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The Syrian regime of Bashar Assad will not comply with any more investigations into a continuing series of political assassinations in Lebanon of anti-Syria politicians, if the reaction of their UN ambassador gives any indication. Speaking in closed session, Fayssal Mekdad compared murdered MP Gibran Tueni to a 'dog' and blamed Israel for the suspicion under which the Assad regime finds itself:
Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, Fayssal Mekdad, likened slain Lebanese legislator Gibran Tueni to a dog yesterday and indicated that Israel leads American policy on his country. American and French officials, meanwhile, vowed support for Lebanon, but shied away from pushing for sanctions against Syria in the aftermath of yet another damaging report on that country's role in Lebanon.
America's U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, said he would ensure that international pressure on Syria is "unrelenting." When asked why he did not refer specifically to sanctions, which the U.N. Security Council has decided to employ against individuals involved in the killing of a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, he said only, "The council's word is at stake now." Mr. Bolton's words seemed designed to challenge some in the 15-member body who have advocated a softer line on Syria.
Mr. Mekdad blamed Israel for his country's increased isolation and dismissed the Lebanese Cabinet's request to expand the Hariri investigation to probe six other alleged political assassinations. The request came after Monday's bombing in Beirut that left four people dead, including Tueni, an anti-Syrian legislator and journalist. It was endorsed last night in a French proposal for a Security Council resolution.
"So now every time that a dog dies in Beirut there will be an international investigation?" Mr. Mekdad said to an Arab diplomat during a closed-door council session, according to a diplomat who heard the conversation but asked to remain anonymous.
Mr. Mekdad will need to report back to his government that the American and French representatives at the Security Council both back a Lebanese request to expand the Hariri probe to include Tueni's murder -- and that 'dogs' that use car bombs will wind up leaving their paw prints at the door of Bashar Assad. Syria had jollied the US along up to a few months ago, but with the Iraqi elections under way, they know the time has grown short for their regime. Soon the US will have a massive force on the Syrian eastern frontier, free to take action if desired by George Bush to continue prosecuting the war on state-sponsored Islamofascit terror -- and Assad knows that only two major targets still exist for Bush in that conflict. The continued attacks on Lebanon will not just give Bush an extant reason to select Damascus for the next phase, but may finally pull France in as an ally, given French interests in freeing Lebanon from Syria's political and economic grip.
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