Assef Shawkat Hubbub Debunked

I just received this assessment of the Shawkat kerfuffle from a well place Israeli friend. 

Hi Joshua,

What I was told, about two weeks ago, by an high-rank Israeli intelligence source, is that Assad is in full control of the situation in Damascus, and that there is no seeming threat on him. Not only this, but also that he decides what to tell to who on which subject.

Assef Shawkat "doesn’t know everything" about what's going on, he said, but didn't mention any coup attempt. Also, Farouq A-Shara'a is now pushed aside and Walid Muallem is in control over the foreign policy. In the street, he believes, Assad enjoys support because he has proven that he will not "sell" his country interests.

I also want to remind you that Assef Shawkat was seen on Syrian TV a few months ago – April 10th – in a ceremony held by the superior military academy at the end of officers course. Also, Khaddam said a few days earlier, exactly what "Stratfor" mentioned.

Please don't quote me by name on this in case you decide to use it…

alle writes in the Comment section:

– It should be noted that Die Welt has something of a history with Syria. It previously carried what seems to be a manufactured story about Iran/Syria/al-Qa’ida collaboration. It was also Die Welt that published the rather absurd allegations that Syria had been testing chemical weapons in Darfur a couple of years ago. It was also Die Welt that claimed just recently that Syria was building more (!) nuclear sites, and now, the attempted coup. There are different reporters involved in these and other stories about Syria (although a few names appear in more than one: like Jacques Schuster & Clemens Wergins), but they all seem to have in common that the source is someone in a Western intelligence service. Now, either the Mid-East correspondents of Die Welt have some truly spectacular contacts, or — given how much of the above seems to be bullshit — they are being fed by one or more groups using this paper as a info/disinfo outlet, for whatever reason. Sort of like a European al-Siyasa.

– One should also consider the possibility that if the coup story is untrue, spreading rumors about these things can serve to “draw” Syria into a particular action, either to make sure there is no coup, or to publicly prove it, eg. by parading Shawkat on TV (which, A. sets a precedent, and B. may be uncomfortable, given that he’s doing something else/being somewhere else). Or, it could just be a self-sustaining rumor, after the Bushra-in-exile thing, fired up by people like Khaddam and various intelligence agencies that enjoy poking Syria and setting off another Arab media conspiracy theory avalanche.

Comments (12)


1. Alex said:

As Qifa nabki said earlier … German newspaper Die Welt and French Le Figaro are both quite “conservative”.

And the amount of noise that Khaddam and the Saudis can generate can really sound convincing after a while.

But … people who work in intelligence (like Asef Shawkat) are never on TV anyway … When Le Figaro hears many, many rumors … and they don’t see, or hear anything from Asef for the next month .. they still should not assume the rumors are true.

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June 7th, 2008, 5:23 pm

 

2. Alex said:

I doubt Assad would travel that much after a coup attempt by Asef!

Ahead of Assad visit, India warms up to Gulf
7 Jun 2008, 0541 hrs IST

NEW DELHI: India is looking to reclaim some of its lost space in the Middle East. As part of its renewed engagement with the region, India will play host to the Syrian president Bashar al Assad here later this month — his maiden visit to this country and the first visit by a Syrian president here since 1978.

The visit is also part of the government’s enlarged vision of the Middle East where India is working with more and more countries. The driving force of India’s interest is clearly energy security as well as a demonstration of its independent foreign policy, particularly to its Left allies back home.

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June 7th, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

3. Seeking the Truth said:

EHSANI2 said:
Asef is not Alawi contrary to common belief.

Not so, according to at least this article from NY Times. Or do you perhaps know the guy personally?

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June 7th, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

4. Nour said:

Alex,

That’s what I had been telling a lot of people when they kept saying that they haven’t seen Assef Shawkat since the rumors began spreading. I asked them “how often did you see him before?” Assef Shawkat is not a politician, so he is not going to be in the public eye very often and is not going to be shown in media circles anytime soon, so to assume that the rumors are true only because we haven’t “seen” Assef lately is quite simplistic.

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June 7th, 2008, 6:18 pm

 

5. Nour said:

Seeking,

I cannot confirm or deny what the NYT reported, but just to let you know, the NYT is often wrong on issues concerning the Middle East.

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June 7th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

6. Shual said:

“Die Welt” is no serious source.

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June 7th, 2008, 9:42 pm

 

7. swerv21 said:

asef is alawi. not sure why that matters.
we have been hearing, for some time, that there is some kind of ‘war in heaven’ in damascus- but of course it is impossible to know for sure. not sure if it was a coup attempt or not- but what we have heard is more like the stratfor report than the Israeli source.

