Across the Bay

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bombs on Tap

An excellent briefing from the EIU that follows the same outline found in Michael Young's and my own analysis:

In the final report submitted by Serge Brammertz, the outgoing head of the UN commission investigating the murder of Rafiq al-Hariri and its many sequels, there was the chilling observation that the perpetrators of these serial assassinations may have prepared a fleet of car bombs in several locations in order to be mobilised at short notice. That comment arose from the circumstances of the killing of Antoine Ghanem, an MP, on September 19th, which had demonstrated extremely effective surveillance and swift mobilisation by the bombing team. The successful dispatch of General Francois al-Hajj in the next operation, on December 12th, showed a similarly high level of skill, combined with well-judged political timing.

Sarkozy's gaffe

The continued deadlock over the Lebanese presidency and the long-anticipated revival of car bomb politics have cast France's decision to engage with Syria on the issue as at best naïve and at worst criminally negligent. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has had the misfortune of being quoted by Agence France Presse after the Hajj assassination as saying that he is prepared to visit Damascus if there is a consensus presidential election and if the assassinations are halted. The interview from which these remarks were taken was evidently conducted before the latest assassination, and the full quote included the condition that Syria should not impede the Hariri tribunal. However, the impression has been created that the French president is prepared to gloss over aspects of the Syrian regime's behaviour in the pursuit of an elusive diplomatic breakthrough in one of France's former stamping grounds.

Sarkozy's statement was taken from an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur conducted prior to the assassination but published on the same day it went down.