"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

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NEWS AND ARTICLES / HABERLER VE MAKALELER

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Syrian-Turkish Relations in Continuous development, Minister says

SOURCE: Syria Arap Republic Ministry of Economy and Trade

Turkish Minister of State for Foreign Trade Kursad Tuzman said Tuesday that the Turkish-Syrian relations are passing through new period of development and that there is a momentum from both sides to push them forward , adding that the exchanged visits to the both countries' senior officials contributed to developing these relations
A strategy was put for developing the trade and economic relations between Syria and turkey for interests of both countries and we are working to upgrade them," Tuzman said.

He pointed out that the free trade agreement between both countries is considered as "a new start", where it will cover two economic areas, the European one and the Arab area as it will be a crossing point between Syria and Turkey.

"I will chair a big businessmen delegation to visit Syria next March as I will visit Syria next week to brief on the achievements in the trade and economic fields which indicated to the depth of the friendship between both countries" he added.

Tuzman said that the trade exchange rate will exceed USD 800 million as the end of the year and it is in continued escalation.

He indicated that volume of the Turkish investments in Syria amounts to USD Billion and half Billion concentrated on the infrastructure and in the field of energy, manufacturing textile and other domains.

The Minister pointed out that the customs tariffs will be reduced after carrying out the free trade agreement to the 3,6 % as in Syria from the beginning of the next year which will contribute to strengthening the trade exchange between the two countries.

"We are happy to establish the financial market and stock exchange in Syria in the forthcoming period as well as the establishment of joint projects in the field of banks and banking cooperation.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Esad'dan sürpriz açıklama: İsrail her an Suriye'ye saldırabilir- Zaman

Lübnan Başbakanı Sinyora, Rusya'da- Zaman

Tony Blair'in Yeni Ortadogu Stratejisi ve Suriye


Yasin Atlıoğlu

Ingiltere Basbakani Tony Blair'in 13 Kasim 2006'da dis politikayla ilgili yaptigi aciklamada Orta Dogu'da kalici barisin saglanmasi ve istikrar için Suriye ve İran ile diplomatik iliskilerin kurulmasi gerektigini vurgulayarak Ingiltere'nin Orta Dogu'ya yonelik stratejilerindeki degisimin ve yumusamanin isaretlerini veriyordu. Blair'in aciklamasina paralel olarak James Baker baskanligindaki Irak Çalışma Grubu'nun bolgeye yonelik hazirladigi rapor ve Blair'in 18 Kasim'da İngilizce yayına başlayan El Cezire International televizyonunda Sir David Frost'un sorularına verdigi yanitlarda Irak'ın işgalinin hata olduğunu kısmen de olsa kabul etmesi Ingiltere'nin yeni Orta Dogu stratejisinin amac, kapsam, ve zamanlama acisindan tartisilmasini beraberinde getirdi.

Ingiltere'nin Dis Politikasinda ABD Faktoru

Ingiltere neredeyse Ikinci Dunya Savasi'ndan beri dis politika algilamalarinda ve planlamalarinda kuresel guc ABD'nin dis politika stratejileri ile uyum ve isbirligi gosteren dis politika davranislari sergilemektedir. Bu durumun gerek yonetimler gerek halk duzeyinde Ikinci Dunya Savasi ve Soguk Savas doneminden kaynaklanan guvenlige dayali psikolojik nedenleri olmakla birlikte iki ulke birbirini surekli stratejik ortak olarak gormesi, Ingiltere'nin Kita Avrupasi'na karsi her zaman mesafeli politikalar izlemesini ve ABD ile isbirligini geleneksel bir dis politika kalibi haline getirdi. Tony Blair'in iktidara gelisi ve ozellikle 2001 yili sonrasinda sergiledigi dis politika davranislari, bu politik anlayisin Ingiltere'deki Muhafazakar Parti iktidarlarina ozgu bir siyasi durum olmadigini acikca gosterdi.

11 Eylül 2001 saldırıları ardından Başbakan Tony Blair, ABD dis politikasinin oncelikleri arasina giren 'onleyici savas' ve 'rejim degistirme' stratejilerine tam destek vererek Ingiltere'nin Orta Dogu'ya yonelik politikalarinin ABD yonetimine bagimliligini ust seviyeye cikardi. Bu durumun en onemli kanitlari ise Ingiliz yonetiminin once Afganistan'a ardindan da Irak'a yapilan askeri operasyonlara gonderdigi Ingiliz askeri gucu oldu. Ozellikle Birleşmiş Milletler onayı alinmadan Irak'a duzenlenen askeri saldiri Blair hukumetinin dis politika davranislarindaki mesrulugunu ve inandiriciligini azaltigi gibi Ingiliz yonetiminin Irak savaşına girmek için öne sürdüğü gerekçeleri abarttığı suçlamalarının odağındaki akademisyen David Kelly'nin ölümü ve ardindan baslatilan sorusturma Irak Savasi'nin Ingiliz ic politikasinin onemli bir gundem maddesi haline getiren yolu acti. ABD'nin Irak askeri mudahalesinin kisa surede ulkeyi siyasi, ekonomik ve insani kriz alani haline getiren bir isgale donusmesi ise Ingiltere'de gerek halk duzeyinde gerekse kamuoyunda Blair'in ulke icindeki siyasi popularitesini dusurdugu gibi yonetime yonelik olumsuz elestirileri arttirdi. Blair'in Irak politikasinda ABD'yi destekleyen tavri, Irak'taki siyasi ve insani krizin buyumesiyle Ingilitere'nin bir zamanlarin 'Ustunde Gunes Batmayan Imparatorlugundan' ABD'nin dis politika stratejilerini uygulayan kucuk ortak durumuna dusmesi pek cok Ingiltere vatandasinin bilincaltinda siyasi gucsuzluk ve dis politikada bagimsiz hareket edebilme yeteneginin ortadan kalkmasi olarak yorumlanmaktadir. Ingiliz kamuoyunun genelinin Irak Savasi'ndan duyulan rahatsizligi acikca ortaya koydugunu ve ozellikle Bush yonetiminin politikalarina halk duzeyinde bir nefret duygusunun hakim oldugunu soylenebilir. Ingiliz yonetiminin Kita Avrupasina karsi dis politikadaki mesafeli durusu ve ABD yonetiminin basarisizliklarina ortak olunmasi Blair'i destekleyen secmen kitlesini gun gectikce azaltmakta ve hukumetin uzun sureli bir guc kaybina neden olmaktadir.

Irak politikasindan dolayi Blair'a karsi Ingiliz ic siyasetinde olusan gergin ortam son donemde yasanan somut siyasi krizlerle de gundeme geldi. Irak konusunda ilk ciddi siyasi kriz İngiltere Genelkurmay Başkanı General Sir Richard Dannatt'ın Daily Mail gazetesine yaptigi Ingiltere'nin askeri varlığının Irak'ta güvenlik sorunlarını körüklediğine ve yakın zamanda çekilmek gerektiğine yonelik sozleri oldu. Dannatt, yorumunun Irak'ın bazı kesimleri için geçerli olduğunu söylese de Irak'ta uygulanan siyaset hakkındaki ic siyaset tartışmalarıni şiddetlendirdi. İngiliz muhalefet partilerine gore, Dannatt'ın sozleri hükümet politikası dışında bir anlayışı yansıtmaktadir. Blair hukumeti, Ekim sonunda Galler ve İskoçya merkezli iki küçük milliyetçi partinin parlamentoya getirdigi Irak konusunda soruşturma açtırma cagrisini reddetmeyi basarsa da Basra'da gorevli olan İngiliz askerleri arasında ölenlerin artması, Irak'ta bitmek bilmeyen siddet eylemleri ve Ingiliz askerlerinin Irakli sivil halka olan sert tutumlariyla dunya basinina yansimasi, İngiliz kamuoyunda da savaş karşıtı havanin artmasina katkida bulunmaktadir. Genelkurmay Başkanı General Sir Richard Dannatt'ın açıklamalarını değerlendiren Blair ise, generalin tüm sözlerine katıldığını belirterek generalin bazı gazetelerin iddia ettiği gibi İngiliz askerlerinin derhal Irak'tan çekilmesini önermediğini vurguladı.

Blair hukumetinin Irak politikasi konusunda maruz kaldigi ic politik baski, dis politikada bazi degisikleri zorunlu hale getirmistir. Tony Blair'in Orta Doğu stratejisini anlattigi 13 Kasim'daki aciklamasi kismen bu zorunlulugun bir parcasi olarak degerlendirilebilir. Blair, İran'ın Orta Doğu'da yapıcı bir rol üstlenmesi halinde Batili devletlerin Iran'la işbirliğine girmesi gerektigini soylerken aksi bir durumda Tahran yönetiminin uluslararası tecrit ile karşı karşıya kalacagini belirtmeyi ihmal etmiyordu. Konusmasinda Irak krizinde cözümün kısmen Irak dışında yattığını kabul eden Blair, bu nedenle İslamcı aşırılığı besleyen unsurlarla mücadeleye yönelik yeni ve kapsamlı bir Orta Doğu stratejisi geliştirilmesi çağrısında bulunuyordu. Blair, yeni stratejinin ilk asamasinin Filistin sorununa saglanacak adil ve kalici bir çözüm olması gerektiğini vurgularken bölgede barışa ulaşmak için Lübnan ve Irak gibi diğer kriz alanlarina da bir bir çözülmesi gerektiğini belirtti. Bununla birlikte Blair, İran'ı nükleer programı konusundaki baskıları hafifletmek için bölgede baskı yaratan diğer konular olan Irak, Lübnan ve İsrail- Filistin sorununu kullanmak ve bolgesel etkinligini arttirmak istemekle de suçluyordu. Konusmanin ardindan Ingiltere Başbakanlık yetkilileri, Blair'in konuşmasının İran ve Suriye konusunda bir yumuşama olarak algılanmaması gerektiğini soyluyordu. Ayni gun Blair'in konusmasindan once Ingiltere Dışişleri Bakanı Margaret Beckett, Suriye ve Iran'in Irak'ta sorunun değil çözümün birer parçaları olmasını istediklerini belirtiyor ve 'Bu öyle yeni, dev bir adım değil, bir süredir üzerinde çalışılan bir konu. İran ile Suriye kendi kendilerini tecrit politikalarına son verip uluslararası toplumla işbirliğine gidecek mi, asıl mesele bu" diye sozlerini tamamliyordu.

Blair'in yeni acikladigi Orta Dogu stratejisi kendi icindeki tutarsizligi ve gerceklikten uzak olmasi acisindan Ingiliz basin geneli tarafindan yogun ve sert bir sekilde elestirildi. The Guardian gazetesinden Simon Jenkins şer ekseni Washington ve Londra için umut ekseni oldugunu soylerken Irak'ta çözüm için Iran'in yardiminin istenmesinin gercekci olmadiginin altini ciziyordu. (Simon Jenkins, ' Why stop the Great Satan? He's driving himself to hell', The Guardian, 16 November 2006). Suriye Devlet Baskani Beşar Esad ve İran Cumhurbaşkanı Mahmud Ahmedinecad'ın birer fotoğrafını mansetten veren The Independent gazetesi ise, "İşte Orta Doğu'daki yeni dostlarımız: 2002'nin şer ekseni mensupları 2006'da barış simsarı oldu" derken Blair'in aciklamasini savunmacı ve umutsuzluk kokan bir konuşma olarak nitelendiriyordu. (The Independent, 14 November 2006). The Guardian gazetesinden Simon Tisdall ise iki ulkeyle bir gorusme zeminin olabilecegini ama bu zemin saglanmasinin ilk sartinin Bush ve Blair'in samimiyetsiz sözlerini ve Farsların da gururu bir kenara bırakması gerektiginini belirtiyordu. (Simon Tisdall, 'Pride and prejudice', 14 November 2006). The Independent gazetesinden Anne Penketh, "İran ve Suriye neden bu aşamada Amerika ve İngiltere'ye yardım etsin?" sorusunu soruyor ve bu soruyu 'Çünkü çıkarları bunu gerektiriyor ve bu bölgedeki nüfuzlarını da sürdürmelerini sağlayacak' diyerek yanitliyordu.

Tony Blair'in Ekim ayi basinda bir elçisini (Sir Nigel Sheinwald) gizlice temaslarda bulunmak üzere Şam'a göndermesi Ingiltere ve ABD yonetimlerinin Suriye ile diplomatik iliskileri gelistirmesinin Iran ile yapilabilecek bir isbirliginden daha kolay gerceklesebilecegini gostermektedir. Blair'in Suriye'nin çözüm arayışlarına dahil edilmesi yönündeki eğilimi, Baskan Bush ve yakin cevresinin agzindan ifade edilmese de ABD'de paralel sekilde gelismektedir. Ornegin Lubnan'a yonelik Israil askeri saldirilarinin surdugu Agustos ayinda Bush’un ilk döneminde iki numaralı isim olan Richard Armitage sadece müttefiklerle değil düşman ülkelerle de görüşülmesi gerektiğini, bunun bir zayıflık göstergesi olmadığını dile getirirken İsrail Dışişleri Bakanlığı’nın eski müsteşarı David Kimche de Suriye’nin İran’dan koparılması için ABD ve İsrail’in Şam yönetimiyle üst düzeyde temas kurmasını öneriyordu. Eylul ayinda Sam'daki ABD Buyukelciligine yonelik gerceklesen silahli saldirinin Suriye guvenlik guclerince engellenmesi ABD Yonetimi'nin uzun sureden sonra olumlu bir diplomatik mesajla yaklasmasina yol acti. Bunun yaninda ABD'de yapilan son secimlerden Demokratlarin guc kazanmasi dis politikada Suriye gibi ulkelerle diplomatik kanallarin calistirilmasi gerektigine yonelik egilimleri guclendirmistir.

Orta Dogu'da Suriye Nicin Onemli?

