el-Assad. He refuses to participate in the mission. The following year, Hariri is murdered by someone else. Bani Auda explains that if he had accepted the mission, Hariri would have been killed already in 2004.

At this point he contacts Lebanese police, who put him in contact with UNIIIC, somewhere around October 2005. Since he lives in Sweden, he’s put in contact with Bo Åström, but also with Günter Neifer, a German investigator. They listen to his testimony and decide that he is trustworthy. He is mentioned in the second Mehlis report (Dec. 2005) as “a new witness”, from paragraph 32 onwards.

***

Bani Auda claims he is at this point beginning to be threatened and monitored (by Syria or its allies, presumably). He sets a condition for his testimony: he will not testify unless the UNIIIC promises him protection, help in getting a new citizenship (preferably Swedish), etc.

The UNIIIC prepares a written contract to this effect. There appears to be no talk of money or anything apart from protection for him and his family, but among the things mentioned is a new citizenship, protection, help in changing his appearance, etc. The contract states that his testimony will not leave the UNIIIC until these things have been arranged. This contract is read to him over the phone by Åström, and he accepts. He is flown to Vienna, and formally deposits his testimony.

***

Åström then gets to work on trying to arrange the protection. The problem is that the contract makes promises that the UNIIIC can’t deliver on – the UN can’t issue citizenships in Sweden or elsewhere. The program makes the point that Åström/UNIIIC must have known this. They tricked Bani Auda into making his testimony in return for protection that they couldn’t deliver. Still, Åström tries to use his contacts in Sweden to help Bani Auda.

However, when Åström gets in touch with police in Umeå, he is shocked to hear that they already know about the case. Bani Auda has been talking to local police, possibly someone he already knew there and had discussed the affair with earlier. Åström gets the impression that “the whole community knows”. He is outraged, says he was laughed at. He calls Bani Auda and curses him, telling him that he can’t and won’t arrange protection if Bani Auda can’t do his part and keep quiet about his involvement. He says he’s been made an ass of in front of his colleagues (he repeatedly shouts the phrase, “you’ve given me the donkey’s face”, which makes no sense in either Swedish or English, as far as I know). Still shouting, he appears to threaten Bani Auda, saying he must keep quiet, stop embarrassing him, and allow him to work on the protection detail, or the UNIIIC will “kick your fucking ass back to Israel” etc. At one point, he yells: “Tell us all you know, or we’re going to kick your ass! You don’t fuck with the UN!”, hence the program’s title.

***

All of the above phone calls have been secretly recorded by Bani Auda himself. At this point, the program sidetracks onto what the reporters apparently felt is the real scandal, namely the question of whether Swedish police has failed to deliver on a witness protection program, and whether Åström has threatened Bani Auda with repatriation to Israel, from where he fled. (This part is not so relevant to the Hariri affair.)

The reporter traps Åström by confronting with the issue, at which point he denies everything. He is then immediately shown the contract, and responds by denying he knew about it. They then play Bani Auda’s recording of him reading the contract, at which point he, deeply embarrassed, claims he doesn’t remember.

It is revealed that the written contract included a clause that wasn’t read out loud by Åström to Bani Auda, which says that the UNIIIC isn’t bound to provide these things unless Bani Auda’s testimony turns out to be true. The reporters say that since some of these details cannot be confirmed, this constitutes a loophole, but it isn’t clear that this is why the UNIIIC failed to deliver. When asked about this, Åström says in passing that he feels that Bani Auda didn’t deliver on his part of the contract, since he didn’t provide all the info he had promised. Günter Neifer is interviewed by phone, and says the contract was Åströms idea, but Swedish authorities apparently refused to provide protection/citizenship etc.

Some half-hearted efforts apparently continue after this point to help Bani Auda, but by February 2006 Mehlis and Åström both leave the UNIIIC, when Brammertz replaces Mehlis. Mehlis explains that this is because he had been informed that there were certain parties that wanted him dead, and that is why he left his post. Åström left with him (as mentioned above, they still work together).

***

When Åström leaves the mission, Bani Auda is provided with a new contact in the UNIIIC – British policeman who has now left the mission, but who still refuses to be identified to viewers, since he is fears for his life (apparently because of his work in the UNIIIC). He, too, fails to get someone to help Bani Auda, despite trying. Meanwhile, the Bani Auda testimony is (despite the clause in the contract banning this) handed over to the legal defense of the four generals, and then promptly leaked to the Lebanese press. Clips are shown from al-Manar, where Bani Auda’s name and picture is discussed. When interviewed by phone, the British policeman says that Bani Auda had been “horribly treated” by the UNIIIC and “could be killed”. The UNIIIC opinion is apparently that the contract between Åström and Bani Auda “isn’t worth the paper it was written on”.

