Across the Bay

Monday, March 28, 2005

More than He Could Chew

Michael Young analyzes the Fitzgerald report and its potential aftermath:

An international inquiry into Hariri's murder, if it is approved, is a dangerous virus for the Syrian regime, both with respect to its authority in Lebanon and at home. While an investigation may take time, it will very soon start eating away at Assad's credibility and that of his Lebanese friends. Its progress might also be used by the United Nations as leverage to secure Syrian concessions in the short term, particularly on the timing of a military pullout from Lebanon. There is a good chance that legal action will be forthcoming, and that it will target those at the very top in Beirut and Damascus.

The UN team wrote that Hariri's assassination had "an earthquake-like impact on Lebanon." Indeed it did, but the Fitzgerald report has all the makings of the tsunami that follows the earthquake. The Syrians will try to brace themselves for the impact, but that may well prove to be in vain. Rafik Hariri's death was just too big a bite for Bashar Assad.

The UN Security Council will likely adopt the report's recommendation of an international investigation with wide executive authority. Perhaps, as Michael notes, "among the first people to be interrogated, one presumes, would be Assad himself and Lahoud."