Syria looks poised for a palace bloodletting. Stratfor tells us that Asif Shawkat, brother-in-law of Bashar al Assad and chief of Syria’s national security apparatus, probably had a hand in the Mughniyah assassination.
… the death of Hezbollah’s most seasoned operative might not have been a surprise to certain elements of the Syrian regime. These suspicions appear to be shared by Syria’s allies Hezbollah and Iran.
As Stratfor has discussed previously, even if the Israeli Mossad orchestrated the operation to take out Mughniyah, it likely had an inside source — perhaps in Syria’s security apparatus — that facilitated the operation. …
… The extent of Syrian intelligence’s involvement in the Mughniyah assassination could even reach up to the highest echelons of the al Assad family, with Syrian Director-General of Intelligence Asef Shawkat at the center of the conspiracy. …
… In addition to being a prime suspect in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, Shawkat could have had something to do with the Mughniyah assassination, several signs indicate. Shawkat apparently felt threatened by Mughniyah’s influence within the Syrian security apparatus and came to blows with his long-time foe Maher al Assad, the president’s brother and head of the Republican Guard, over the issue. …
… there appears to be a case building against Shawkat behind the palace walls in Damascus. Stratfor has already learned of rumors of an impending military reshuffle that could very well remove Shawkat and wash the regime’s hands of the al-Hariri assassination. But Shawkat is unlikely to go quietly into the night …
Meanwhile, yesterday was the bloodiest day for US forces in Iraq in recent memory; eight soldiers were killed by bombs. Today another bomb went off, which killed sixteen civilians.
A roadside bomb has killed at least 16 people travelling on a bus in southern Iraq, reports say.
At least 22 people were also wounded in the attack.
The civilian passenger bus was travelling on the Basra-Nasiriya road some 80km (50 miles) south of Nasiriya, police said.
The attack came a day after eight US soldiers and an interpreter were killed in two separate incidents, the US military said.
One attack took place in Diyala province, killing three soldiers and an interpreter, while five other soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in Baghdad.
As we have noted several times, the “surge” will once again be a liability for the Republican Party in terms of the elections, and Barack Obama’s vote against the war at the time — regardless of how calculated it was — will appear more prescient than ever.
A leader of one of Lebanon’s anti-Hezbollah factions will ask the United States for a more explicit commitment of support, in what appears to be the run-up to another major civil conflict in Lebanon.
Moqtada al-Sadr has been effectively eased out of practical control of the Mehdi Army, a telling sign that Iran is pulling out all the stops to make sure its militias are in trustworthy hands, and able to operate autonomously and in Teheran’s interests at the same time. Kuwaiti Shiites have been mobilized for (peaceful) protests. But as the Kuwaiti ruling family knows, should things get out of control in the Levant and Baghdad, today’s peaceful protesters in Kuwait could be tomorrow’s suicide bombers.
Oil kissed $109 today. I believe geopolitical risk has been the determining factor in oil’s latest rally.