Posted by Joshua on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
According to a new Israeli book (excerpted below) General Mohammed Suleiman was assassinated by two Israeli snipers. A number of analysts quoted by Nicholas Blanford in Time Magazine argued that he was killed by Syrians due to factional squabbles within the regime. The same thing was said about the assassinated of Imad Mughniyeh. It would seem that both were taken out by Israel, perhaps with some US intelligence assistance. This raises questions about who may have killed Major-General Yuri Ivanov. He was the deputy head of Russia’s foreign military intelligence arm known as GRU which is thought to operate the biggest network of foreign spies out of all of Russia’s clandestine intelligence services. He disappeared from the coast of Lattakia and his body washed up in Turkey.
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States is pushing for peace talks between Israel, Syria and Lebanon, US envoy George Mitchell said, as the Israelis prepared to resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
Wider peace talks between Israel and its northern Arab neighbors, which have been in perpetual conflict with the Jewish state since its creation in 1948, are seen as vital to any lasting peace in the region.
“With respect to Syria, our efforts continue to try to engage Israel and Syria in discussions and negotiations that would lead to peace there and also Israel and Lebanon,” said Mitchell, US President Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy.
“You will recall that when the president announced my appointment two days after he entered office, he referred to comprehensive peace and defined it as Israel and Palestinians, Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon, and Israel at peace with and having normal relations with all of its Arab neighbors,” Mitchell said, before adding: “And that remains our objective.”
The US envoy was briefing journalists ahead of Thursday’s resumption of direct peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Top level talks in search of an elusive Middle East peace deal broke off in December 2008 when Israel invaded the Palestinian Gaza Strip to halt militant rocket fire on its south.
Daniel Levy, the Director of the Middle East Task Force of the New America Foundation provides the full audio of their briefing on the new peace talks. Also, here is his take: “Want That Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal, Mr. President? Perform a C-Section,”on the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks at Huffington Post.
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman offers a different take. Speaking in Norway, he suggests that Europeans pressure the US and Israel to follow international law: “America’s Faltering Search for Peace in the Middle East: Openings for Others?”
OBG hails Syrian economic performance
2010-09-01 13:14:09.451 GMT
DAMASCUS, September 1 (Xinhua) — Oxford Business Group (OBG), in its recently issued report, hailed Syria’s economic performance, the official SANA news agency reported Wednesday.
In its annual report, OBG elaborated the remarkable progress achieved by Syria in liberalizing its economy.
“The successful steps taken by Syria in liberalizing its economy have been matched with its achievements on the international stage,” SANA quoted the report as saying.
It also said Syrian government efforts to establish an active public-private partnership have led to the increase in investment projects and other economic activities.
Syria’s annual growth rate has reached 5.5 percent during 2009 while its GDP has increased to 31 billion U.S. dollars in the same year. Private sector’s contribution to GDP reached 65.5 percent in 2009 compared with 64.7 percent in 2008.
Top Russian Spy’s Body Washes Up ‘After Swimming Accident’
2010-08-31, Andrew Osborn
Aug. 31 (Telegraph) — Major-General Yuri Ivanov, 52, was the deputy head of Russia’s foreign military intelligence arm known as GRU which is thought to operate the biggest network of foreign spies out of all of Russia’s clandestine intelligence services.
His badly decomposed body was found washed up on the Turkish coast by local fishermen earlier this month after he disappeared in the Syrian coastal resort of Latakia further south. The Russian army’s in-house newspaper, Red Star, did not report his death until last Saturday when he was quietly buried in Moscow.
The circumstances of his death are reminiscent of a John Le Carre novel and have therefore fuelled theories that he may have been murdered in Syria and his body then thrown into the Mediterranean where it drifted for days.
According to the Kremlin, he was on holiday in Syria and died in a tragic swimming accident. However, other reports have suggested he was on official business and the location where he is reported to have disappeared was only about fifty miles from a strategically vital Russian naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus which is being expanded and upgraded to service and refuel ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
The facility is Russia’s only foothold in the Mediterranean Sea, and Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, is know to be concerned that Moscow will use the upgraded facility as a base for spy ships and electronic espionage directed at the Middle East. The port is also close to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, a terminal for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline which is seen as a lifeline for Georgia, against whom Russia fought a short war in 2008.