Gunumuzde Suriye'nin Orta Dogu'daki konumuna baktigimizda, Soguk Savas sonrasi donemde bolgedeki etkili ve guclu devlet imajini kaybetmis ve ozellikle 2000'li yillarda askeri ve ekonomik acidan orta olcekli bir bolge devleti haline gelmis bir Suriye gormekteyiz. 2000 yilinda Hafiz Esad'in olumuyle gerceklesen iktidar degisimi ise ulke icindeki iktidar dengelerinin yeni baskanla birlikte yeniden yapilandirilmasini getirmistir. 11 Eylul sonrasi uluslararasi sistem ve bolgedeki guc kaymalari Bessar Esad Suriyesi'nin yeni dis politika yaklasimlari ve araclari gelistirmesini zorunlu kilarken Batiya yonelik isbirligi cabalarini arttirdi. Son 15 yilda ic ve dis politikasindaki bu kadar degisime ve guc kaybina ragmen Suriye bolgedeki kriz alanlarina hala dogrudan mudahil olmaya devam etmektedir. Aslinda Suriye yonetiminin Lubnan ve Hizbullah, Irak'taki direnis hareketi ve Filistinli gruplar uzerindeki etkinliginin sinirlari hic kimse tarafindan tam olarak cizilememektedir. Bush yonetimi ve yonetime yakin bazi uzmanlar, Lubnan Devlet Baskani ve Hizbullah'i Suriye'nin kuklasi olarak tanimlarken Irak'taki direnisi dogrudan desteklendigi ve Hizbullah ve Hamas'a siyasi ve askeri destek verdigi iddia etmektedir. Bu noktada Suriye yonetiminin uc kriz alani uzerindeki siyasi nufuzunu inkar etmemekle birlikte Suriye'nin bolgesel etkinliginin siyasi ve ekonomik gucuyle dogru orantili ve sinirli oldugunun altini cizmek gerekir.

Diger taraftan Tony Blair ve ABD'li Demokratlarin soz ve davranislariyla bolgesel sorunlarinin cozumu icin Bessar Esad Suriyesi ile siyasi ve diplomatik isbirligini isaret etmeleri, Orta Dogu'nun reelpolitiginde ABD-Ingiltere ittifaki ve Suriye icin karsilikli bir ihtiyacin ifadesi olarak da algilanabilir. Irak'taki krizin giderek kontrolden cikmasi ve daha genis capli bolgesel bir catismaya donusme ihtimaliyle Bush ve Blair yonetimlerinin ic politikadaki guc kaybi birlestiginde iki ulkenin Orta Dogu politikalarinda farkli stratejileri uygulamaya sokma ihtiyacini ortaya cikarmaktadir. Bu baglamda ABD ve Ingiltere ile disa acilma ve uluslararasi yalnizligini yenmenin yollarini arayan Suriye'nin ihtiyaclari cakismaktadir. Bessar Esad iktidari doneminde gerek yonetim anlayisi ve gerekse Batiyla entegrasyon istegi de Suriye'yi isbirligi acisindan avantajli bir konuma getirmektedir. Ozellikle ABD'nin Irak mudahalesi oncesinde Suriye istihbarati ile CIA (George Tenet'in CIA başkanligi doneminde) arasindaki yasanan El-Kaide hakkindaki bilgi paylasimi hatirlandiginda iki tarafta istekli ve samimi oldugu takdir isbirligini gerceklestirmenin zor olmadigi gorulmektedir. Suriye tarafi son yillarda Batiyla gergin iliskilere ragmen her firsatta isbirligine acik olduklarini ifade etmektedir. En son bir Italyan gazetesine roportaj veren Bessar Esad kuresel bir baris icin Batili ulkelerle yapici bir diyologa girmeye hazir olduklarini fakat karsi taraftan yeterli cevabi alamadiklarini belirtiyordu. Bessar soylediklerinde kismen haklidir. Ozellikle Bush yonetimi Suriye ile iliski kurmaktaki isteksizliginden taviz vermemekte direnmektedir. Bununla birlikte Suriye ile isbirligi fikrini ortaya atan Ingiltere Basbakani Tony Blair bile Orta Dogu'ya yaptigi son turda bir ABD Savunma veya Disisleri Bakani'ndan cok da farkli bir uslup takinmayarak bolge ulkelerine guven verememistir. Tarihsel olarak Suriye'nin Batiyla iliskileri karsilikli guvensizlik uzerine insa edildigi icin bu guven bunalimi hala iliskilerdeki istikrari zedelemektedir.

Peki ABD yonetimi ve Ingiltere Suriye'ye gereken diplomatik samimiyetle yaklasirsa Suriye yonetiminin isbirligi boyutu ne olabilir? Suriye ile Batili devletler arasindaki isbirligi imkanlarini degerlendirirken her iki tarafin Orta Dogu'daki kriz alanlarini tanimlarken kullandiklari terimlere bakmak isbirliginin duzeyini ve gerceklesme olasiligini tahmin etmemizi kolaylastiracaktir. Ilk olarak El-Kaide ve onun catisi altindaki asiri dinci gruplara karsi Suriye yonetimi Batiyla yuksek duzeyde guvenlik isbirligi yapmakta zorlanmayacaktir. Ozellikle son iki yildir Irak'taki El-Kaide ile baglantili Cünd el-Şam adli asiri dinci terorist gruba yonelik Suriye guvenlik guclerinin ulke icindeki operasyonlari Suriye yonetiminin radikal Islamci terore karsi kararliligini gostermektedir (Sami Moubayed, Terror within Syria, 9 June 2006, al-Ahram Weekly). Bu cercevede Irak-Suriye sinir guvenligi de kolay isbirligi saglanabilecek konulardan biri olarak gorulebilir. Fakat her iki tarafin teror konusundaki tanimalarinin farklilastigi bir cok nokta vardir ki bunlar, isbirligini imkansizlastirmaktadir. Ornegin ABD ve Ingiltere, Hizbullah ve Hamas'i teror orgutu olarak gorurken Suriye yonetiminin (ozellikle de baskentinin yaklasik 60 km otesindeki Golan Tepeleri'nde Israil isgalini yasadigi dusunulurse) boyle bir tanimlama yapmasi olasiligi yakin bir gelecekte oldukca dusuktur. Diger taraftan Suriye yonetimi tarafindan ulkeyi bolecek terorist tehdit olarak kanunla (49 nolu kanun) tanimlanan Islamci muhaliflerin (Musluman Kardesler Orgutu) Londra'da ustlendigi dusunuldugunde iki tarafin terore bakisindaki farklilik daha iyi gorulecektir. Bu anlayis farkliliklarinin temel belirleyicisi bolgedeki Israil devletinin varligi ve buna endeksli Amerikan politikalaridir. Israil'in siyasi varligini surdurebilmesi bolgedeki siyasi parcalanmisliktan guc almaktadir. Batiyla entegre olmus siyasi, ekonomik ve askeri olarak guclu bir Suriye Israil icin ciddi bir tehdit olacaktir.

Tum zorluklara ragmen Suriye yonetimi, Batili devletler tarafindan siyasi ve ekonomik tesvik yoluyla uzun vadede uluslararasi sistemin icine cekilebilir ve Irak, Filistin ve Lubnan sorunlarinin cozumu ve asiri dinci terorle mucadele konusunda bolgede kilit bir konuma getirilebilir. Batiyla isbirligi gosterebilen bir Suriye bolgedeki sorunlarin kisa vadede cozumunu saglamasa bile siddetin azalmasi ve gerginliklerin savas disi yontemlerle alinmasi yonunde onemli adimlar atabilir.

Sonuc

Sonuc olarak Ingiltere Basbakani Tony Blair'in Suriye ve Iran'a yonelik yumusayan tavrini, iktidarinin son doneminde ic politikaya yonelik bir olumlu bir siyasi miras birakmak kaygisindan mi yoksa ABD ve Ingiltere icin siyasi ve askeri acidan bir batakliga donusmus olan Irak'tan kurtulma cabasi olarak mi yorumlamak gerekiyor. Aslinda her ikisi de kismen dogru. Blair bir yandan ic politik itibarini kurtarmak istiyor diger yandan Irak'taki faciayi unutturmak istiyor.Bunun yaninda Suriye ve Iran ile diplomatik iliskilerin kurulmasi yoluyla kriz alanlarina bolge icinden cozum aranmasi fikrinin mantik olarak onemli oldugunun altinin cizmekle birlikte Blair'in soylediklerini yapabilecek siyasi iradeye ve Ingiltere'nin ise bolge uzerinde ABD yonetiminin izni disinda politika gelistirme yetenegine ve yaptirim gucune sahip oldugunu soylemek oldukca zordur. Bu sartlar da Blair'in soylediklerinin inandiricilik duzeyini dusurmekte ve emekliye ayrilma zamaninin geldigini dusundurmektedir.

ABD-Ingiltere ittifaki ve Suriye arasinda baslayabilecek diplomatik bir isbirligi surecinin cetin pazarliklar ve kesisen cikarlar esliginde gelisecegi unutulmamalidir. Lubnan'daki guvenlik zafiyetlerinden kaynaklanan suikastlar ve Israil'in bolgede radikallesen politikalari ise boyle bir isbirliginin onundeki en onemli engeller olmaya devam edecek gibi gorunmektedir.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Esad’dan Bush’a ve Olmert’e çağrı

Kaynak: NTVMSNBC

Suriye Devlet Başkanı, İsrail Başbakanı Ehud Olmert ile ABD Başkanı George Bush’a Suriye ile müzakere çağrısında bulundu.

İtalyan La Repubblica gazetesine mülakat veren Suriye Devlet Başkanı Beşar Esad, İsrail’de de Şam ile diyalog için seslerin yükselmeye başladığını belirterek, “Olmert’e şunu söylüyorum, Blöf yapıp yapmadığımızı görmek için bir girişimde bulunsun” ifadesini kullandı.

ABD’yi diyaloğa davet eden Baker raporuna da atıfta bulunan Esad, bu raporun, Suriye’nin merkezi rolünü kabul ettiğini ve raporda, bölgedeki krizlerin Irak’ın, Filistin’in ve Golan’ın işgaline bağlanarak, küresel bir barış istendiğini söyledi.

ABD ile bölgede yapıcı bir diyalogdan yana olduğunu da ifade eden Esad, “Ama istemek yetmiyor, biz tek olamayız” dedi ve İsrail, Irak, BM, Avrupa ülkeleri ve
hatta Çin ve Japonya’yı da müzakere masasına davet etti.

İran’ın önemli bir ülke olduğunu belirten Esad, “ABD ile Avrupa ülkeleri Tahran ile konuşmalı” dedi.

‘İSRAİL HER AN SALDIRI DÜZENLEYEBİLİR’

İsrailli askeri yetkililerin, Suriye’nin bir askeri kampanya çerçevesinde sınır boyuna füzeler yığdığı yolundaki açıklamalarının sorulması üzerine, “Füze yığmak, doğru bir tanımlama değil. Ama her an İsrail’in bir saldırı düzenlemesini bekliyoruz. İsrail, Hizbullah ile Suriye’ye karşı gelecek yaz bir savaş başlatma tehdidinde bulunuyor. Bu bir hayal değil. Bölgemizde her zaman bir savaş mümkün” diye konuştu.

‘HİZBULLAH’I SİLAHLANDIRMIYORUZ’

Suriye’nin Hizbullah’ı yeniden silahlandırdığından duyulan endişeyle ilgili olarak da Esad, “Anlamıyorum. Uydular var, UNIFIL var, Lübnan gizli servisleri var. Eğer bu iddia doğruysa neden yeniden silahlanmayı durdurmuyorlar. Füzeler 5-6 metre uzunluğunda. Cebe saklanacak türden hap değil ki bunlar” ifadesini kullandı.

Esad, mülakatına, “Suriye’yi tecrit etmek isteyenler, kendilerini tecrit eder. Fransa’dan söz etmek istiyorum: Paris izlediği siyasetle bütün inanılırlığını yitirdi” diyerek son verdi.

President Bashar al-Assad Arrives in Aden, Holds Talks with President Saleh of Yemen- SANA

No Mideast peace without Syria and Iran: Assad

SOURCE: Daily Times

The United States and Europe must talk to Syria and Iran if they want a comprehensive solution to Iraq and other Middle East conflicts, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published on Friday.

Assad told Rome’s la Repubblica newspaper Damascus was ready to cooperate with Washington to resolve regional issues and challenged Israel to open up to Syria. He also said Europe had a “complex” over the Jewish Holocaust. “The fact is that we (Syrians) live in this region, we know it well,” he said in the long interview, adding that Washington “needs our help” to formulate a plan for Iraq.

Asked if he was ready to work constructively with Washington, he said: “Certainly we are ready to do so. Because if you don’t resolve regional questions - Iraq, Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - it will be we bordering countries that will pay the highest price.”

Syria had “excellent relations” with many factions in Iraq and could support a national conference on the future of the country, he said. Assad also said the United States and Europe “must talk to Tehran”. A report released last week in Washington by a special panel recommended the United States engage Syria and Iran to bring about stability in Iraq.

The White House has so far rejected such contacts and President George W Bush renewed his criticism of Damascus on Wednesday, accusing Syria of human rights abuses and of trying to undermine Lebanese sovereignty. Assad said the Iraq Study Group report vindicated Syria’s position that it had to be listened to. Assad said Israel should also take up Syria’s offer to hold talks. “I say to (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert: ‘Take a chance. Discover if we are bluffing or not.’”

Israel is firmly opposed to talks with Syria, saying Damascus needs first to cut its links to the anti-Israeli militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Syria wants talks to recover the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967.

Asked about this week’s conference sponsored by Iran questioning the Holocaust - the killing of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in World War Two - Assad said: “Listen, Europe has a complex about the Holocaust. We don’t because we didn’t do it.”

Friday, December 15, 2006

Kerry: ABD, İran ve Suriye ile görüşmeli- Zaman

Rice: İran ve Suriye'yle Görüşmeyeceğiz

Kaynak: VOA

Amerika Dışişleri Bakanı Condoleezza Rice, Irak konusunda İran ve Suriye ile görüşme yapma fikrini reddetti.Rice Washington Post gazetesine verdiği demeçte Irak Çalışma Grubunun bu iki ülkeyle diyalog kurulması önerisine karşı olduğunu belirtti.

Rice, Irak sorununa yardımcı olmaları karşılığı Suriye’ye Lübnan’a müdahale etme ya da İran’a nükleer silaha sahip olma izni vermeyeceğini söyledi.

Amerika Dışişleri Bakanı bu iki ülkenin, Irak’ta istikrarın sağlanmasını kendi çıkarlarına uygun görüyorlarsa bunu zaten yapacaklarını savundu.

Suriye Devlet Başkanı Beşar Esad ise Amerika ile görüşme masasına oturmaktan yana olduğunu açıkladı.

