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December 26, 2007
Syria Bullies Spain
The socialist government of Spain does not have the most stellar record fighting terror. You might recall that following the horrible Madrid train bombing and subsequent election of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq. In addition, the Spanish court that tried the perpetrators of the bombing handed down a mixed result with 4 terrorists being acquitted of murder in favor of lesser charges and the alleged masterminds of the bombing getting off as well.
Now comes word from our friend Tony Bey that Syria has been pushing around the jello-legged Spanish government in the case of a Syrian arms dealer that the United States wanted extradited here for trial:
General Assef Schawkat, chief of Syrian military intelligence, wrote to his opposite number in Spain: "If you think we are going to ignore the affront inflicted by north-American henchmen on our brother (Kassar), you don't really know us and [you] are no friends of the Syrian people." Shawkat is a prime suspect in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Tony adds this:
Dated end-July, the note also refers to Schawkat delivering a thinly-veiled threat during a discussion with Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.
Shawkat reportedly warned Moratinos that it is not the Americans who are protecting Spanish troops in Lebanon, and such protection could disappear.There have been a couple of bombs directed at UNIFIL in southern Lebanon. As Michael Young points out, the Spanish foreign minister groveled before the Syrian bully despite the belief by the UN that Syria was responsible for the bombs that hit UN troops earlier this year:
More alarming was the information that Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, had assured the Syrians that Kassar would not be extradited. Moratinos has long tried to maintain good ties with Damascus, to the extent that he refused to even privately admit that Syria had played a role in the bomb attack against the Spanish contingent of the United Nations force in Lebanon last June that killed six peacekeepers. At the time, U.N. officials were privately saying the exact opposite, noting that there was anger with Syria at the U.N. because of the attack. Maybe the leaking of this bullying will put a little backbone into the Spanish government.