Across the Bay

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bill Harris on the Brammertz Report

Lebanon scholar William Harris, author of the excellent The New Face of Lebanon, wrote a commentary in the DS on the Brammertz report.

Harris points out that "Syria is as much the main focus for Brammertz as it was for Mehlis." For instance, Harris writes, "[n]o other state or organization is named in this regard [to provide 'full and unconditional cooperation'], and the report comments that 'based on the information received, further requests will be formulated and addressed to Syria'." Furthermore, Harris sees that the suspected linkages between the Hariri case and the 14 other bombings "inevitably focus attention on the Syrian and Lebanese security services." Brammertz has recommended the UNIIIC intervene in the investigations into those cases.

Moreover, Harris adds, "Brammertz confidently claims "considerable progress" despite the otherwise tentative language of the report. Assuming this is the reality, he has obviously made advances beyond the cautious assessment presented in the text. The steady build-up of personnel, expertise, and resources indicates intense commitment and forward momentum. Combined with the deep engagement of UN Security Council credibility, this is ultimately bad news for the murderers."

As for the repercussions on Lebanon and Assad's destabilization campaign, Harris writes: "As for Lebanon, the report means the country will endure more months of political paralysis while the Hariri investigation grinds on toward a full prosecution brief for a 'tribunal of an international character.' Given that the futures of both Lebanon and the Syrian Baathist regime are at stake, tension and possibly turbulence can be expected to increase later this year. Brammertz anticipates coming dangers when he remarks, 'the focus of the investigation increases the probability of individuals or groups attempting to execute threats against the Commission or its personnel for the purpose of disrupting its mandate.' Again, it is apparent that the commission has already determined that a large apparatus was responsible for the Hariri murder, not a small terrorist cell operating alone."

There's much more, read the whole thing.