Esad, bir İtalyan gazetesine verdiği demeçte Washington’un Orta Doğu’da istirar için ülkesi ve İran ile görüşmesi gerektiğini belirtti.

Pope asks Syria to help secure peace

SOURCE: Gulf News

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday encouraged Syria to use its influence to help resolve Middle East conflicts and counter terrorism.

Greeting Syria's new ambassador to the Holy See, the pontiff noted repeated papal appeals for cessation of violence in Lebanon, Palestine and in Iraq.

"With a heavy heart, I note that a wide range of disputes have led to armed conflicts that threaten the peace of the entire Middle East," the Pope said.

He told Syria's ambassador that he was heartened by the diplomat's assurances that Damascus is committed to "counter this growing threat to peace."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More than 800,000 Iraqis may be in Syria

SOURCE: AP

Syria has admitted more than 800,000 Iraqis who have fled the violence in their country, the official Al-Baath newspaper quoted Syria's Interior Ministry as saying Wednesday.
The report put the influx down to Syria's relaxed rules for Arabs seeking visas as well as Syria's physical and cultural proximity to Iraq.

The report said as many as 648,000 of the Iraqis entered Syria in 2003 in the months after the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by U.S.-led forces.

Iraqis are granted annual residence permits if they have a fixed financial income, private property or have registered their children at a Syrian school, the Interior Ministry official was quoted as saying.

Iraqi refugees have settled mostly in and around Damascus, the Syrian capital. Most are said to be of middle class background and are living on their savings.

'Suriye'de Siyasi Tutuklular Serbest Bırakılsın'

Kaynak: VOA

Başkan Bush, Suriye’den siyasi tutukluları serbest bırakmasını ve Lübnan’ın içişlerine karışmaktan vazgeçmesini istedi.

Bush, Suriye’de hastalanan bazı siyasi mahkumlara tedavi imkanı tanınmadığı ve bazılarının da adi suçlularla aynı hücrelerde tutulduğu yolundaki haberlerden büyük kaygı duyduğunu bildirdi. Başkan Bush, ayrıca Suriye’yi Lübnan halkına dış baskı ve müdahale olmaksızın demokratik haklarını kullanma izni vermemekle suçladı.

Bush, açıklamasında, Suriye halkının da yasallığı kaba kuvvete değil, halkın rızasına dayanan bir hükümete layık olduğunu da belirtti.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Suriye, İran ve Turkiye Aynı Kararlılıkta"

Kaynak: AA

Başbakan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Irak'ın toprak bütünlüğünün korunması konusunda İran, Suriye ve Türkiye'nin aynı inancı ve kararlığı taşıdığını belirtti.

Erdoğan, günübirlik çalışma ziyaretinde bulunduğu Suriye'den dönüşünde yaptığı açıklamada, görüşmelerde Orta Doğu Barış sürecine ilişkin son gelişmeleri değerlendirdiklerini ve sorunların çözümüne yönelik bölgesel aktörlerin ortak katkılarının neler olabileceğinin üzerinde durduklarını söyledi.

Erdoğan, Irak Hükümeti'nin güvenlik ve istikrarı tesis etmeye yönelik çabalarının desteklenmesi konusunda fikir birliğine vardıklarını ifade etti.Başbakan Erdoğan, Suriye'nin Irak ile diplomatik ilişki kurma kararından memnuniyet duyduğunu belirterek, "Irak'ta şu ana kadar bazı bölünme hesaplarının olduğu, buna yönelik bazı açıklamaları zaman zaman değişik yerlerden duyuyoruz. Irak'ın toprak bütünlüğüne yönelik İran'da da Suriye'de de bizde de aynı inancın, kararlılığın olması Irak'ın toprak bütünlüğünü teyit edecektir, sağlayacaktır" diye konuştu.

Erdoğan, Lübnan'da istikrar ve huzurun sağlanması için bölge ülkeleri olarak yapıcı gayretler içinde bulunulmasının son derece önemli olduğu noktasında aynı fikirde olunduğunu kaydetti.

Suriye'deki temaslarında bölgedeki tüm sorunların merkezinde Filistin meselesinin bulunduğunu teyit ettiklerini ifade eden Erdoğan, İsrail ve Filistin arasındaki sorunun giderilmesine yönelik yeni bir barış dinamiğine ihtiyaç olduğunu belirtti.

Orta Doğu barış sürecinin Suriye'yi de kapsayacak şekilde canlandırılması gerektiğini düşündüklerini ifade eden Erdoğan, ''İlgili BM kararları ve toprak karşılığı barış ilkesi temelinde Arap-İsrail ihtilafına adil, kalıcı ve kapsamlı bir çözüm bulunması şarttır'' dedi.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Syria and Turkey call to Ease Tension in Middle East


SOURCE: SANA
Syria and Turkey emphasized on Wednesday the necessity of excreting efforts to decrease the existing tension in the region.

They also stressed the importance of cooperation among countries of the region to achieve stability and security. Both sides asserted the need to continue coordination and consultation regarding issues of the region and matters of common interests.

This came during a meeting between President Bashar al-Assad and the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where they reviewed the situation on the Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese arenas.

They also conferred on relations of cooperation and friendships between Syria and Turkey, particularly the economic cooperation.

The Turkish premier briefed President Assad on aims of his current tour.

Mr. Erdogan and the accompanying delegation left al-Sah'ab Palace and were seen off by President Assad, Vice President, Speaker of People's Assembly, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Culture.

Earlier, President Assad received Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and held with him a bilateral meeting.

Turkish Prime Minister arrived in Damascus at noon today in an official one –day visit to Syria.
He was welcomed at Damascus International Airport by Prime Minister, Mohammed Naji Otri and Ministers of Tourism, Culture, Health , Minister of State for Syrian Red Crescent Affairs , and the Turkish ambassador to Syria.

Suriye'ye sürpriz ziyaret- Zaman

Iraq Study Group Report

'Irak Politikası Değişmeli'

Kaynak: VOA

Irak Çalışma Grubu Başkan Bush’un Irak politikasının yürümediğini vurgulayarak Amerikan stratejisinde önemli değişiklik çağrısında bulundu.

Üst düzeyde uzmanlardan oluşan grubun hazırladığı rapor bugün Washington’da açıklandı.

Grubun eşbaşkanı Lee Hamilton, Irak’taki tüm Amerikan muharip birliklerinin, 2008 yılı başına kadar çekilmesinin önerildiğini söyledi.

Hamilton rapordaki üç esas tavsiyeyi de şöyle sıraladı: Irak’taki Amerikan birliklerinin ana görevinin değiştirilmesi, Irak hükümetinin konan hedeflere ulaşmak için hızlı adım atması ve bölge ülkelerini kapsayan diplomatik çabaların artırılması.

Çalışma grubunun diğer eşbaşkanı James Baker, Irak birlikleri içinde halen danışman olarak görev yapan 4 bin Amerikan askerinin 20 bine çıkartılmasının önerildiğini belirtti. Baker Irak’taki Amerikan askeri sayısının artırılmasını istemediklerini, bu artışın mevcut kuvvet içinden kaydırma yoluyla gerçekleştirebileceğini vurguladı. Baker aynı zamanda İran ve Suriye’yi de içine alan diplomatik girişimlerin artırılması çağrısında bulundu.

'Türkiye Kuzey Irak'a Asker Gönderebilir'

Çalışma Grubu'nun Irak'ta durumun kötüleşmesi durumunda olabilecekler üzerine kurduğu senaryolarda Türkiye'ye de yer veriliyor. Rapor, "Türkiye, bağımsız Kürdistan kurulmasına engel olmak amacıyla Irak'ın kuzeyine asker gönderebilir" ifadesine yer veriyor.

Raporun Irak'a komşu ülkelerle ilgili kısmındaysa, Türkiye'yle ilgili şu paragraflar geçiyor:

"Türkiye, Irak politikası çerçevesinde, iç istikrarına tehdit olarak gördüğü Kürt milliyetçiliğini caydırmaya yoğunlaşmış durumda. Türkiye, Irak'taki Türkmen azınlığa destek veriyor ve onlar üzerindeki nüfuzunu Kerkük'ün Irak Kürdistan'ına bağlanmasını önlemek amacıyla kullanıyor. Türk şirketler, Irak'ın Kürt bölgelerine yatırım yapıyor. Türk ve Kürt liderlerse, siyasi, ekonomik ve güvenlik konularında ilişkilerini yapıcı zeminde sürdürmeye çalışıyor."

Türklerin terörist PKK örgütünün faaliyetlerinden derin kaygı duyduğunu belirten rapor, şöyle devam ediyor:

"Türkler, Amerika ve Irak hükümetinin PKK'ya karşı daha sert önlem almamasından rahatsız durumda. Aksi takdirde PKK'yla mücadeleyi kendi başına yürüteceği tehdidinde bulunan Türkiye, daha önce de Irak'ın kuzeyine birkaç kez sınır ötesi operasyon düzenlemişti."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Powell calls for conducting a Dialogue with Syria and Iran

SOURCE: SANA
US former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday reiterated support to open dialogue between the US with each of Syria and Iran on all possible levels in order to find a way out of the situation in Iraq and the region.

"We should talk with Syria and Iran… Syria is part of the solution.. I visited Syria twice when I was a Secretary of State because she is part of the solution," Powell said at the annually "Forum of Leaders" in Dubai.

Powell's call coincides with the call of former US Secretary of State James Baker for holding direct talks with Syria and Iran.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lebanese Christian leader killed- BBC News


Lübnan Sanayi Bakanı Öldürüldü

Kaynak: VOA

Lübnan’da Suriye karşıtı Sanayi Bakanı, Hristiyan Pierre Cemayel öldürüldü.

Görgü tanıkları silahlı kişilerin Beyrut’un bir Hristiyan mahallesinde Cemayel’in bindiği aracı kurşun yağmuruna tuttuğunu bildirdi. Yetkililer, 34 yaşındaki bakanın ağır yaralı olarak kaldırıldığı hastanede öldüğünü açıkladı.

Cemayel, geçen iki yıl içinde Lübnan’da öldürülen Suriye karşıtı politikacıların sonuncusu. Birleşmiş Milletler soruşturmasında suikastlerden birinde, eski Başbakan Refik Hariri’nin öldürülmesi olayından Suriye sorumlu tutuluyor. Şam hükümeti, Cemayel’in öldürülmesini kınadı.

Amerika Dışişleri Bakanlığı Müsteşarı Nicholas Burns, olayı terör eylemi olarak niteledi ve Washington’un Lübnan Başbakanı Fuad Siniora hükümetini desteklemeye devam ettiğini söyledi.

Bu aybaşında Suriye yanlısı altı bakan, Hizbullah’ın hükümet içinde veto yetkisine sahip olma talebinin reddedilmesi üzerine istifa etmişti. Hizbullah ise, Siniora hükümetini, meşruluğunu kaybettiğini öne sürerek çekilmeye çağırmıştı.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Journalist Michel Kilo, lawyer Anwar Bunni on hunger strike

SOURCE: ArabicNews
Reporters Without Borders apoke about journalist and writer Michel Kilo, who began a hunger strike on 28 October 2006, along with lawyer Anwar Bunni and other political prisoners who were arrested in May after signing a joint statement calling for an improvement in relations with Lebanon.The hunger strike, which is to last a week, is being held to protest against their prison conditions and the fact that the authorities did not execute a judicial order for Kilo's release on bail on 19 October.Kilo's lawyer told Reporters Without Borders that his trial on the new charges that have been brought against him is scheduled to start on 31 October, before a Damascus criminal court.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Michel Kilo Released

SOURCE: The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC)

The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) welcomed the decision made by the judge at the Justice Palace in Damascus (on Thursday 19/10/2006) to release the writer Michel Kilo (66 years) from prison, but his trial will continue to operate whilst he is free. Mr. Kilo was arrested on the 12/05/2006 for signing the Beirut - Damascus Declaration.

SHRC congratulates Mr. Kilo on the occasion of regaining his freedom, and calls upon the Syrian authorities to drop all charges made against him, and release the detainees of the Beirut - Damascus Declaration, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Syrian prisons and interrogation centres.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Muslim Brotherhood Open Office in Washington DC, Criticized by other Muslim Organizations

SOURCE: Reform Party of Syria(RPS)
Furthermore, a new moderate Muslim organization named the Society for Justice and Development based out of London the UK criticized the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood today in an article published by Elaph. Their criticism centered on the attempts of the Muslim Brotherhood to stifle their growth for fear that they would attract Syrian moderate Muslims hungry for Islam but not for extremism.

Ali al-Ahmad, the writer of the article, claims that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood does not act any different than the Ba'athists in control in Damascus; it does so by excluding people and organizations that the SMB do not agree with from any political process. Many other organizations, who joined the National Salvation Front in the past and then left them, have leveled the same accusations against the organization.

Monday, October 09, 2006

President Assad's Interview to BBC

SOURCE: SANA
Interview conducted by John Simpson of the BBC with President Bashar al-Asad

Mr Simpson: Mr President, welcome and thank you very much for doing this interview with us. It is a rare occasion, and you have to forgive me if some of my questions are blunt, because sometimes it is impossible to be too polite about some things. For instance, Syria has a really unenviable reputation in many countries of the West. For instance, the United States has publicly said, or American officials publicly said that Syria is a member of the axis of evil. Your country harbors people that others would regard as terrorists.

President Assad: First of all, you are most welcome in Syria. I am going to be very direct as usual. Actually, everybody care about their reputation, but we care more about reality. Reputation is matter of perception. The question is: do some in the West perceive the reality in our region as it is or as they want? The events in our region, especially after September 11 in New York, and after the invasion of Afghanistan, and especially after the invasion of Iraq proved that we were right; and maybe there is some denial by most of them to confess that they were wrong. But actually, many of those officials in the West that you have mentioned in your question revised their policies. And it was proven that they were wrong. Actually, when they accused Syria about supporting terrorism anywhere, they wanted to make Syria a scapegoat to blame it for every single mistake they make; and they absolve themselves from any responsibility.

Mr Simpson: But might it not be better not to have close links with groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas, not to have such a close alliance with Iran, not to allow weapons to go to Hizbullah, not to allow insurgents to pass into Iraq from your country?

