Andrew Tabler lived and worked in Damascus for years. He visited Beirut most weekends—you would, too, if you had to live in Damascus—and that’s where I met him.
He came up with a great phrase to describe the utter inscrutability of the Syrian regime. He called it “the blackness.” “Fog” isn’t the right word because fog eventually clears. No, what went on behind the scenes among the elite was utterly dark even to Andrew who had excellent connections with the elite.
Syria is hardly the only place in the Middle East shrouded in blackness. Just look at Iran. Somebody killed an Iranian nuclear scientist yesterday with a car bomb.
The first country that came to my mind when I read that was Israel. The second was the United States.
But car bombs aren’t exactly the modus operandi of either. Who else, though, wants so badly to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program that they’d send someone in there or recruit somebody local to whack scientists?
I suppose it might have been the Saudis, but that’s a wild stab. I have no evidence.
Maybe the Iranian government thought the scientist was spy? Maybe the scientist was a spy?
I do not know.
This sort of thing happens a lot, not just in Iran, but also in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Conspiracy theories are common in the Middle East for all sorts of reasons. This is one of them.