In a rhetoric-filled speech, bound to disappoint Syria’s reformers, Bashar has denounced Lebanon’s prime minister as a ‘slave’ to the West.
But he did say that Syria would “play the game” of the West by offering full co-operation with Mehlis. He reiterated the conspiracy theory that Mehlis is part of a grand plot to frame Syria: “no matter what we did and how much we cooperate, the result will be that Syria did not cooperate,” he said in response to Mehlis’s refusal to visit Damascus, even to the UN building in Damascus, or to meet in the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.
He spent most of his time, however, slamming Lebanon’s right-wing: “We used to hear attacks against Syria under the slogan of Syrian tutelage in Lebanon … The truth is those people, or most of them, are blood merchants. They created a market out of al-Hariri’s blood and this market makes money and creates positions. Everything has a price, every position has a price and every television hour has a price.”
He advised Siniora to steer clear of Lebanese Parliamentarians who want to divide the two countries.
It was hoped that Bashar would bring forward much delayed reforms, and that he would capitalise on Kofi Annan’s words yesterday, that Syria has a long history of complying with UN Resolutions. Instead, we heard more Hafez than Bashar today.