October 17, 2005

Bashar Assad


From Reuters: Hariri probe raises stakes for Syria's Assad, Lebanon.

The leaders of Syria and Lebanon could be fighting for political survival if, as many expect, a U.N. inquiry blames Syrian and pro-Syrian Lebanese officials for the killing of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Analysts and diplomats say they expect a cycle of bombings and killings to continue or intensify in Lebanon, where Syrian influence remains strong and where pro-Syrians will challenge any such U.N. findings as politically motivated. ...

Chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis presents his report to Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday over the February 14 assassination of Hariri and 20 others in a truck bomb in Beirut.

Diplomats and Lebanese political sources have told Reuters they expect Mehlis to name some Syrian officials in his report, as well as several pro-Syrian Lebanese officials and others.

It was not clear whether the suspects would include members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle.

From The Washington Times: Bashar Assad under seige by Nir Boms.

Since the beginning of his tenure in June 2000, Mr. Assad has little to show to his credit. Following the collapse of Iraq, Syria lost not only its remaining Ba'athist ally, but also a significant source of income that came, partly, due to its involvement with the oil-for-food scheme. Mr. Assad's perceived lack of ability to curb international pressures has caused Syria to unilaterally withdraw and lose much of his grip over Lebanon, creating a severe financial and prestige crisis in the ranks of the Syrian army. But that withdrawal, unlike the Israeli withdrawal of Ariel Sharon from Gaza, has brought little international credit to Mr. Assad. On the contrary, Syria's lack of ability (or will) to control its border with Iraq has not only showed its weakness but also further heightened the level of American frustration with Syria. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said recently that the United States's "patience [with Syria] is running out" and that other options will be considered should Syria fail to take matters into its own hands.

To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.

UPDATE -- Oct. 25: From FoxNews: Arabs Silent on Syria's Alleged Role in Hariri Assassination.

Arab countries have remained silent in the days after a U.N. report was released implicating top members of Syrian President Bashar Assad's inner circle in former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination.

The United States was trying to muster support among its allies for a tough U.N. Security Council resolution that would include sanctions against Syria for its alleged role in the Hariri assassination. The Security Council was to meet on the issue Tuesday.

Posted by Forkum at October 17, 2005 05:42 PM