Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Debka on Syria
Debka File, which usually doubles as a fount for Israeli disinformation is reporting the following:

DEBKAfile Reveals in Exclusive Syrian Report: Opposition leaders arrested ahead of June 21-22 municipal elections to stem defections from ruling Baath.

Assad plans major government shakeup. To be sacked: PM Miro, defense and foreign ministers Mustafa Tlas and Farouk Shara. Dr. Buthaina Shaban candidate for foreign minister

Firas Tlas son of Mustafa revealed as organizer of Saddam-Assad clandestine smuggling operations and holder of WMD’s secret locations after their clandestine removal from Baghdad, Tikrit and al Qaim.

This paragraph was especially entertaining: The hard-line Farouk Shara, a carryover from the president’s father’s administration, is fighting a rearguard action on his way out as foreign minister - mainly against the ministry’s head of information, Dr. Buthaina Shaban. High profile in the aftermath of the Iraq War, she is the favorite to replace him. Last week, Shara committed the unthinkable solecism of shouting at Dr. Shaban in the presence of British visitors, “I don’t need your help!”

Will Shaaban succeed Sharaa? With all due respect to a self-made lady, she has none of the diplomatic memory or experience that he does, nor does she have the same credibility with Sunnis that makes him so useful to the regime. Moreover, Shaaban is Assad's instrument to help partially control the foreign ministry, fulfilling an old rule of the late Hafez Assad, namely that it is always best to install parallel lines of communication downwards so as to better control subordinates. Isn't using Shaaban against Sharaa (and vice versa) better than giving her more power at his expense? One never knows, though, maybe it is Sharaa's time after all

As for Miro's and Tlass' sacking, really no news there: Miro has long been considered ripe for the chopping block and Tlass is, frankly, nearing that time when he should be dusting off an office at the great defense ministry in the sky.

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