Secretary Condoleeza Rice on Wednesday expressed her country's "grave and continuing concerns about Syria’s destabilizing behavior and sponsorship of terrorism."
Referring to continued (and future) Syrian delay tactics, Rice called on Syria to "cease obstructing the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and instead cooperate fully and unconditionally, as required by UN Security Council resolutions. We call upon the Syrian regime to respond positively to the requests of UN Independent International Investigation (UNIIIC). We intend to refer this matter back to the Security Council if Syrian obstruction continues. "
In other words, the recurrent Syrian demand for a cooperation protocol between Damascus and the UNIIIC will be clearly seen as obstruction.
Rice saw through the latest Saudi and Egyptian initiatives:
The United States stands firmly with the people of Lebanon in rejecting any deals or compromises that would undermine the UNIIC investigation, or relieve Syria of its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions. We are firmly committed to seeking justice and pursuing the investigation to its ultimate conclusion.As for Hizbullah and other militias:
The United States also calls for the full implementation of all parts of UN Security Council resolution 1559, including the disarmament and disbanding of Hizballah and other militias. Syria’s continuing provision of arms and other support to Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups serves to destabilize Lebanon, makes possible terrorist attacks within Lebanon, from Lebanese territory, and impedes the full implementation of Security Council resolutions.And yes, Rice accused Syria of killing Gebran Tueni and others:
As Resolution 1559 demands, Syria must once and for all end its interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon. Continuing assassinations in Lebanon of opponents of Syrian domination, including most recently the murder of journalist and Member of Parliament Gebran Tueni on December 12, 2005, create an atmosphere of fear that Syria uses to intimidate Lebanon. Syria must cease this intimidation and immediately come into compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions.You know what, as far as I am concerned, this is the best statement on Lebanon I have heard in a long time. Ms. Rice, you rule. Thank you.
Asked if Syria rejected a meeting between Assad and the investigators, Dakhl-Allah told Egyptian radio: "Certainly, because the issue is related to Syria's sovereignty."The Syrian regime, that is, will continue to hold Syrians hostage until Bashar gets some help from his one and only friend, the Iranian street sweeper gone nuclear president. Now that Ahmadinejad is even being castigated by the Russians, I am sure his upcoming visit to Damascus will bode well for the Syrian people.
"Syria is committed to its independence and sovereignty. This is a red line that cannot be crossed," Dakhl-Allah added.
The interview was monitored by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Asked about his remarks, Dakhl-Allah told Reuters it was taking it out of context to say Assad refused to meet the inquiry team and suggested that he was willing to receive a visit so long as it did not represent a breach of sovereignty.
"There is a difference between a questioning and an audience. The president receives visitors from Syria and outside Syria," he said.
He repeated Syria's demand that it signs a legal framework with the inquiry "that entails the procedures of dealing with Syria at all levels with affirmation on respecting Syria's sovereignty".
Lastly, and because you won't be reading this on any Saudi-sponsored media (which will be busy reporting the shameful and totally unnecessary stampede), Khaddam, for the second time this week, said that "In my belief, yes, my personal belief is that he ordered it."
Satan calling Bashar: your chamber is ready.
Update: Friday's issue of al-Mustaqbal is devoted to whitewashing the Saudi and Egyptian initiatives, which were painted by Hariri's newspaper as part of Syrian manoeuvering tactics. They quoted a slew of Lebanese political figures who exonerated the Saudis especially of any intentional plotting against Lebanese interests. Whether or not Bashar "tricked" the Saudis and Egyptians, as Naseer al-Asaad wrote, by proposing cooperation in exchange for a return to ruling the country (only idiots would let themselves be tricked like that), it is all over now. We are back to square one and the Syrian regime can no longer get away with this, nor can the Saudis and Egyptians afford to give Bashar the benefit of the doubt, or whatever it was they did.
Update 2: Jumblatt accused Syria of terrorising Arab regimes and "scaring them with a variety of "instruments and terrorist factions". Did Bashar really scare the Saudis and the Egyptians? Anton has more.