Statements of the United Nations report on killing Former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, have ripped like a thunderstorm through Syria and Lebanon.
When parts of the 53-page report began to emerge at about midnight (Damascus time) on October 20-21, everybody turned on Arabic satellite TV. People were waiting to hear a clear sentence saying: "Syrian Mr X pressed the explode button on February 14, 2005, killing former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, under orders from Damascus."
Such an explicit statement was not made. A threat, rather than an accusation, was fired at Damascus in the Mehlis report, making it clear that it could not find concrete evidence against Syria. Had the investigation obtained something tangible toincriminate the Syrians, by name, it would not have failed to include it in the findings, reports Asia Times.
The UN report refers to a tape of a February 1 conversation between Moallem and Hariri, which records Hariri complaining that the security services were waging a campaign against him.
“But Lebanon will never be ruled from Syria. This will no longer happen,” Hariri told Moallem, according to the report.
The report says Moallem told Hariri “we and the (security) services here have put you into a corner”.
“Please do not take things lightly,” the report quotes Moallem as saying.
The UN report said the tape “clearly contradicts” the testimony that Moallem gave to the UN commission investigating Hariri’s killing on September 20.
In that testimony, Moallem “falsely described the February 1 meeting as ‘friendly and constructive’ and avoided giving direct answers to the questions put to him”, the report said.
The US-British call for action, in a joint BBC interview by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, underlined the growing pressure on Syria as it faced possible action by the UN Security Council later this week.
“The report indicated that people of a high level of this Syrian regime were implicated,” Straw told the BBC. “We also have evidence …. Of false testimony being given by senior people in the regime. This is very serious.”
Rice called for “a firm response” from the international community, informs Independent online.