Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Mehlis Report: Crime, as in Gotham City

Turn on the Batbeacon! This is a job for Batman!

The assassination of Rafiq Hariri is looking more like a script for Batman than the Day of the Jackal (the 1973 film about an attempt by French military officers to assassinate DeGaulle because he was willing to give Algeria its independence).

The Mehlis Report has been released and at a first look, it's a narrative of dirty cops, corrupt bosses, and abuse of power and privilege by the insiders to run a lucrative crime syndicate rather than a serious effort to destabilize Lebanon. In other words, the Penguin pulling the strings of the Gotham City Police Commissioner.

Is Syria involved? Syrian actors, certainly, regarded Lebanon as a booty of conquest entitling them to run monopolies, distribute the spoils, and enforce a racket of patronage and corruption. The Syrian crime lords may have had a falling out with Mister Big--Rafiq Hariri--and rubbed him out. But it will be difficult for Condoleezza Rice to nail Bashir al-Assad for a probable rogue crime operation run by corrupt security officials in search of lucre. How high did the corruption go? The Syrian Foreign Minister appears to have attempted some clumsy ass-covering which failed to convince the intended audience--the UN. So far, it's unclear if the actual murder strays beyond the Syrian and Lebanese security establishments.

And speaking of pulling strings and dark conspiracies, may I also point out the shameless hypocrisy of Washington, baying like a hound for Syrian blood. Without mentioning the Iraq debacle, the US only recently had a hand in the kidnapping and sequestering of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

BTW, Helena Cobban has two excellent posts on the Mehlis Report:
Asef Shawkat and Karl Rove
Mehlis Report accusing Syria well as Joshua Landis:
Mehlis Report: Shades of Grey

From Agence France Presse: [Translated from French]

Syria, as well as Lebanon, are implicated in the assassination of Lebanese ex-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, concludes the report of the UN Independent Commission of Investigation. There is "convergent evidence" which reveals both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act, relates Detlev Mehlis, the head of the commission, in his report submitted on Thursday to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan after four months of investigation and made public Thursday night.

The German magistate emphasizes that the assassination could not have been committed without the knowledge of high-ranking Syrian officials. It is a well-known fact that Syrian military intelligence had a pervasive presence in Lebanon at least until the pullout of Syrian forces in compliance with Resolution 1559. Former high ranking Lebanese security officials had been appointed by [Syrian military intelligence]. Given the infiltration of Lebanese society and institutions by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services working in tandem, it would be difficult to imagine a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge, Mehlis added. One can reasonably think that the decision [to assassinate Rafik Hariri] could not have been made without the approval of high-ranking officials inside Syrian intelligence and could not have been orchestrated without the complicity of its counterparts inside Lebanese security, continued Mr. Mehlis. The motive for the assassination was probably political, Mehlis added. However, because the crime was not the work of an individual but of a group having access to perfected means, it is very possible that fraud, corruption and money laundering motivated certain people to participate in the operation, the text continues.

Mr. Mehlis also declared that Syrian officials, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Farook al-Shareh, "attempted to put investigators off the trail of the crime." While Syrian authorities, after initial hesitation, cooperated up to a certain point(...), several persons who were questioned attempted to send our investigation down the wrong path, he said. The letter addressed to the Commission by the Foreign Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic was revealed to contain false information, Mehlis accuses. The Commission concluded that after having interviewed witnesses and suspects in Syria and having established that several trails of evidence lead directly to Syrian security officials and implicated them in the assasination, it is incumbant upon the Syrian state to provide clarification to a significant potion of our unanswered questions.

The assassination of Rafiq Hariri and 20 others by a bomb planted in downtown Beirut on 14 February plunged Lebanon into a crisis. Several Lebanese held Syria, a neighboring country which held its smaller neighbor under its tutelage for three decades, responsible for the crime. Damascus has always denied any involvement. The crime also raised cries of indignation throughout the world and accelerated the departure of Syrian forces from Lebanon, which was one of the demands of UN Security Resolution 1559. The Mehlis Report was distributed to the fifteen members of the Security Council as well as to Lebanon, said the UN. In a cover letter, Mr. Annan indicated his intention of asking the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Mehlis Commission until 15 December as requested by the Lebanese government.

An interim report also implicated four Lebanese generals, now in preventative custody, who worked closely with Syrian intelligence Investigators went to Damascus in September where they took depositions from Syrian nationals, including Ghazi Kanaan, Syria's former strongman in Lebanon and Interior Minister who according to Syrian officials committed suicide on October 12 in his office in Damascus.


Blogger JoshSN said...


I posted this over at JWN, too...

Look at this paragraph...

"It is a well known fact that Syrian Military Intelligence had a pervasive presence in Lebanon at the least until the withdrawal of the Syrian forces pursuant to resolution 1559. The former senior security officials of Lebanon were their appointees. Given the infiltration of Lebanese institutions and society by the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence 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."

1. "It is a well known fact" does not make anything true. Nothing on Earth is true because it is a "well known fact."

2. By this logic, the FBI was behind every killing in America, since it is "difficult to envisage such a complex assassination plot" as JFK's to go one without them.

Who is Mehlis? Does anyone have any reason to trust or distrust him?

I wish I knew.

It seems like el-Baradei before the war.

He never said anything that was more definitive than "not likely" which always left room that for accusations that Saddam was sitting on a nuclear weapons program.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

It it a well-known fact that Lebanon was once part of Syria until the French Mandate, which carved out Lebanon for the Maronite Christians.

