Threatening Spain


Over at the Across the Bay blog, Tony Bey is following the details of an interesting story picked up by the wire services.

A Spanish police memo evidently leaked to the Spanish daily El Mundo says that the head of Syrian military intelligence, Assef Shawkat (who is also the brother in law of Syrian President Bashar Assad), threatened Spain (and, by inference, Spanish troops in southern Lebanon) if a Syrian arms dealer living in Spain, Munzer al-Kassar, was extradited to the United States. (The original Spanish article is here.)

According to an AFP story: "General Assef Shawkat […] wrote to his opposite number in Spain: 'If you think we are going to ignore the affront inflicted by north-American henchmen on our brother (Kassar), you don't really know us and [you] are no friends of the Syrian people.'"

More alarming was the information that Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, had assured the Syrians that Kassar would not be extradited. Moratinos has long tried to maintain good ties with Damascus, to the extent that he refused to even privately admit that Syria had played a role in the bomb attack against the Spanish contingent of the United Nations force in Lebanon last June that killed six peacekeepers. At the time, U.N. officials were privately saying the exact opposite, noting that there was anger with Syria at the U.N. because of the attack. 

Knowing this, you have to wonder if the memo was leaked to negate Moratinos' promise.