Åström is asked about this, and says that Bani Auda’s “personal information has been out in the open for five years, and so far I haven’t heard anything other than that he’s alive and well.” He explains that he has changed his opinion about Bani Auda and now considers him a “full-blown mythomaniac”, but he remains convinced that Syria & the four generals were really behind the Hariri hit.

***

Bani Auda has still received no help from the UN. He has filed a complaint with Swedish police against Åström, for the threat to repatriate him to Israel, and provided his recorded phone calls as proof. The investigation was canceled almost immediately, without hearing either Bani Auda or Åström.

***

And that’s it. Just to be clear, I’m only describing what was said on the show. I don’t know what’s true or false, and I had nothing to do with its making.

Aron Lund is the author of Drömmen om Damaskus (Silc, 2010), a Swedish-language history of Syria and its opposition movements.

Comments (99)


Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Mina said:

Red Cross/Red Crescent report from Daraa
http://www.twitlonger.com/show/aa1t88

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May 6th, 2011, 1:14 pm

 

52. jad said:

Mina,
Thank you for the Red Cross link.

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May 6th, 2011, 1:17 pm

 

53. why-discuss said:

Mina

The Libyan rebels will never forget that BHL and Sarkozy “helped” their cause on the international arena. Be sure that BHL will make sure that Israel and France gets a good chunk of the oil cake to support Israel’s ‘democratic’ army fight against the Palestinians!

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May 6th, 2011, 1:23 pm

 

54. rm said:

Sophia, you really know nothing about Lebanon if you think Rafic Hariri is hated here. You have no clue do you?

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May 6th, 2011, 1:27 pm

 

55. jad said:

آخر التطورات في سوريا – مالك شريف

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May 6th, 2011, 1:28 pm

 

56. Sophia said:

#22 Jad,

The commentator who said that the people from Aleppo are uneducated is ignorant. The people of Aleppo are not only educated but they are the most sophisticated people I have ever met. Actually my sister in law’s family is from Aleppo.

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May 6th, 2011, 1:32 pm

 

57. jad said:

Sophia,
Not one Syrian have any doubt about the high standards of the people of Aleppo, that person (the official revolution speaker and the one running the FB site) is nothing but a looser who knows nothing about the real Syria and Syrians.

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May 6th, 2011, 1:38 pm

 

58. norman said:

Sophia,
You are right, most people on this blog are from Aleppo.
Sorry not I . and they are very educated many PHD like Jad

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May 6th, 2011, 1:39 pm

 

59. Sophia said:

At The Guardian, they have retracted their blog page on Syria and Yemen from the front page. And the assessment of the day is given by Katherine Marsh here (who by the way is becoming more fact oriented):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/06/syria-sanctions-crackdown-eu

I think the Syrian authorities are faring well if we consider that the tides are against them and that many of the protesters are there for the kill, and I deplore the loss of life from the beginning and from today.

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May 6th, 2011, 1:50 pm

 

60. jad said:

Sophia
(who by the way is becoming more fact oriented)
Because apparently it’s not herself who is writing those reports anymore, someone else is writing them during her ‘absence’!

Shoukran Dr. Norman :)

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May 6th, 2011, 1:58 pm

 

61. democracynow said:

Today’s protests in:

Ankhel, Jasem, Sanamein, Zabadani, Daraiya, Harasta, Kisweh, Nawa, Al Tal, Barzah, Damascus (Meydan, Saliheiya, sit Zaynab, Hajar Aswad), Homs, Hama, Tal Kalakh, Baniyas, Jableh, Lattakiya, Al Bab, Idlib, Me’arit Nu’man, Salamiyah, Qamishly, Ain Al Arab, Hasakeh, Jisr Al Shoghoor…..

(Despite the suffocating repression with live bullets and the threat of shabiey7a thugs..etc..)

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May 6th, 2011, 2:08 pm

 

62. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Riad Seif has been detained today.

Those of you who say that the regime is just detaining violent people like thugs, burglars and criminals what can you say? Maybe he was handling a kalashnikov, it is possible? It would be very clear then that he is the leader of the gang.