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June 8th, 2008, 1:54 am

 

8. alle said:

First, Shawkat is Alawi.

Second, couple of thoughts:

– Did this not coincide with Bashar’s tour in the Gulf? Meaning he was out of the country when the rumors started. (Which, on the one hand, is a good time to start a coup; on the other hand, also a good time to spread coup rumors if you want to cause unrest.)

– It should be noted that Die Welt has something of a history with Syria. It previously carried what seems to be a manufactured story about Iran/Syria/al-Qa’ida collaboration. It was also Die Welt that published the rather absurd allegations that Syria had been testing chemical weapons in Darfur a couple of years ago. It was also Die Welt that claimed just recently that Syria was building more (!) nuclear sites, and now, the attempted coup. There are different reporters involved in these and other stories about Syria (although a few names appear in more than one: like Jacques Schuster & Clemens Wergins), but they all seem to have in common that the source is someone in a Western intelligence service. Now, either the Mid-East correspondents of Die Welt have some truly spectacular contacts, or — given how much of the above seems to be bullshit — they are being fed by one or more groups using this paper as a info/disinfo outlet, for whatever reason. Sort of like a European al-Siyasa.

– One should also consider the possibility that if the coup story is untrue, spreading rumors about these things can serve to “draw” Syria into a particular action, either to make sure there is no coup, or to publicly prove it, eg. by parading Shawkat on TV (which, A. sets a precedent, and B. may be uncomfortable, given that he’s doing something else/being somewhere else). Or, it could just be a self-sustaining rumor, after the Bushra-in-exile thing, fired up by people like Khaddam and various intelligence agencies that enjoy poking Syria and setting off another Arab media conspiracy theory avalanche.

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June 8th, 2008, 8:50 am

 

9. Alex said:

I often get asked why the Syrians do not respond promptly to rumors. When they don’t respond these rumors start sounding more convincing.

The answer is that if they started to engage with them, it will become their only daily activity.

Look at who is spreading those rumors:

1) Saudi and Hariri owned media? .. and Al-Syassa!

2) ex UN investigator Mehlis?

3) US, or Western, Intelligence or government source who always leak information to Murdoch media (WSJ and others)?

4) American Administration official spokesmen?

5) Khaddam, Ghadry, and Mamoun Homsy’s “Syrian opposition”?

6) M14 blogs and journalists?

7) Freedom and democracy loving Neocon Think Tanks?

8) AIPAC, Likud, and their friends in the Media?

9) Chirac and his communications strategists?

10) All the lazy and gullible neutral journalists and analysts who repeated and continue to repeat the lies and fabrications generated on a daily basis by the above group?

How can you NOT believe the next fabrication when the whole world repeats it?

I’ll give you a hint, based on observations of the hundred million anti-Syrian regime rumors generated the past few years. Try to be skeptical if you read something like these:

1) Assad’s close circle is trying to kill or back stab each other.

2) The Syrian people are fed up with everything and are about to demonstrate in the streets by the hundreds of thousands.

3) In exchange for the Golan Heights, Syria is offering Israel to completely cut its relations with Iran, Hizbollah, and Hamas.

4) In private conversations, Assad told his visitors (Usually European foreign ministers) that he is ONLY interested in their help to save him from the Hariri tribunal.

5) Syria has terrorist/Evil plans

6) Oil is about to run out in Syria and the country will go bankrupt.

7) lots of Nuclear things happening!

8) Syria not content with Golan, wants to annex Lebanon.

9) Bashar is an immature idiot who is no match for the two 80 year olds (Hosni and Abdullah)

10) Syria is sooooo weak and insignificant that no one should care to write about it, really.

But they write about Syria and they generate more lies about Syria than they do about any other country in the Middle East of anywhere else … good things Syria is not strong!

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June 8th, 2008, 3:25 pm

 

10. Ghassan said:

It is easy to respond to the rumors by having a press conference by Assef Shewkat!!! Unless yes it is tru he is under house arrest!

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June 8th, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

11. Nour said:

Assef Shawkat is head of intelligence. His job isn’t to hold a press conference everytime some half-assed media outlet decides to report some bogus story. If the Syrians are going to hold press conference everytime a ridiculous nonsensical story is spread, then they will spend all hours of every day holding these conferences. I think they have better things to do and many of these rumors get debunked naturally with time.

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June 8th, 2008, 4:58 pm

 

12. George Sara said:

Hi
I think the best traet of the Die Welt’s fake report is what has been written by Syrian investigative reportor Nizar Nayouf, who dicivered the ” real story of Die Welt and its sister French Le Figaro’s reports”. He published good information about that.
http://syriatruth.org/Al-Hakikah/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3744

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June 9th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

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