Rustom Ghazali, Syria's former Military Intelligence Chief in Lebanon, has died in Damascus

The Daily Star (Lebanon) published an interesting compilation, here, on the reports of the cause of Rustom Ghazali’s death, announced this morning.

The Daily Star noted that “reports conflicted over his cause of death, and when and where he died. The news comes nearly two months after he was reported to have been badly beaten by Syrian security forces”.

In 2002, Ghazali became head of Syrian Military Intelligence, replacing General Ghazi Kanaan [who is said to have committed suicide, an explanation at odds with the circumstances, including the number of shots to his head].

As The Daily Star put it, “Ghazaleh succeeded Ghazi Kanaan as head of military intelligence in Lebanon in 2002 during Syria’s tutelage over Lebanon, which lasted until Damascus pulled its troops from the country in 2005. It is widely speculated that he was one of the men who orchestrated the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Damascus denies any involvement in the 2005 killing”.

In 2012, The Daily Star wrote today, “Ghazaleh was appointed the chief of Syria’s infamous political security branch”.

According to an AFP report cited by The Daily Star, a “family source” said that Ghazaleh “had been fired after getting into a fight with another Syrian official in early March”.

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Continue reading Rustom Ghazali, Syria's former Military Intelligence Chief in Lebanon, has died in Damascus

How can a winter storm be so bad — and so very bad in Palestinian areas?

We now know, from Reuters, that “The worst winter storm in two decades has hit the eastern Mediterranean this week”,

The Reuters report, published here, notes that in Syria, “dozens of people have died … in four days of relentless extreme weather. At least 17 people have also died due to the storm in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Schools in some areas have been shut for days, refugee camps flooded and villages isolated by closed roads. Meteorological agencies in Israel and Lebanon both called it the worst storm in 20 years … Families are burning doors and chairs to keep warm in the absence of fuel in Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, now largely in rebel hands, said Michal Przedalcki, from Czech charity People In Need, working in northern Syria. ‘Unfortunately I think it quite likely that people will die from the severe weather conditions. Already people have not been eating enough for several  months, and that exposes their bodies to more disease and infection, especially after also living through weeks of cold conditions’, he said”.

Temporary camps for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan are flooded and freezing.

[However, it’s  reported here to be even worse for Palestinian refugees fleeing from Syria. who “are being placed in compounds under strict conditions….[and] are being banned from entering Jordanian cities”… UPDATE: The Times of Israel later reported here that “Syria’s southern neighbor, Jordan, has begun to turn away Palestinian refugees fleeing toward the border, Al-Jazeera reported earlier this week”, in a post published here. The Al-Jazeera report noted that “while Palestinian refugees carrying Jordanian IDs were allowed to enter Jordan, children of Jordanian women who were not citizens are being refused”… And Al-Jazeera reported that Jordanian government spokesperson Samih Maaytah said that “Jordan does not prevent the return of its citizens… but the transfer of Palestinian refugees from Syria to Jordan is a matter of tens of thousands, something Jordan cannot bear”. The Al-Jazeera report added that “Jordan has absorbed some 126,000 Syrian refugees, but Palestinians fleeing Syria are placed in a separate refugee camp at the Cyber City compound, under stricter conditions, and are banned from entering Jordanian cities. The Jordanian government fears that an influx of Palestinian refugees may tilt the demographic balance in Jordan even more towards the Palestinians, who are already believed to comprise a large majority of the population”…]

Some of the homes for Palestinian refugees in Al-Amary camp near the center of downtown Ramallah are also flooded and cold. The camp, located in a low-lying area, is flooded in even normal rainfall. But the rain in this storm has been continuing for days. Most of the time, the 8,000 residents of Al-Amary camp had only each other to rely upon for bailing out the icy muddy water for several days.

Most residents of Ramallah were house-bound by Wednesday evening, because their cars could not make it up even a slight incline — never mind the hills that many people in Ramallah live on.

UPDATE: At 21h35, there was… well, not a snow plow, but a yellow catepillar construction vehicle with big treaded wheels and a scoop in front that was clearing a single lane on the street with the slight incline, going up to Ramallah Hospital.