President Assad: Some of the biggest mistakes made by the West – I know that the term West is very broad, but I have to use it because I cannot name every country – was to use labels as a base for political action. It does not matter what you label organizations or people or countries. The most important thing in politics is whether they have effect or not. As long as they are effective on the ground, among the people, you have to deal with them. And when they have the support of the people, you cannot label them as terrorist, because this way you label the people as terrorist. You cannot say this country is a terrorist country, and this people is a terrorist people. This is not objective; and that is why most of the policies undertaken by the West for the past few years toward our region have failed.

As for Hamas and Hizbullah, both are part and parcel of the Lebanese and Palestinian societies. And do not believe that there is any organization which sends its people and members to die for a third country. This is not realistic. They die when they have a cause. Do not believe that any one of them could be strong and win elections in both countries, whether to be at the helm of the government or in municipal elections when they represent only themselves or part of their society. When they win these elections, it means that they have the full support of their people, and of course the support of the people in the region. In Iraq the situation is different. We do not know which party or parties – or there might be no parties at all – take part in the resistance. In Iraq, they have two things: there is the chaos and terrorism and you have the resistance. Our public stand is that we condemn every single attack against civilians and the innocent in Iraq. Some times there are suicide bombers who kill tens and hundreds in one day. While attacking occupying forces is normal.


Mr Simpson: It is acceptable!

President Assad: Whether we accept it or not, it is normal, it is a fact. Wherever you have occupation in the region, for the last 150 years at least - we can go further back in history, but at least for the past 150 years – you have the same reaction to every occupation. The British were in Iraq at the beginning of the last century and they faced the same thing, Israel in Lebanon, Israel in Palestine, and now the British, American and other troops in Iraq. This is a normal reaction whether we accept it or not. So, it is better to accept what is normal.

Mr Simpson: ِِAre you prepared to help the people who kill British and American soldiers?

President Assad: First of all, we are against the occupation, and we warned the British and the Americans before the war that whenever you are going to win the war – and you are going to win it – you are going to ask the whole world to extricate you from this quagmire – and they are in a quagmire. Of course, if it is normal, and we have to accept the normal, of course, resistance is one of our concepts that we adopt, not against the British or the Americans in particular, but as a concept, against any occupying forces in the world. Even the UN Charter gave people the right to resist, whatever kind or resistance, whether it is military or through any other way, resistance is the right of the people. It is very normal for us to support it and adopt it.

Mr Simpson: So, you do allow insurgent to pass across the border into Iraq.

President Assad: No, this is something else, because first of all the resistance in Iraq is Iraqi resistance. It does not come from anywhere outside the border. Second, the insurgents, as we understand them, are the terrorists who go and kill the Iraqis. They try sometimes to come through the borders because, you know, terrorism has no borders. It is like the internet. It flows from place to place with no restrictions; but we tried our best and succeeded somehow in preventing many of those to go to Iraq. But, anyway, Iraq has now been transfigured into a nexus for terrorism. So, nobody can stop it. But we do not allow and we do not support them because first for the Iraqis, and second for our own interest, because if you allow terrorists to attack somewhere anywhere in the world, it would attack you later. So, how is the situation going to be if you allow it in your neighbouring countries.

Mr Simpson: Let me get this absolutely right. You understand the reasons for the insurgency, either against Israel or against the British and American forces in Iraq, but you do not help them.

President Assad: I have to be very precise about the definition. The insurgency is something against the law. We do not support it. As to resistance, we adopt it as a concept. That does not mean that you support it with money or armaments. I am talking about the political concept. We adopt it as a right. It is like when you in the West say that you adopt the human rights bill legally. That does not mean that you support it with money or you take action or whatever.

Mr Simpson: I see. But you helped Hizbullah and you allowed them to have weapons that came from Syria, did you not?

President Assad: Usually, and from our experience in the region, whenever you have resistance, you have public support. Whenever you have public support, they will be able to get arms from anywhere.

Mr Simpson: Can I just ask you: you did help Hizbullah with weapons, did you not?

President Assad: No, we helped them politically. We usually help them politically.

Mr Simpson: Are you prepared to work with the international community in preventing new weapons getting to Hizbullah in Lebanon?

President Assad: Yes, this is part of the UN resolution 1701 which we supported. So, are we going to implement part of it or the whole resolution? Was this resolution passed to help the region and to prevent another war, or was it passed just against Hizbullah? If it is going to be implemented as a whole - we said that we do not agree about all the points in it - but we are going to support it in order not to have another war. For example, there are incessant encroachments by the Israeli aircraft and troops into Lebanese airspace and territory on a daily basis. Why does not the international community interfere and talk to the Israelis about this resolution. So, it is not a matter of Hizbullah. The whole resolution should be implemented. This is how we see it.

Mr Simpson: How has the fighting in Lebanon in July and August changed things in this part of the Middle East?

President Assad: First, it did not change the position of Syria. But it changed the vision in some other countries in the world, especially the United States and some of its allies in the West. They used to think that military force is the omnipotent power and that it can solve anything. That was proved to be wrong. And it has proved a very important thing: if you do not tackle the issues politically, armies cannot do anything, no matter how strong the army is.

Mr Simpson: American officials are saying they do not think you can or will help with the peace process; and so they do not think there is any point in talking to you.

President Assad: You have to ask them on what basis they say that.

Mr Simpson: Well, I suppose they say because they feel that you are not moving towards negotiations with Israel, for instance. Are you prepared to move towards negotiations with Israel?

President Assad: If we draw an analogy with a car, it is not one car with one driver. The peace process has more than one party, and all of them have to drive in the same direction. You say in English, ‘it takes two to tango’. So, if one of the dancers is dancing tango and the other is dancing waltz but thinks that he is dancing tango, both of them will fall.

Mr Simpson: Which are you dancing? If you are favourable or you are helping, in one way or another, Israel’s enemies, it is going to be very hard to say, well we can negotiate with you openly.

President Assad: The ideal thing to achieve peace is to implement international law, UN resolutions and Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. So, the conditions to achieve peace are the international conditions. This is very simple, in order not to make it complicated. If you ask the parties, each one has its own vision, you make it complicated. Nobody will make concessions at the end. So, it is better to be committed to the international will if you talk about the will or if you talk about the vision. We are committed to this will and to this vision. Are the Israelis committed to it? This is first. Second, what is the role of the United States? It is not only the problem between the two parties. You need an impartial arbiter. This is the role of the United States. This is the supportive role of the United Nations and this is the supportive role of the Europeans. So far, the United States does not have the will to play this role and does not have the vision for peace. Of course they do not have a vision towards Iraq, they do not have a vision towards terrorism and about many other issues. But I am talking now about peace. If you go back to the very beginning, whether we can or we cannot, no, Syria by itself cannot make peace with itself. We should make it with all these factors so that we can achieve peace. Now we do not have this environment, we do not have this good climate to achieve peace.

Mr Simpson: So, now is not the time.

President Assad: It is always the time. I mean we do not have the factors. On the contrary, it is the time, especially after war. After war, you talk about peace, but that does not mean we have the environment to achieve it or to move toward it.

Mr Simpson: Some senior politicians in Israel are saying it is now time for Israel to start talking to Syria. I mean, if that were the case, if the prime minister, as opposed to some of his other ministers, were to say to you, we are ready for talks, what would your answer be then?

President Assad: Actually, I started talking about peace. So, we have to wait for their answer.

Mr Simpson: Are you waiting for an answer from them?

President Assad: As I said, it is not only them, because we do not know if this government is strong enough to move toward peace, like what happened during Barak’s term in 2000, when we went to Wye Plantation to meet with the Israelis, and you can read that in the memoirs of former US president Bill Clintion, when he mentions that the Syrians were ready to deliver, while the Israelis were not because of internal issues. So, the first question is can they and do they have the will? The other question is, as some say, the decision for peace now is not in Israel, it is in Washington. I did not only read this in the newspapers and magazines, but actually many officials in Europe and in the Arab world heard that from the Americans. If the Americans do not have the will, the Israelis cannot move without the United States. Third, as I mentioned earlier, that depends on the will and the vision of the United States.

Mr Simpson: And that is not there, you think, at the moment.

President Assad: So far, there was no dialogue, so how can we tell. We only expect, we hear from others. But can you achieve peace without making dialogue with all the parties. We cannot. How can you talk about peace and at the same time about isolation. How can you talk about peace and you adopt the doctrine of preemption, preemptive war? This contradicts 180 degrees with the concept of peace. You cannot adopt both.

Mr Simpson: One of the problems, particularly in Israel, is that people there feel absolutely certain that Syria is dedicated to wiping out Israel as a state. Your friend and ally, president Ahmadinejad of Iran has spoken about wiping Israel off the face of the globe. What do you say about that? Is that your idea as well?

President Assad: Your question is evidence that they do not read thinks very carefully. They do not read the lines and they do not read between the lines. I am not going to give you my opinion. I will give the facts. How can we ask for wiping Israel and at the same time ask for peace and negotiations. We had negotiations in the 1990s with Israel. Do you make negotiations and put peace as a goal to wipe out somebody? We talked about normal relations and all these details. This not objective.

Mr Simpson: So, would you accept that, at some future stage, no matter how long it takes, Syria and Israel could live side by side in peace and harmony accepting each other’s existence?

President Assad: Yes, the answer is yes.

Mr Simpson: No problems about that at all?

President Assad: Of course not. Why do we want to achieve peace, to have war? This is self-evident. I agree about what you said.

Mr Simpson: Down the decades, Syria’s influence in Lebanon has divided the different groups in the country, and of course most recently there was the murder of prime minister Hariri, which one UN report said could only have been carried out with the knowledge of the Syrian intelligence system.

President Assad: The assassination of Hariri has affected Syria as bad as it affected Lebanon. Hariri was a real ally of Syria. He was never against Syria. He supported Syria in many difficult positions and stands. So, there was no single convincing reason to push Syria to do such a thing.

Mr Simpson: Supposing the UN does turn up evidence that Syrian intelligence agents, for instance, who were very active in Lebanon and elsewhere, had been responsible. I know this is a hypothetical question, but would you put them on trial, would you deal with them?

President Assad: Yes, we announced that publicly. They would be prosecuted first of all in Syria. Now the question whether it is going to be an international tribunal or anything else is too early to answer. So far, our law says that whoever proves to be complicit in such an atrocity is considered a traitor, and a traitor is punished by the most sever punishment.

Mr Simpson: But forgive me, is it possible that the president would not know what the security people of his country are doing?

President Assad: This means you presume that somebody in our intelligence took part in this. We are not convinced of that.

Mr Simpson: It is what the UN report said.

President Assad: As far as we know, no Syrian is involved, whether in the state, the intelligence, or any other apparatus within or outside the state.

Mr Simpson: Syria is a difficult country for outsiders to understand. It is a very closed society. It does not exercise its affairs in public. We know very little about this country. Forgive me for asking this: are you really the man in charge, or does somebody tell you what to do?

President Assad: Of course none of this is true. I know what you mean. I am in charge of course legally. But some people in the West used to say he is not in control and somebody else is controlling him. At the same time they say he is a dictator. I answered this many times. If I am a dictator I should be very strong, and if I am not in charge I should be very weak to be a dictator. So, they have to make up their mind about this. I have my authority according to the constitution. I am fully in charge according to these authorities I have, but at the same time you have to keep consulting with the largest possible number of people regarding anything.

Mr Simpson: When you took over in 2000, people talked about the Damascus spring, that things were going to change, it was going to be possible for people to speak openly, there were going to be forms of democracy that have not been shown before. Some of those things or a few of them have happened, but for the most part Syria is still just as controlled as it was under your father.

President Assad: First of all, we did not say that reform means to loose control. It has to be under control. We need a strong state. We never thought of a weak state in Syria. It is never part of our reform and we never talked about it in Syria. For us reform is to have prosperity. Prosperity has more than one field: political, economic, cultural, social, whatever. But you have priorities: you cannot do everything at the same time, you cannot do it in a short time if we are talking about real reform. I am not talking about pro forma ones. I am talking about real reform. The most difficult problem that people suffer from is the economic situation. We are a poor country not a rich country. Wherever I go as an official I meet people and the first thing they talk about are their wages, not having a job, having good schools for their children, having medical services. Sometimes they do not have the basic things in most of the regions.

Mr Simpson: But it is your intention to open up Syrian society.

President Assad: Yes, of course. This is our interest and this is our goal.

Mr Simpson: I have got one last question to ask you: for much of your career, you were an ophthalmic surgeon in London - part of it was in London. Now, you are the president of a country which many people fear; and some people think is a ferocious dictatorship. What does it feel like to move from examining and healing people’s eyes to being in charge of a country like Syria?

President Assad: If you are a dictator, people should hate you. Do not believe that people like dictators. So, I think if you want to have the real answer, you would better ask the Syrians and they will tell you. How can you be a dictator and at the same time, as in your earlier question, I am not in charge? This is the contradiction.

Mr Simpson: Which would you prefer, though, being an ophthalmic surgeon or to be president of Syria?

President Assad: Actually, that depends on how many people you can help, or how much good work you can do for the national interest. I definitely enjoy being an ophthalmologist, but now I think whatever decision I can make is going to have a broader effect on my country.

Mr Simpson: Thank you very much in deed.

President Assad: Thank you, and thank you for coming to Syria.

Bizi günah keçisi yapıyorlar

Kaynak: BBC Turkce
Suriye Cumhurbaşkanı Beşar Esad, Batı ülkelerinin, Orta Doğu'daki sorunlardan Suriye'yi sorumlu tutmaya dünden hazır olduğunu söyledi.

BBC Televizyonu'na, bu gece yayınlanacak kapsamlı bir mülakat veren Beşar Esad, gerçeklerin ve ülkesine yönelik bakışın iki farklı şey olduğunu ama iş sorumluluk yüklemeye gelince dış dünyanın Suriye'yi işaret etmeyi yeğlediğini kaydetti ve şunları söyledi:

"Herkes saygınlığına özen gösterir. Ama biz gerçeklere daha büyük önem veriyoruz. Saygınlık, bir algılama meselesidir. Dolayısıyla sorulması gereken soru, acaba Batı, bölgemizdeki gerçeği olduğu gibi mi algılıyor, yoksa görmek istediği şekilde mi? Herhangi bir yerde meydana gelen terörizmi Suriye'nin desteklediğini söyleyerek, Suriye'yi günah keçisi yapmak, her hatadan sorumlu tutmak istiyorlar. Böyle yaparak kendilerini her türlü sorumluluktan kurtarıyorlar."

