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UN chief : Arab leaders worried Syria could become the next Iraq

En marge du rapport Mehlis

J - 20

vendredi 25 novembre 2005

Alors, qu’en coulisse, on tente de faire toute la lumière sur la façon dont l’enquête, ayant mené à la production du rapport Mehlis, a été menée, dans les plus hautes sphères internationales, par un discours ambigu, on continue à mettre la pression la plus forte possible sur la Syrie, en occultant le fait qu’aux questions du gouvernement syrien sur la façon dont l’enquête doit se poursuivre, il n’est donné que des réponses évasives.
Une fois de plus les cibles sont déjà désignées avant même que la date fixée pour conclure, à savoir le 15/12/2005, soit atteinte.
En quelque sorte on viole au quotidien « le secret de l’instruction » !

By The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who just returned from the Mideast, said Arab leaders are worried that Syria could become the next Iraq.

Annan said on Monday that the issue of Syrian cooperation with an investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri came up in every capital he visited.

« They’re all concerned and anxious to see Syria cooperate and to see the issue settled diplomatically and not lead to a situation that destabilizes possibly Syria and Lebanon, » Annan said. « They’re worried if we are leading to another Iraq situation. »

A UN interim report into the February 14 assassination implicated Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services, and accused Syria of only limited cooperation. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on October 31 warning Syria of possible « further action » if it refuses to cooperate with the UN investigation, which has been extended until December 15.

Syria has objected to chief investigator Detlev Mehlis’ request to interview six top Syrian officials about the assassination in Beirut. Syria’s UN Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad reiterated Monday that Lebanon « creates problems, sensitivities and other issues. »

Last week, Mekdad said Syria had proposed alternative venues including the headquarters of the UN observer force in the Golan Heights, at the Arab League office in Cairo, or at UN facilities in Vienna and Geneva.

Mekdad said the location issue was discussed at a meeting in Barcelona, Spain two days ago between Mehlis and Syrian officials.

Asked about reports that there was an agreement on Cyprus as a compromise venue, he replied, « not yet - there still needs to be some work. »

Mekdad said Syria is insisting on a memorandum of understanding spelling out the kind of cooperation the UN investigating commission requires in its interrogation and investigation.

After Mehlis arrived in Lebanon, he signed a memorandum of understanding with the government in June, « and in Syria we want to do the same, so that we know how ... we organize our cooperation and work together, » Mekdad said.

« It is not in our interest to delay things, » he said. « I think it is against our interest and we hope that Mr. Mehlis and his team will expedite the work so that we can proceed directly to the investigation and the interrogation processes. »

Annan refused to respond to reports of U.S. criticism for allegedly interfering in the Mehlis investigation, but he said « I have had the chance to assist him sometimes to push people along, encourage leaders in the region to urge Syria to cooperate and to cooperate fully. »

« I have also had the chance to talk to Syrian authorities since the resolution several times urging them to cooperate with Mehlis - and I think it is my duty as secretary-general to do whatever I can to assist to make sure that everybody cooperates, » he said.

Stressing the widespread concern in the region, Annan said he has made it clear to the Syrians that the Security Council wants « to get to the truth and then show that the culprits are brought to justice and a message will be sent out that impunity will not be allowed to stand. »

In tandem with the suspicions about Syria’s hand in Hariri’s assassination, the United States, joined by the new Iraqi government, has accused Damascus of not doing enough to patrol its border with Iraq.

At the very least, argue Iraqi and U.S. officials, Syria is turning a blind eye to hundreds of so-called foreign fighters crossing into Iraq and who are believed to be behind some of the most violent attacks in that country, including the near daily suicide bombings.

Syria has disputed those claims, saying it is doing all it can, but that it would be impossible to fully patrol such a long and porous desert border.

Damascus has also repeatedly has denied any role in the Beirut bombing that killed Hariri and 20 others. But Syria’s opponents in Lebanon accuse Damascus of ordering the slaying because Hariri had increasingly resisted Syria’s control of Lebanon.

Syria withdrew its soldiers from Lebanon in April under intense international pressure, ending a 29-year presence in its smaller neighbor.

« We want to see a situation where the countries in the region respect each other’s sovereignty and do not interfere in each other’s affairs, » Annan said.

« So if there is pressure on Syria, it’s pressure for a behavioral change, » he said. « That’s the way I see it. »

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