Saturday, March 26, 2005

Negligent or intentional? 

An interim report of the UN investigation of Rafik Hariri's assassination has been released (here's the executive summary and here's a rundown from the Word Unheard) to the predictable reaction of parties concerned. Its authors admit that with their limited investigative powers, which do not include powers to subpoena officials and carry out searches, and with Lebanon's key security personnel still in their positions, there is not much further that the UN can move the investigation. Still, AP notes that the Lebanese government might just have to accept a more in-depth inquiry.

The report does not directly accuse either the Syrian or the Lebanese government of staging the assassination, but it blames them for creating a political climate that might have led to the killing (including a personal threat by Assad Jr. to Hariri).

The report also blames the Lebanese authorities for lax security in the run-up to the assassination and for the lack of commitment in investigating the incident afterwards, which elicited this response from Defense Minister Abdul-Rahim Murad: "Why American forces in Iraq do not uncover the car bombs and the operations against civilians and the American army?" Hey, why bring the Americans into it; it's the UN's conclusions.

Of course, what everyone really wants to find out is not whether Lebanon has lax security (lax security can happen everywhere: see September 11), but whether the Syrian and Lebanese authorities have bumped off the most dangerous opposition figure in Beirut.

Stay tuned.


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