Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
SUBJECT: LEBANON: JUMBLATT ON POSSIBLE NEW UNSCR, NATIONAL
DIALOGUE; RIZK ON UNIIIC EXTENSION
HESITATION OVER A NEW UNSCR, OPEN DISCUSSION ON 1559
NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/YERGER/GAVITO
9. (C) Jumblatt said the Special Tribunal was “not enough” to intimidate Syria. Rizk chimed in to acknowledge that work on the Special Tribunal was “frightening to Syria until recently.” Both agreed that Syrian President Bashar Assad won’t care about the Tribunal in a year’s time. Rizk repeated his concerns that UNIIIC Commissioner Daniel Bellemare had stated to some that he “has no case.” Rizk said the U.S. can help by directing Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to ask the UN SYG to impress upon Bellemare the importance of his role as prosecutor for the Tribunal…..
Guardian (GB): US embassy cables: Syrian spy chief’s surprise appearance at US talks
Wednesday, 24 February 2010, 14:08 S E C R E T DAMASCUS 000159 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR P, NEA, S/CT EO 12958 DECL: 02/24/2020 TAGS PTER, PREL, PGOV, SY SUBJECT: SYRIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF ATTENDS CT DIALOGUE WITH S/CT BENJAMIN Classified By: CDA …
MAMLOUK DESCRIBES GID’S METHODS
5……Mamlouk repeatedly stressed his attendance at the meeting did not signal the commencement of security and intelligence cooperation between Syria and the U.S., but could be a starting point for “a blueprint for that which is not yet started.” Echoing Miqdad, Mamlouk said progress on political issues in the Syrian-U.S. bilateral relationship was “closely connected” to progress on possible cooperation on security and intelligence.
6. (S/NF) The GID Director said Syria had been more successful than the U.S. and other countries in the region in fighting terrorist groups because “we are practical and not theoretical.” He stated Syria’s success is due to its penetration of terrorist groups. “In principle, we don’t attack or kill them immediately. Instead, we embed ourselves in them and only at the opportune moment do we move.” Describing the process of planting embeds in terrorist organizations as “complex,” Mamlouk said the result had yielded been the detention of scores of terrorists, stamping out terror cells, and stopping hundreds of terrorists from entering Iraq. Mamlouk acknowledged some terrorists were still slipping into Iraq from Syria. “By all means we will continue to do all this, but if we start cooperation with you it will lead to better results and we can better protect our interests,” he concluded.
7. (S/NF) According to Mamlouk, Syria’s previous experience in cooperating with the U.S. on intelligence “was not a happy one.” He stated Syria hoped any future cooperation would be “on an equal basis.” Mamlouk specified this meant Syria should be allowed to “take the lead” on anti-terrorism efforts. Alluding to the “wealth of information” Syria has obtained while penetrating terrorist groups, Mamlouk declared “we have a lot of experience and know these groups. This is our area, and we know it. We are on the ground, and so we should take the lead.”
…. Miqdad stressed a “political umbrella” of improved U.S.-Syrian bilateral relations should facilitate counterterrorism cooperation….
13. (S/NF) Third, Miqdad stated convincing the Syrian people to support cooperation with the U.S. would hinge on progress on economic sanctions against Syria, including spare parts for airplanes and a plane for President Asad. The Vice Foreign Minister said the Syrians wanted these efforts “accelerated.” Miqdad specifically requested the USG reach out to Lufthansa Technik and “assure them of no negative consequences” if they cooperate with Syrian requests to have the purchase of spare aircraft parts approved. In response, Benjamin said the Obama administration viewed counterterrorism as a vital concern but, unlike its predecessor, it did not see counterterrorism as something that was separate from the rest of U.S. foreign policy or the sole driver of U.S. foreign policy. Rather, it was part of the fabric of policy, and the administration recognized that progress in bilateral relations would involve coordinated moves in a number of areas. Benjamin added the U.S. expected that the Syrian people would see the benefits of closer relations.
14. (S/NF) Miqdad also encouraged the U.S. to reconsider including Syria on the TSA’s list for enhanced screening, and praised U/S Burns for informing the SARG that the U.S. was prepared to lift its block on Syrian accession to the World Trade Organization.
