If this story turns out to be true, Kofi Annan will have to go.
THE United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday.
The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.
The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.
While this revelation further supports the allegations against Syria, it threatens to overshadow the reports findings.
One crucial change, apparently made after the report was submitted to the UN chief, removed the name of President al-Assad’s brother, Maher, his brother-in-law, Assef al-Shawkat, and other high-ranking Syrian officials.
The final, edited version quoted a witness as saying that the plot to kill Mr Hariri was hatched by unnamed “senior Lebanese and Syrian officials”. But the undoctored version named those officials as “Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat, Hassan Khalil, Bahjat Suleyman and Jamal al-Sayyed”.
Annan promised that he would not make any changes to the report – not even one word – but the report document shows that edits were made only a few minutes after he held a meeting to review its contents.
Has he learned nothing from his involvement in the Oil-for-Food scandal?
If it can be proven that this report was ordered by Annan to be edited to remove damning evidence implicating the involvement of the inner circle of the Syrian regime, then the UN General Secretary is indeed corrupt and should be immediately expelled as UN General Secretary.
MORE: Michael J. Totten shares his thoughts from Lebanon.