Batılı ülkeler, öteden beri, Suriye'nin Hizbullah ve Hamas gibi, başka ülkelerce "terör grubu" olarak nitelenen örgütlerle ilişki içinde olmasını eleştirdi.

Suriye Cumhurbaşkanı Beşar Esad, bu tür örgütlere verilen halk desteğinin de gözardı edilmemesi gerektiğini kaydetti.

"Siyasette en önemli soru şu: Bunların bir etkisi var mı, yok mu? Bu gruplar, halk arasında bir etki sahibiyse o zaman onlarla çalışmak gerekir. Bu insanlar halkın desteğine sahipse onlara terörist etiketini yapıştıramazsınız. Çünkü o zaman halka da teröristi demiş olursunuz" diyen Esad, ekledi:

"Tarafsız bir yaklaşım değil bu ve bu yüzden de Batı'nın son birkaç yıldır bölgemize yönelik siyasetleri hep başarısızlıkla sonuçlandı."

Suriye Cumhurbaşkanı Beşar Esad BBC Televizyonu'na verdiği mülakatta, Irak konusuna da değindi ve ülkesinin Irak'ta herhangi bir mezhebin saldırılarını desteklemediğini vurguladı.

"Irak'ta sivillere ve masum insanlara yönelik her türlü saldırıyı, intihar bombacılarının tek bir günde onlarca, bazen yüzlerce insanı öldürmesini kınıyoruz. İşgal güçlerine karşı saldırıya geçildiğinde bunlar normal. Kabul edin etmeyin, bu normal. Bir gerçek bu. En azından son 150 yıldır, bölgede işgal altında olan her yerde aynı tepki verildi" diyen Suriye Cumhurbaşkanı sözlerini "Geçen yüzyılın başında İngilizler Irak'tayken de benzer şeyler oldu. Lübnan'da İsrail, Filistin'de İsrail ve şimdi de Irak'ta Amerikan, İngiiz ve diğer ülkelerin askerleri. Dolayısıyla, kabul edelim etmeyelim, bu normal bir tepki. Normal olanı kabul etmek gerekir" diye sürdürdü.
Suriye Cumhurbaşkanı Beşar Esad BBC mülakatında, İsrail konusundaysa, Orta Doğu'ya barış getirilebilmesi için İsrail'le görüşme masasına oturmaya istekli olduklarını kaydetti.

Bashar Al-Assad President of Syria interviewed (video)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

President al-Assad Gives an Interview to Kuwaiti Newspaper of al-Anba

SOURCE: SANA

President Bashar al-Assad has stressed Syria's desire for consolidating the Syrian-Egyptian-Saudi axis in support of the Arab causes.

In a comprehensive interview given to the Kuwaiti newspaper 'al-Anba and published Saturday, President al-Assad talked about Syria's stances towards the regional and international developments.

Answering a question on the priorities regarding the Arab concerns the President said:" I think priorities lie in existence of a unified vision upon of the Arab region's future, particularly after the latest developments that had happened in our region… I think that top priority now following Iraq issue and terrorism spreading is stability issue because all of us have become targeted… and stability is the top priority and this is connected with the political and security side."

He added that another priority is the economic situation which also is linked to political and security condition as to the Arab relations as a whole … I think that all priorities are connected with each other but they change in accordance with circumstances .

Regarding Syria's position among moderates and extremists, in accordance to the US Secretary of States classification, President al-Assad rejected the idea of camps that, as he said, has been created by the Americans." I don't put my self in camps… I put myself with the Arabs, because some had tried to show that Syria, through these camps, is out of the Arab camp… any camp is bad… any camp is rejected, as an Arab I hope that we will not be divided into camps, "

" I reject to be from the first camp or from the second camp. I am from the Arab camp."

" As Arabs if we have viewpoints this is good thing and must be respected if we didn't agree on every thing …we are humans and some disagreements remain between us but through dialogue we bridge the gap… we have to enhance dialogue and not to be a fuel for the international struggle whether Arab against Arab or Arab against others,"

On a question whether the meeting of the GCC foreign ministers and those of Jordan and Egypt was directed against Syria, the president indicated that Syria did not consider that such a meeting was against Syria and said:" No on can convince me that these Arab countries met to stand or conspire against Syria."
The president added that on the contrary we hope that all the Arabs meet with any one in the world because we expect them to talk about what achieves the Arab interests, and what the Kuwaiti foreign minister said about representing Syria at the talks was based on a general rule and there was not prior coordination.
With regard to the Arab countries stances regarding each other , the president said that that this is the core of the issue , we should accept to have differences , and if the Arabs have identical view points there is no need for them to meet. The Arabs should sit and talks without protocol because they have the same nature and mentality.
On how the inter-Arab relations should be, the president indicated that the dialogue among the Arabs should be more comprehensive and accepts the differences and said :" In my relations with the Emir of Kuwait ,President Mubarak , or King Abdullah , we do not agree on everything but there is no problem with this . and if I do not accept the view point of an Arab leader this do doesn't mean I oppose him personally. And the best thing to do is to have an informal bilateral or summit meetings among the Arabs and to have a continued Arab actions and dialogues in order to reach solutions .
On a question regarding Syria's relations with other countries after Syria has managed to reach very distinguished relations with Turkey, the president said :"the Syrian-Turkish relations should be the best example to follow and Syria's principle in this remain unchanged , we always build on what we have already achieve ,but if some layers were unintentionally destroyed , these layers should be rebuilt . This is why we do not have progress in our inter-Arab relations."
Replying a question why Syria has good relations with Turkey and Iran , while she has not similar relations with some Arab countries, the president said that Syria is an Arab state but Turkey and Iran have constant consultations with Syria with regard to issues such as Lebanon, Palestine , Iraq and terrorism, there are certain bases of dealing and there are similar points of view among the three countries , although there may be differences in some details but in the general rule there is agreement.
The president went on to say that that Syria had a conviction that this Arab situation is due to the lacking of a basis of inter-Arab relations. The relations have been built on the personal level which is although important yet they do not replace the level of the state. Syria has good relations with the rest of the Arab countries. Syria has interests that can not be relinquished and that is the only thing that Syria cherishes.
Regarding the peace process and Madrid Agreement, the president said that theoretically 80 percent of the issues were solved and what remained is 20 percent , and the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories doesn't need more than six months if the Israeli are honest toward the peace process .
With regard to the current peace initiatives toward the Palestinians without similar peace initiatives toward Syria, the president said that such a way is an old American-Israeli game to use a track against another track or punishing a party for not activating its track. The fact remains the same , if they want a comprehensive peace and stability , they will need all the parties involved because no body can replace another.
The president said that the Israelis have difficult internal situation and they sometimes search for an illusive action toward peace for internal reasons which have no connection with real peace.
The president added that there are also failures in Iraq and Afghanistan including projects such as spreading democracy and combating terrorism , and preemptive wars.
About the need for a mechanism for a real approach for peace, the president said that will is firstly needed , then there should be a vision , and third a mechanism , pointing out that the will is the most important for the two sides to launch the peace process. But the will is still lacking on the American side which is the cosponsor to the peace process . Former Secretary of State Colin Powel and the US. president said that they are not interested in the peace process.
on the Gulf concerns regarding Iran and the Shiite Crescent, the president said that once again emerges the issues of camps, undoubtedly there are forces in Lebanon that are connected with the US. embassy and form a camp which is required to be there. Hizbullah Secretary General , Hassan Nassrallah was right when he said that he doesn’t take orders from Iran or Syria ,because no one can fight for another or blow himself up for the sake of a cause he has no belief in it , indicating that the western media is propagating these ideas to isolate Iran in the Arab world.
On a question whether a Gulf state is attacked by Iran , what would be Syria's position, the president said that late president Hafez al-Assad replied to this question in the past by saying that he would send his army in line with the joint defense treaty.
On the Lebanese internal division, the president said that the fear is that such a division might lead to civil war which may harm Syria and halting the civil war in Lebanon in 1990 cost Syria a lot of blood and was very costly for Syria .
The president added that the interests of Lebanon should be more important than the interests of a certain militias or a person , and therefore they should not allow anyone to drag them to a civil war, and Syria is working on that.
With regard to the talks with Lebanese Prime Minister , Fuad Saniora,the president said that that three invitations were extended to him to visit Syria , but he did not come.
He indicated that if he meets with Sanioura or any other Lebanese premier, he will tell him to be the prime minister of Lebanon and not a premier for a certain bloc, and Syria will remain Lebanon's brother and will extend every possible help to the Lebanese people since Syria is out of the Lebanese equation now.
On whether there will be a detente in the relations with Lebanon if the truth revealed following the investigation of the international committee, the president said that it is their problem if they link the results of the investigation with their relations with Syria , pointing out that the Europeans have realized this and have began to restore their relation with Syria away from the investigation results.
Regarding Iraq, the president said that what is happening there is a catastrophe and Syria told the Americans that they would win the war but would turn Iraq to a real mess and chaos and there would be bad repercussions on Iraq's neighboring states and even the more distant nations.
The president said that the only way to save Iraq is to have an Arab initiative and with an Arab help away from any other forces including the American troops in Iraq which will not allow an Arab approach to the Iraqi crisis.
On whether the recent terrorist acts in Syria came form Iraq. The president confirmed this and said that such acts did not target the state or the regime but attacked the radio that doesn't share them their thoughts and attacked the US. embassy and the United Nations because they wanted to take revenge for what is happening in Iraq.
He pointed out that the terrorists who were Syrian nationals some of them lived in Saudi Arabia got their weapons from Lebanon and the results of investigations will soon be announced .
On whether alQaeda is present in Lebanon, the president confirmed this but indicated that alQaeda has no organization but is a movement and the terrorist acts that took place in Syria were based on the alQaeda thoughts.
With regard to the possibility of war with Israel for the restoration of occupied Golan, the president said ": Syria expects an Israeli aggression at any time , and Syria knows that Israel has a powerful army with the direct support of the United States. Syria will defend itself . Everybody saw how Hizbullah fighters fought to defend their country. One should be fierce in defending his country and Syria has begun to prepare herself within the available potentials ,but the solution remains in the peace process which is not costly."
Regarding relations with Iraq , the president said that Iraqi President Jalal Talbani met with Syrian Foreign Minister , Walid Moalem and invited him to visit Iraq and this visit will be arranged after the holy month of Ramadan.
As for the Iranian influence in Iraq , the president said there is certainly an Iranian influence in Iraq but such influence is linked to the Iraqi people who want a link with Iran , such as the case with Lebanon , there are forces in Lebanon that want to have relations with Syria.
Regarding Syria's relations with Lebanon , the president said : There is no problem on the official level , but on the popular level there is a problem . The demonstrations which were staged in Lebanon were considered as denial of the Syrian blood and there is almost no family in Syria that has not lost a member in Lebanon's civil war , and even Lebanon has become part of Syria's cause .
The president said that the Lebanese officials should put all the their narrow interests aside, because the situation in Lebanon is very dangerous and no one can stand by Lebanon as Syria does considering its geographic and historic position and should stop betting on international conditions that have sabotaged Lebanon for 200 years now , and bet instead on the interior and surrounding.
Regarding the internal policy , the president said many steps had been taken on the road of development in spite of the attempts to isolate Syria. There also steps to have the first political TV satellite channel in Syria soon . Syria focused mainly on the legislation basis. The priority was given to economy and Syria has started with political development following the party's congress last year.
Regarding the axis of moderation that includes Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the president said that such a gathering should remain but it is not a substitute to the Arab countries. Such a gathering is efficient since the three countries are efficient in the Arab main causes.
The president added that he had always supported such a three way summit but it was confined to consultations, stressing the importance of such summits for the joint Arab action.
The president said that on the personal level there is no harm ever done to him by President Mubarak or King Abdullah , but the three leaders have more important duties and there are hundreds of million who are affected by their relation , so that the three leaders are called on to consolidate this three way axis because after all they will be responsible negatively or positively.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Brammertz report (September 2006)

Serge Brammertz
Commissioner UNIIIC
Beirut

25 September 2006

Summary

In resolution 1644 (2005) of 15 December 2005, the Security Council requested the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission ("the Commission") to report to the Council on its progress, including on the cooperation received from the Syrian authorities, every three months.

This report outlines the progress made by the Commission in its investigative activities between 15 June and 15 September 2006. This period was marked by the conflict and unstable security situation in Lebanon, and resulted in the temporary relocation of the Commission to a base in Cyprus on 21 July 2006 as required by the United Nations. All efforts were made to manage the impact of the relocation on the Commission's work, and operations resumed immediately upon arrival in Cyprus. The gradual process of moving international personnel back to Beirut has started.

While the Commission faced delays and logistical difficulties in accessing witnesses and information as a result of the conflict in Lebanon, these problems were minimized, and as a result, progress has been made in all investigative areas, and the Commission continues to investigate systematically and thoroughly all possible leads. The Commission continues to interact closely with the Lebanese authorities on all matters relevant to its mandate and appreciates their support.

The Commission has also continued to provide technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of other attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since 1 October 2004. The expanded mandate given to the Commission by the Security Council in resolution 1686 (2006) has enabled the Commission to take a more pro active role in these cases, resulting in tangible progress both in individual cases and in their potential linkage to each other.

The assistance the Commission receives from States continues to be critical to the progress of the investigation, especially as it develops its more complex investigative themes. The cooperation that the Commission has received from the Syrian Arab Republic has remained generally satisfactory, and the Commission continues to require its full support in providing information and facilitating interviews with individuals located on Syrian territory.

Contents

I. Introduction

II. Progress in the Investigation

III.External Cooperation

IV. Organizational Support

V. Conclusions

I. Introduction

1. This report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1644 (2005) of 15 December 2005, in which the Council requested the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission ("Commission") to report every three months on the progress of its inquiry, and on cooperation matters, including cooperation received from the Syrian authorities. The report accounts for the progress the Commission has made in implementing its mandate, as laid out in Security Council resolutions 1595 (2005), 1636 (2005), 1644 (2005), and 1686 (2006) since its last report of 10 June 2006 (S/2006/375).

