Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ghazi Kanaan conveniently shoots himself

Syria's interior minister, one of the top officials questioned in the UN investigation of the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, was found dead in his office in what the authorities described as a suicide.

The death of Ghazi Kanaan, who served as head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon until 2002, came days before a UN report is expected to recommend a deeper inquiry into involvement by Damascus in the February killing of Rafiq Hariri, a billionaire businessman who ran Lebanon in the 1990s.

Ghazi Kanaan was Syria's pro-consul in Lebanon. He was the man who pulled the levers and it was under his tutelege that Lebanese politicians often performed. Often he stated his diktat and opposition voices fell silent, as when he specified in 1995 that the term of Elias Hrawi, the former president, should be extended by three years. Kanaan also is thought to have many large piles of money in Lebanon as a silent partner to Lebanese.

His death is an extraordinary development, and may be intended to signal that the culprit in the killing of Rafiq Hrari has been dealt. The Mehlis report is to issued in ten days, and no doubt the heavies in Damascus are sweating.

I would not put much credence in the suggestion that Washington was considering Kanaan as an alternative to Bashar al-Asad. Kanaan was well known to be a corrupt figure who was thought to be involved in a variety of loathesome events, not least the assassination of President Rene Muawwad. He was hardly an attractive alternative to Bashar.

WaPo has an informative piece.

1 comment:

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I don’t think that Kanaan’s ’suicide’ is primarily related to Hariri’s investigation. The most plausible assumption is that Kanaan knew, opposed the move but finally had to accept it. Unlike Bashar and Rustom Ghasale, his relations with Hariri were good.

All the data we have tells us that it is part of an internal conflict inside the Baath regime. Since 2000, Bashar and his clique are purging the regime from the other clique, which is becoming weaker every day (I think that we can say that the so-called old guard is virtually dead). Notice that Bashar told Amanpour that he is in control now, and I believe him on this.

It’s possible that Kanaan will be used as a scapegoat for Hariri’s assassination, but this is not the primary explanation of his elimination. Anyway, the Druze leader latest move (Jumblat said that Kanaan had good relations with Hariri but bad relations with Ghazale and Assad see link ) tells us that the Lebanese will not accept any attempt to scapegoat Kanaan. They want to get the real culprits.