This item comes in from Farid - who of course has his own agenda - but it ehoes gossip currently doing the rounds. Assef Shawkat is already treading very thin ice because of his relationship with the Iranians. Current gossip is that his days are numbered:
Washington DC, April 28, 2007/RPS News/ -- Sources in Lebanon have confirmed to RPS that a palace feud in Damascus between Bouchra al-Assad, sister to Baschar and wife to head of the feared Military Intelligence Assef Shawkat, and Asma al-Assad, wife to Baschar, is boiling over. This time, the center of the dispute is the backing Asma al-Assad is providing to some Syrian NGO's started by her in support of Women's rights in Syria. Asma's NGO's steer away from political matters completely.
It seems that Bouchra al-Assad asked her husband Assef Shawkat to harass the heads of Asma's NGO's by detaining and questioning them for long periods of time. Noura al-Shak, who heads a coordination office between the NGO's and the EU, was detained recently for several hours, which resulted in her tendering her resignation soon thereafter. Our sources confirm that Bouchra and Anissa Makhlouf, her mother and wife to the late Hafez al-Assad, are concerned that the NGO's will help Asma build a powerbase.