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Friday, December 30, 2005

Khaddam stops short of saying Syrian regime killed Hariri

Al-Arabiya aired a long interview with Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam, now a defector living in Paris, in which Khaddam stopped short of accusing the Syrian regime of murdering Rafik Hariri.

Khaddam said the answer to the question of who killed Rafik Hariri lies in the political smear campaign that preceded his assassination. He named Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Jamil Sayyed, in addition to former Syrian military intelligence chief in Lebanon Rustom Ghazale, as members of a circle of people who would incite Bashar against Rafik Hariri.

Khaddam confirmed that Hariri received many death threats from Syrian security officials, including Ghazale. He also confirmed that Bashar Assad told Hariri that he will crush whoever opposes his decision to extend Lahoud's term. Following his last conversation with Assad, Hariri's blood pressure reportedly rose and suffered a nose bleed.

He said he advised Hariri to leave Lebanon in a message he sent him with MP Mohsen Dalloul because his "position in Syria is complicated".

He said a decision to kill Hariri would not have been made without Bashar's knowledge, who is in complete control.

Khaddam described whomever came up with the Abu Adass (suicide bomber) story as extremely stupid. "No sane person can believe that Ahmad Abu Adass is responsible for the assassination." He said the assassination required a network of at least 20 people running such a complicated operation. What individual can arrange for something like that, he wondered. He said this must have been the work of a strong and capable security apparatus.

The former vice president of Syria had a lot to say about Ghazale and his many "transgressions " in Lebanon, which were often rewarded by Bashar. "After Hariri's assassination, I told Bashar he needed to bring that criminal and chop his head off," Khaddam said in reference to Ghazale. He added that he was surprised that Bashar would instead reward Ghazale, who acted like the "supreme ruler" of Lebanon and would regularly hurl insults at Lebanese political figures.

He said the Mehlis report is a technical and professional report. Such a report, he added, cannot reveal all so not to harm the investigation. He accused the suspects of politicising the report, adding that the Hariri murder was a political assassination.

Khaddam stopped short of saying Bashar ordered the assassination, leaving it to the UN investigation to ultimately determine the responsibility. But he provided plenty of hints and said the assassination has to be seen in the context of the Syrian campaign on Hariri and the death threats he received from Syrian officials including Rustom Ghazale.

Is Khaddam the witness Mehlis mentioned in his second report? Time will tell.

Thanks for the summary Kais--I do not have arabiya so very much appreciate it!
Khaddam's words are a severe blow to Bashar's clique.
The criminal Syrian regime is running out of room to maneuvre unless the Arab League and HA et al continue their obstructionism. This interview, is what the doctor ordered, it will revive the morale of those that have been opposing Syrian hegemony over Lebanon .
Khaddam and Houssam Housam the same same day... The Hariri family has revealed its cards.
Houssam Houssam seems more important than one could imagine.
Tayyar.org has a picture of Houssam at the site of George Hawi killing.
Who is Houssam Houssam?
"Who is Houssam Houssam?"

He's Houssam Houssam, a.k.a. Husam Husam.
Kais, I wonder if you have the time to look into and post post about the possibility that the Syrian General Hikmat Al Shahabi who is currently living in Paris might come out with a statement supporting the allegations of Mr. Khaddam. That could be a KO combination to the Syrian Baa'th.
Yes, it's possible that Shihabi makes his 'coming-out'. After all, he was Hariri and Jumblat's best ally after Khaddam. He should have very interesting things to say since, unlike Khaddam, he was working in the security apparatus.
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