Al-Manar, a Hezbollah controlled Lebanese TV channel, broke the news last Friday to the Lebanese & Arab audience, about the interview Abdul Halim Khaddam, the Syrian ex-Vice President, gave to the Israeli TV Channel 2 from his exile. Al-Manar closely monitors the Israeli media sources. Their monitoring proved to be efficient in managing the physiological and military war with Israel. I think they made a scoop this time, but I have a view on it!
At the first instance, I thought that can’t be right. Why the ex-Syrian senior official wants to do such an interview. What’s the benefit for him? As if, there are no enough Arab stations to go for. Why he wants to prove something, he is being accused of – a ‘traitor’! I know traitors are not usually idiots, and can well stay undercover.
Khaddam’s office issued a statement on the following day explaining that he didn’t know anything about an Israeli channel, and the interview was supposed to be done by a Spanish channel. They quoted too, some email exchanges to prove their point.
Al-Manar TV picked on two main points against Khaddam: the first one was that he knew/involved with the NATO to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. Fair enough, although it was not shown in his own words in Arabic, only in Hebrew through the Israeli commentator.
The other point was that Khaddam thought a potential new Syrian regime should adopt the King Abdullah peace initiative with Israel (which is based on 1991 Madrid Conference). Hence, Al-Manar TV proved his treason. Note how the video is edited to make the talk on peace follow the talk on ‘priorities’ (@ 3:01).
Anyway, I got baffled here with the attack on the ‘peace’ with Israel: isn’t this the official line of the Lebanese and Syrian governments, with the rest of Arab states, which was adopted and repeated in many Arab League summits? The funnier thing was when the Syrian State TV copied Al-Manar’s tone, and he became a ‘traitor’ on the Syrian Tv.
Of course I am not defending Khaddam here, but I am just seeking some objectivity in reporting the news from our Lebanese stations (at least). If I want to be mild, I would say it’s often based on emotions and instinct – sadly. I don’t defend Khaddam because he is indefensible. He held what was called then the ‘Lebanese file’ in the Syrian leadership, so we know him well in Lebanon! He was the Syrian Foreign Minister (1970) and Vice-President (1982) and stayed until 2005. So he pretty much covered the Lebanese Civil War.
According to a recent Syrian drama series Laanat El Toeen (the mud curse) – approved by the Syrian government – he was the ultimate master for all the crimes and corruption in the regime. Ironically, he is a great ally now for Saad Hariri, America and other Western governments, instead of trialing him.
If I go to the Israeli reporting side, I see Channel 2 was hypocrite. They conspired on their guest to get the interview, without making it clear where this interview will end up. I base my view on what the interviewer Henryk Zimmerman said @ 3:34 in the enclosed video (in Arabic & some Hebrew), that Khaddam ‘practically’ knew. What does that mean? This means they haven’t discussed it, and he hasn’t made it clear to Khaddam that they are from the Israeli TV.
I couldn’t e-search a related profile for Henryk Zimmerman (not sure about the spelling too), but it would be useful to see his CV! If Khaddam didn’t know about interview identity (which is likely), then he is an idiot because he should have known. However, if he knew about it directly or indirectly, then he is an idiot ‘traitor’!