الوزراء اللبناني: سوريا تهدد
خاصة مع السنيورة)
المقابلة: سكوت ماكلويد
is Threatening my Country
Thursday, May. 31, 2007
from the Grand Serail, the seat of the Lebanese
government in Beirut, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora had
something dramatic to say in his interview with TIME. He
had just gotten off the phone with Secretary of State
Condeleezza Rice, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and
other world leaders to thank them for their help in
establishing an international tribunal to bring plotters
in the assassination of one of his predecessors to
justice. Now, he says, Lebanese authorities have
evidence that Syrian intelligence operatives are behind
the ongoing violent clashes in a Palestinian refugee
camp near Tripoli as part of an effort to destabilize
the country. Siniora also says that Syrian elements,
pursuing what he calls "a clear determination to
subjugate the country," could be responsible for
political killings in Lebanon including the 2005
assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
accused the Syrian regime of trying to intimidate
Lebanese from supporting the court and said that the
pursuit of justice entailed risks, including
"instability in the country... planting bombs here
and there." But Siniora says that his government is
determined to push forward with the tribunal as well as
uproot the Islamist faction with alleged Syrian links at
the center of the Tripoli fighting to prove Lebanon's
independence. "Otherwise," he said,
"everybody can dare to slap us on the face."
The message "to all criminals or those who are
against the state," he added, would be "that
they can continue committing crimes and there is
impunity." A major benefit of the tribunal, Siniora
says, is that more witnesses may be willing to provide
evidence of crimes in Lebanon to U.N. investigators
knowing that it will be used in an international court.
What's the meaning of the U.N. vote to set up a tribunal?
The most important thing in the principle of having the
tribunal is that, according to the investigation
[officials], Mr. [Detlev] Mehlis and Mr. [Serge]
Brammertz, is that some of the witnesses are really
reluctant to make their statements if they are not sure
that there will be a tribunal. A tribunal is important
for the witnesses because it really gives assurance that
they are protected.
that the first Mehlis report implicated some top Syrian
officials, does the Syrian regime have reason to be
worried about the tribunal?
thing that really bothers me [is] why the Syrians have
been taking this attitude of not cooperating with the
investigation and with the establishment of the tribunal.
the Syrian regime feel targeted?
might have been that certain groups within the regime
were involved. I am in no position to say. But there are
indications that certain people were involved in one way
or another. But I am in no position to accuse. That will
be for the tribunal to say. The problem is that those
who have been behind this crime did not stop. How many
malicious acts were made in order to destabilize the
country? This process shows that there is a clear
determination to subjugate the country. This is what
really worries me.
it right to pursue justice even if it threatens the
security of the Syrian regime. Is that simply the price
to be paid?
me, it is a matter of principle that I have to seek the
truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This
tribunal is not intended to be against any person or any
state, and in particular I am speaking about Syria.
Certain regimes try to find ways and means how to put an
end to the situation, as [the Libyan regime] did in
Lockerbie. They made an arrangement. But I have nothing
to do with this. This country has suffered the
assassinations of three prime ministers. I hope there
will not be a fourth.
does the tribunal help Lebanon?
tribunal is so essential for democracy, for freedom, for
the prevalence of the state, for law and order.
Otherwise, [the message] sent to all criminals or those
who are against the state [is] that they can continue
committing crimes and there is impunity in this country,
[that] it is the best place, the paradise, for criminals.
officials have predicted more violence because of the
think that this has the element of threat. They are
threatening. They are intimidating. This is something
the Lebanese do not accept. Continuously intimidating
the country, intimidating the people, cannot really
bring any results.
would Syria threaten?
discourage the Lebanese from pursuing this process.
Since day one, they have not been showing acceptance or
willingness or support for the idea of an international
the opposition of domestic groups like Hizballah, are
you strong enough to move ahead without a solid national
know that there are risks involved. But what are we
expected to do? To respond and comply with the pressure
and to accept that impunity will prevail and the state
will disintegrate? Is this a democracy? If it is a
democracy, I have a majority in the parliament. They
know as well, very well, that the majority of the
population is supporting us.
are the risks?
is the problem with Syria. They consider that it is a
threat against their regime. If I want to please this,
and please that, I am not going to please anybody. I
tell my own people that there are certain principles
that are worth [holding] fast and trying to defend them.
Otherwise, everybody can dare to slap us on the face. We
have to prove that this is a country, this is a
sovereign state, this is an independent one, we [want
the state to prevail] all over Lebanon, and... having a
democratic and free country. Those who have not been
voting for the tribunal they say this may cause
instability in the country. Yes, it is a risk,
instability in the country. Planting bombs here and
there. We have to handle it. I mean, there is nothing
that you really can do without a cost.
is the government's plan for resolving the Tripoli
al-Islam] are a group, actually, of terrorists. I could
have said, "OK, they slapped me in the face, sorry
gentlemen, I cannot do anything." Then why am I
here as the state?
your plan for dealing with Fatah al-Islam?
want to find a peaceful solution. We are trying to
convince these terrorists to surrender themselves. They
may or they may not. The council of ministers asked the
Lebanese army to look into the matter and see how this
can be treated in case we fail to achieve results
through political means. Then the army is entitled to
make all the surgical arrangements so to unroot them
from that camp.
there a deadline for the negotiations?
Definitely, I'm not saying months. The army can put the
plan that can guarantee achieving the objective with the
least effort and least cost. The army cannot afford not
to be successful.
is said Fatah al-Islam is linked to Syria.
Syrian intelligence. This is exactly what I have heard
from the interrogators [of 20 arrested suspects]. That
there are some connections with some Syrian
intelligence. Now whether these Syrian intelligence
[operatives] are working on their own, or guided by
higher superiors, I don't know. We'll have to find out.
was the connection?
the way they were assembled, the way they came, the way
they got their ammunition and arms, in the way they were
discussing and developing their plans and so on. I'm not
talking about a telephone call. I prefer not to get into
more specifics than that.
would Syria support such a group?
discourage the Lebanese, and the Lebanese army, from
taking any effort towards further consolidation of the
country. And at same time, make the country as a whole
لهذه المقالات لا يعني أنها
تعبر عن وجهة نظر المركز كلياً
من حق الزائر الكريم أن ينقل وأن ينشر كل ما يعجبه من موقعنا . معزواً إلينا ، أو غير معزو .ـ