By the end of the afternoon, there was a light dusting of snow on streets + roads again in Ramallah. Most cars [worn tires?] can’t make it up a slight incline. Only one passenger car, and one heavy truck on its second try, made it in one very slightly inclined area. Fascinating behavior ensued.

There was flooding yesterday in Tel Aviv, and in northern Israel and also in Lebanon — and in the West Bank, where there appears to be no kind of drainage for any of the new roads.

It’s bad everywhere. But it’s hard to describe enough how much worse the grimness of the difficult, exhausting, depressing + stressful experience of week-long winter storms is, in Palestinian areas.

Another Reuters story, posted here, reports that:

      “Heavy winter downpours have turned some Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank into a morass of filth and flooding as an Israeli barrier blocks the waters from draining away. In Qalqilya, a town of 42,000 in the northern West Bank almost completely surrounded by the concrete wall, Khaled Kandeel and his family huddled by an open fire in a shed as trash-laden water swelled through his pear orchard. ‘Before the wall, the water used to drain fine, and flowed down to the sea easily. They could just flip a switch and end our suffering, but they don’t’, Kandeel said, his breath steamy from the winter cold…Drainage channels run under the imposing ramparts but their automated metal gates are mostly closed and now clogged with refuse and stones that block the outflow of storm water. The Israeli military, citing security reasons, generally bars locals from clearing the obstructions or digging their own channels close to the barrier…Hemmed-in residents of northern towns in the West Bank have been deprived of large swathes of rural land, forcing poorly-regulated waste dumping closer to farms and homes. Driving rain could not mask the stench of raw sewage being unloaded from a tanker on a village road outside Qalqilya on Tuesday, its putrid contents mixing with the brown torrent pouring past olive trees clustered on the hills … Planning restrictions, inked as part of interim peace accords by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators almost two decades ago, widely limit locals’ ability to build water infrastructure or repair damaged or polluted wells.
      But in Hebron, whose old city is a flashpoint of conflict with Jewish settlers, rare coordination with the Israeli military allowed Palestinian officials to lift the concrete slabs which separate the ethnic enclaves to relieve flooding.  ‘We removed the concrete to prevent the passage of water to the old city souq, where flooding reached up to one meter’, said Walid Abu Halawa of Hebron’s construction commission. ‘We also opened holes in the iron barrier built by the Occupation at the terminus of the souq’, he told Reuters”…

And many are facing this misery without any money.

In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority employees [the PA is the largest employer in the occupied Palestinian territory] got 2nd half of their October salary at beginning of November. But, the banks took full loan installments due — leaving many people without cash since the beginning of October.

At the beginning of December, no salaries were paid… On 24 December, the first half of November salaries were finally paid, but again the banks took their full loan installments due from the Palestinian government employees. Government employees were left with even less cash than in early November…

Hard to understand, but many families here, dependent on the area’s largest employer, have had no cash to operate on since early October.

And this winter weather is cruel, and exhausting, and seems endless…

30 years ago today, the world began to hear about the "Forgotten" and "Preventable" massacre in Sabra + Shatila refugee camps near Beirut

Seth Anziska, a doctoral candidate in international history at Columbia University, has written an OpEd in the New York Times entitled “A Preventable Massacre” published here.

The OpEd piece reports on Anziska’s discovery at the Israel State Archives this summer of “recently declassified documents that chronicle key conversations between American and Israeli officials before and during the 1982 massacre” of Palestinian refugees by Lebanese Christian Phalangist militiamen — after the enforced evacuation of PLO leader Yasser Arafat and his fighters.

    UPDATE: Documents from the Israeli State Archives were posted on the NYTimes website to accompany Anziska’s article, here. “The Secretary asked you yesterday to convey our deep conviction that Israel should promptly pull pack…”, an American briefing note for guidance before a meeting with Israeli Ambassador Moshe Arens, “…[but] Today we find the IDF consolidating its positions … I am instructed to ask Israel to have its forces out of West Beirut…immediately”.

But, Israel did not pull back.

The primary massacre in the two adjacent Palestinian refugee camps just south of Beirut took place between 16 – 18 September 1982.

