A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Marshall Islands Withdraw Nomination of Ex-Lebanese Spymaster Jamil El-Sayed as their Ambassador to UNESCO. Wait, WHAT?

Remember Jamil El-Sayed? He was once the pro-Syrian Lebanese General in charge of the powerful Sureté Général. Then, after the Hariri assassination, he was arrested during the Mehlis investigation and held for four years, until 2009. He was released for lack of evidence to prosecute but reportedly remains of interest to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

I lost track of him after 2009 but then comes this AFP story yesterday:
The Marshall Islands have withdrawn their nomination of a former Lebanese army general as their ambassador to UNESCO, a well-placed diplomatic source told AFP on Wednesday.

The general, Jamil El Sayed, spent four years in prison on suspicion of involvement in the 2005 murder of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri. He denies any involvement and claims to have been subjected to arbitrary detention.

The Marshall Islands' move to nominate him to UNESCO, the UN's cultural arm, was revealed by French daily Le Figaro, which noted that acquiring diplomatic immunity could enable El Sayed to avoid potential prosecution by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, an international UN-backed criminal tribunal looking into Hariri's murder.
The Marshall Islands is a Pacific islands microstate and former US Trust Territory; here's the original Le Figaro story from a few days ago:
Selon nos informations, les minuscules îles Marshall, peuplées de 60.000 âmes dans le nord de l'océan Pacifique, ont bien notifié à l'Unesco la candidature du général al-Sayed pour les représenter. «Cela créé un vif émoi au sein de l'Organisation, constate un diplomate arabe. L'Unesco n'a pas envie de voir débarquer un homme au passé sulfureux.» Sollicitée, l'Unesco n'a pas souhaité répondre à nos questions.
According to Le Figaro, the French government was also far from  eager to see him turn up in Paris under diplomatic immunity. Now the nomination has been withdrawn.

Just speculating: do you think the Marshall Islands were just so impressed with the former Lebanese spy chief's profound contributions in the educational, scientific, and cultural fields, UNESCO's brief, or did he have a longtime close relationship with these Micronesian atolls?

Or, horrors, do you think money could have been somehow involved?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Money.... check the pockets of the Marshallese politicians