Arabian Business Weekly Update April 3, 2005

The UN report into Rafik Hariri's death leaves several questions for Lebanon. THE official UN report into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri is over 9000 words long. It has already been dismissed by Syria as containing “too much rhetoric" and by Lebanese officials as "alien to reality". But without answering in detail some of the fundamental questions raised in the report, both the Syrian and Lebanese governments are in danger of appearing alien to reality. Some of the UN's findings beggar belief.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  April 3, 2005

Lebanon has much to answer for|~||~||~|The UN report into Rafik Hariri's death leaves several questions for Lebanon. THE official UN report into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri is over 9000 words long. It has already been dismissed by Syria as containing “too much rhetoric" and by Lebanese officials as "alien to reality". But without answering in detail some of the fundamental questions raised in the report, both the Syrian and Lebanese governments are in danger of appearing alien to reality. Some of the UN's findings beggar belief. For example, it reveals that the huge crater left by the bomb that killed Hariri was flooded with water, damaging or totally eliminating vital evidence. Is this the case? Lebanese officials must answer. The UN report also claims that parts of a pick-up truck, claimed to have been involved in the bomb attack, were actually brought to the scene of the explosion after the attack. Is this the case? Lebanese officials must answer. The report also casts huge doubts on the credibility of Ahmad Abu Adas, the man who claimed responsibility for the attacks. It points out that Adas left his home in Beirut in January with US$1.33 — hardly the financial backing needed to carry out such a sophisticated operation. Is this the case? Lebanese officials must answer. Lebanon says it is willing to accept an independent international inquiry into Hariri's death, but only “in co-operation with the state". So far, the UN has shown that it has no faith whatsoever that Lebanese officials will assist in this inquiry. Everything they have done so far has hampered the investigation. This simply is not good enough. Only a totally independent inquiry can have any chance of uncovering the truth. And that inquiry must start today. ||**||UAE must beware of boom|~||~||~|Once again the UAE has much to celebrate on the economic front. Figures released last week show the country's GDP is growing at an average of 9% a year, hitting US$91 billion in 2004. High oil prices and a robust non-oil sector have helped, with the value of shares traded in the UAE stock market hitting an all time high of US$18.2 billion. But the UAE should tread carefully. In Qatar, inflation last year rose to 6.8% from 1.4% in 2003. The country's central bank blames fast-rising rental prices, which have, in turn, forced higher wage rises. Given the fact that rents are increasing in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, there is a danger of the same occurring. In some parts of Dubai, annual rents have risen by 20% and service charges by 10%. As many countries have previously found out, boom can easily turn into bust. ||**||Evil Mugabe must go|~||~||~|So once again the people of Zimbabwe face elections. But we already know the winner: Robert Mugabe. After all, he has rigged every single election in the country's past. Just to be sure, the current president last week declared that anyone who did not vote for him was a “traitor”. His comments are likely to spark even more violence in the country. Let us be clear about Mugabe: for all that has been said and written about the likes of Saddam Hussein, there can be no more evil dictator alive on the planet today than Mugabe. It is a dreadful failing of the international community that this brute has been allowed to stay in power through corruption, violence and intimidation. Zimbabwe needs the world’s help. Whatever it takes, Mugabe must be removed from office. ||**||

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