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US Official: Syria''s Reaction to Hariri Probe was Inadequate - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat- Syria should have adopted a firm stance regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al Hariri and collaborated with the UN investigation into the murder headed by German judge Detlev Mehlis who is excepted to present his conclusions later this month, according to informed US sources.

Speaking to Asharq al Awsat, US officials indicated that, “Syrian President Bashar Assad should have announced he wanted the truth to emerge immediately after doubts rose on possible Syrian involvement and affirmed his readiness to punish all those who planned or took part in the planning of Hariri’s murder or those who carried out the assassination.”

This readiness, the sources added, “would have strengthened Assad’s position and enabled Syria to take part in the search for the truth instead of being an isolated party in the probe.”

According to these sources, when officials speaks of possible Syrian involvement “they do not necessarily mean the highest echelons of power in Damascus and do not dispute that the responsibility may lie with the lower levels”, giving the president room for maneuver and breathing space in the international arena.

In spite of this, the US administration appeared to have already decided to depose the current leadership, “but has yet to find the way to do so or a suitable alternative,” to hand power to in Damascus, the sources added. Accordingly, the current US government, under President George W. Bush, was examining “three difference scenarios for the next stage after the UN report is published, including Damascus agrees to surrender one or two officials in the hope of saving the regime.

A number of subterfuges might be used by the US government prior to its involvement in Syria , such as a stray bomb on Syrian territory or a missile by US forces in Iraq which “accidentally” hits its neighbor.

For their part, informed French sources revealed that the US has already opted for regime change in Syria , with “a faction in the US administration ready to gamble to induce this chance as it believes that any development in Syria is better for US interests, including chaos as it might turn out positive.”

So far, the French have continue to affirm that “they are not interested in developments in Damascus as they focus firmly on Lebanon and the application of UN security council resolutions 1559 and 1595, as well as insisting on discovering the truth behind Hariri’s murder.”

In the last week, Paris , Washington , and London have held a series of meetings to coordinate their actions after the UN report is published, included the role of the security council in a trial for the accused and the type and powers of this court.

Paris has called on the US administration to “practice restraint and moderation” regarding Syria and warned Washington from the consequences of “violent regime change” on the region and Lebanon especially. French sources said their government had “succeeded” until now in reining in the US government but protested that Syria was “not helping” in this regard.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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