2. The Commission has continued its investigation into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others ("Hariri investigation") and has reinforced the level of technical assistance it provides to the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of certain other attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since 1 October 2004. Although the Commission's work has been affected by the unstable security situation in Lebanon during the reporting period, and the subsequent need to evacuate the Commission's staff to a temporary base in Cyprus, progress has been made in all main areas of the investigations. The Commission continues to interact closely with the Lebanese authorities on all matters relevant to its mandate and appreciates their ongoing strong support, especially in light of the difficult security situation in Lebanon during the reporting period.

3. In the Hariri investigation, 20 major investigation and analysis projects and themes, sub-divided into numerous sub-projects, are ongoing. They include investigations of the crime scene and convoy, interviews with key witnesses and sensitive sources, and the investigation and analysis of telecommunications, organizational structures and linkages. Each project is undertaken by a multi-disciplinary team of individuals equipped with the appropriate skill-sets.

4. While the Commission focused in its last report on the results of its forensic examination of the crime scene and of the blast that killed Hariri and 22 others, in this reporting period it has also focused on the investigation of those who participated at different levels in the perpetration of this crime. This has elicited further forensic tasks, such as DNA research and analysis; electronic, communications and digital devices examination and analysis; fingerprints research and comparative analysis, mobile telephone analysis, and forensic examination of documents.

5. In line with the revised mandate given by the Security Council in resolution 1686 (2006), the Commission has further expanded the technical assistance it provides to the Lebanese authorities in their investigation of certain other attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since 1 October 2004. Specifically, the Commission has focused on three main areas: forensic investigation and analysis, communications analysis, and the conduct of interviews. A key component of these activities is to obtain evidence concerning horizontal multiple-case linkage, including any commonalities with the Hariri case. This increased assistance has allowed progress in the investigations of these other cases, with the Commission first concentrating on the cases involving attacks against specific individuals.

6. The assistance of States continues to be necessary to the success of the Commission's work. During the reporting period, 27 requests for assistance were sent by the Commission to 11 States and entities, in addition to the requests sent to Lebanon. As a result, the Commission has enjoyed broad and detailed assistance from a number of States in a wide range of investigative and analytical areas. The cooperation of the Syrian Arab Republic ("Syria") with the Commission remains an important component of the on-going work, and over the last three months has remained generally satisfactory, with regular working level meetings with senior Syrian officials being held to manage the timeliness of the responses, facilitation of witness interviews and provision of information. The Commission has continued to receive the assurances of the Government of Syria that all Commission requests will be met in a timely and satisfactory manner.

7. During the reporting period, the Commission has continued to develop its internal procedures, as directed in Security Council resolution 1595 (2005), op. 6, and has further standardized its work, notably in light of the possible establishment of a tribunal of an international character.

8. In view of the extension of the Commission's mandate until 15 June 2007 by the Security Council in resolution 1686 (2006), the Commission has gradually increased its capacity and resources in order for it to meet its significant investigative, legal and analytical obligations, together with developing and maintaining the appropriate security, language services, administration, recruitment and logistics support associated with its mandate. As part of its management tasks, new budget proposals have been prepared and submitted to enable planning continuity and the fulfilment of management objectives.


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II. Progress in the investigations

9. During this reporting period, the Commission's investigative focus in the case of the murder of Rafik Hariri and twenty two others has been on three main objectives: continuing crime scene and associated work; broadening its knowledge and evidence in relation to the linkage and perpetrator aspects of the case; and developing new projects.

10. As regards the 14 cases, the Commission has begun conducting interviews following the expansion of the mandate by the Security Council in June, focusing in the first instance on six of these cases, namely those of targeted attacks. As ever, the imperative remains to achieve realistic results of an evidential standard in the best possible timeframe.

11. As in its previous report, the Commission is providing a 'snap-shot' of its ongoing work on the different layers of the case, with as much detail as possible, bearing in mind the underlying need to preserve confidentiality and investigative leads.

A. Hariri investigation

1. Crime scene and associated topics

Forensic exploitation of the crime scene

12. Following the Commission's final collection of forensic evidence at the crime scene, completed in June 2006, a number of results have been established which enable further confirmation of the current case theory, regarding the crime scene and its associated aspects, and provide new investigative leads. The Commission is also establishing a comprehensive forensic inventory and database of all exhibits in the possession of the Lebanese authorities, and those in the possession of the Commission.

13. A total of 56 exhibits of human remains were found in June 2006, with four other parts found which could not be analyzed due to their condition. The parts were scattered over a large area, with human remains being found in all six of the sub-divided areas of the crime scene. The DNA analysis conducted on these remains produced 27 mitochondrial DNA profiles and 14 nuclear DNA profiles. Three new independent DNA profiles were extracted from exhibits found at the crime scene, one drawn from blood stains found in the Byblos building and one on the roof of the Saint Georges hotel annex. The third one has particular significance in that the sample was taken from the key ignition mechanism in the vicinity of the so-called "building 367", adjacent to the Byblos building, which may be relevant to associated evidence close to the blast. The Commission is undertaking steps to ascertain whether these new DNA profiles can be attributed to known injured persons, or represent as yet unidentified persons most likely injured in the explosion.

14. The tooth found on the crime scene during the investigations carried out just after the explosion in 2005 belongs to the same male person whose 27 parts were previously recovered. Odontological examinations showed it is an upper middle right incisor that belonged to a man, possibly in his early 20s, and unlikely to be older than 25, showing a distinguishing mark to the surface of the crown which is a feature rarely seen among people from Lebanon. Another complete tooth was collected during the recent investigations of the crime scene in June 2006, in the same vicinity where the 27 parts belonging to this person had been found. Further forensic tests are being undertaken to establish if possible the regional origin of the person from the examination of the tooth. In addition, five pieces of human remains were also found in the same vicinity, all matching the DNA of the 27 other parts of the: same male person, and a number of other bone fragments belonging to a skull were found in the same area. Although they were too burned for DNA profiles to be extracted, the Commission believes that they belong to the same male likely to be the individual who detonated the bomb, and not to another unidentified person.

15. A trajectory analysis of physical and biological exhibits is nearing completion. In order to achieve this goal, a 3D-reconstruction of the crime scene, above and also under the ground, is being finalized and will be linked to the database of the exhibits inventory. The objective of this exercise is to determine the relative location of the carrier of the bomb, i.e. the Mitsubishi van, the seat of the explosion and the location of the male identified as the person who most likely detonated the improvised explosive device ("lED"). Two other separate and independent series of experiments conducted to assist in the understanding of the properties and associated features of the explosion, the cratering, the explosion fireball, the trajectories of primary and secondary high velocity fragments and their collision with vehicles and buildings have all demonstrated very similar properties to those of the actual blast on 14 February 2005.

16. Documentation and technical information from the Mitsubishi-Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation in Japan received recently by the Commission will enable identification of the vehicle parts and metal fragments allegedly originating from the Mitsubishi van collected from the scene of the crime. Similarly, vehicle parts found at this scene should be conclusively identified with the assistance of an external expert, by matching the parts to technical drawings, and to identical and fully intact components from an undamaged vehicle of the same production batch, model, make and year.

17. Such potentially key parts as the piece of metal, possibly the roof of a vehicle, retrieved approximately 50 meters above the ground from the arm of the crane attached to a building at the crime scene (Byblos building), the ignition key device collected adjacent to the unsafe building (building 367), and the gearing mechanism of a vehicle found embedded in the ground inside the crater, some 40 centimetres below the surface, will be examined and subjected to the above analysis for final identification and assessment of relevance for the case. Other parts, such as those taken from inside the crater where a· further 48 metallic and non metallic parts or components from a vehicle or vehicles were found; and parts found among the rubble at the crime scene, where a large rear view mirror and a rear light fragment, together with electrical wiring, number plates, electronic devices, and other metallic unidentified fragments were recovered, will also be subjected to final identification and an assessment of their relevance for the case.

Characteristics of the explosion

18. Independent tests carried out in two separate environments conducted earlier in the year, as well as scaling explosion experiments, have corroborated the findings of the Commission with regards to the characteristics and nature of the actual explosion of 14 February 2005, i.e. the Mitsubishi Canter van, carrying a very large bomb of a minimum of twelve hundred kilogram TNT equivalent and most likely detonated by a man (to whom the 32 human parts belong) within or immediately in front of the van. The nature of the fireball, the pressure range, the properties of the carrier, the effects on the surrounding vicinity, including on the impacted vehicles, adjacent buildings and the road, the trajectory findings, the amount of explosives used and the nature and form of the crater have all been corroborated by these experiments. A new hypothesis relating to an aerial delivery means as a method of causing the explosion, advanced to the Commission recently, is being examined for its validity. The Commission is unable at this stage to conclude if it has any impact on its existing findings at the crime scene, which were corroborated by two separate and independent series of tests.

19. The Commission has developed its findings as to exactly how the explosive charge would have been placed in the van to achieve the intended effects, and how the explosives must have been wired to detonate in the manner they did. Experiments conducted with explosive charges packed and laid out in different configurations have led to an understanding of how and where the explosives would have been placed in the Mitsubishi van, and how the detonation of the device would have been effected.

20. In the previous report, the Commission discussed varying possibilities concerning the amount of explosives used in the attack. It suggested that the amount used to produce a crater of the size that was created on 14 February 2005, would be approximately 500 kg of TNT equivalent, if the IED was placed at 1.7 meters under the ground, or 1,200 kg of TNT equivalent, if placed just above the ground, and 1,800 kg of TNT equivalent, if the IED was approximately 0.80 meters above the ground. This data has been confirmed by a separate series of experiments relating to the effects of differing explosive amounts packed in differing configurations and detonated at varying heights above the ground. Once the trajectory analysis, 3D-reconstruction of the crime scene, video analysis and formal identification of all Mitsubishi van parts have been completed, the Commission will be able to establish the height above ground of the IED and as a consequence the quantity of explosive used in the lED. Subject to these final results, the Commission estimates that the quantity of explosives would be closer to 1,800 kg than to 1,200 kg.

Convoy route

21. The project of systematically interviewing or re-interviewing all members of Rafik Hariri's security staff, including the surviving members of his convoy, those managing his security, and those in his immediate personal staff has been largely completed. The Commission has established to its satisfaction the convoy's route; the exact timing of its progress; stop and start times; route selection timings and knowledge thereof; the use of one or more identical armoured Mercedes Benz S600 vehicles in the convoy, both on the day of the attack and before; patterns of operational activity demonstrating when the route along the St. Georges hotel was previously selected; and the use of electronic counter-measures.

22. Certain individuals interviewed by the Commission have emphasised that government security arrangements for Rafik Hariri had been reduced, in terms of his security detail and convoy facilities, in the period following his resignation as Prime Minister of Lebanon. The impact of this is being evaluated by the Commission, both in the political context and from an operational perspective.

23. The Commission is examining information and developing investigative hypotheses that Raflk Hariri was the subject of earlier operational activity by the alleged bombing team, including surveillance of him and his convoy, and reconnaissance of various locations. The Commission also has information indicating that a number of opportunities may have arisen to deliver the attack on Rafik Hariri but were not acted upon by that team for reasons as yet to be fully understood by the Commission.

24. For example, the Commission has received information that earlier movements by Rafik Hariri during February 2005 may have been responded to by the alleged bombing team either as a rehearsal for the attack on 14 February, or indeed as an attempt to kill him. This aspect of the investigation is an important component in understanding the capabilities, operational support mechanisms, and intent of the alleged bombing team, as well as in providing indications of the timing of the decision to kill Rafik Hariri. Because of this alleged earlier activity, further investigative leads have become available beyond those offered by the attack of 14 February 2005 alone.

25. It is apparent that the operational methodologies and associated mechanisms relating to the security panoply of Rafik Hariri, during the period since he had ceased to be Prime Minister, created a number of vulnerabilities which enabled the attack on him to be perpetrated more easily than it would otherwise have been. For instance, the necessary time of the day the convoy had to depart from Parliament to return to Hariri's residence meant that only one obvious route option was available which could return Hariri in a timely manner for his next appointment.

26. Similarly, a working hypothesis is that the alleged bombing team knew that electronic counter-measures may have been a factor in protecting the convoy and Hariri. They therefore may have chosen a method of attack that rendered the use of such counter-measures and their technical capability, deterrent effect and operational capacity on the day in question irrelevant to their plan.

27. It may also be a contributing factor to the successful execution of the crime that the position of Hariri's vehicle within the convoy was regular and largely predictable over a period of months leading up to the actual attack, and that Hariri chose to drive his vehicle himself. The Commission is aware that this was not an unusual practice by Hariri, and it may have enabled him to be more easily identified and pinpointed than he would have otherwise been. The Commission continues to investigate the relevance of this particular aspect of the crime.

28. Other relevant issues have been clarified to the satisfaction of the Commission. For example, a vehicle alleged to have been following the convoy as it left the cafe and the vicinity of Parliament has been discounted from its current working hypotheses as most likely not relevant. Similarly, the mooted deliberate delay in the final leg of the convoy's route by a combination of vehicles and traffic lights is not deemed relevant, as the interviews of convoy personnel did not elicit such evidence. Additionally, the likely modus operandi of the alleged bombing team did not demand such a complex and precise action within their overall plan.

29. The Commission believes the plan was sufficiently professional in its compilation and flexible in its execution that the exact timing of the convoy's movement towards the St Georges hotel was not critical, and the success of the operation was not conditional upon precise movements of the vehicles. This is exemplified by the relatively unpredictable nature of Hariri's actions once he had left the Parliament and crossed the road to visit a local cafe instead of departing in his convoy immediately.

30. This spontaneous pause lasted approximately 15 minutes and could not have been predicted by the alleged bombing team. The communications traffic between alleged members of that team went silent during this period, and resumed only once Rafik Hariri was exiting the cafe and embarking on his route back to his residence. Thus, the alleged bombing team's plan coped with such latitude in the time taken by Rafik Hariri to commence the return to his residence, and the team was still able to execute the plan.

Crime scene witnesses

31. A series of systematic interviews and re-interviews of over 25 crime scene witnesses has been largely completed. The Commission is now satisfied with a number of previously unclear issues; for example, the exact movements and positioning of the Mitsubishi van at the final stages of the operation, and establishing a commonaIity of understanding of the events at the time of the explosion including whether two sounds were heard.

