Sunday, August 03, 2008

Assassination as good will gesture? 

An assassin's bullet cuts down a Syrian general, and my first reaction was "it must have been an inside job."

Syrian President Bashar Assad's top aide and adviser, General Mohammed Suleiman, was assassinated on Friday, according to Arab news sources.

Suleiman, who was also Syria's liaison officer to the Hizbullah terrorist organization in Lebanon, was shot and killed by an unidentified sniper in the Syrian port city of Tartous.

Syria and Israel have been in regular unofficial peace talks for some months now, with the next round to start in Turkey on Tuesday. The mainstream media has tended to emphasize the territorial issues -- the fate of the Golan Heights, in particular -- but perhaps the most intractible issue involves the containment of Hezbollah. Israel cannot make peace with Syria as long as Syria cannot provide assurances that it will no longer help Hezbollah in Lebanon. Rank speculation: the assassination of Mohammed Suleiman was Bashar Assad's way of giving such assurances, or at least a gesture of good will in that direction.

The alternative -- that Israeli intelligence is behind the hit -- seems far less probable. Why would the Israelis create an incident right before the meeting in Turkey? Unlike various Arab constituencies, they do not need to resort to byzantine methods for messing up peace talks. Also, Syria tried to suppress coverage of the story, which implies that it wanted it known to a very limited audience.

Your own speculations are most welcome.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Aug 03, 10:32:00 AM:

The shooter could be from the Lebanese regular army. They have no love for Hezbollah or the Syrians and have few means of fighting.
Or,one can never go too far wrong in the middle-east when trying to explain something that seems devious or irrational, by blaming the Saudis.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Aug 03, 11:47:00 AM:

Or could it be that the Iranians, fearful of an understanding between Syria and Israel, decided to eliminate the one Syrian that could seriously undermine their Lebanese presence?  

By Blogger Anthony, at Sun Aug 03, 11:48:00 AM:

It could also be unrelated to politics. The Syrian elite is notoriously corrupt, so much so that the country has been described as a "mafiocracy." Suleiman could have been bumped off as part of a dispute between thieves.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Aug 03, 12:02:00 PM:

lots of data points lately. this guy, the recent predator strike that may have gotten al-zawhari and definitely got several high value targets, the terrorist guy who was murdered in syria a few months back. and a big one for me -- olmert stepping down.

there is a lot of evidence that syria may be switching sides, and will assist (covertly) in the dismantling of hezbollah.

this (if true) will un-settle iran in the extreme. there are regular mysterious incidents of sabotage going on in iran now, so don't be surprised if the iranian nuke sites just go poof! on their own one day (while the iranians are busy watching for an air strike)  

By Blogger Steve M. Galbraith, at Sun Aug 03, 12:59:00 PM:

Seymour Hersh blames Cheney. Or more accurately, he has a "source", anonymous of course, who blames Cheney.

More seriously, the latest from him on Iran and the Administration is simply preposterous.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Aug 03, 01:08:00 PM:

You have to wonder about Seymour Hersh sometimes.

Is he a mole in the media actually working for the CIA to spread dis-information and actually discredit the news media by acting....crazy?

Does he write in some kind of cryptic code, where only certain parts of his columns are actually true, and the rest is just jibberish?

Or is he just nuts?

Maybe he trolls a lot of blogs, and gets his 'anonymous' quotes from there? There was some guy posting in the comments yesterday at "Just One Minute" who claimed to be a "Senior CIA Analyst" in the run up to the '91 Gulf War, and he had 'secret information' that made him Correct! in his arguments.


By Blogger Anthony, at Sun Aug 03, 01:19:00 PM:

Or is he just nuts?


By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Sun Aug 03, 03:05:00 PM:

That Syrian retirement plan is rough.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Aug 03, 09:31:00 PM:

Or perhaps since he is trying to make nice President Assad thinks he needs to eliminate those that know where the bones are buried when it comes to the assignations in Lebanon.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Aug 03, 10:39:00 PM:

As President Assad's personal assistant, he had knowledge and access to all the information that Assad has. By killing the General, the people who are responsible for this action are telling President Assad that they can also kill him.

The repercussions from this assassination will profoundly affect the ruling class in Syria. The Syrian President is the one who is clearly being targeted ..... the pressure to find the people responsible for this act will be intense. Expect people to disappear or flee the country in the next few weeks/months.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Aug 04, 01:04:00 PM:

Shit like this happens all the time in the Middle East. Just because it makes headlines now shouldn't cause you to overestimate its importance.

It could have been as simple as a disgruntled or disturbed Lebanese citizen. That exact type shot Uday Hussein, President McKinley, and John Lennon, and President Reagan.

Speculation goes nowhere productive.  

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