    UPDATE: Israel’s current State Archivist, Yaakov Lozowick, wrote in a post he published on 19 September on the Israel’s Documented Story blog: “30 years ago this week, Lebanese Phalangists murdered hundreds of Palestinian civilians in Sabra and Shatila, two Palestinian camps near Beirut. The IDF had allowed the phalangists into the camps, and according to the Kahan Commission’s investigation after the events, Israel bore indirect responsibility for the massacre because its troops controlled access to the camps, knew about the killings, and didn’t stop them. Morally, this was one of Israel’s darkest moments. Much of the military documentation of the 1982 war in Lebanon cannot yet be declassified. Some, however, can and has. The New York Times has an article by Seth Anziska, a researcher who spent time this summer in our reading room going through files, mostly of the Foreign Ministry, which show the tensions between American diplomats and Israeli leaders as the massacre was unfolding. It does not make for easy reading”. This is posted here.

Anziska reports that “In mid-August, as America was negotiating the PLO’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Reagan told Prime Minister Menachem Begin that the bombings ‘had to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered’, Reagan wrote in his diaries”.

American marines had been deployed near Beirut until 10 September 1982.

But on 14 September 1982, Lebanon’s President-elect Bashir Gemayel, a leader of the strongly anti-Palestinian Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia was assassinated, and Anziska writes, “Israel reacted by violating the cease-fire agreement. It quickly occupied West Beirut — ostensibly to prevent militia attacks against the Palestinian civilians. ‘The main order of the day is to keep the peace’, Begin told the American envoy to the Middle East, Morris Draper, on Sept. 15. ‘Otherwise, there could be pogroms’. By Sept. 16, the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] was fully in control of West Beirut, including Sabra and Shatila”.

Robert Fisk, who was in Beirut writing for The Independent and who is still there now, has just written that “Elie Hobeika, the Lebanese Christian militia leader who led his murderers into the camp – after [Israeli Defense Minister Ariel] Sharon had told the Phalange that Palestinians had just assassinated their leader, Bashir Gemayel – was murdered years later in east Beirut. His enemies claimed the Syrians killed him, his friends blamed the Israelis; Hobeika, who had ‘gone across’ to the Syrians, had just announced he would ‘tell all’ about the Sabra and Chatila atrocity at a Belgian court, which wished to try Sharon”. Fisk’s piece, titled “The Forgotten Massacre”, is posted here.

Fisk wrote that “While presidents and prime ministers have lined up in Manhattan to mourn the dead of the 2001 international crimes against humanity at the World Trade Centre, not a single Western leader has dared to visit the dank and grubby Sabra and Chatila mass graves, shaded by a few scruffy trees and faded photographs of the dead. Nor, let it be said – in 30 years – has a single Arab leader bothered to visit the last resting place of at least 600 of the 1,700 victims. Arab potentates bleed in their hearts for the Palestinians but an airfare to Beirut might be a bit much these days – and which of them would want to offend the Israelis or the Americans? It is an irony – but an important one, nonetheless – that the only nation to hold a serious official enquiry into the massacre, albeit flawed, was Israel. The Israeli army sent the killers into the camps and then watched – and did nothing – while the atrocity took place. A certain Israeli Lieutenant Avi Grabowsky gave the most telling evidence of this. The Kahan Commission held the then defence minister Ariel Sharon personally responsible, since he sent the ruthless anti-Palestinian Phalangists into the camps to ‘flush out terrorists’ – ‘terrorists’ who turned out to be as non-existent as Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction 21 years later”…

Continue reading 30 years ago today, the world began to hear about the "Forgotten" and "Preventable" massacre in Sabra + Shatila refugee camps near Beirut

29 years later, horror of Sabra + Shatila massacres in Beirut lingers, grief endures

As we wrote in our post last year, here, which we published on 18 September 1982, the day the world found out what had been going on for at least the previous 48 hours:

The horror simply does not disappear.
That there are other horrors in the world does not in any way diminish what happened 28 years ago in Sabra + Shatila, where massacres took place in two undefended Palestinian refugee camps in west Beirut. It was, indeed, “one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century” …

A good part of last year’s post relied on the accounts, including eye-witness reports gathered by Leila Shahid with Linda Butler, published here in the Journal of Palestine Studies.

