Saturday, February 23, 2008

Syria accused of killing Mughniyeh

Or is someone just double-daring Damascus to start something? "Minister of Communications Marwan Hamade asked Saturday why wouldn't Syria avenge the assassination of Hizbullah's Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in Damascus not in Lebanon. Mughniyeh's assassination in a Damascus suburb on Feb. 12 was a 'major insult to Syria's national security, unless Syria was involved in liquidating him.'"

The Syrian regime, he charged, is "ready to sell its brother, father, uncle and brother in law." Hamade accused Hizbullah, Syria and Iran of "placing bets on Israel that also places bets on them. Fanatics feed each other."

"We are not collaborators with Israel. We adopt a wise Arab stand and who opts for adventures let him go to adventures alone," Hamade stressed.

The implication of course, is that someone else -- Hizbullah, Syria or Iran -- are in secret league with Israel to do in the other party. Hamade went on to imply that Hizbullah might be trying to provoke Israel for its own purposes.

Hamade declared that he can not exonerate Hizbullah's "logistics branch" in the attempt to assassinate him on Oct. 1, 2004 by a car bomb. He noted that Qatar managed to withdraw its contingent serving with UNIFIL in south Lebanon early in February because "it felt that something is being planned for south Lebanon and because no one wants to go back to the 1980s" in reference to the abduction of foreigners by pro-Iranian factions.

I'm not sure whether to believe any of Hamade's specific allegations, but I think he correctly puts his finger on the practice of blaming Israel as a smokescreen to pursue otherwise nefarious agendas or to use Israel to deal with foes. Many of the conflicts in the Middle East are really mundane ploys to pillage fellow Arab countries or esconsce some faction in power or rackets which would be instantly familiar to Al Capone. However, it is the convention in the region to disguise crime as Jihad against the Jew and the convention in the Western intellectual circles to believe them.

Hamade asked for the "international community" to restrain Israel while the Lebanese Army dealt with preventing "civil strife" and safeguarding the "security and stability" of Lebanon, which I take to mean crack down on the Hezbollah. But taking on Hezbollah would provoke civil strife, which might bring Syria in on the side of Hezbollah and which in turn would bring in Israel.

And so we come back to the first question: did Syria kill Mughniyeh?

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Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Syria has always been high on my list of suspects. One of the job hazards of being a vicious terrorist like Mughniyeh is that if one of your nemies decides to eliminate you there will be a wealth of suspects to blame it on. Syrian rivals could easily have eliminated him knowing the finger of guilt could be pointed towards Israel.

Sharon Stone, however, is no doubt convinced Dick Cheney was the triggerman...

2/23/2008 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Minister of Communications Marwan Hamade, was himself a target of the car bomb a few years back, the Druiz and Socialist minister asks some very good questions of Damascus.

Imad was a commander at some level of the Iranian Rev. Guard, as well as a big schmuck with Hezbollah, and had been heavily involved in coordinating and training in Gaza. So what does Syria have to fear, if this Imad is allowed to pursue the Iranian line undeterred?

Plenty. But if Syria had been the culprit then Mr Hamade was pulling their tail very publicly. Taunting is not yet against the Geniva Convention.

2/23/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Eric Ambler examined this in the Care of Time. An aging terrorist wants in from the Cold and knows too much for his masters to let him go.

Perhaps Mughniyeh wanted out. Blowing stuff up is a young man's game. He certainly knew a lot of embarrassing secrets. Who killed who, and why, and how.

Other reasons -- Mughniyeh was keeping too much cash for himself, and a stressed Syria killed him to lessen the split of the take. Or someone inside his own circle felt it was time someone else ran things. Or a personal feud between himself and an associate over money, women, insults, etc.

It would certainly be easiest for Syria to kill him.

2/23/2008 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Yeah, and Serbia is blaming America for its uncivilized behavior about Kosovo.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, a terrorist is just a Serb, and an Israeli assassination is just another Jewish project carried out to perfection.

2/23/2008 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

It's kind of interesting to see more and more Arabs willing to blame someone besides the Israelis for various goings on. Might be a trend to watch.

2/23/2008 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger lmntre said...

Most of us are just speculating. We really don't have a clue

2/23/2008 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Why wouldn't Syria avenge the bombing of their nuclear installation in the desert by Israel?

Only a few days have passed. It's very unlikely that Syria has put together real evidence of who did it yet. If this killing was a masterful stroke then the perpetrators have left few clues. They may never have real evidence of who did it.

It simply isn't time yet to say that because Syria hasn't responded in a public manner they won't respond, or that because they haven't responded yet that means they did it.

Further, Syria understands the requirements of honor as well as this Lebanese minister. It doesn't matter if Syria did it themselves they still have to answer the minister's question and gain their revenge to make it look like someone else did it, and that they know who did it.

While Syria is certainly on the short list of suspects there is certainly not enough public evidence to say who did it. Also, because this minister was blown up a few years ago I guess he has an axe to grind.

2/23/2008 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Further, Syria understands the requirements of honor as well as this Lebanese minister. It doesn't matter if Syria did it themselves they still have to answer the minister's question and gain their revenge to make it look like someone else did it, and that they know who did it.
So if they do nothing as happened when the israelis bombed their nuclear facility----this time -- because they did nothing in a situation in which the culprit is unknown--it will look like they did it--and not just that they were weak.

that is, where before they appeared weak-- now they would appear to be both weak and evil--according to moslem calculation.

So they have to do something significant and make it seem as if they did something significant just in order to avoid having the finger of culpability pointed at them in the moslem world.

so the question of whether or not the israelis did it--as it bears on whether they need to be prepared for revenge -- is moot.

Even if they didn't do it they need to be prepared because the syrians need to do something just for the sake of cya.

2/24/2008 03:42:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

My first reaction to the news that Mughniyeh was killed in a car bomb was that Syria did it in order to blame it on Israel. In fact Israeli politicians are in a bit of a bind and would be loath to deny the deed too strongly anyway. The strategic gain for Syria is to make it look like both sides were engaging in the tactic of car bombing their political enemies so as to take the wind out of the sails of the UN inquiry into the Hariri car bombing. In other words if “both sides are doing it” what is the point of continuing the UN investigation without opening another investigation into the “Israeli” bombing too. The US would never allow that so the fairness doctrine would suggest that the investigation into the Syrian bombing should be closed down too.

I could be wrong though.

2/24/2008 03:59:00 AM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...


I think that if the Syrians did this then they would have had a patsy lined up. If they want the perpetrator to be Israel then they arrest someone in Damascus with a European passport, they find bomb-making supplies where he lives, they claim he is a Mossad operative, they have a quick trial and hang him.

If they don't want to have a war with Israel they arrest a Palestinian in Damascas, or a Lebanese, or an al Quada cell and follow the same script.

Round up the usual suspects.

I still think that not enough time has passed but if they had planned this thing I think they might have already made their claims of responsibility and made some arrests. There were some reports of arrests but they were not very detailed.

Since all the suspects have a good idea how all the other suspects would act and since it is quite possible for the perpetrators to try to make it look like one of the other likely suspects did it, it's very difficult to deduce who did it from public information.


I agree that the Internation Tribunal is probably what we should cherchez la femme for here. On the face of it it seems unlikely that they would kill Mughniya for something like this though. Why not some underling or Palestinian in Damascus, who they probably like less. Of course Mughniya may not really be dead but back in Teheran.

2/24/2008 12:42:00 PM  

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