L’occasion une fois de plus de ricaner : les « spécialistes » français étaient persuadés, eux, qu’il s’agissait d’un règlement de compte intérieur au régime syrien. (Y a-t-il au moins un seul point sur lequel la diplomatie française ne se soit pas trompée en Syrie ?)
Alternatively, he could have been a victim of a struggle for influence and access to corrupt wealth between rival members of the business elite linked to Assad’s ruling clan, Sarkozy’s adviser Boris Boillon told U.S. officials.
“When asked how he interpreted the killing, Boillon said several theories presented themselves, the only common denominator of which was internecine rivalry in the entourage close to Bashar al-Assad,” the cable said.
“He flatly rejected the notion that the Israelis had taken out Suleiman, particularly the theory that a sniper had shot him,” it continued
“French information was that the hit was more ’classic’ and ’mafia-like’ with police stopping traffic in the immediate vicinity, bodyguards looking the other way, and the assailant pumping a slug into Suleiman’s head.”
The official floated a theory the killing could have been ordered by Assad’s powerful brother, Maher al-Assad, a military commander and regime insider — sometimes referred to as the second most powerful man in Syria.
“Boillon described Maher as ambitious, a bit of a wild man, and determined to increase his power and influence within the inner circle,” the cable said.
The envoys said “Boillon’s rundown of the various theories sounded like he had recently read a finished French intelligence assessment of the situation.”
Ludovic Pouille, a senior Middle East expert at the French foreign ministry, was “less forthcoming” about his theories in a separate 2008 meeting with U.S. officials, but he agreed the killing looked like an inside job.