War : Syria : more saber rattling


Richard Moore


U.S., France to Introduce U.N. Resolutions Against Syria 

By Robin Wright 
Washington Post Staff Writer 
Wednesday, October 19, 2005; A16 

The United States and France are planning to introduce two
U.N. resolutions next week aimed at holding Syria to account
for meddling in Lebanon and for its alleged links to the
assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri,
according to several sources close to the diplomacy.

The moves would be the toughest international action ever
taken against Syria and would be designed to further isolate
President Bashar Assad, who for the first time is getting the
cold shoulder from key Arab governments such as those in Egypt
and Saudi Arabia, Western envoys said.

The impending actions will be "the perfect storm for
Damascus," said a Western diplomat at the United Nations,
speaking on the condition of anonymity because planning is
still underway. "It's pretty clear the Syrians don't have any
friends left."

The resolutions may be introduced as early as Tuesday, he
said. They would follow two reports on Syria expected to be
submitted over the next two days to the U.N. Security Council.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan discussed the reports and plans for new resolutions
during a working breakfast in New York, said sources familiar
with the talks. Rice has been engaged in diplomacy on Syria
over the past week during travels to France, Russia and

Rice requested the meeting, which was not announced until it
was over. "The region and the world have a number of issues
with Syrian behavior," said State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack, adding that the Lebanese, Iraqi and Palestinian
governments have all protested Syrian practices.

The most crucial report expected to be delivered this week is
from German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, who will submit results
of his U.N. investigation into the assassination of Hariri,
who was Lebanon's leading reformer. Although the details of
the report have been closely held, diplomats said they expect
it to implicate Syria in the slaying of Hariri and 19 others
in a Feb. 14 bombing, and to say that Syria has not fully
complied with the investigation.

The U.N. envoy for Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen, is also
scheduled to deliver a status report on Resolution 1559, which
was co-sponsored by the United States and France last year. It
calls for Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon and for the
dismantling of militias. This report is expected to say that
Syria has facilitated the flow of illicit arms and individuals
into Palestinian camps in Lebanon, further undermining
Lebanon's stability.

Syria says it has complied with the United Nations by ending
its 29-year occupation and withdrawing about 14,000 troops
from Lebanon in April. It also denies any links to the Hariri

"We have supported the Mehlis mission, and we have been
cooperating with Mehlis," Imad Moustapha, Syria's ambassador
to the United States, said yesterday. "We are absolutely
categoric in saying we had nothing to do with Hariri. . . . If
he does not reveal the truth, then this will allow certain
people to point fingers here and there without any shred of

"President Assad has said that if any Syrian individual has
been party to this crime or implicated in the assassination of
Hariri, then he has committed a treasonous crime."

But key Security Council members have discussed extending the
Mehlis mission until Dec. 15, which the U.N. chief can do
without going to the Security Council. An extension could be
used to continue probing or to provide a psychological boost
for Lebanese authorities in persevering in the prosecution of
Hariri's slaying, which unleashed the Cedar Revolution.

The scope of any punitive action against Syria is also under
discussion, diplomats said. The Bush administration has
considered language critical of Syria for support of terrorism
that could also be used to punish or pressure Damascus for
aiding extremists in Iraq, envoys familiar with the diplomacy

But France and other nations want the focus to be limited to
Syria's intervention in Lebanon, mainly to prevent Arab
backlash at a time of public anger over the U.S.-led invasion
of Iraq. Of particular concern is the position of Algeria,
whose socialist government has been close to Damascus in the
past. Also, Algeria is now the Arab representative on the
15-member Security Council.

But U.S., European and U.N. officials say Assad's government
is facing bleak prospects even in the Arab world. Last month,
Assad visited Cairo to win support from Egypt, a political
trendsetter that accounts for more than half the Arab
population. Instead, U.S. and Arab envoys say, President Hosni
Mubarak told him to comply fully with Mehlis -- and not to
expect help if Syrian officials are implicated.

After their first summit, held in Paris yesterday, Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad
Siniora issued a statement condemning the movement of arms and
militants into the Palestinian refugee camps. At a joint news
conference, Siniora said he and Abbas are specifically
concerned about Syria's role.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company 


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