32. Blast scaling explosion experiments have been conducted to collect data for the possibility of one or two explosions, above or under the ground. The objectives were to visualize the fireball, assess the effects on structures, estimate the behaviour of high velocity fragments, estimate the size and features of the crater, register the shock pressures and record sound pressures with microphones at different distances combining incident and reflected waves from any reflecting surface. Numerical simulations will enable the Commission to establish if the location and situation of each witness at the time of the explosion is consistent with their likelihood of hearing one or two sounds at the moment and immediately after the explosion. One final phase of interviewing is necessary to conclude this aspect of the investigation, where the noise recordings of blast or sound wave experiments, conducted in part to identify the aural properties of the blast relative to the location of each witness at the scene, will be replayed to each witness. Subject to these findings, at this stage, the Commission's favoured hypothesis is that there was only one blast, and that the phenomenon of two sounds being heard by a number of witnesses can be scientifically explained.

Rafik Hariri timeIine

33. The Commission has expanded its investigations into the last days of Rafik Hariri's life, and has extended the period of scrutiny backwards in time. Important information is emerging through the interviews to date of 15 individuals associated in some context with Hariri over the months prior to his murder. Such people include those with influence in Lebanon and in the broader region, those who worked and managed his personal and professional affairs, visitors to his residence in Beirut and other residences, staff in the residences, and those with whom he had business or political relations.

34. The Commission is reconstructing Rafik Hariri's life in the period leading up to his assassination from a number of different perspectives, including examining his political situation and his relationships domestically and internationally, his meetings with his associates and other prominent individuals, his movements inside and outside Lebanon, his private and personal discussions with friends, his expressed opinions, thoughts and moods as perceived by others, his business affairs including management of his media interests and media portrayal of his interests and activities, relevant financial matters as they affected his political position, professional relationships and private arrangements, as well as his personal movements both within and outside his residence.

35. It is apparent that there are converging business, political, economic, and personal factors that provide the context of Hariri’s life during this period. When these themes are integrated into a heightened threat environment and matched against alleged operational activities of the bombing team, they create a picture of Hariri’s last weeks seen from a number of perspectives. Similarly, these themes are being developed by the Commission in order to understand if any or all of them led to conditions which prompted the decision to assassinate him. This area of the Commission's work will continue to develop and expand, with further interviews and collection of information planned throughout the next reporting period.

New and on-going investigation leads

36. The Commission has identified a considerable number of new leads for investigation relating to the crime scene, its vicinity and the immediate perpetration of the crime, and has begun investigative and analytical work on each one of them. The topics include the investigation of the circumstances surrounding particular individuals and vehicles at the crime scene before, during and in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, other associated items after the explosion, and examination of allegations of tampering with the crime scene following the explosion.

37. These investigation leads arise from analysis of existing information and from the collection of new information, and vary in their relevance and their magnitude, however, they all require considerable development. The Commission anticipates that once completed, further information arising from the crime itself and the immediate environs will provide additional links towards those who perpetrated the crime.

38. The Commission also continues its investigations into other key aspects of the case, including the acquisition of the Mitsubishi van, the acquisition of the explosives and the preparation of the van as the carrier of the device, and the identity and manner of participation of the individual initiating the detonation of the IED, either from within or close to the front of the Mitsubishi van.

2. Individuals involved in the commission of the crime

Communications analysis and investigation

39. The Commission has devoted considerable resources to the analysis and investigation of the communications traffic aspects of the case. This topic has yielded important results, and enables the Commission to establish links that otherwise would not be evident. Much of the work is reactive in nature, however some of the analytical work is also proactive and speculative, and builds upon known facts and develops investigation themes. It has elicited a number of leads and continues to provide the Commission with better understanding of the communications linkages relevant to the crimes.

40. The links that are being established through the communications work demonstrate a complex network of telecommunications traffic between a large number of relevant individuals, sometimes through intermediary telephone numbers or locations, and sometimes directly. A series of investigation leads has been developed as a result of these analyses, and the Commission regards this as a priority. Much painstaking work is required to track down each individual connection or link and exempt it from the enquiries or continue with it as a working lead. Similarly, the Commission understands better the preparatory aspects of the attack through its communications analysis; this work remains on-going in conjunction with timeline analyses, and is one of a number of areas where comparative analysis with the 14 other cases is being pursued. For example, knowledge of the activities of the 6 SIM card holders who are alleged to have been part of the bombing team, both geographically and in communications terms, has become clearer and more detailed.

41. The Commission has also developed direct and indirect linkages between significant individuals in disparate groups that are relevant from an investigative perspective. Explanations for these linkages are in some cases not immediately apparent, and the Commission is working to understand their relevance to the crime itself, to those potentially linked to it and to other individuals.

42. The international dimension of the communications analysis continues to provide investigative leads as the Commission develops its knowledge of the complexities of international call routing, and receives responses to its requests from states where telephone call traffic has been traced. To date the Commission has engaged 17 states in this aspect of its work; and has received considerable assistance and responses from a number of them.

43. The relevant communications links emanating from within Lebanon or outside the country of those individuals whom the Commission wishes to interview and/or continues to investigate are being systematically reviewed, and the results are providing further investigative leads.

44. The Commission also continues to examine local, regional and international linkages between numbers associated with Ahmed Abu Adass and other individuals, a number of which are of specific interest. The Commission continues to analyze telephone traffic activity emanating from those numbers alleged to have been used by those allegedly involved in the attack on the day of 14 February 2005.

Ahmed Abu Adass and associated aspects

45. Following extensive investigative steps and analysis of electronic data, documents, artefacts and other items, the emerging profile of Ahmad Abu Adass and his activities is becoming clearer. His profile is distinct in that he seemingly had more academic and intellectual interests and less technical orientation than that associated with those members of terrorist groups engaged in the operational aspects of terrorist activities, at least in Lebanon.

46. The Commission continues its examination in detail of every aspect of Ahmed Abu Adass's involvement in the crime, including the validity of the claim of responsibility he delivered in the video-taped message. It continues to work along two investigative tracks, one that be was a willing participant in the crime, and the other that he was coerced into delivering the message. Either avenue remains a factual possibility at present, and further investigations are on-going to ascertain the correct hypothesis.

47. The Commission is investigating the events surrounding the delivery of the tape and note to a location in downtown Beirut, and the five associated telephone calls to Reuters and Al Jazeera following the attack. Two of the calls claimed responsibility for the attack, and three were related to the tape and note that were provided.

48. General forensic analysis, DNA and fingerprint research, media forensic analysis and document examinations of the tape in which Ahmed Abu Adass claims responsibility for the attack, on other associated items, and on the physical modalities of delivering the message have been completed. 32 identifiable fingerprints, three palm-prints and three mitochondrial DNA profiles have been collected from the exhibits. The Commission is making comparative analyses of these results with other records, and is evaluating them with a view to conducting further interviews of relevant persons in connection with this aspect of the case and undertaking further comparative forensic analyses.

49. The Commission also maintains its awareness of individuals who have operated in Lebanon and the region in the recent past in a criminal context, and continues to assess their activities for the relevance or otherwise of their possible involvement in the crimes. The Commission is also undertaking further work in relation to the hypothesis of compartmentalization of the crime; as well as on the circumstances regarding the placing of the video tape on which the claim of responsibility by Ahmed Abu Adass was recorded.

Knowledge of the crime

50. The Commission is pursuing leads concerning individuals who apparently had some degree of substantive information in varying degrees of detail about the attack prior to its execution. This investigative theme falls into two categories: those who knew something about the forthcoming attack in some context or another, but said or did nothing about it, or were unable to do anything about it; and those who knew something or were informed of some aspect of the attack and somehow tried to deliver a warning to Hariri or a person close to him.

51. Each of the above categories is of interest to the Commission. For example it is apparent that a number of individuals from various backgrounds believed that Hariri was likely to be subject to an attack, even more so than in the ordinary context of his status, past professional life, regional dynamics and existing circumstances. There is also information which leads the Commission to believe that certain individuals knew that an attempt on his life was imminent: in this regard the Commission is undertaking a series of interviews with those whom it believes can assist it in these lines of inquiry.

52. There is evidence to believe that Hariri was aware of a heightened threat against him, and that he himself discussed at length with a number of individuals this situation, and had factored the unusually elevated threat environment into his thinking, approach, activities and movements over the last few weeks of his life. The Commission has been collecting evidence on this topic. It is an important aspect of its work as it assists in understanding the extreme nature of the crime.

The political, military, police and intelligence environment of Lebanon

53. The Commission continues to conduct a number of interviews and re-interviews of representatives or former representatives of the Syrian and Lebanese government structures. This work will remain on-going throughout the next reporting period, and remains of key importance in understanding the political structure and security environment that existed in Lebanon at the time of the attack. This work is augmented by additional interviews and the collection of information :!Tom persons of influence and other individuals of relevance in Lebanon and the region, where the required knowledge of different perspectives of the systems that were in place at the time is gleaned to better understand the contextual environment in which the attacks took place.

3. Persons who commissioned the crime

Motives for the attack


54. The Commission continues to investigate both the possibility that a single group, with a singular intent and capacity, committed the crime; or that a well-defined or disparate collection of individuals or groups joined together with differing motives and intentions to commit the same crime.

55. The Commission has identified several different potential motivations, not necessarily mutually exclusive, that may have led to the decision to carry out the assassination of Hariri, and remains seized of the possibility that there may be more theories to consider. Some of these motives may be similar to those of other attacks the Commission is investigating in Lebanon. Such motives are apparently of varying levels of international, regional and national relevance, and relate to political, economic, financial and business matters.

56. The Commission is, for example, establishing to an evidential standard information on the political environment that surrounded Rafik Hariri at the time of and prior to his assassination, such as the introduction of United Nations Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), the issues surrounding the then forthcoming national elections in Lebanon, relations with other States in the region, the Al Madina bank affairs, business and media factors, and his personal relations with political actors and other relevant individuals at all levels. As stated before, the Commission appreciates the possibility that there may have been more than one motivating reason for perpetrating the crime. This area of the Commission's work is to be further developed in the next reporting period, and a number of investigative steps will be undertaken, including the conducting of a considerable number of interviews in Lebanon, the region and internationally, and the analysis of documents and other information currently in the possession of the Commission and of future anticipated data.

B. Technical assistance in the other cases

57. In line with its mandate as expanded on 15 June 2006 by Security Council resolution 1686 (2006), the Commission has extended further its technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities in the 14 cases discussed in its last report. The Commission dedicated a multi-disciplinary project team to this task, comprising legal, investigative, analytical, forensic, and communications expertise, which continues to work closely with the Prosecutor General of Lebanon.

58. In the previous report, the Commission stated that it had created analytical files for each of the 14 cases, based upon the existing information available during that period. During this last reporting phase, the Commission has translated over 1000 pages of documents relevant to the cases, and developed the case files for each case by adding to the existing information previously collected. This work remains on-going, with over 3000 further pages to be translated. The Commission will develop further its support mechanisms with the Prosecutor General of Lebanon and the relevant investigating magistrates during the next reporting period.

59. The Commission has also focused its technical assistance on three specific areas for each case. The first area of technical assistance is in the support of forensic investigation and analysis for each case; the second is in communications research, where horizontal analysis of each attack and the associated communications traffic is being undertaken. The third is in the conduct of interviews, where the subjects chosen for interview can provide individual case depth of knowledge, and potentially also horizontal multiple case commonalities, including the necessary development of potential factual and evidential themes relating to the Hariri case.

1. Forensic analysis

60. The Commission continues to review in detail the forensic evidence available concerning the cases, and recognizes the varied levels of detail in each individual case. It is preparing to implement a plan designed to maximize the forensic investigation possibilities, which will be discussed with the Prosecutor General of Lebanon and the investigative magistrates. Upon agreement, the Commission will begin with a collection phase designed to augment the forensic acquisition of data for each case. It is the intention to arrive at the best possible level of forensic information that can be acquired at this stage of each of the cases, given that all 14 of the attacks occurred between nine months and almost two years ago.

61. As this work progresses, the objectives will be to enhance each case where possible, and to seek forensic evidence linking the cases. Thus, the work with the Forensic Laboratory of the Internal Security Forces performed earlier in the year to evaluate the scientific results will be finalized by the analysis of the crime scene management of each case. This will be undertaken through meetings and interviews with the first responders at each scene of the crime.

62. The Commission is currently studying all the pictures and images of the sites where the explosions occurred, comparing them with the results obtained from the explosions experiments conducted, in order to enable it to establish if possible the nature of the lED used and its probable location for each case. This forensic comparative analysis will be augmented by the comparative seismological analysis of the records of the signals recorded by the National Center of Geophysics in Lebanon. Also, the forensic evidence found in these cases is being compared with that of the Hariri case, for instance by using common fingerprints and DNA databases to establish horizontal forensic linkages.

2. Communications

63. The Commission has assembled millions of telephone call records and separated those of interest that span a selected time period surrounding each of the 14 attacks. The objective of this project is to lift from the vast amount of communications traffic occurring in Beirut during the period of the attacks those numbers that have commonaIity between the attacks and links to other potentially relevant numbers.

64. For example, from the perspective of mobile telephone communications traffic alone, one individual using multiple numbers has been preliminarily linked in a broad geographic context and within a specific common temporal period to a number of the attacks. Four other people have been linked to this person in some of those attacks. The Commission will continue such analytical work and assist the Prosecutor General of Lebanon by investigating the links, conducting appropriate interviews and developing further leads for follow-up.

3. Interviews

65. Following the expansion of the mandate on 15 June 2006, this aspect of the work has begun, and the Commission has conducted a number of interviews relevant to the six targeted attacks. These interviews have elicited information and evidence of considerable significance, and have provided many leads that require follow-up. In particular, a number of new interviews are being planned to maintain the momentum of this avenue of investigation over the coming reporting period, reinforcing results particularly in the significant area of linkage within the cases.

66. The immediate impact of the interviews undertaken is evident, in that a commonality of themes for the investigation is apparent between two or more cases. Links are being developed which relate to the motive and perpetrator aspects of the attacks, and as mentioned in the previous report as a hypothesis, the data being collected provides preliminary information of a 'layering' of the motives for these crimes. At one level, the reason for the attacks may be based on motives associated with each victim individually. At another level, the attacks may fit into a broader scheme of intent. This concept of culpability remains critical to the cases and the commission of the crimes, and is one which the Commission will continue to consider and concentrate on.