Or maybe after days and days looking for an interlocutor for friendly dialogue with opposition organizations the President has ordered to invite Riad Seif gently or by any means to visit him.

But nobody will know anything about this because there is no press to explain to the people this kind of problems.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:11 pm

 

63. why-discuss said:

Amid Syria’s turmoil, Israel sees Assad as the lesser evil
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20110506/wl_csm/382190

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May 6th, 2011, 2:12 pm

 

64. SANDRO LOEWE said:

SOPHIA,

You, that have been in Syria once, and long time ago, you can perfectly distinguish between real news and false news, just by reading them or hearing at them at the BBC. It really impresses me. Without being in the place where the facts are taking place, without having a corresponsal and just hearing to official press you know everything…?

Waw…. Impressing capabilities to know the truth by divine intervention.

You should work at least for the XXX secret services.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:14 pm

 

65. Mina said:

Sandro,

Calm down, it’s an old Yemeni method. When you want two tribes to discuss, you kidnap a group of each and host them in some big mansions. After they cool down you oblige them to talk to each other and negotiate. It’s called qanun ‘urfi and it works among the Arabs for thousands of years much better than any shari’a.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:17 pm

 

66. democracynow said:

Interesting tweets from Ben Wedeman (CNN legendary correspondent in Cairo):

“Good Egyptian source just back from Washington says israel is syrian regime’s most ardent advocate with congress, Obama administration.”

“Source says Israel worried about radicalized #Syria more than distant Iran or tamed Hizballah, prefers predictable all-talk-no-action Bashar”

https://twitter.com/#!/bencnn

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May 6th, 2011, 2:21 pm

 

67. why-discuss said:

Sandro Loewe

Today the most effective weapons are the media… no?

Democracy now

Don’t read twitter, read #60
Now that Bashar is regaining the upper hand, Israel has second thoughts about supporting the ‘arab spring’ in Syria. Already they got bad news from Egypt’s new democracy.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:24 pm

 

68. Sophia said:

Al-Jazeera went out of their way to cover the protests today by showing the same video in a loop.
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2011/05/aljazeeras-political-coverage.html

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May 6th, 2011, 2:28 pm

 

69. jad said:

It is WRONG WORNG WRONG to split Syrians between traitors and patriots, we are all Syrians, period.
Saying our opinion regardless how much different from each other shouldn’t be the issue, the issue is that we all must work together, blaming others on anything didn’t work yesterday and wont work today nor tomorrow.
Syria is to all Syrians regardless of their political/religious/ethnicity backgrounds, this is our land, we build it together, our country it’s neither for the regime nor for the rebels to dictate to us what we should or shouldn’t say, Syria is ours, both sides are going sooner or later but we only have each other to depend on.
I condemn such moves as much I condemn the brutality of all sides and the sectarian language we are bombard with days and nights. Killing reasonable ideas, thoughts and dreams is no difference than killing the person him or herself.
Logic and freedom of peaceful thoughts shall prevail and everything else must stop.
How disappointing!

أصدر المنتجون السوريون بيانا ً أكدوا من خلاله مقاطعتهم لكل من وقع على ما يعرف بـ ” نداء حصار درعا ” أو ” نداء أطفال درعا ” وفيمايلي نص البيان كما وردنا :
نحن الموقعين على هذا البيان نعلن رفضنا الكامل للنداء السياسي المغلّف بصيغة إنسانية والذي يهدف بشكل مباشر للإساءة لسورية شعباً وحكومة ووطناً؛ نعلن رفضنا لمحتوى (( نداء الحليب )) كونه جاء على شاكلة ادعاءات شهود العيان والناشطين المجهولي الهوية الذين تمت فبركتهم في الدوائر الأجنبية المشبوهة.
كان الأجدى بموقعي النداء التأكد من الحالة التموينية والصحية في درعا من وزارتي الاقتصاد والصحة قبل اعتماد بيان (( نداء )) صيغ في دوائر الفيس بوك الأمريكية المعروفة جيداً بعدائها السافر لوطننا الغالي بكل ما يمثل.
نداء امتلأ بالافتراء على درعا وأطفالها وشعبها وانحاز بشكل فج لحملة السلاح الإرهابي والقتلة والمخربين الذين ارتكبوا فظائع يندى لها جبين الإنسانية ومثّلوا بجثامين الشهداء الطاهرين ضاربين عرض الحائط بقيم الأديان السماوية وحقوق الإنسانية والكرامة البشرية ذاتها، كما خربوا في طريقهم حركة الاحتجاج السلمي.
ونلفت نظر الموقعين على النداء إلى أن الرصاص الذي يطلق على جيشنا البطل هو رصاص اسرائيلي بامتياز.
لذا نعلن مقاطعتنا للفنانين والمثقفين .. الذين وقّعوه لأن الوطن وأطفاله وكرامته وسلمه الأهلي فوق كل اعتبار.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:29 pm

