10/31/2005, 00.00
SYRIA – UNITED NATIONS

Damascus on the jitters waiting for the UN's verdict

Jihad Issa
Syrian Foreign Minister in New York to pressure "friends", but no veto is expected.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – Syria is on the jitters, waiting for the upcoming Security Council meeting which will be attended by 11 foreign ministers. It is expected that the resolution on the Mehlis report will come down hard on Syria despite attempts by Damascus to thwart it by, among other things, launching its own wide-ranging probe into the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa is currently in New York seeking the support of some Security Council members like Russia and China, which so far have not yet indicated whether they'll use their veto against the resolution the United States, the United Kingdom and France will present. Russia and China along with Algeria, the only Arab state on the Council, might instead just abstain.

For days now Syrians have been jittery. Streets are empty, and not only because it is Ramadan. A real fear permeates the country after the latest threats made against it. People are concerned its future might be very bleak after the US and its allies accused the Syrians of not collaborating enough with the Mehlis commission.

Christians in Syria are praying in churches, a gesture much appreciated by Muslims who are preparing to celebrate the end of the month-long fasting period of Ramadan.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Walid Moallem has met many Persian Gulf leaders, reiterating his country's willingness to cooperate with the UN commission. He stressed the investigation into the Hariri assassination ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an investigation with wide-ranging powers of subpoena for both civilians and military personnel.

Mr Moallem also thanked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for his mediation, and urged everyone to take a "just and honest" position vis-à-vis his country.

He expressed gratitude to the King of Jordan for his role in mediating with the British government, another Security Council member with veto power.

Similarly, the Syrians have appreciated the initiative undertaken by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in finding a dignified and just solution to the problem, and this despite the Pakistani leader's criticism of the Iranian regime. 

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