"Highly Unlikely" that Bashar al-Asad is involved in Hariri Assassination plot writes t_desco
T_desco wrote the following in the comment section. I will respond with my own reasoning soon.
Regarding the question of Bashar al-Asad's possible involvement in any assassination plot, I still think that this is highly unlikely for several reasons:
He was warned personally by Richard Armitage not to harm Hariri:
"After the assassination attempt, Paris and Washington sent messages to Damascus warning the Syrians not to harm opposition leaders, specifically Mr Hariri and Mr Jumblatt. Richard Armitage, the US Deputy Secretary of State, reiterated that warning during a meeting with Mr Assad in Damascus on January 2."
You sometimes hear the argument that Asad believed the Americans were too occupied with Iraq and that they had given him a free reign in Lebanon. In my opinion, this claim never had much credibility in light of the Security Council resolution regarding Lebanon, but even if we assume for a moment that it is true, a direct intervention by the Deputy Secretary of State certainly would have sufficed to change such a wrong perception.
Secondly, I think that it is safe to assume that plotting is normally done in secret. Suppose that your enemy tells you to your face that he has become aware of your plot. What are you going to do? Continue with it regardless? How likely is that?
Khaddam argues that Asad is "impulsive" and that therefore his decisions are not fully rational:
"I am convinced that the order came from Assad. He is a highly impulsive man who often loses his temper." Der Spiegel
It is well known that Khaddam wanted to become president himself and that he has now formed a coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood in order to topple Asad. Thus, anything he says about the Syrian president could be severely biased.
Khaddam's characterization of Asad is in direct contradiction to many other accounts, for example those quoted by David Lesch in his book on Asad:
"Bashar, on the other hand, is more of a cool person, maybe because of his medical background - he is very calm. In ten years I have never seen him lose his temper - I have seen him upset but he would never lose his temper. He has a very solid personality. He has a very solid mood and is not the kind of person who shows his ups and downs. He might be in a very serious matter but you cannot tell - he handles these situations in a very calm fashion - lots of equanimity." (David W. Lesch, The New Lion of Damascus, Yale University Press 2005, p.17)
In his television interviews he also comes across as a very calm person.
In the same sense, Edward Walker said that the killing of Hariri was "certainly not his style":
"Most agreed that the sensational attack did not suit the style of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"Bashar? It's certainly not his style," said Edward Walker, president of the Middle East Institute in Washington. "I don't think it's something he would do." "
The Jerusalem Post, February 15, 2005
Khaddam's argument is in itself very silly, as he suggests a rush decision made in a fit of temper, but a plot takes months to prepare, plenty of time for cool-headedness and rational thought.
For all those reasons I don't believe that Asad had anything to do with the plot to kill Hariri.