The long road to Syria
Ynetnews special: New book reveals full story behind bombing of Syrian reactor by Israel
…Assassination in Syria
On the evening of August 2, 2008, 11 months after the bombing of the reactor, a festive dinner was held on the terrace of a summer house in Rimal al-Zahabiya, north of the Syrian city of Tartous. The summer house was adjacent to the shore and had a magnificent view. The terrace overlooked the sea and served as a refuge from the summer’s high humidity. The guests were close friends of the house’s owner, General Mohammed Suleiman, who had traveled there for a weekend break.
Suleiman was President Assad’s top aide on military and security matters. He was in charge of the reactor’s construction and its security. Government circles in Damascus referred to him Assad’s shadow. His office was located in the presidential palace, next to Assad’s, and few knew him in Syria and abroad. While Suleiman’s name was not mentioned in the media, Mossad and Western intelligence agencies knew him and his actions well. The 47-year-old Syrian was an engineering graduate of Damascus University. During his studies he befriended Basil Assad, then-President Hafez Assad’s firstborn son and Bashar Assad’s older brother. After Basil’s death in a road accident, his father was sure to bring Suleiman close to himself and his heir. In 2000, Hafez Assad died and his son Bashar was elected president. With his rise to power, the young president made Suleiman his confidant and close advisor.
Suleiman played a unique role: He was a member of the Syrian research board, which dealt with the development of missiles, chemical and biological weapons and nuclear research and development. As part of his job, he was Syria’s contact with North Korea. He coordinated the transfer of the reactor’s parts to Syria and was in charge of security arrangements for the North Korean scientists and technicians involved in its construction. The reactor’s bombing was a serious blow for Suleiman, but not a lethal one. After overcoming the initial shock, he began to plan the construction of an alternate reactor, for which a location had yet to be determined. Suleiman’s new mission was much more complex and difficult than before, since he was now aware that he was on the Israeli and American intelligence agencies’ radars.
Ahead of the next phase of his secret mission, Suleiman took a few days off and traveled to his summer home. A vacation and dinner with his friends was the best medicine for the pressure he was under. From his seat by the table he watched the waves lazily crawling up the shore. But what he didn’t see, at a distance of some 150 meters (165 yards) from the terrace, was two figures waiting, motionless in the dark water. They reached this point from a far off distance in a ship that dropped them off some two 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from Suleiman’s house. From there they dived until they neared his home. The two were professional snipers, possessing a wealth of experience and nerves of steel. They carried their weapons in water-proof covers. When they reached the shore they immediately spotted Suleiman’s house. The information they received from their country’s intelligence agency was accurate. They identified the building and the terrace, scanned the people seated at the table and focused on their target: The general sitting opposite them, among his guests.
Around 9 pm the snipers returned to test their aim and range. They watched Suleiman, sitting on a chair at the center of the table surrounded by his friends. It was crowded around the table, which forced the snipers to reset their focus and aim at the host’s head. They continued to hide in the water. Then the signal was given. The two emerged from the water to the shore, moved closer to the house, aimed their rifles and shot Suleiman simultaneously. The hit was lethal. His head was first jolted back and then collapsed forward on the table. Those present did not understand what had happened, because they didn’t hear a sound – the rifles were equipped with silencers. Only after they noticed the blood flowing from Suleiman’s head did they realize he had been shot. A commotion broke out on the terrace, which enabled the snipers to flee via a pre-planned escape route. The Sunday Times reported a slightly different version, saying the snipers were IDF Flotilla 13 commandoes who arrived in Tartous on a luxury yacht belonging to an Israeli businessman, carried out their mission, and vanished.
Syria’s official bodies were shocked. The government initially kept quiet and did not address the reports of an assassination. There was much embarrassment. How did the hit team make it to northern Syria? How did it flee the site? Was there no place left in Syria where the regime’s heads could feel safe? Days after the incident a brief official statement was released saying, “Syria is holding an investigation to find those responsible for this crime.” But Arab media extensively reported on the affair from day one and raised speculations about the identities of the perpetrators. Arab newspapers focused on elements that had an interest in assassinating the general, and were quick to point to Israel. They also claimed that Israel carried out the assassination because of Suleiman’s involvement in the construction of the reactor Dir al-Zur. While Arab media sang Suleiman’s praises, Western intelligence agencies had a completely different reaction to his death. In the capitals of the free world, no one shed a tear over the general’s untimely passing.
