Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's brother-in-law is suspected of engineering the assassination of Hizbullah's operations officer Imad Mughniyeh, according to a report Saturday in Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siasa ("Politics"). The news report appeared under the headline "Mughniyeh's elimination breaking the back of Damascus regime."
The suspicions against the man, Colonel Wasef Shweikat, surfaced after his wife, Bashar Assad's sister Bushra, relocated to Paris with her children following the assassination. The move followed a split between Bashar and Bushra, which began when Mughniyeh informed Bashar of a plot against his regime.
The paper said Shweikat met with a senior American intelligence officer in a European country. Mughniyeh got wind of the clandestine meeting and informed Bashar personally about it. This is what caused the rift between Bashar Assad and his sister.
Bashar slapped his sister in the face in the course of one of their arguments, after he informed h
Bashar slapped his sister in the face after he informed her that her husband was involved in an attempted coup d'etat.
er of the suspicions against her husband. Assad told his sister that Shweikat and the American agent met to discuss a possible coup in Syria, in which Shweikat would seize power.
Tension between Mughniyeh and Shweikat was not a new thing, Al-Siasa explained. Mughniyeh had repeatedly attempted to weaken Shweikat's standing in the Syrian power echelon. This is why Shweikat is a major suspect in the planning of the assassination.
Suspicions against Shweikat have increased since Bashar Assad appointed Hafez Makluf, the Head of General Intelligence, to head the investigation of the assassination. Makluf is considered to be a political rival of Shweikat.
Bushra moving again
Bushra Assad is said to be preparing to move again, from Paris to one of the Gulf emirates.
A month ago, the newspaper reported that none other than Hassan Nasrallah was the man behind the assassination of his operations officer. Nasrallah reportedly refused to allow Syrian investigators to interrogate three of his senior officers, because he feared that a connection would be established between the Mughniyeh assassination and a split between Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Kuwait has been disseminating information which shows Mughniyeh in a bad light, since his assassination. The Gulf state suspects Mughniyeh of involvement in the hijacking of two Kuwaiti airliners in the 1980s. Members of the Kuwaiti parliament who protested and grieved Mughneiyeh's death were put on trial.
Syria 'still wants peace'
A Lebanese newspaper reported Saturday that Syria recently sent Israel a message saying it was still interested in the peace process, but insisting that it must be open and that it must not be carried out "under fire." The phrase "under fire" is understood as relating to the Israeli confrontation with the Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Al-Akbar, which is considered pro-Hizbullah and pro-Syria, reported that Syria relayed the message to Israel through Turkish premier Tayyip Erdogan.
Syria reportedly wants the negotiations to be public, and wants them accompanied by Israeli signals that it is willing to withdraw from all of the "occupied Arab territories," and by negotiations between Israel and Lebanon as well as Israel and the PA.
"Knowledgeable sources" told the paper that Damascus believes the U.S. is not interested in this kind of dialogue between Israel and Syria and that Israel will not engage in it without an American green light.