Sunday, December 04, 2005

Euphoria Turns to Panic!

For all the blows that the Mehlis investigation has supposedly received and for all those commentators so willing to declare that the French and Americans have backed off for now, leaving the door open for a potential deal with the regime, the popular mood in Syria has grown grim once again.

The stories propagated by the “recantant witness” seem like distant memories now. Their chief protagonist seems to have already sunk back into oblivion. The euphoria he inspired seems to have dissipated all too quickly, somehow. But then, it was never really a genuine expression of anything other than despair.

For, people seem to have reserved a place in the back of their minds and in the depths of their soul for the “truth” that they don’t have to face at this stage, but which they cannot just ignore, namely that their regime is indeed implicated in the Hariri assassination and that it is indeed driving them into another serious confrontation with the international community, one whose real price they will ultimately have to pay.

What is there to be euphoric about then? Mehlis’s resignation? How will this end the crisis? The gist is in his report, and his report will likely contain enough to ensure the application of greater pressures against the regime, including targeted sanctions and a reduction in the level of diplomatic representation. More will follow of course especially should the investigation be extended, be it under Mehlis’s leadership or some new investigator.

The reality is the crisis will last as long as the regime will last. And now the regime is out Lebanon, the old file of its corruption is being opened. The recent discovery of a mass grave near an old site controlled by the Syrian intelligence in Anjar is only a case in point. The phantom of accountability is looming, and people are already asking “what about Tadmor and Hama?”

Indeed, what about Tadmor and Hama? What about the fate of 30,000 Syrian dead?

Since the regime is not willing to reform, we have no reason to forgive, not to mention forget.