Saturday, November 25, 2006

Two Murders

I suppose Alexander Litvinenko may well have been murdered by the Russian secret service. He himself appears to have thought so. But there doesn't actually seem to be any evidence of this and it does not strike me as the only possiblity. Litvinenko was a KGB agent for 18 years, and latterly was an associate of the "oligarch" or gangster-capitalist Boris Berezovsky whose name, the Independent informs us, is "synomous to many (in Russia) with the great privatisation swindle of the 1990's" and who appears to be connected to the Chechen Mafia (but has been protected from deportation to Russia to face criminal charges by being granted political asylum in the UK). The liason between the press and Litvinenko over the past few days appears to have been Alex Goldfarb, rather sweetly described by Cahal Milmo in the Independent as "the eloquent human rights campaigner" but in fact consiglieri to Berezovsky. Litvinenko had accused his former KGB colleagues of engineering the Beslan massacre and had, apparently, a video tape of sexual high jinks at the Kremlin. It seems to me this was a man with very many enemies, Putin among them, of course, but he or his people are by no means the only possible culprits.

The murder of Pierre Gemayel has been blamed on Syrian agents. Again, there does not seem to be any evidence. It is, I suppose, not at all unlikely. But it is also odd that it should come so soon after Blair suggested that dialogue should be opened with Iran and Syria (which the Baker Commisson will probably also suggest). The killing of Gemayel has hardly benefited Syria. Hizbollah, similarly, gains nothing from this. Are there any other suspects? It could have been a someone with a grudge (Gemayel and his family are hardly innocents), a rival family, a rival warlord, a rival political faction. It could have been Israel - the most obvious beneficiary, and a country with a long record of using political murder as a tactic. Who can say? But, again, there are more possibilities than those being pushed in most of the media.

Finally, there is this very astute observation in a letter to the Guardian on Thursday by Dave Hansel:

"It is an interesting display of self-professed western values to see a prime minister, who only a few months ago could not bring himself to condemn those responsible for the wanton slaughter of innocent civilians and UN troops in Lebanon, leap immediately in front of the TV cameras to condemn the assassination of a single politician in the same country."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes agree on Blair. I think the hand of Iran is more likely than Israel on Gemayal- Israel just gets more attention in lebanon. Whereas Iran wants more attention there because it'll mean that the west distances itslef from Syria and Syria keeps closer to Iran. Just a thought.

8:20 pm  

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