News from Damascus

Puzzlingly, this story has flown completely under the radar, despite its importance. Two days ago, a brigadier general named Mohammad Suleiman was shot in the head at a seaside resort in Syria. Suleiman was the Syrian government’s liaison with Hezbollah:

A Syrian opposition Web site said Suleiman, a confidant of President Bashar al-Assad, had been shot in the head in his seaside villa. Another site said the shots had been fired by a sniper from a boat. The resort was cordoned off for hours and local media did not report the killing.

Bashar Assad has now absorbed three unanswered blows which have been struck either by Israel, or which are perceived as having been struck by Israel: the airstrike in September, 2007; the assassination of Imad Mughniyah in February of this year; and now the assassination of the government’s point man on Hezbollah. Whether the two recent killings were in fact Israeli operations is more or less irrelevant. What’s important is that they reveal the true nature of the Syrian regime. Regardless of his ability to convince many people to the contrary, Bashar Assad is demonstrably weak and vulnerable.