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Friday, October 21, 2005

Top Syrian Seen as Prime Suspect in Assassination

New York Times:

The United Nations investigation into the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon is focusing on the powerful brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria as the main suspect, a diplomat with intimate knowledge of the inquiry said Thursday. A United Nations report on the February bombing of a convoy carrying Rafik Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister, said the fiery attack, shown above, was planned by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officers. Though the report did not include names, the diplomat said the investigators were focusing on Syria's military intelligence chief, Asef Shawkat, the president's brother-in-law. ... The diplomat, describing Syria as a "country run by a little family clique," said the involvement of any one in Mr. Assad's inner circle would be a severe blow to the government. "There is absolutely no doubt, it goes right to the top," he said. "This is Murder Inc."
Interesting stuff. My read on Syria is that the 'family clique' is more his father, Hafez al-Assad's clique. Whether Bashar himself is actually in control and supporting this sort of thing is harder to tell. It is possible that he is not, and that the U.N. investigation will give him the leverage to oust the 'old guard.' Regardless it is difficult to imagine that there will not be quite a bit of turmiol at the upper levels of Syrian government over the next few months.


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