I think the Syrians were drunk on the cosmopolitan and coastal Lebanese lifestyle and the opportunities for lucre and control as occupying power. And it was high time for them to leave.

The security cabal drooled on the Hariri misadventure but from what I understand, criminal oligarcy, corruption and revenge are par for the course in the Middle East. So, yeah, they misplayed their hand, and case closed.

It's funny to hear Bush howling like a hound--when his crimes in Iraq are worse! I hope Bachar has France broker an apology and help him institute some reforms. Nothing is worse than to be humiliated by Shrub.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Josh you are so right--"leading" comments to influence the court of public opinion. Good point about th FBI and JFK.

Pretty curious--Mehlis was the second investigator after the first one was sacked.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Frankly, I’m fed up with all these self-proclaimed Middle-East “experts” avidly commenting excerpts from the Mehlis report as if it were some kind of exercise in exegesis.

OK some Marxist/Syrian “Mukhabarât” thugs might have contributed to the killing of one of their former protégés… and, after all, so what?

Rafiq Hariri was a notorious Saudi-sponsored fraudster and embezzler who had stolen billions from the Lebanese government’s coffers with the complicity of resident Syrian Gen. Ghazi Canaan who skimmed his infamous “khamseen” percent commission for the big boys back in Damascus and Qardâha.

Faux “sheikh” Hariri was most likely killed in a settling of accounts between rival Syrian mafia gangs: that type of crime happens every now and then in Palermo and in the south side of Chicago without eliciting the appointment of a German special prosecutor or impromptu meetings of the UN’s Security Council!

Contrary to the tall tales peddled on Fox News, Future TV, Al-Nahar-al-Wahhabist and other Saudi and/or Hebrew controlled media outlets, “sheikh Rafiq” was no “disinterested defender of freedom”

Actually, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Saddam’s Iraq and the French government were the only members of the international community who stood squarely on the side of Lebanon’s sovereignty while the country was being ripped/raped by Syria and Saudi Arabia: in those days, the White House courageously looked the other way while Syrian generals tortured at will from Beirut to Zahleh and “sheikh” Rafiq handed no-bid government contracts to his family’s construction firms and organized Oriental orgies cum crystal waterpipes and deluxe Lebanese sex slaves for his Saudi masters.

3:59 AM  
Blogger markfromireland said...

Josh Mehlis is a German judicial prsoecutor with a lot of experience in prosecuting terrorist offenses.

Furthermore that report is NOT the final one.

6:38 AM  
Blogger ziz said...

Pretty curious--Mehlis was the second investigator after the first one was sacked.

The first one was an Irish Policeman.. which doesn't explain anything - I formed the impression he thought that he was interposing himself between some nasty people and decided he had a head cold.

To me the most interesting thing is the explosion. This little Mitsubishi truck is carrying a TON of explosive, and "it must have been driven by a suicide bomber" ... because the Hariri cortege has all sorts of whizzy electronic devices to block remote triggering....of course.... no remains of the suicide bomber of course have been found.

But no explanation of all the evidence, tarmac, massive crater, UOWARD thrust of explosion - one car sent up 5 stories and only found 2 days later etc.,

Under road bomb is favourite and no one wants to pursue that line.

Anyway it won't happen again, Jack Straw says people mustn't go round asassinating other countries leaders. (He is squiring Condi (Veep in Waiting), around AL, tailgaitin' in Tuscaloosa, whilst they find someone to fit her Cindarella Ferragamo pumps).

Wonder if he gets bathroom visiting rights ?

1:54 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

Jack Straw says people mustn't go round asassinating other countries leaders

Wah-ha-ha! Yeah, that would be very naughty!

9:47 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

I don't doubt what dr. victorino says. Even L'Orient-Le Jour hinted at such things back in January. I agree Hariri was a fat cat backed by Saudi money in the corruption-loaded construction biz.

I want to know who is going around killing leftist pundits and tv personalitie. They seem like opportunistic slayings by thrid parties.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

My dear Luminous Geometric friend,

You say:

“I want to know who is going around killing leftist pundits and tv personalities. They seem like opportunistic slayings by third parties”

And we all want to know: my personal guess is that the killers are likely to be West-Beirut-based Palestinian refugees of Wahhabist/Hamas persuasion, trained in Saudi Arabia’s terrorist camp(use)s – the Saudi Embassy in Beirut “generously” gives hundreds of “student visas” every year to young Palestinian thugs from Sabra, ‘Ain-al-Remmaneh, …etc. to perfect their “education” in the Un-holly Kingdom.

More importantly, I think we must distinguish between “leftist pundits” and “TV stars” even though they share a common trait that might have made them targets of choice for the above-mentioned Islamic terrorists: they’re all Christians.

BUT, unlike LBC anchor May Chidiac who has always been a center-right Christian journalist staunchly opposed to all forms of totalitarianism be they Marxist/Syrian or Irano-Islamic, Syrian-born “pundit” Samir Kassir was certainly no “friend of freedom” – unless you believe in the twisted Trotskyite definition of liberty in vogue in Neocon circles…

Samir Kassir was a dogmatic member of the “International Committee of the Fourth International”, a secretive Marxist organization that once counted Paul D. Wolfowitz and Michael Ledeen as members of its US Youth Movement: unlike his (more or less) repentant friends at the Pentagon, Mr Kassir never reneged on his campus days commitment to uncle Lev Bronstein’s Marxist cum "internationalist" cause!

6:59 AM  

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