Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
Jointly published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum
  Vol. 2   No. 10 Table of Contents
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November 2000 


Intelligence Briefs: Syria

Exclusive: Kanaan may be sacked in coming weeks
Exclusive: Yassin back in favor with Bashar
State-run newspaper publishes critique of one-party rule (1 October 2000)
Demonstrators attack US embassy (4 October 2000)
Assad appoints ten new governors (5 October 2000)
A Muslim Brotherhood meeting in Washington DC? (19 October 2000)
Qusay Hussein reportedly meets with Assad (20 October 2000)
"National Committee for Lifting the Embargo on Iraq" established (27 October 2000)
Government ends rice, sugar subsidies (27 October 2000)

Kanaan may be sacked in coming weeks

Ghazi Kanaan
Gen. Ghazi Kanaan

MEIB has learned that Maj. Gen. Ghazi Kanaan may be fired from his position as commander of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon in the near future. According to reliable Lebanese sources familiar with the issue, Kanaan has been at odds with Maj. Gen. Assef Shawkat, the deputy chief of Syrian military intelligence and a close advisor to President Bashar Assad, about how the regime can best maintain its control over Lebanon amid growing anti-Syrian dissent in the country. Shawkat is said to favor delegating more responsibilities to Lebanese intelligence officers, such as Gen. Jamil al-Sayyid, the director-general of Lebanon's Sureté Générale (General Security Directorate).

Yassin back in favor with Bashar

MEIB has received a report that Salim Yassin, a former deputy prime minister for economic affairs who was imprisoned on charges of embezzlement during the peak of Bashar Assad's anti-corruption drive earlier this year, has been released and is back at his teaching post at Damascus University.

State-run newspaper publishes critique of one-party rule
1 October 2000

Al-Thawra (Damascus) published an editorial by Aref Dalila stating that one-party rule is "no longer effective" and needs to change if the economy is to prosper. Dalila, a leading professor of economics in Syria who had previously been removed from his post at Damascus University and banished from the country, returned to Syria in September.

Syrian protest
Outside the US embassy

Demonstrators attack US embassy
4 October 2000

Hundreds of students from Damascus University today held an officially-sanctioned demonstration to protest the killing of Palestinians by Israeli troops, marching from the faculty of law to the US embassy at al-Rawda square. The protesters threw rocks and bottles at the embassy, breaking several windows and lamps on the outside. Other students climbed the walls of the embassy and tore down the American flag.

Assad appoints ten new governors
5 October 2000

Syrian President Bashar Assad released decrees today transferring three governors from the provinces of Deir al-Zour, Lattakia and Dara'a and appointing seven new governors. Deir al-Zaour governor Salah Kanaj is to become governor for Aleppo province, Lattakia governor Nawaf Fares will be the governor of Idleb and Dara'a governor Safi Abu Wdan will become governor of Lattakia. The seven newly-appointed governors are Sami Shafiq al-Saleh (Deir al-Zour), Faisal Abdu Qasem (Al-Raqqa) Subhei Kekhya (Sweida), Nabil Omran (Dara'a), Hilal Hani al-Atrash (Quneitra), Saeed Aqil (Hama) and Ihsan al-Hakim (Homs).

A Muslim Brotherhood meeting in Washington DC?
19 October 2000

Al-Watan al-Arabi reported today that leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood recently held a meeting in Washington DC. The meeting was reportedly chaired by General-Supervisor Ali Sadreddin al-Bayanouni and attended by members of the pro-Iraqi faction of Adnan Saadeddin. The purpose was to promote unity within the group and discuss how they should deal with the new regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The report also said that Bayanouni met with Graham Fold, a former CIA agent, during his visit. MEIB does not consider this report to be reliable.

Qusay Hussein reportedly meets with Assad
20 October 2000

Al-Watan Al-Arabi reported that Qusay Hussein, the second son and possible successor of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, visited Damascus secretly this month and met with President Bashar Assad. Qusay proposed unspecified initiatives to turn a new page in Syrian-Iraqi relations and even hinted that a unification between the rival Iraqi and Syrian wings of the Ba'ath Party would be desirable. He also promised that Iraqi forces would aid Syria if it was attacked by Israel.

"National Committee for Lifting the Embargo on Iraq" established
27 October 2000

Al-Mustaqbal (Beirut) reported that a group of Syrian officials and intellectuals formed the National Committee for Lifting the Embargo on Iraq (Al-Lajna al-Wataniyya Li Rafi' al-Hisar an al-Iraq) and called on President Assad to officially approve it (all such activities require government permission in Syria). Among the most prominent names to sign were Mansour al-Attrash, a Ba'ath Party veteran and son of Druze chieftain Sultan al-Attrash; Ahmad Abdul Karim, a former minister in the United Arab Republic; Hassan Mrawad, an ex-Ba'ath Foreign Minister; Muhammad al-Attrash, a Druze chieftain; Haitham al-Ayoubi, a Damascus notable; and Adib al-Alajmi, an ex-Ba'ath minister. Although all of them are Ba'athists, they belong to the old school of Michel Aflaq, which had been at odds with the Assad regime for 30 years. The President agreed to their demands and said that the state would "facilitate" their activities.

Government ends rice, sugar subsidies
27 October 2000

Al-Nahar (Beirut) reported that the Syrian government has decided to end subsidies for the importation of sugar and rice in order to facilitate trade ties with the European Union. Previously, the government subsidized the import of 85,000 tons of rice and 255,000 tons of sugar per year in order to keep the market price at a minimal level.

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