It is a matter of public and historical record that Phalangist forces carried out the massacre in revenge for the assassination of their leader, Bachir Gemayel, on 14 September. Israeli officers consulted with Phalangist forces hours prior to their entry into the camp. The massacres were carried out while Israeli soldiers were stationed on the roof of an adjacent building which had a clear view of what went on in at least part of the area. Israeli forces fired flares to provide illumination through the first night that Phalangist forces were in the camp. An Israeli journalist went personally from Beirut back to Israel to speak directly to Israel’s then-Defense Minister to tell him what was going on in the camps. And, an Israeli commission of inquiry later found that Israel’s then-Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, bore personal responsibility. Sharon was obliged to resign. [[I was one of three journalists who covered the subsequent trial of his lawsuit in NYC against TIME Magazine and CBS Television’s 60 Minutes for a report, which Sharon won, based on a dossier filed by David Halevy to Time Magazine that was judged faulty because of a leap of logic or assumption.]] Sharon later became Prime Minister.

The massacres were carried out after Sharon led IDF troops up to and encircled PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Beirut in June 1982. Weeks of heavy bombardment with all kinds of terrible weaponry designed to kill Arafat were used. The UN Security Council was in near-continuous consultations or meetings.

Finally, it was arranged for Arafat and PLO fighters to evacuate Beirut aboard Greek ferryboats under the UN flag. The evacuation began on 23 August.

Because the PLO fighters feared they were leaving their compatriots, friends and families undefended, American guarantees of protection were given, and American and French naval ships were stationed off the Lebanese coast.

Still, the massacre took place, over more than 48 hours, without intervention.

Lebanon complains to UN about Israel's maritime claims

Here, as published today in Haaretz, is the Israeli claim to an Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean — in an area that seems to be rich with newly-discovered undersea gas deposits [the two lighter blue zones, marked Leviathon and Tamar, are the two  announced by Israel over the past two years or so]:

graphic on Haaretz of Israel's maritime claimsIt’s hard to tell without more references, but it looks as though the line drawn as Israel’s “Northern Maritime Border” does not go straight out from the coast at a 90 degree perpendicular to the coast — instead, the line shown here seems to go north…

A report by the German News Agency DPA published in Haaretz reports that “Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansor, in a letter sent Monday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, rejected Israeli claims of the northern part of the waters between the two countries. ‘The Israeli claim infringes on Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic (sea) Zone’, a zone that gives a country the right to explore its maritime resources. ‘This is a clear violation of Lebanon’s rights… over an area of some 860 square kilometers, and puts international peace and security at risk’, it said”. This is published here.

As Haaretz reports, “Over the past two years, Israel has discovered two fields thought to contain about 24 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. The discoveries could be enough to make Israel energy self-sufficient for decades”, while “Norway-based Petroleum Geo-Services this year announced it had explored Lebanese waters which contained “valuable information” on potential offshore gas reserves”. Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel have not ended the state of war that has existed since 1948, and do not speak directly to each other, or have diplomatic relations.

So, they have each asserted their claims in the media — and now at the UN [through the Secretary-General and his special representative…]

Quote of the Day – 15th in our series: from Netanyahu's interview with CNN

In a silly but revealing interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu made several noteworthy quotes.

The choice, for our Quote of the Day series, however, will go to his remarks explicitly saying that “several Palestinian terrorists” are responsible — though no one has yet been charged, much less tried or convicted — for the bloody murders, a week ago, of five members of a Israeli settler family in their home in the Itamar settlement in the northern West Bank, not far from Nablus.

It was the first time that Netanyahu — or any Israeli government official, for that matter — had made such a specific accusation, though in the media and among the general population, this was the immediate and enduring assumption.

Netanyahu’s explanation segues into an argument about the settlements, and about who wants peace more…

Here are the exact words, from the CNN transcript, posted :

“MORGAN: Prime Minister, there was a horrific murder of the Fogel family last week. The details of which are chilling to read. What was your reaction to that, and where are you with the investigation into the perpetrators?