67. The Commission has strengthened its preliminary conclusion that the 14 cases were not commissioned and executed by 14 disparate and unconnected persons or groups with an equal number of separate motives, and is developing evidence which links the cases into differing groupings. As such, the Commission is anticipating that further links between the cases may become evident upon further collection of information and evidence.

4. Further assistance

68. As indicated in the previous report, all the cases are at varying stages of their development by the Lebanese authorities. The Commission's primary objective for the 14 cases in the coming reporting period is to expand the quality and quantity of the information and evidence for each case where possible, by providing investigative capacity, coordinating capability, horizontal analysis and technical assistance to the Prosecutor General of Lebanon, and through his office to the respective investigative magistrates.

69. Another objective of the Commission is to work with the Prosecutor General of Lebanon in developing operational inter-connectivity between the investigative magistrates in support of the conjoined direction on all cases. The Commission believes there is added value to coordinating the investigative activities of all the cases and scrutinizing them not only individually, but in a number of different ways as a single unified group of 14 cases, or as two or more smaller groups, linked to one another by one or more factors.


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Ill. External Cooperation

A. Interaction with the Lebanese authorities

70. The Commission has continued to interact closely with the Lebanese authorities on practical, investigative and legal issues that are relevant to its mandate. A total of 12 new written requests were sent to the Lebanese authorities during the reporting period. The Government of Lebanon, the Prosecutor General and his senior staff, the investigating judges assigned to the cases, as well as the liaison officer appointed by the Internal Security Forces have remained clearly committed to the Commission's mandate and have supported its efforts throughout the reporting period, despite the tense security situation in Lebanon caused by the recent conflict. The Commission would like to thank them for their support and assistance.

71. The Commissioner met twice with the Prime Minister of Lebanon and held regular meetings with the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor General during the reporting period. Technical working-level interaction also continued, even after the Commission's temporary relocation outside of Lebanon. As part of the Commission's provision of technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities, meetings were also held with the civilian and military judges and investigating judges in charge of the different cases to discuss the progress of each case, their possible links to one another, and all other matters related to the provision of technical assistance.

72. The Commission has continued to share with the competent Lebanese authorities all relevant documentary, testimonial, and physical information obtained in the course of its investigations, with the exception of information which could compromise the safety of a witness or the national security interests of a State. Even in such cases, the substance of the information is communicated to the Lebanese authorities in a manner that does not compromise the interest of the witness or the State.

73. The Commission also continues regularly to provide the Lebanese judicial authorities with information, interviews and documentation relevant to those detained, to enable them to take any steps they deem appropriate or necessary. In this connection, the Commission is finalizing the conduct of interviews and the review of extensive documentation in order to assess the credibility of witnesses in the Hariri case. The Commission will continue to regularly provide the Prosecutor General of Lebanon with any information in relation to this matter.

74. The Commission remains available to provide further technical assistance in relation to any other incident or case within the scope of its expanded mandate, should the Lebanese authorities so request.

B. International cooperation

75. Security Council resolutions 1636 (2005) and 1644 (2005), adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, impose an obligation on States to cooperate with the Commission. Unlike in mutual legal assistance, where each State can negotiate a framework for cooperation on criminal matters, States are required to cooperate with the Commission, and to take any steps necessary under their own law to implement their obligations under these resolutions.

76. Acting on this basis, the Commission has continued to request the cooperation of States in technical, judicial and legal matters relevant to the fulfilment of its mandate. Specifically during the reporting period, the Commission has submitted a total of 28 separate requests to different States and international organizations seeking to obtain information and documents, facilitate witness interviews, and provide technical assistance and expertise.

77. As it has done in previous reports, the Commission requests that States contact the Commission if they possess or have access to any information that may be relevant to the Hariri investigation or the Commission's other cases. The Commission welcomes any information from States that would advance the investigation, whether it is directly linked to the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the other attacks being investigated, or the general political and security situation prevailing' in Lebanon at the time of the attacks. At this stage of its investigation, the Commission would also find it very useful to receive assistance from States in such matters as interviews with diplomatic representatives and the provision of further technical intelligence and imagery products.

1. Cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic

78. The Syrian Arab Republic is required to cooperate fully with the Commission, as specifically mandated by the Security Council in resolutions 1595 (2005), 1636 (2005) and 1644 (2005) adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Pursuant to the common understanding reached between the Commission and Syria earlier in the year, the cooperation of Syria with the Commission has continued to be timely and efficient.

79. During the reporting period, the Commission submitted 11 formal requests for assistance to Syria, seeking information and documentation about certain individuals and groups as well as statements obtained from persons in the course of investigations conducted by Syrian authorities. Working meetings were held with Syrian officials, and extended discussions took place as a result of requests to meet with persons with knowledge of particular topics of relevance to the Commission's work.

80. Documentation was also provided by Syria relating to experiments conducted concerning the properties and impacts of various controlled explosions, and follow-up meetings have taken place with experts from the Commission and Syria to discuss these experiments. Further information has been received recently concerning this topic, and is being currently evaluated and researched by the Commission.

81. In addition, the Commission requested Syria to assist in the facilitation of witness interviews in Syria. During the reporting period, the Commission conducted a number of missions to Syria in which 11 interviews were carried out, including those of Syrian government officials. The interviews were arranged by the Syrian authorities in accordance with the requests of the Commission, and the Commission is satisfied with the speed with which this was done, as well as with the logistical and security arrangements for these interviews. In terms of the qualitative cooperation of Syrian officials being interviewed, the Commission continues to closely monitor the depth and validity of responses provided, and finds it necessary to undertake corroborative interviews. This aspect of cooperation is driven by the individual responses of each person being interviewed on a topic by topic basis, and the Commission has found the level of cooperation to be variable.

82. The level of assistance provided by Syria during the reporting period remains generally satisfactory, with Syria responding to the Commission's requests in a timely manner. The Commission will continue to insist on Syria's full cooperation, which remains crucial to the swift and successful completion of its work.

2. Cooperation with other States

83. The Commission continues to require the expeditious assistance and full support of States on technical, legal and judicial matters relevant to the investigation. During the reporting period, there have been a number of requests for assistance submitted to States and international organizations, and a number of follow-up letters. Since 15 June 2006, a total of 16 new formal requests for assistance have been sent to 9 different States, in addition to the requests for assistance addressed to Syria and the regular interactions with the Lebanese authorities.

84. As in previous reporting periods, most States have responded in a positive and prompt manner to the Commission's requests and have supported its work, including by providing forensic technical assistance, technological support, tracking and analysis of telephone communications, and facilitating witness interviews. In light of the importance of States' cooperation for the furtherance of the investigations without delay, the Commission trusts that it will enjoy full and prompt cooperation from all States during the next reporting period.


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IV. Organizational support

A. Internal Procedure


85. The Commission continues to adopt and streamline its internal procedure, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1595 (2005) and in view of the possible establishment of a tribunal of an international character. These internal procedures are based on relevant international standards, but also take into account Lebanese law and judicial procedures, as well as the practice of the Commission since its establishment.

86. The Commission is also consulting with States about further support that can be given to enable it to offer a range of protective measures to witnesses and sensitive sources.

87. Further to Security Council resolution 1686 (2006) where the Commission is mandated to provide further technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities in relation to the other cases, the Commission has also been reviewing its procedures. The Commission's investigators have conducted interviews pertaining to these investigations, without the presence of representatives of the Lebanese judiciary, using the Commission's own standards and procedures to conduct these interviews. The Commission notes that there are certain differences between the standards and procedures for conducting interviews under Lebanese law and those that arise under international law. On the one hand the Commission considers that it should respect all due international standards, and on the other it is aware of the responsibility to ensure that testimonial, forensic or other evidence that it collects during the course of its work on all the cases shall be admissible before any Lebanese court in which any accused persons may ultimately be tried.

B. Temporary relocation in Cyprus

88. The reporting period was marked by the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Lebanon, which ultimately resulted in the temporary relocation of all of the Commission's international staff to Cyprus. As the general security environment in Lebanon deteriorated significantly from 12 July 2006, the Commission commenced business continuity planning for a possible emergency situation affecting the main operating base or for a partial or full relocation of its international staff. Meetings were held with the Prosecutor General of Lebanon to discuss plans in order to preserve case materials, including evidence, documents, electronic files, exhibits, artefacts and legal materials in the Commission's possession, notably those collected at the crime scene. Following a change in the security phase for Lebanon from phase three to phase four, all international staff were required to leave Lebanon in accordance with United Nations security regulations. On 21 July 2006, the Commissioner informed the Prime Minister of Lebanon of the temporary relocation of all international staff, who departed that day to continue activities from Cyprus.

89. While the events in Lebanon and the relocation to Cyprus have undoubtedly affected the Commission's operations and productivity during the reporting period, this impact has been kept to a minimum, thanks notably to the generous assistance of UNDP and UNFICYP in ensuring that the Commission could make use of temporary office accommodation immediately upon its arrival. The Lebanese and Cypriot authorities, UNIFIL, ESCW A, as well as the relevant departments in UNHQ, supported the Commission throughout the process of evacuation and relocation. The Commission also wishes to acknowledge the very helpful support provided by certain States in facilitating regular missions for Commission personnel back to Lebanon to carry out investigative activities, including interviews.

C. Systems management

90. During the reporting period, significant advances have been made in the area of information management, where a new Investigations and Analysis Information System incorporating state-of-the-art analytical tools, has been designed and implemented. This system will further increase the Commission's ability to analyze and exploit its information and evidence holdings. In addition to this system, a number of other ancillary information systems have been enhanced, finalized and introduced. Further standard operating procedures and workflows have been developed to assist and guide staff in information acquisition practices and document management.

D. Administration

1. Recruitment


91. The rapid strengthening of the Commission's institutional capacity continued to be one of the key tasks for the Commission during the reporting period. The recruitment of competent personnel within appropriate timescales has remained a significant challenge for the Commission and delays in the recruitment process have impacted the Commission's ability to fulfil its mandate in a timely manner.

92. While vacancy rates had decreased in the last reporting period, they have gone up during the present reporting period, due to an increase in the number of posts approved in June 2006 and the disruption to the recruitment process caused by the conflict in Lebanon.

93. An assessment of candidates put forward by States and international agencies is in progress. It is therefore anticipated that the vacancy rates will again continue to decline steadily as more candidatures are received, reviewed and recruited. The Commission is grateful for the positive responses received so far from States and international institutions, and would like to emphasize the need for their continued assistance in making qualified and skilled human resources available to the Commission on a regular basis to ensure continued stability and progress.

2. Budget

94. The Commission recently submitted a new budget for the year 2007. The budget proposal, submitted in August 2006, makes provision for 188 international staff, reflecting a small increase of 13 international staff. The increase comprises five investigations personnel for the technical assistance cases, one additional security officer and seven administrative posts.

E. Security

95. The security of the Commission's staff, premises, and assets continues to be a priority. The deterioration of the general security environment in Lebanon and the wider region during the reporting period has worsened the situation, while the focus of the investigation increases the probability of individuals or groups attempting to execute threats against the Commission or its personnel for the purpose of disrupting its mandate. The primary focus of security operations is therefore to enable the continuation of the Commission's mandate by ensuring maximum security for all personnel, facilities and assets.

96. The Commission's security operations team, in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces, coordinated a safe and secure relocation of the Commission's international staff and essential investigation materials from Beirut to Cyprus, while maintaining security of the Commission's main operating base in Beirut. The Commission's security team continues to review and update the threat and risks assessments relating to the Commission to ensure that all critical aspects of security are consistent with security standards. As required, standard operating procedures and contingency plans are developed or adjusted based on the current threat and risk analysis.

F. Supplemental Memorandum of Understanding

97. The negotiations with the Government of Lebanon regarding the terms of a supplemental memorandum of understanding to supplement and modify the original memorandum of 13 June 2005 were put on bold when the Commission temporarily relocated to Cyprus. They are expected to resume and conclude soon. The draft supplemental memorandum of understanding, which has been prepared in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, addresses such issues as the legal status of the Commission's premises and the privileges and immunities of the Commission and its staff.


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V. Conclusions

98. The Commission is grateful for the outstanding support and work undertaken for the benefit and security of Commission personnel and property by the Lebanese authorities, and in particular by the Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces, especially considering the particularly difficult circumstances that marked the reporting period.

99. In the Hariri investigation, the Commission continues to finalize its primary crime scene work, including its forensic research and analysis, and is satisfied that it has largely established the facts to an evidential standard. The crime scene and associated elements now are providing investigative leads of a secondary nature, as the Commission delves deeper into some of the issues that have arisen from its work on these topics.

100. The Commission will continue to develop its understanding of linkage to the perpetrators at all levels in the Hariri investigation. In the coming reporting period, the Commission's strategic objectives are to undertake approximately 50 key linkage-related interviews; collect and analyze a large amount of already identified electronic data, technical intelligence and· documentation; develop its communications, horizontal and vertical linkages between all the cases; continue with its forensic program; and develop further sensitive sources.

101. The Commission's work in relation to the 14 other cases helps place the attacks into the prevailing context at the time, and is beginning to produce links notably in identifying potential conjoining motives. Establishing the depth, breadth and nature of those links to an evidential standard is an investigation priority over the next months.

102. As the investigation narrows its focus methodologically and refines its working hypotheses, progress will be accelerated from the development of further witnesses with inside knowledge of the crime and its associated elements. The Commission is putting in place witness protection mechanisms in order to allow more individuals with the appropriate knowledge to step forward and assist it in this sensitive area of its work.

103. The Commission emphasizes the importance of international support from States for its work. This is crucial in order for the Commission to maintain its progress and ensure the completeness of its work, and is exemplified by the 72 requests for assistance that have been sent to States and entities in the last six months. The Commission looks forward to receiving further· support and interaction with States as it continues its progress in its investigations.

104. The above mentioned strategic objectives are contingent on the Commission's operational support systems being able to function at the same operational tempo as its investigation activities. This is especially important in the recruitment of personnel, where the Commission will work with the broader UN system to ensure employment timescales match the current operational demands.

105. Noting the progress made towards the establishment of a tribunal of an international character, and given its current mandate regarding the provision of assistance to the Prosecutor General of Lebanon, the Commission will ultimately handover responsibilities to a prosecutor's office in either case. By applying the principles of objectivity and balance and by respecting international legal standards in its working methods, the Commission aims to provide the best possible platform for either office to continue the work.