Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Abdul-Halim Khaddam

Farid submits the following story on the revelations by former vice president Abdul-Halim Khaddam. We reproduce the story unedited as an opposition view. However, William comments: “The UN commission of inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri now wants to question Syrian president Bashar al Assad. The UN panel also want to speak to Syrian foreign minister Farouk Shara (and of course former vice president Abdul-Halim Khaddam). These are suggestions that are scarcely credible (or rather they are incredible) but the barefaced cheek of the UN team highlights the degree to which truth has been muddied in all things relating to Syria. The Khaddam statement referred to below has caused outrage in Syria at all levels. Some of Khaddam’s remarks profoundly offended many ordinary Syrians, e.g. his comment that the people of Damascus are so poor that they have to take food from the rubbish. Khaddam has thus become a figure of ridicule in Syria. Ordinary Syrians comment that the man has been frozen out of government decisions for five years now. The Syrian lawyers union met (Khaddam is a lawyer by profession) to throw him out of their trade association. Meanwhile, the Syrian parliament voted unanimously to ask the Syrian Ministry of Justice to indict him for high treason. Ordinary Syrians quote the Editor in Chief of Lebanon’s Al Dayar Newspaper who has been alleging that Harriri’s family have made a payment to Khaddam. Most Syrians are critical of Khaddam’s wealth (as – to be fair – they are critical of the wealth of all those associated with government in Syria). The over-riding mood amongst Syrians is one of depression. They feel betrayed. If the Khaddam statements are supposed to encourage revolution, they may have failed utterly in their purpose, instead hardening the Syrian population’s stoic ‘us against the world’ attitude”. Farid’s article is below:

Why Kaddam’s Interview on Al-Arabiya will bring Down the Assad Regime?
Washington DC, December 31, 2005/RPS Blog/ -- With remarkable delight, the Syrian opposition watched yesterday an interview conducted on al-Arabiya Television of ex-Vice President Abdul Halim Kaddam. This, we believe, is the best greeting for 2006 for all those who aspire to see democracy and freedom flourish in Syria. Kaddam is the highest ranking Ba’athist to turn against the regime and his timing could not have been planned better.
There is no coincidence in the timing. The United States and France have watched the Assad regime turn a serious UN investigation into a circus. Assef Shawkat, more likely under instruction from Baschar al-Assad, planted informants, made a mockery of the investigation through lack of cooperation, and instigated a campaign of discrediting Detlev Mehlis, a respected German judge, who found out, the hard way, the wide gap between those who rule Syria and civilized people.

For the international community, the investigation hit a snag because Mehlis, although certain of Syrian involvement, could not for lack of cooperation by the Syrian authorities point the finger at the regime. The most he could do is create a list of suspects that, if not fully investigated, may never be brought to justice. The killings of Lebanese politicians by Baschar al-Assad was nothing more than an insurance policy the Syrian regime bought for itself to insure that no one would rattle against Assef Shawkat and Maher al-Assad, the men most likely responsible for carrying out the cowardly murder of Rafik Hariri and Baschar al-Assad for giving the order.
At the end, the one man who could bring them all down is Abdul Halim Kaddam and that is why his timing is impeccable

The optimist Syrian opposition believes that Kaddam has already testified about the killing of Rafik Hariri to the UN team to warrant the stipulation of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter under which Resolution 1636 was passed. Chapter VII provides the United Nations with ample powers to stop “THREATS TO THE PEACE, BREACHES OF THE PEACE, AND ACTS OF AGGRESSION”. This in effect is the closest thing to a declaration of war by the United Nations.

Should this prove to be correct, it is simply a question of time before the Assad regime falls. 2006 is the year.

Some signs that Kaddam may have testified in front of the UN committee investigating the killing of Hariri and that his timing is deliberate:
Kaddam’s assets have recently been seized inside Syria.
Kaddam’s family (his sons) is in Paris celebrating New Year’s.
Kaddam has personal relations with Jacques Chirac of France and would not embark on this interview without consultations with the Elysées.
As a seasoned politician, he would not cross the point of no return without some security as to the demise of the regime.

Regime Change

The matter of regime change in Syria has been widely reported and to a certain extent, the US State department has avoided giving the impression that the US policy towards Syria is headed for regime change. Even the first-of-its-kind meeting with the Syrian opposition by Liz Cheney on March 24, 2005 was diluted by the policy makers to leave room for negotiations on Lebanon, Iraq, and the terror by Damascus.

While “Behavior Change” is the official policy of the US State Department’s on Syria, this has not managed to offset the signs that one could read during meetings and declarations of US officials on this matter. There was a sense that a “no policy” on Syria was the policy. But the straddling of the fence will have to end now that Kaddam, the highest ranking defector, has given the international community the reason, if not the ammunition, to finally take a decisive role if it does not want to see chaos prevail. The international community must make a decision whether, with such overwhelming support by not only the democratic opposition but also by insiders of the regime to see “Regime change” take place. We believe that Kaddam is the Tsunami that cannot stop the notion of toppling the Assad regime.
Reform Party of Syria Blog: http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=5b6hqrbab.0.nng9prbab.5urs9xn6.3651&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.SyriaCommentPLUS.com

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