 

70. AIG said:

For many in Israel’s security agencies and IDF, Bashar’s Syria is an excellent enemy.
1) No problems in the Golan for decades
2) No problems from Hezbollah since 2006
3) Corrupt country and regime makes spying easy
4) Bashar’s economic policies ensure Syria remains weak long term
5) No Islamic state in Syria

It is difficult to argue with these points that are all true. However, it is also more difficult to argue with the point that Syria’s brave citizens deserve a chance at democracy. Furthermore, long term, only true democracy will bring peace to the middle east.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:34 pm

 

71. jad said:

Sophia,
Aljazeera still insist on keeping Syria news #1 on their website and refuse to push it back to 2nd or third so they need something to keep it up there and when they don’t get anything of substance like blood and dead bodies to show they should fabricate something.
It’s already lost lots of credibility.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:37 pm

 

72. Sophia said:

Angry Arab mentions on his blog that ex Lebanese PM Sanyura is probably in the US to lobby for the overthrow of Bashar El-Assad.

Hariri and Sanyura and Khaddam were humiliated by Bashar, they cannot live with it and they will keep trying. The sad thing is that they are spilling Syrian blood.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:46 pm

 

73. why-discuss said:

jad ….
Iran vs Syria : Dorothy Parvaz from Al Jazeera

It is confirmed that Dorothy Parvaz tried to enter Syria with an iranian passeport ( http://www.thestar.com/mobile/canada/article/985269 )
Iranians don’t need a visa to enter Syria.
Did she try to cheat the Syrian authority by entering disguised as an Iranian tourist instead of declaring she was a journalist and requesting the permission from the Syrian authorities?

Either Al Jazeera made a professional mistake or it was a calculated provocation, knowing that as Dorothy has a american and canadian citizenship and they’ll get world attention if she is arrested.

If she lied, Dorothy Parvaz will probably be justly jailed.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:46 pm

 

74. jad said:

WD,
I think it’s a calculated move by Aljazeera for publicity, they did close their office in Damascus, so why to send a reporter if they are not interested?
Cheap shot, and as Sophia wrote before, I hope the regime to be wise enough not to let Aljazeera to take it to where they want.

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May 6th, 2011, 2:54 pm

 

75. jad said:

جولة على كورنيش جبلة (الجمعة 6-5-2010) .. لا وجود لإطلاق نار كما قيل .. لا وجود لمظاهرات كما قالت الشائعات …
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=183902018326893
39 minutes ago
———————————–

Those two videos about my rant earlier regarding sanctions against Syrian artists and forcing them to defend themselves on national TV, long but interesting:

Part 1
لقاء مع الفنانين على تلفزيون الدنيا 6-5-2011

Part 2
لقاء مع الفنانين على تلفزيون الدنيا 6-5-2011
http://www.youtube.com/user/ARABDZ#p/a/u/1/D0pTfG9u34s

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May 6th, 2011, 2:59 pm

 

76. Sophia said:

I was reading this article, again by Katherine Marsh on the gay girl in Damascus. I think this is an example of the tolerance of the Syrian society. I wonder if the gay girl could still come out as she did in other Arab and Muslim countries. And she wouldn’t even credit the actual authorities for this climate of tolerance.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/06/gay-girl-damascus-syria-blog

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May 6th, 2011, 3:00 pm

 

77. why-discuss said:

Hariri Tribunal prosecutor amends indictment

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?ID=219547&R=R1

much more months to go….

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May 6th, 2011, 3:01 pm

 

78. why-discuss said:

Sophia

Katherine Marsh doesn’t seem to know much about the mentalities in Arab countries on this subject.

