Saturday, March 18, 2006

Asad Interview on Sky News: Iraq, Reform, Security

Talks On Assissination Plot: Assad interviewed by Sky News in Aleppo. Full 15 minute Video Assad Interview

Updated: 09:14, Friday March 17, 2006
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Syria's President Bashar al Assad has assured Sky News he will co-operate with the UN's investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Mr Hariri died in a bomb blast in Beirut a year ago, and many have blamed Damascus and the Syrian president.

But, in an exclusive interview with Sky's James Rubin, Mr Assad said the UN team would be visiting Syria soon.

He said: "We will support any investigation surrounding this crime. "

The president said he would meet the president and vice president of the UN team in April, when they could "ask him anything".

UN investigators have said this week they were closer to a detailed understanding of how the assassination plot was carried out.

Mr Assad also told Sky his country was doing everything in its power to stop insurgents crossing its borders into Iraq.

He said: "We do what we can for ourselves to control the borders, not for them but for us.

"The insurgents who kill civilians, they harm Syria."

Mr Assad said he believed the occupying forces should leave Iraq as soon as possible.

"We support the political process in Iraq, it is very important for stability regardless of the constitution, for them to have independence."

Regarding reform in Syria he insisted the country was focusing on security and economic measures before politics.

He insisted there was freedom of speech in the country for citizens to criticise the government, but not to 'harm' the country.

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Video Assad Interview


At 3/18/2006 03:11:00 PM, Blogger ugarit said...

Video Direct Link

At 3/18/2006 05:46:00 PM, Blogger t_desco said...

Dr. Radwan al-Sayyid (who seems to be close to the Hariri camp) suggests that there is no such "thing called al Qaeda" in Lebanon and that most if not all Sunni extremism in the country is controlled by Syria (!).
He also claims that "enthusiastic young men who support Osama bin Laden" are eagerly "cooperating with the Syrian forces", and that the PFLP-GC is raising the banner of "al Qaeda" in Lebanon under the leadership of Ahmad Jibril.

Al Qaeda in Lebanon
Asharq Alawsat

At 3/19/2006 09:31:00 AM, Blogger t_desco said...


A Reuters article on the Brammertz reports mentions the testimony of Hussam Taher Hussam:

"Investigators were also still trying to establish that the Mitsubishi truck used in the bombing had been seen in Syria shortly before the killing and had been driven into Lebanon by a Syrian colonel, as stated in an earlier report."

It was Hussam who mentioned the "Syrian colonel" in his testimony (§98, first Mehlis Report). The Brammertz Report, however, refers to Mohamed Zuhair Siddiq's testimony: it was Siddiq who mentioned the Zabadane camp (§110, first Mehlis Report). Brammertz is still evaluating the credibility of Siddiq's testimony:

"29. ... It was stated that further investigation was required into an allegation that a Mitsubishi truck was seen in a camp in Zabadane (Syria) shortly before the explosion This allegation needs to be further corroborated and remains an on going line of enquiry in the context of the evaluation of the information provider."

It is also possible, however, that the "information provider" is a new witness.

Some thoughts on the Brammertz Report:

- a suicide bomber, but not Abu Adas; this lends credence to the claim that he was kidnapped, perhaps because of his links to Islamist groups (it is certain that he knew Khaled Taha, who is suspected of being an al-Qa'ida operative, and his brother admitted that he used to visit the Palestinian refugee camps, albeit not frequently; the "Ahbash Security Service" would have noticed him there).
- if it wasn't Adas, where did the suicide bomber come from? How was he recruited? And why did they use a suicide bomber at all?
- the hypothesis of several simultaneous blasts; if they were all underground, why use the truck? And how did they know that the convoy would use that route (one of three possibilities, according to the first Mehlis Report)? If the blasts were both underground and aboveground (the truck), how were they coordinated? Given the velocity of the blast, is a manual coordination even possible? And if the bombs were all remote-controlled, why the "suicide bomber"?

Two very interesting paragraphs:

"33. On a more general note, it has become clear that the means and methods of such a terrorist operation are more complex in their preparatory and planning stage, and simpler in their execution."

What does that mean?

"38. Due to the highly complex nature of the sponsoring, support and execution of terrorist activities, it is critical for the Commission to identify and utilize new forms of intelligence and information to establish links between the crime itself and those who enabled or commissioned it. The Commission is proactively pursuing a number of sources which can yield such data."

(my emphasis)

"New forms of intelligence and information" related to "terrorist activities"? Any idea what that could mean?


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