Article written by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal, authors of recently released book “Mossad – The Great Operations.”
01 Sep 2010, Source: Reuters
* Bellemare says hasn’t drafted indictment yet
* Rejects accusations that U.N. investigation is politicised
* Says Hezbollah evidence being assessed
BEIRUT, Sept 1 (Reuters) – The U.N. prosecutor investigating the killing of Lebanon’s former premier Rafik al-Hariri said he would not rush to indict suspects, dampening expectations of imminent indictments which had raised tensions in Lebanon.
“Let me state clearly that the indictment has not been drafted yet,” Daniel Bellemare said in an rare media interview published by the website NOW Lebanon. “I will only file the indictment when I am satisfied there is enough evidence”.
Media reports had said that Bellemare could issue indictments this month against members of the Shi’ite guerrilla group Hezbollah in connection with the 2005 bombing which killed Hariri and 22 other people. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who has denied any Hezbollah involvement in the killing and called the U.N. tribunal an “Israeli project”, stepped up his criticism in recent weeks. That raised tensions in the unity government led by Hariri’s son, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who supports the U.N. court.
Bellemare rejected accusations that the five-year investigation was politicised. “We operate in a political context. But the decision that will be made is not a political decision,” he said.
HEZBOLLAH EVIDENCE ASSESSED
Asked if he would file any indictment by the end of the year, Bellemare said he was “very optimistic” and was moving as fast as possible. “Let’s say as soon as possible, but not sooner than possible,” he said.
He said video footage provided by Hezbollah, which Nasrallah said showed that Israeli drones had surveyed the route taken by Hariri’s motorcade before the bombing, was being assessed and was “not being taken lightly”. “If somebody comes to me with credible evidence that shows me that I may not be on the right path, whatever path I am on, then of course I will look at that material. That is exactly what we are doing,” he said, adding he did not know whether Hezbollah’s evidence would further delay any indictment.
Bellemare declined to say whether his team had questioned any Israelis. “What I am saying is that we are reviewing all the possible existing evidence.”
When Bashar al-Assad came to power, Mohammad al-Abdallah believed things in Syria would finally change for good. Ten years later, he tells the story of a personal desillusionment.
By Mohammad al-Abdallah
“… Netanyahu wasn’t voted in by the right wing to divide East Jerusalem or to resolve, even symbolically, the problem of Palestinian refugees. The distance between his positions and the minimum claims of the pragmatic Palestinian camp can’t be bridged. Even when he talks about a willingness to accept the two-state solution, and even when he makes promises to surprise, he reverts to a long list of positions that don’t allow him to reach a historic compromise.
Abbas can’t implement a peace agreement with Israel because as long as Hamas retains control of Gaza, Gaza won’t be part of the solution, and there can’t be any “safe passage” between the West Bank and Gaza. In addition, it won’t be possible to work out land swaps between Israel and the West Bank because the area designated for them is the region surrounding the Gaza Strip, and no Israeli government would agree to hand over land adjacent to Gaza while it is still under Hamas control.
This situation means we need to pursue a different line of thought, which will lead us, at this stage, to a solution that isn’t ideal, but which is far better than the continuation of the current situation: a partial agreement.”
The Uncertain Future of Democracy Promotion, by Steven Heydemann
Review of Policy Paper Beyond Orthodox Approaches: Assessing Opportunities for Democracy Support in the Middle East and North Africa
Democracy promotion has had a tough decade, nowhere more so than in the Middle East. Ten years ago, the democratic optimism that followed the end of the Cold War was in relatively good health. Today, after a decade of authoritarian reversals, a sustained “backlash against democracy promotion,” and authoritarian resurgence from Russia to Africa to Latin America, post-Cold War optimism has given way to a darker, more sober assessment of democratization’s limits. The Middle East in particular, with not a single experience of transition from Morocco to Iran, has been the crucible of hard-won lessons about the durability of authoritarian regimes and their resilience even in the face of quite extraordinary pressures.