NETANYAHU: This was horrific. It was savagery. I mean, several Palestinian terrorists came into the home of this Jewish family in the West Bank. They stabbed a three-month old baby girl in the heart, cut her throat. They stabbed her four-year old brother in the heart, cut him in the throat. They stabbed the father with another child and stabbed the mother and left them dying in their blood. And then I visited the family and I saw the 12-year-old girl, a sister who came home and saw this unbelievable massacre. So obviously the first response is sheer horror. And my second response was to send a message to the settlers to contain their rage and not respond because we’d have a cycle of reprisals so I asked them to – not to take the law in their own hands, not to have vigilante actions because this would – could generate a blood bath. I thought that was important to stop that. But we’re now looking for the killers. We’ll find them.

MORGAN: Are you making progress?

NETANYAHU: Some. Some. I think we’ll find them.

Continue reading Quote of the Day – 15th in our series: from Netanyahu's interview with CNN

Netanyahu makes surprising announcement proposing renewal of efforts to complete deal on Gaza gas

In a move stunning in its timing and significance, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu announced on Friday afternoon – with the Quartet’s Tony Blair standing by his side – that he now thinks it’s time, finally, to develop Palestinian-allocated offshore natural gas deposits buried under the eastern Mediterranean in maritime space, defined by mutual agreement under the Oslo Accords, that extends 20 nautical miles out from Gaza’s coastline.

Netanyahu did specifically mention Egypt in the announcement on Friday, saying: “Most of our [natural gas] supply today is coming from Egypt”, Netanyahu said. But, he added immediately, “It’s important for us to develop additional resources”.

The exact situation on the ground, resulting from the Egyptian-Israeli natural gas deal, is rather unclear.

The announcement – as CNN’s Jerusalem correspondent Kevin Flowers pointed out in a Tweet on Friday afternoon – came on the eve of the first meeting of the Middle East Quartet principles of 2011 on Saturday (February 5) in Germany, on the margins of the Munich Security Conference.

Continue reading Netanyahu makes surprising announcement proposing renewal of efforts to complete deal on Gaza gas

Sabra + Shatila massacre – the day the world found out

The horror simply does not disappear.

That there are other horrors in the world does not in any way diminish what happened 28 years ago in Sabra + Shatila, where massacres took place in two undefended Palestinian refugee camps in west Beirut.

It was, indeed, “one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century” …

What happened was incited — and justified — by repetitious gratuitous and baseless accusations that “terrorists”, with possible weapons caches, were holed up in those camps.

One of the first outsiders to arrive at the scene was British journalist Robert Fisk of The Independent, who came to the camp with other journalists on early Saturday morning, the 18th of September, 1982 — 28 years ago today.

Here, in a video made over a year ago, he recounts what he saw that day:

Leila Shahid, a former PLO Ambassador in Ireland, Netherlands, and France, and now Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, was born in Beirut and was living there during the 1982 siege masterminded by Israel’s Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

She and Linda Butler of the Journal of Palestine Studies published — in 2002, the 20th anniversary of the massacres — an abbrieviated version of Shahid’s longer study and some of the witness testimony she had collected.

Continue reading Sabra + Shatila massacre – the day the world found out

Sabra + Shatila massacre – 28 years ago today

It was, indeed, “one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century” …

Franklin Lamb wrote in an article published in The Daily Star [Lebanon] yesterday that “The untreated psychic wounds are still open. Accountability, justice and basic civil rights for the survivors are still denied”.

Lamb writes in that article, and in an earlier one we reported on yesterday here, that the massacre in the refugee camp took place from 16 to 18 September, 1982.

But, he says in both of these pieces that there is evidence of a continuing massacre of camp residents the next day, on 19 September, which took place in the Cite Sportive, where people who had been rounded up from inside the camp had been transported.

According to Lamb, a number of journalists “concur that more slaughter was done during the 24 hour period after 8 am Saturday [18 September], the hour the Israeli Kahan Commission, which declined to interview any Palestinians, ruled that the Israelis had stopped all the killing”. This Daily Star article is posted here.

The slaughter of unarmed Palestinian (and some Lebanese) residents of the refugee camp is blamed on the Lebanese Forces.