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May 6th, 2011, 3:05 pm

 

79. Mina said:

A Franco-Algerian journalist who had been arrested in Syria (probably for the same reason of using his Algerian passport and not his journalist card) has been released 3 days ago
http://www.france24.com/fr/20110503-syrie-khaled-sid-mohand-journaliste-algerien-liberation-autorites-syriennes-ambassade-france-liberte-france-culture

By the way, 7 Estonian are hostages somewhere in Lebanon, so with idiots who don’t speak Arabic running around the country I can imagine the result.
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/04/21/lebanon-seven-estonian-hostages-appeal-for-help/

(Amazing, I just see now that a video of these hostages has been released in April. It didn’t hit the frontpage)

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May 6th, 2011, 3:15 pm

 

80. jad said:

Sophia, WD,
I think the coverage of the Gay girl comes from the western society mentality that gay people went through lots of discrimination and they need to be supported anywhere in the world, since they are already liberated in the west.
Homosexual communities are know to have a very strong lobby allover Europe and North America and many of that community are in the decision making positions in the Media and in Politics.
So I’m not surprise of the cover, it’s a policy and lobbying work.

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May 6th, 2011, 3:18 pm

 

81. Solitarius said:

Basma
On Friday 6th May 2011, @Basma_ said:

What one member of the Red Crescent had to say following his visit to #Daraa #Syria:

Today as a true eye witness and a Red Crescent FACT team (field assessment and coordination Team) we did an assessment Visit to Daraa city situation and brought some aid items and baby food with us, we also came up with the needs which we are working on for-filling ASAP.

some highlights from the report :

No mass destruction was noticed, water and electricity is available to almost all of Daraa, some shortage in food but not life threatening, army is distributing bread and essential materials to places since most of the shops are closed, shortage in some medicines because the pharmacies among with the shops are closed, water not reaching high floors since no electricity in some places to power the personal pumps, their maybe people whom are afraid to visit the national hospital so SARC will provide mobile clinic for those people in old part of Daraa city ASAP.

The Red Crescent needs your support to help the people in need ASAP. time to put your money were your mouth is and ACT!

you can contact SARC on 133 from any land-line in Damascus from tomorrow for a list of acceptable and needed materials.

Khaled Erksoussi

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May 6th, 2011, 3:21 pm

 

82. SANDRO LOEWE said:

What else can the President and its followers do to change the mood of the masses? Now there is a general feeling that something should happen because revolutions seen before end in change of regimes. If nothing essentially changes because Israel and Occidental countries prefer Assad family to any risk as they prefered Moubarak, then people in Syria could become very frustrated. Frustration generates hate and violence. Bad ingredients for a democratization on the basis of a ¨young active president and her charming and benefactory wife¨.

I believe nothing is going to change in Syria. The president will keep on accusing its succesive governments of corruption and the people will accuse his brothers of being too violent.

This will not be a victory of the patriotic syrians but one of Israel and Occidental countries.

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May 6th, 2011, 3:42 pm

 

83. Solitarius said:

Who are you Sandro and where did you suddenly emerge from trying to lecture us about how Syrians should feel about Israel. Israel will have a massive victory should the Syrian regime fall. It will abuse the region like there is no tomorrow. Syria will burn and Lebanon as well. Jordan will be next and perhaps Palestinians can have a little Islamist state in Jordan while Israel gets to keep the occupied terretories forever undisputed. Whatever Syrian government comes next will be a toy in the hands of the different governments. We will be back to the 50s except with bigger and more volatile problems and less industry to rely on. The Europeans are being back stabber sons of bitches as usual. They were faster to call for sanctions than they can say Talkalakh. The future looks very gloomy for Syria now with all this backstabbing and viciousness but it doesn’t mean we should throw the country into an abyss.

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May 6th, 2011, 4:05 pm

 

84. Jad said:

Solitarious,
I disagree of the ‘gloomy’ future you refer to, I believe that tomorrow is better and brighter than many people thinks.
Great nations come out better after troubles and Syria will definatly get healthier and stronger. God willing.
Today was one step further to calm which hopefully will lead to discussion of ideas not exchange of bullets, will keep seeing protests but calmer and more civilized with less victims until the silence words shut the noises of all bullits.
God protect Syria and Syrians.

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May 6th, 2011, 4:17 pm

 

85. Nour said:

Jad,

I agree with you. No need for doomsday scenarios. It is natural that Syria, based on its position, is going to go through rough times, but it will come out stronger and better.