Hariri investigation was bogged down by ‘insane’ bureaucracy, non-cooperation from world powers
Brammertz said it was obvious the 14 bombings were linked to the Hariri assassination
By Patrick Galey, Daily Star
Monday, December 06, 2010
BEIRUT: The preliminary United Nations probe into the death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was hamstrung by “insane” internal bureaucracy and non-cooperation from world governments, according to leaked diplomatic documents seen by The Daily Star.
Successive cables sent from the US Embassy in Beirut and seen exclusively by The Daily Star also appear to show how previously unheard-of US surveillance data on Lebanon was requested by the commissioner of the United Nations International Independent Investigative Committee (UNIIIC)
In a 2006 discussion with former US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, UNIIIC Commissioner Serge Brammertz is said to have lamented burdensome UN processes which were hindering his investigation.
Brammertz told Feltman that “administrative delays with the UN’s bureaucracy have taken up 50 to 70 percent of his time in the last month and have significantly hindered the UNIIIC’s efficacy and progress,” a cable sent on July 7 said.
“Most of the delays appeared to be the result of a cumbersome UN bureaucracy, which seemed to affect everything from the UNIIIC’s hiring procedures to housing issues and even its food supply.”
The UNIIIC commissioner is said to have delivered successive anecdotes detailing a flawed and time-consuming hiring process and severe staff shortages in the investigation’s most critical stages.
“What’s the point of waiting five months to hire someone when the Commission only has five months to do its work?” Brammertz is quoted as saying.
Turning to the issue of international cooperation with investigator’s requests, Brammertz alleged that France – a long-time vocal supporter of the probe into Hariri’s death – had been particularly “flatly non-cooperative.”
“After Brammertz asked this country’s ambassador in Lebanon for access to interview a suspect in that country’s territory, the ambassador came back with all kinds of conditions about how the interview would take place, how the testimony could or could not be used, in order to comply with EU standards. Brammertz said, ‘I told him, if you were Syria, I would write in my report that you refused to cooperate with the investigation. He was shocked, of course, but it’s true. I’ve had better cooperation from Syria than some of the EU countries.’”
In an earlier meeting with Feltman on July 6, 2006 – 16 months after Hariri’s death and over a year after the investigation began – Brammertz is said to have advised that there was no legal basis for the four generals’ continued detention.
“Brammertz explained that, if any sort of international legal standards were applied, the four generals would be released immediately. At the same time, however, he acknowledged that doing so would be a political disaster for Lebanon,” a cable on the meeting read.
Brammertz, who succeeded Detlev Mehlis as UNIIIC commissioner, reportedly labeled three now-discredited witnesses – whose testimonies were used in the four generals’ incarceration – as completely unreliable. He suggested Mehlis had overstepped his jurisdiction in advising the four be detained.
“Brammertz said that much of his work, though, is focused on completing three ‘legacy projects,’ final appraisals of the testimony provided by Zuhair Mohammad Siddiq, Hussam Hussam, and ‘X,’ a ‘protected witness located in a Nordic country,’” Feltman’s cable said.
“As he prepared his final evaluation of each witness, Brammertz said he could discount most of the testimony from all three. Maybe 20 percent of Siddiq’s testimony was based on fact, Brammertz suggested, but his credibility as a witness is so low that none of his testimony would stand up in court. He described Hussam also as an unreliable witness, but suggested that he probably does have important information.”
Brammertz also apparently ruled out all of the Syrian government’s involvement in the crime – a startling confession given the relatively early stage of the investigations of the UNIIIC.
“Syria has five different state security apparatuses. I can’t imagine that an order came down from the president and worked its way through all the security services and until they killed Hariri,” Brammertz is quoted as saying. “If anything, you probably had one security service involved, and the order came from on high and, how high, we’ll have to figure out.”
In a separate cable detailing the arguments of Jamil as-Sayyed’s lawyer, the US Embassy advised: “That Brammertz is worried about [Lebanon’s] continued ability to detain the four generals is cause for us to worry as well.”
The cable continued: “Besides having a seismic effect on the political situation here, Sayyed’s release might well have security implications for us as a diplomatic missions. If Sayyed gets out, he is going to be angry and seeking payback, and he is going to see the United States as at least partly responsible for his interrogation by the UNIIIC and his long months in detention.”