Syrian President Hafez Assad may well have been impressed to discover that a toilet had been erected for his exclusive use when he visited Jordan last February for the funeral of King Hussein.
He would not have known, according to a report in the London Sunday Times this week, that the toilet had been specially created by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and its Jordanian counterpart.
What made the toilet special, the report added, was that the outlet did not lead to a drain but rather to a specimen jar.
Minutes after the Syrian leader had used the toilet, the specimen jar containing a sample of his urine was being sped to a hospital in Israel, where a team of pathologists and biochemists was waiting to analyze it.
According to the report, the medical analysts concluded that Assad, who has had a heart attack and now suffers from diabetes and cancer, does not have long to live.
The sample would not only have confirmed the state of his diabetes and indicated the presence of cancer in his urinary tract, it also would have revealed traces of whatever drugs Assad was then taking for his litany of ailments.
“The latest Israeli assessment,” the paper reported, is that “Assad is living on borrowed time and that a potential partner for peace may be lost.”
The paper quoted an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak as saying: “We should do everything possible to reach an agreement while Assad is alive. Nobody knows what will happen after Assad.
“There are some gloomy assessments about a possible bloodbath in Syria. Assad is a man you can trust to stand by his word.”
A medical file prepared for Barak by the Mossad and by military intelligence analysts reportedly described Assad’s condition as worsening and suggested he is now so incapacitated that he could work for no more than a few hours a day.
The report described how Assad suddenly canceled a trip to Moscow last year and missed the funeral of Morocco’s King Hassan.
“The Israelis have learnt nothing since to convince them his condition can improve,” the paper said.
It also quoted former head of military intelligence Danny Shoham as saying that “Assad is hospitalized every couple of months to replace his blood.”
The Mossad sought to play down its role in the affair, describing the collection of the urine sample as a routine operation for a special agency unit known as Keshet.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.