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May 6th, 2011, 4:23 pm

 

86. why-discuss said:

Nour , Jad, Solitarius

Syria will comes out of these traumatic events as a better country.
The new government is well respected by all factions and I think Bashar Al Assad has shown that he keeps his word. He has promised reforms and reforms will happen. I don’t think he’s ever promised publicly something he did not do.
In addition he made a mistake by thinking Syria was immune because of his assumed closeness to his people. Now he knows he did not really understand what the priorities of the people were. He gave a lot of attention to foreign policy and maybe neglected the internals. I imagine he will switch gear and concentrate more on anti-corruption and a more balanced economical development between large cities and small cities rather than on actively supporting the Resistance and Syrian riches. It is clear that the issue of the Resistance and the openness of Syria to millions of Iraqi refugees was never recognized neither from the opposition nor from Arab and foreign media when assessing his achievements.
Egypt will soon bear its share of supporting the Resistance and part of western criticisms that Syria bore for 20 years.
These are lessons he got and I believe he will act accordingly for the sake of Syria, not his own.

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May 6th, 2011, 5:10 pm

 

87. AIG said:

Yes! Maccabi Tel-Aviv just beat Real Madrid and advanced to the Euroleague basketball final.

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May 6th, 2011, 5:13 pm

 

88. SANDRO LOEWE said:

I see vey optimistic views in all of you. I would love so much to share them but I cannot. I do not see them realistic in the current state of things.

Let´s see if I understand, you mean that Syria will generate more and more richness? It is quite probable since you need to little to be done about management of the economics and bureaucracy to let it improve, since we are almost at level zero. Or do you mean that your personal situation will improve? Or you mean that the country as a whole will improve in comparison with neighbouring countries and will become a regional power?

I do not want to say it but I guess you think this too. So Turkey, instead of colonializing economically Syria will be under pressure from glooming Syria? Or that Lebanon will be even more under control so Syria can beneffit more and more, even becoming a region of Syria, becoming Beirut the port of Damascus? Or that Syria will have every day a more relevant role in Irak that, despite the oil, will not improve more fast than Syria, specially after the fall or Theocratic Iran? Or do you think Iran is going to defeat Saudi Arabia and all their satellites (including USA) to create a new and free Middle East?.

Please explain to me how it would be possible that you do not create conditions for stable investisment and democracy but you can become a power in front of Turkey, Irak, Lebanon, Jordan and of course Israel, that will be very afraid of Syria.

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May 6th, 2011, 5:29 pm

 

89. jad said:

هيلاري كلينتون: الأسد ليس القذافي
روما: وصفت وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية هيلاري كلينتون الأوضاع في سوريا بـ”الشائكة والمؤلمة”، إلا أنها قالت خلال مقابلة متلفزة بإيطاليا تبثها بالكامل القناة الثالثة الحكومية الاحد المقبل “نحن على إدراك إلى اللحظة أن باستطاعة سوريا تنفيذ الاصلاحات المعلنة”، وعليه “فإننا لانزال نؤمن بمستقبل للنظام الحاكم” بقيادة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد. ونوهت إلى أن الوضع يختلف في ما يتعلق بالنظام الليبي “فلا أحد يعتقد أن القذافي كان سيتخذ قرارا ممائلاً”، في إشارة إلى الاصلاحات السياسية.

وأضافت رئيسة الدبلوماسية الاميركية “نحن نمارس ضغوطاً على الحكومة السورية كي تحترم التزاماتها” بشأن مخططات الاصلاح التي أعلنها في وقت سابق الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد .

وفي الشأن الليبي، أشارت كلينتون إلى أن “استهداف شخص العقيد القذافي ليس ضمن مهام العمليات العسكرية للحلفاء” في ما يتعلق بتنفيذ القرار الأممي 1973 لغرض “حماية المدنيين”، ولكن “هناك أهدافا مشروعة مثل المخابئ التي يسيطر عليها القذافي وعائلته”، وأضافت وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية محذرة من أن “القذافي نفسه قد يصبح ضحية للعنف الذي بدأه على شعبه، فليبيا في حالة صراع” بين كتائب النظام الحاكم والثوار .

وكانت وكالة الانباء السورية (سانا) افادت مساء اليوم نقلا عن مصدر عسكري ان عشرة قتلى سقطوا الجمعة في صفوف الجيش والشرطة السوريين في مدينة حمص وسط سوريا، اثر تعرض حاجز امني سوري لاطلاق نار وخلال قيام القوات الامنية السورية بـ”ملاحقة المجموعات الارهابية”.

واضاف المصدر نفسه ان “وحدات الجيش والقوى الأمنية قامت اليوم بملاحقة المجموعات الارهابية المسلحة على أطراف مدينة حمص في مناطق بابا عمرو والسلطانية وباب الدريب والقرابيص بعد الهجوم الذى شنته هذه المجموعات الإرهابية على حاجز للجيش والشرطة في المدينة”.