Israeli Army officers were stationed on rooftops overlooking the camp. The Israeli forces are accused of assisting their then-allies, the Lebanese Forces, by cordoning off the camp — and of not intervening to stop what some of them saw — and heard — was happening inside the camp 28 years ago this weekend.

Israel’s then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had raced his troops north to encircle the Lebanese capital in order to end, after a nearly two-month siege, what was called a “Palestinian state-within-a-state” led by the late Yasser Arafat, who had finally agreed to be evacuated with all his fighters by sea, “under a UN umbrella”, some two weeks before the massacre.

The Palestinian refugee camps were left utterly defenseless.

An Israeli commission of inquiry found that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for inaction during the massacre. He resigned from his post soon afterwards — but his career in Israeli politics was far from finished [Sharon succeeded Ehud Barak as Israel’s Prime Minister in early 2001].

There was, however, never any UN commission of inquiry, or special tribunal…

Today’s edition of The Daily Star reports on a seminar on the Sabra + Shatila massacre that was held yesterday in the Commodore Hotel in Beirut: “Representatives of several Lebanese and Palestinian groups along with human rights activists convened in a seminar entitled ‘Where Have the Legal Pursuits in the Sabra and Shatila Massacres Reached?‘, that was held in Le Meridian Commodore hotel in Beirut … [Lebanon’s] Information Minister Tarek Mitri, who attended on behalf of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, called for revealing the truth regarding the events during Lebanon’s bloody 1975-90 Civil War ‘but without falling in today’s disputes, a continuation of the past’s wars’. He said the memory could only be cured by ’emphasizing historical reality through legal tools and values … along with confessions and apologies. We are interested today … to stress historical reality with its facts and documented testimonies and renew demands for examining it justly’, the minister added”. This report is posted here.

There was a long and bloody history of sectarian terror and massacres in Lebanon during the period that the Information Minister mentioned. And Palestinians — who had sought refuge in Lebanon from the war surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948 until the Black September suppression of Palestinian activists by King Hussein in Jordan in 1970 — were involved in some of those horrors. sometimes as victims, and at other times as victimizers.

In all cases, it was called “taking revenge”…

This is the main reason why, at the Camp David talks in late July 2000 hosted by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton (involving Arafat and Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, now Israel’s Defense Minister and in complete charge of the West Bank and its 2.8 million Palestinians and some 500,000 Israeli settlers), Arafat and his delegation said that the situation of some 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon should be handled first, as a matter of top priority.

Extremely angry Lebanese General wants justice for false imprisonment by UN Tribunal

Al-Jazeera has reported that “A Lebanese general who called the country’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, a liar and urged people to topple his government, has been summoned for questioning by the state, according to a judicial official. Brigadier-General Jamil Sayyed, who made the comments, was among four military officers who were jailed without charge for nearly four years for the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, Rafiq al-Hariri. They were freed last year for lack of evidence“.

And the UN swallowed all of it … making a continuing contribution, as some warned at the time, to the crisis in the country.

The Al-Jazeera story indicated that Brig-Gen. Sayyed made the remarks on Sunday in a news conference [in Beirut? or in Damascus?]. The story added that “Earlier this year, Sayyed asked the UN tribunal investigating al-Hariri’s assassination to release his secret case file so that he might know who accused him”.

He reportedly “accused Hariri of selling his father’s blood to frame Syria for the killing … Sayyed, who left Lebanon shortly after his remarks, also said Saad Hariri supported ‘false witnesses’ who misled the investigation into the 2005 killing. He warned Saad Hariri that he must be held accountable or I will do it someday with my own hands’. Sayyed later said he meant he would get justice through the courts. ‘The Lebanese people must unite against this [government] and topple it, even if by force’, he said”.

As we have also reported here, Al-Jazeera noted in its report that “last week, in a sweeping reversal, Saad Hariri said it was a mistake to blame Syria”.

Sayyed, who is reportedly now in Paris, apparently also travelled to Damascus where, Rula Amin reported for Al-Jazeera, the extremely angry general “asked the judicial system there to pursue some of these witnesses as some of them are Syrians … Some of the people Sayyed has been naming are very close to Saad Hariri and his attempt here is seen as very dangerous”…

The Al-Jazeera report is published here.