March 15, 2006

The Brammertz Report

The new head of the UN probe into the assassination of former Lebanese PM Hariri, Serge Brammertz, has submitted his first report to the UN Security Council. The report itself can be read here (PDF).

Michael Young comments on the report in his latest op-ed in The Daily Star. Young finds the report to be quite ominous as far as the Syrians are concerned, and that it points to the fact that Brammertz won't be distracted by scapegoats who may be offered to protect the Syrian ruling elite:
The most significant passage summing up Brammertz's current thinking about Hariri's murder came in paragraph 36. The commission stated its belief "that there is a layer of perpetrators between those who initially commissioned the crime and the actual perpetrators on the day of the crime, namely those who enabled the crime to occur." This was an intriguing formulation, intimating at least three layers of involvement: those who carried out the crime itself, those who ordered it, and an intermediate layer of accomplices who oversaw implementation. This entailed far more than, let's say, an Islamist plot, where the assassins would not require that intermediate layer, which mainly offers deniability.

If one acts on the hypothesis that Syria was behind Hariri's elimination, then the passage does two things: it underlines that Brammertz will not be misled by efforts to find scapegoats in the intermediate layer of perpetrators (apparently the middle levels of the intelligence services), to better protect those above who may have masterminded the crime; and it means the Belgian prosecutor is wise as to what took place, and that his silence is considerably more ominous than Syria and its allies would care to admit.
Syrian officials are giddy that the latest report is more discrete, unlike the previous ones by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis. But Druze leader Walid Jumblatt seems to share (scroll down) Young's reading, and is quite pleased with the report, and finds that it constitutes a clear indictment of the Syrian regime:
Although Brammertz said Syria has been cooperating, Jumblatt said the fact that the report decided there is a link between all explosions that took place before and after the assassination of Hariri was an explicit indictment of the Syrian regime.

"This is very important, as it forms a clear political indictment of the Syrian regime that ruled Lebanon at the time of the assassination," Jumblatt said.

He also said that what the report mentioned about highly professional terrorist work in Hariri's murder was further tacit "condemnation for the Syrian regime".

"This is a work on the level of a state, and Syria had strong hegemony over Lebanon then," Jumblatt said.
"Brammertz is following the work of Mehlis, and if he keeps this pace up the truth will be revealed soon," Jumblatt said, describing the report as "very positive and promising."

Meanwhile, the French reaction was relayed by Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei, who said: "We have received with interest the declaration by Damascus of its willingness to cooperate fully with the Commission, according to the conditions laid out by the Commission," adding, "this proves that the firm stand that the international community has adopted in this matter from the start of the investigation has yielded results." He continued, "We now expect Syria to translate this position to tangible steps by responding quickly to the commission's demands according to international resolutions."

Tony Badran.

Posted by Tony Badran at March 15, 2006 04:58 PM

Walid Jumblatt is a name I keep hearing when Lebanon is discussed. Why is this guy important? All I know about him is that people associated with him took some shots at Marines in Beiruit back in the 80s, and that the Marines called in some offshore fire support.

Was he involved in the barracks bombing? I thought that was Hizbullah, but I could be mistaken.

Posted by: rosignol at March 16, 2006 05:48 AM

Rosignol, Walid Jumblat is the leader of the Druze community in Lebanon -- a tiny, roughly 200,000 strong, community -- which has been at the center of the history of Lebanon.

Jumblat is an MP, and the head of a parliamentary bloc allied with the anti-Syrian forces in the country. He is the head of the Progressive Socialist Party, which was also served as the Druze militia during the war years (1975-1990).

Jumblat is famous for his mercurial nature, his Machiavellianism, and his shifting alliances. Yet, for the last year, he has been the most vocal critic of Syrian thuggishness and subversive interference in Lebanon, and for the last few months, the strongest critic of Hezbollah's continued status as an armed militia.

It is for the latter reason that I noted his quote.

Posted by: Tony at March 16, 2006 06:56 AM

Oh, and he was not involved in the barracks bombing. That was HA.

Posted by: Tony at March 16, 2006 06:57 AM

In fact, he was recently received in Washington by Dept. of State, NSC, and Pentagon officials, where he was lobbying for continued US support for Lebanon and continued pressure on the Asad regime.

Posted by: Tony at March 16, 2006 06:59 AM


Walid Jumblat is simply a chameleon in Lebanese politics. He is a war crminal, a theif and more of a tribe leader than a politician. If you want a model of ugly politics look at the man's history. He can be your friend today and kill you tomorrow.
He just got the recent attention in the US media simply because he made his acute shift and allied with the US neo-con thugs and agreed to be the puppet that US wants.

And BTW, all Hizbullah leaders are "cleaner" than Jumblat - a fact that Tony don't dare to mention.

Posted by: Against Reality at March 16, 2006 12:06 PM

AR- please don't insult my intelligence by trying to convince me that Iran's pet terrorists are 'clean'.

It doesn't matter if Hizbullah is less corrupt than the average middle-eastern politican. When it comes down to it, I'm an infidel, they're militant islamists, and the long-term goal of militant islamists is to either convert or kill the unbelievers.

It is very simple: making a deal with the people who want to get rich is more likely to be a long-term mutually beneficial arrangement than making a deal with people who want to kill the infidels. It would be better to deal with non-corrupt types, but in the patronage-based tribal politics common in the middle east, power is based on having money or guns. No money and no guns = no ability to get things done.

If Walid Jumblat's relevance is based on tribal affiliations and having a knack for associating with the side that's going to win, that pretty much tells me what I wanted to know.

Posted by: rosignol at March 16, 2006 11:55 PM

Dear rosignol, I have no intension what so ever to insult your intelligence. It have nothing to do with intelligence in the first place.

The fact that you believe Hizbullah is like the other islamofascits head-choppers, shows how far the US Media has gone in its disinformation. Hizbullah fighters are terrorists as much as the french resistance against Nazism is terrorist.

It is so sad that the only way to get out of this streotyping and misconceptions is to have an around the globe visit to lebanon to see by yourself.
Anyway, Lebanon is country with deep secterian divisions (more than 18 sects) and if Hizbullah's goal is to "convert or kill the unbelievers" as you said, then more than 60% of Lebanese would be a target of the guys. However, they are workingly closely with different sects including Christians and other "non-believers".

P.S. I not defending Hizbullah for what they are, but I am defending the truth (reality at least).

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