واضاف “أدت الاشتباكات الى ارتفاع عدد شهداء الجيش والشرطة الى عشرة شهداء اضافة الى عدد من الجرحى”، مضيفا ان الاشتباكات “اسفرت ايضا عن سقوط عدد من القتلى والجرحى في صفوف المجموعات الارهابية المسلحة”.

وكان المصدر نفسه صرح في وقت سابق “ان مجموعة اجرامية مسلحة باغتت حاجزا للجيش وقوات الشرطة والأمن في غرب منطقة بابا عمرو بالقرب من جسر السلطانية بحمص واطلقت الرصاص على عناصر الحاجز ما اسفر عن استشهاد ضابط في الجيش واربعة عناصر من الشرطة”.

واتهم المصدر “المجموعة الاجرامية المسلحة بالتمثيل باجساد الشهداء”.

وكانت مصادر حقوقية اعلنت لوكالة فرانس براس في وقت سابق ان قوات الامن السورية قمعت تظاهرات جرت في العديد من المدن السورية الجمعة ما ادى الى مقتل 26 متظاهرا.

فرنسا تريد توسيع العقوبات المقررة بحق سوريا

بدورها، أعلنت وزارة الخارجية الفرنسية أن العقوبات التي اقرها الاتحاد الاوروبي بحق 13 من مسؤولي النظام السوري هي “مرحلة اولى” تعتزم فرنسا توسيعها لتشمل “كبار القادة”، منددة مجددا بقمع التظاهرات الجارية في هذا البلد.

كما طالب المتحدث باسم الخارجية برنار فاليرو في بيان بـ “الافراج الفوري” عن الناشط السياسي رياض سيف أحد أبرز وجوه المعارضة السورية الذي اعتقل الجمعة في دمشق.

وتدعو باريس منذ عدة ايام لفرض عقوبات على الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد، غير انه تم استثناؤه في الوقت الحاضر من الاتفاق الذي توصلت اليه الدول الاوروبية ال27 الجمعة.

وقال فاليرو “اننا نثني على القرار الذي اتخذه الاتحاد الاوروبي بالاجماع اليوم بفرض عقوبات على 13 مسؤولا سوريا ضالعين في اعمال القمع”.

وتابع “انها مرحلة اولى. سنعمل بدون ابطاء مع شركائنا في الاتحاد على توسيع هذه الاجراءات وقائمة الاشخاص المستهدفين بمن فيها اكبر القادة السوريين، على ضوء التطورات الجارية”.

وشدد على ان “فرنسا تؤيد فرض عقوبات اشد على كل المسؤولين عن سياسة القمع هذه بدون استثناء”.

وقال ان “فرنسا قلقة للغاية من استمرار القمع في سوريا بحق المتظاهرين المسالمين ومن تدهور الوضع الانساني للسكان الذين يحاصرهم الجيش وقوات الامن” منددا ب”مئات الاعتقالات التي تقترن في غالب الاحيان باعمال تعذيب”.

وتابع “اننا قلقون ايضا لمصير الصحافيين الذين غالبا ما يتعرضون للقمع ولا يمكنهم ممارسة مهامهم” مذكرا بان فرنسا تنشط ايضا في مجلس حقوق الانسان في جنيف وفي الامم المتحدة للتنديد “بدون لبس” ب”القمع” في سوريا.

http://www.elaph.com/Web/news/2011/5/652612.html

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May 6th, 2011, 5:44 pm

 

90. NK said:

Solitarius

I didn’t know his majesty Bashar is the only Syrian standing up to foreign powers and if he goes the rest of Syrians will sell their country to the highest bidder. Thank you and others for reducing my country and my nation to just one man.

It’s been 7 weeks since the protests started, where are the promised reforms ? the lifting of emergency status while arbitrary detentions are in the thousands ? abolishing the SSSC while hundreds are still charged with things like “weakening the prestige of the state” ? or maybe passing a law to organize demonstrations but arresting anyone who requests a license ? (a few of my friends requested a license for a SILENT demonstration in a public park to light candles for the martyrs on martyrs day, the application said clearly that it will be silent there will be no slogans and no placards or pictures or anything of that sort, just people standing around silently and holding candles on martyrs day, it was to take place in a public park so there will be no obstruction to traffic or disturbing for the neighbors, they were detained for a few hours, humiliated by security personnel who most likely don’t even have a high school diploma).

