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Send Assad Packing

By Michael Freund
12/21/2005, 12:00 AM

Well, imagine that.

Syria’s thuggish regime involved in killing people not to its liking? Yes – and now its official.

According to a report released today by the United Nations, Damascus was involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February. German prosecutor Detleve Mehlis, who authored the report, concluded that there was “converging evidence” linking top Syrian and Lebanese officials to the killing.

Assad_sucks CNN managed to obtain a copy of the internal version of the report that was distributed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to the Security Council, which includes some interesting details not contained in the version released to the public.

Specifically, the confidential version lists the names of those who planned the bomb attack on Hariri which killed him along with 22 others. The list includes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brother and brother-in-law, the former head of Syrian intelligence as well as one of Assad’s close personal friends.

The report notes that Syrian officials cooperated with the investigation only “to a limited degree” and that a number of them “tried to mislead the investigation.”

So, there you have it. Proof positive (as if any more were needed) that the authoritarian regime in Damascus has once again trampled on its neighbor, Lebanon, and used violence as a tool to eliminate its political opponents.

The Syrian regime under the Assad dynasty has long been a destabilizing force in the Middle East, from hosting terrorist organizations on its soil to helping the anti-American insurgents in Iraq. Syria has not hesitated to develop chemical weapons, and has a close and fraternal relationship with the Ayatollahs in Iran.

For far too long, the country has escaped punishment for the bloodshed and havoc that it has wreaked in the region. But in light of the UN report, one can only hope that it will now become clear to policy-makers in Washington and elsewhere that Syria is in desperate need of some regime-change.

Not only for the sake of the millions of Syrians living under Assad’s oppressive rule – but for that of the entire Middle East as well.