Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Castle of Arab Dignity, Murder and Hope

Last week, the UN released a preliminary report suggesting that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al Hariri and twenty-two others in a terrorist bombing last February. This story, which went largely ignored here in the United States, may prove to have significant impacts on the Global War on Terror, Iraq, democracy in the Middle East and constructive roles for the United Nations.

The report, released by German-born UN prosecutor Detlev Mehlis reaches some rather dramatic conclusions:

Mehlis stressed that an investigation like his required more than the five months, and he admitted his that work was "not complete." However, he felt confident enough to affirm that "there is converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act." He described former security officials in Lebanon as "appointees" of the Syrian Military Intelligence service that ran the country and underlined that "given the infiltration of Lebanese institutions and society by the Syrian and Lebanese services working in tandem, it would be difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge."

While the conclusions simply confirm what many already suspected, they are significant to the extent that there now appears to be concrete evidence that the Syrians were not only behind the assassination, but that members of the government actively impeded and mislead the UN investigation. And this ties into the larger regional and global context because it was Hariri's assassination which lead to the massive demonstrations seen in Lebanon earlier this year and, ultimately, Syrian military withdrawal from that nation. Many have pointed to developments in Lebanon as a proof point that democracy is stirring in the region. And as Michael Young points out, Mehlis and the UN have created a unique mechanism for facilitating democratic ideals through institutionalized pressure on Syria's Baathists over this matter.

But Mehlis did more than just point a finger: His investigation, created by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1595, was designed to buttress a Lebanese judicial inquiry into the assassination, culminating in a trial. That's why an important aspect of the report was Mehlis' call for a "sustained effort on the part of the international community to establish an assistance and cooperation platform together with the Lebanese authorities in the field of security and justice." Mehlis' deadline was extended until mid-December, but he made it clear in his report that even more time was needed, in particular to question Syrian officials outside Syria, away from the intimidating eye of the intelligence services. Effectively, Mehlis sought to institutionalize a more long-term judicial effort that, in theory, could last for years.

Today, the UN Security Council will discuss the Mehlis Report and determine next steps, which could possibly include sanctions. Mr. Young argues that while sanctions are unlikely, it is not unrealistic to expect the Security Council to grant Mehlis the ability to speak to Syrian witnesses outside of Syria. And this prospect would likely be a very glum one for Mr. Assad.

But the Mehlis Report serves to further isolate an already-isolated Syrian regime. And it has given the United Nations a unique opportunity to support democracy in the region. One cannot understate the importance of any and all demonstrations of due process, transparency and accountability in a part of the world that very rarely sees any of them. To the extent that Syria continues to house Iraqi Baathists and serves as a base of operations for insurgents moving into Iraq, that it continues to be one of the most notorious supporters of international terrorism, and that its political influence compromises Lebanese sovereignty, it is one of the leading contributors to the instability of the Middle East. Increasing and ongoing pressure on the Castle of Arab Dignity, particularly of the type being pushed by Mehlis' investigation, has a real chance to be a catalyst for positive change in the region.

No comments:

  • Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels
  • Evangelical Outpost
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Camp Katrina
  • TPMCafe
  • Dodger Thoughts
  • Boy of Summer
  • Irish Pennants
  • tabletalk
  • Fire McCain
  • My Sandmen
  • Galley Slaves
  • Michelle Malkin
  • myelectionanalysis
  • Iraq the Model
  • Mystery Pollster
  • A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage
  • Right Truth
  • The Fourth Rail
  • Counterterrorism Blog
  • Just One Minute
  • Broken Masterpieces
  • Kudlow's Money Politic$
  • Econopundit
  • Tapscott's Copy Desk
  • The Blue State Conservatives
  • Palousitics
  • Christian Conservative
  • Outside the Beltway
  • The Belmont Club
  • Froggy Ruminations
  • The Captain's Journal
  • Argghh!!!
  • Chickenhawk Express
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Reasoned Audacity
  • Taking Notes
  • ThisDamnBlog
  • Three Knockdown Rule
  • Dogwood Pundit
  • Dumb Looks Still Free
  • Unfettered Blather
  • Cut to the Chase
  • Alabama Improper
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Michael Yon-Online
  • The Trump Blog
  • A Lettor of Apology
  • GM Fastlane Blog

  • Powered by Blogger

    Listed on BlogShares Who Links Here