Jad

What dialogue are you talking about ? They arrested pretty much every single opposition figure in the country !!! Their dialogue is you’re either with us (patriotic) or against us (misled/intruder/saboteur), yeah I can see the great outcome awaiting Syrians under this regime.

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May 6th, 2011, 5:50 pm

 

91. why-discuss said:

Sandro

I did not say there will be more riches, it is quite the opposite: there will be less poor because there will be a more equitable share of the wealth (if any). The rapid reforms in the last 3 years of opening up to a free market, in my view, has not done that. It has made many people richer and showing off their richness with 60,000 $ BMW and Mercedes circulating in Damascus while many people must have 2 jobs to be able to nourish their family and have no decent home. This ‘opening’ was a failure and now Syria is paying the price.
Dardari who promoted this opening, hoping he’ll get foreign investments pouring is now out.
I guess the new government will be more careful not to antagonize the working class by obliging rich people to pay more taxes on luxury items and on habitations speculations.
Free trade with Turkey has done more harm than good to the Syrian economy. It has saturated the market and killed competition instead of encouraging industrial development. Syria is still a agriculture base country and the investments from the Gulf are more into building ‘dubai’ like malls and hotels.. for riches and tourists. It is expected that more will be directed toward low income habitations, factories rather then services. Kuwait and the UAE seem to stand by Bashar Al Assad in this purpose. Also the heavy and inefficient industries managed by the government must be revamped.
As for energy, Syria will benefit from its relation with Iraq and Iran (oil, gaz, trading)
Israel showed less antagonism toward Bashar than Qatar, France and even Turkey. I guess negotiations for peace will resume soon. That would be a boost for Syria economy. I believe that the continuous yet silent presence of the newly arrived US ambassador in Syria shows that the US are keeping their cards in hand while France has already written off Bashar al Assad. The role of France and Europe will probably be greatly reduced in favor of the US. I believe the train of peace is moving for Syria.

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May 6th, 2011, 6:17 pm

 

92. why-discuss said:

NK

Do you really expect the authorities to believe that it would be peaceful? All demonstrations where police and civilians were killed were called by you ‘peaceful’.
You waited 40 years to be able to make peaceful demonstration, can’t you wait 2 weeks, one month until the procedure is setup and passed to the authorities. Your impatient friends sound like kids who wants their ice cream NOW!

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May 6th, 2011, 6:25 pm

 

93. Sophia said:

The indictment issued by the STL has just been amended, for the second time since January.

This post was very relevant today. Thanks Mr. Lund.

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May 6th, 2011, 6:38 pm

 

94. NK said:

WD

My friends (the kids) are university professors, doctors, engineers and lawyers. Yes they obviously are not peaceful and will stroll into the central park in Aleppo carrying AK47s. Forget about the demonstration, what about the arbitrary detentions of Syrian intellectuals all around the country ? do we need to wait 2 weeks, one month, 11 years until the procedure is setup and passed to the authorities for these to stop as well ?.

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May 6th, 2011, 7:41 pm

 

95. jad said:

NK
We have no other choice but to wait a bit and your friends can buy other candles in couple months time.
No discussion can happen under fire, even during wars, no side will sit on the negotiation table before truce.
————–
A huge battle is raging in Jable for at least three hours now. I guess because today’s outcome wasn’t bloody enough.

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May 6th, 2011, 8:29 pm

 

96. Mouna said:

Amir,

I once attended a “lecture” by Butheina where she said she was pregnant BY her second child at the time!!

Perhaps she was subtly implying how potent her lot are … :)

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May 7th, 2011, 1:11 pm

 

97. Jihad said:

The true zindiq is the one who copy messages accusing others of being zanadiq. And this description applies to the undercover Wahhaboi-Zionist “Revlon.”

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May 7th, 2011, 9:55 pm

 

98. Jihad said:

The editor of Al-Akhbar’s judicial page, Omar Nashabah, has written many analysis poking holes in the already discredited UN-court looking into the assassination of the Wahhabi Rafiq Hariri. All they are doing at the Hague is paying millions for morally bankrupt individuals, Lebanese and otherwise, on the back of the Lebanese people.

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May 7th, 2011, 10:00 pm

 

99. Jihad said:

The following is a link to one of the best and early articles that were written about the murky Mehlis and the stage that was set by the United States prior to the assassination of the Wahhabi Rafiq Hariri:

http://www.counterpunch.org/schuh11182005.html

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May 7th, 2011, 10:10 pm

 

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