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Who wanted Rafiq Hariri dead?

Before his assassination, Lebanon’s five-time prime minister was struggling to convince Syrians he was their ally, alleged transcript shows.
Next to fall?Enlarge
A man holds a picture of Lebanese slain Prime minister Rafic Hariri as he takes part in a mass rally gathering tens of thousands opposition supporters marking the sixth anniversary of a popular uprising against Syrian troops in Lebanon, demanding the disarming of Hezbollah, on March 13, 2011 in central Beirut. AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images) (JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

For those politicos still trying to wrap their heads around the competing intrigues of the assassination of five-time Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, one of Lebanon’s top political blogs, Qifa Nabki, has an interesting post today in which Hariri, allegedly, discusses his fraught relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Senior Syrian security officers, including Bashar’s brother Maher, were named as suspects in an initial unredacted report by an international investigation into Hariri’s killing, but later reports found key witnesses had been proven unreliable.

Indictments are out on four members of Iranian-financed Hezbollah, Syria’s top ally in Lebanon, over the killing of Hariri, which led to the humiliating withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005, followed by a string of assassinations of prominent Lebanese critics of Syria, which ended after pro-Syrian parties secured a blocking third in government.

In an alleged transcript of the final meeting between Hariri and Waleed Mualem, then Syria’s Deputy foreign minister, Hariri reports his indignation at being summoned for a meeting with Assad that lasted only a quarter of an hour.

“First of all, I’m a prime minister, and you summon me to a meeting for fifteen minutes? Ok, so what’s the point?” he asks Mualem.
Hariri had been summoned to Damascus to hear that Assad was intent on forcing through a term extension for the vehemently pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, a move Hariri was believed to be opposed to. 

Hariri recounts his meeting with Assad: “On the day of the extension, he summoned me and said: “You always say that you are with Syria, and this will prove if you mean what you say, or if you don’t.” So I said to him: “Mr. President, I’ve been allied with Syria for 25 years. Are you telling me that if I don’t agree with you on this issue, this means I’m against Syria?” He said: “Yes.” So I responded: “I need to think about this.”

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‘We’re not fasting, we’re starving:’ Ramadan in Sanaa.

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Two Yemeni children share a piece of bread. Since the political crisis came to the boil at the beginning of the year, food prices have soared leaving many families struggling to feed their children this Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. (Hugh Macleod/Courtesy)

It may be the Muslim holy month of fasting, but for many residents of Sanaa this Ramadan the political crisis that is fast driving the Arab world’s poorest country towards breakdown means there won’t be much food, if any, on the table come sun down.

“We are not fasting during the month of Ramadan in Yemen we are starving,” said Sultan al-Areeqi, a 34-year-old father of five who told GlobalPost he had worked as a laborer before the turmoil generated during the opposition attempt to unseat President Ali Abdullah Saleh forced his employer to lay off workers.

“Food prices are at least four times higher than they were in March. We have no money,” said Areeqi. “We can only eat one meal a day, and most of the time that is given to us by neighbors who are in a better financial situation."

Ramadan is a holy month in Islam during which observant Muslims fast during daylight hours, attend prayers at the mosque and give charity to the poor. But the cost of dates, the sweet fruit traditionally eaten first to break the fast, have shot up by 50 percent as has sugar to make traditional sweets.

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