Mehlis’s ‘honest’ report

The UN Report into Rafik Hariri’s death reveals more questions than answers, writes Walid Akawi. After so many anxious days when everybody was patiently waiting for the results, chief investigator Detlev Mehlis has finally published his long-awaited report into the assassination of late Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

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By  Walid Akawi Published  October 30, 2005

|~||~||~|The UN Report into Rafik Hariri’s death reveals more questions than answers, writes Walid Akawi. After so many anxious days when everybody was patiently waiting for the results, chief investigator Detlev Mehlis has finally published his long-awaited report into the assassination of late Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. We must congratulate him — after all, he described his job as “too difficult and complicated to find out its ins and outs in such a very short period of time”, and that “discovering its details may need years, not a few months”. Well, the big question now is: did he manage to solve the puzzle? And so soon? First, let’s highlight the remarks of Mehlis and his team —that they can never imagine this crime taking place without the knowledge of the Lebanese and Syrian intelligence systems. This, of course, completely ignores the intelligence operations in Israel and the US — which have happened to be the biggest beneficiaries of such a crime. Therefore, I dare say, Mehlis and his team have not been neutral, and will never be. The preliminary report is like those launched by some of the anti-Syrian Lebanese newspapers: Al Mustaqbal and Al Nahar. And it complies with the statements made by some Lebanese political figures after the crime, although these politicians were also the biggest beneficiaries of the Syrian presence in Lebanon. Skimming the long report assembled by the international investigation committee, what is most striking are the weaknesses. So many shortcomings are throughout the report — shortcomings that would not be there if the report was honest and impartial. Essentially, the report is based on the testimonies of people renowned for their hostility towards Syria. And here we have the right to ask the following question: How the heck were they able to miraculously lump together Syria, Lebanon, The Ahbash, Abu Adass, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command? Most of these groups are not just fighting Syria, but each other. Somehow, the UN says, they have all joined forces in an anti-Hariri common cause. Also, I think the last part was added at the last minute after a Paris meeting between Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The aim of the meeting was to resume the building of settlements in the Palestinian territories, and cancel the right of return for Palestinians — all in a bid to stop Abbas and his team building a segmented, semi-state for Palestinians with no real supremacy. Another was to support the Sunni group led by Saad Hariri, and install him as Lebanon's leader. But back again to the decisive evidences and proofs presented by the honest Mehlis and his team — who all denote the involvement of Syria and Lebanon in the murder. The question that raises itself here is how can such a big murder be organised and implemented by mobile phone communications, as is claimed in the report? How does this conclusion comply with the report also claiming that those who committed this murder are a very organised group? Why does the report not explain why the car used in the murder was right-hand drive — not normally seen in the Middle East? Where was it registered? Who was the driver? What does the DNA tell us? And why is there no mention of the radar that detected a foreign spy plane flying over Beirut at the exact time of the murder? Who did the plane belong to? What is the role of the “king witness”, Zuhair Siddeeq in structuring the report? How was he transformed from a critical witness into a suspect? Why does the report not include any of the important information Syria offered to the international investigation committee? Why didn’t the report include any formal Syrian witnesses, or at least objective and impartial witnesses that have no axe to grind with Syria? Why does the report insist on the sheer hindrance of Syria? What else is Syria required to do? And what happened exactly when Mehlis was in Damascus? There are too many unanswered questions. Everyone has a right to his or her opinion. But in the pro-American-Israeli atmosphere that is completely hostile to Syria, we expect and deserve better. Tel Aviv gladly received the report. A spokesman at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs called it a “very positive step”. Shimon Peres, Israel's deputy PM, requested an immediate change in the Syrian leadership. The report is several thousand words long. But it fails to answer the biggest question of all — who really killed Rafik Hariri? Walid Akawi is senior vice president (Publishing) of ITP.||**||

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