Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ghazi Kanaan - the Most Senior Alawi - Suicide? Or was it Murder?

Here is what the newswires are saying about Ghazi Kanan's suicide. They are linking it to the Mehlis report on Hariri's murder. But there is another possible explanation - see below

Syria's interior minister, who ran Lebanon as security chief until 2003, committed suicide Wednesday, days before the expected release of a United Nations report into the assassination of a former Lebanese leader, Syria's official news agency reported.

"Interior Minister Brigadier General Ghazi Kenaan committed suicide in his office before noon," the Syrian Arab News Agency reported. "Authorities are carrying out the necessary investigation into the incident."

Kenaan was intelligence chief in Lebanon from 1982 until 2003, presiding over Syria's control of its neighboring country. He then headed Syria's powerful Political Security Directorate until becoming Interior
Minister in October 2004.

He reportedly was questioned by UN investigators in the probe of the Hariri's murder.

Hours before, Kenaan spoke to a Lebanese radio station, denying reports in Lebanese media that he showed the UN investigators cheques paid to him by the late Hariri.

"I think this is the last statement I might give," Kenaan
said at the end of the phone interview with Voice of Lebanon. On June 30, 2005, The U.S. Department of the Treasury named Ghazi Kanaan and Rustum Ghazali Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs), which is aimed at financially isolating individuals and entities contributing to the Government of Syria's problematic behavior. "Actions like today's are intended to financially isolate bad actors supporting Syria's efforts to destabilize its neighbors," said Treasury Secretary John W. Snow.

Was Ghazi Kanaan setting himself up to be Bashar's alternative? Could he have been the Alawite "Musharrif" that some American's and Volker Perthes suggested would take power from the House of Asad and bring Syria back into America's and the West's good graces. I have heard from several people that "high ranking Syrians" have been complaining to people at the National Security Council and elsewhere that they are very distressed by the mistakes Bashar al-Asad has made and the terrible state of US-Syrian relations.

Could Ghazi have been setting himself up as the alternative to Bashar? Could the Syrian government believe he might have been? We don't know, but here goes the possible speculation. He is known to have had good relations with Washington, when he held the Lebanon portfolio. He visited DC. Two of his four sons went to George Washington University in DC.

Kanaan was reported to have been one of the "Old Guard" who spoke out against the extension of Emile Lahoud's presidency in Lebanon, which set the stage for Lebanon's Cedar revolution and the assassination of P.M. Rafiq Hariri. He had been one of the Syrians responsible for cultivating Hariri and building up his position in Lebanon. He was also accused of having significant business relations in Lebanon which tied him to Hariri. It is unlikely that he was involved in Hariri's murder, having been a Hariri and not Lahoud supporter.

His relations with Lahoud were strained, and Lahoud reportedly was one of the people who insisted that he be removed from the Lebanon file and replaced by Rustum Ghazali. (Told me by Nick Blanford of the Christian Science Monitor, who is writing a book on Hariri.)

Since the June Baath Party Conference, it has been rumored that Ghazi would lose his Cabinet position as Minister of Interior, where he had been causing quite a ruckus.

Kanaan was the most senior Alawi official left in government of the Hafiz's generation. He had served as an intelligence chief and minister of interior giving him influence over and knowledge of all branches of the security forces - intelligence and police. If Washington were to turn to anyone to carry out a coup against Bashar, it would have to place Ghazi Kanaan on the top of its list.

Could Kanaan have been assassinated in order to prevent him from challenging Bashar? We may never know, but it is possible.

Bashar al-Asad has been clamping down on all possible rivals. Civil society has been all but silenced since the June Baath Party conference. The Atasi forum shut down. Evidently Anwar al-Bunni, Damascus' leading civil rights lawyer and advocate is presently in hiding so he would be arrested. All emerging political movements have been broken up during the past several months. The Kurds are under intense pressure as are all Islamic organizations. Bashar's strongest suit is that there is not alternative to his rule. Washington must either accept him as president or tempt the fates that Syria will collapse into some form of social chaos. Now that Ghazi Kanaan is no longer alive, it is hard to imagine another Alawi in the government who would have the authority, knowledge, or standing to pull off a coup.

Naharnet has just
posted further details bout Ghazi's interview.
Hours before he died, Kanaan contacted the Beirut Voice of Lebanon radio station and gave it a statement, concluding with the words: "I believe this is the last statement that I could make." He asked seasoned interviewer 'Wardeh' to pass his comments to other broadcast media.

Kanaan said he was making the statement to 'Wardeh' to deny a report by another Beirut TV network, New TV, which said in its evening newscast Tuesday that Kanaan admitted to U.N. investigators that he was involved in money extortion and corruption during what he called 'my reign of Lebanon.'

New TV had said Kanaan told investigators that he brought the 2000 Lebanese election law that "we tailored to the measurements of Lebanese politicians loyal to Syria."

"Premier Hariri had at the time given me a $10 Million check and another $10 Million check to General Jamil Sayyed," New TV quoted Kanaan as saying in his testimony. "We were making money from Premier Hariri so how could we possibly kill him and close the flow of his riches."

General Sayyed was then the head of Lebanon's General Security Department or Surete Generale. He is now in jail on a charge of complicity in Hariri's Feb. 14 assassination.

New TV played back its Tuesday night report about Kanaan's alleged interview with the Mehlis commission, insisting 'it is one hundred percent accurate' despite General Kanaan's denial.

SANA did not reveal whether Kanaan shot himself dead or took a lethal poison pill.

Kanaan, who was born in Syria's northern port city of Latakia in 1942, is survived by his wife, four sons and two daughters.(AP-Naharnet)


At 10/12/2005 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

Surely he was assassinated.

Al-Zou'bi was also the scape goat back in 2000 for the ascendence of Bashar to the throne.

Bashar is from that famous family, called the Savages. This is the mafia rule of Syria.


At 10/12/2005 10:15:00 AM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

This regiem must leave Syria asap.

If the World cares about leaving a bit of dignity for a long oppressed people of millions by one crzay and selfish family, the world should not allow this family to continue to rule that miserable people for ever.

Justice should come to Syria.


At 10/12/2005 10:22:00 AM, Blogger fred said...

The only problem is why did Ghazi call a Lebanese TV station and make a final statement. Was he anticipating his assassination? The timeline, as I understand it, is he gives the statement and shortly after is dead.

I am not sure I buy into the logic.

To me, the Zubi suicide is much different in style, motive, and approach to Kanaan's.

What if Ghazi did take his own life because he was going to be Syria's fall guy - by one way or another - when the UN report is published?

Landis's speculation that he was taken out because he was the general in waiting - so to speak - is motive. The fact he most certainly knew who issued the Hariri assassination orders (and I don't think Ghazi had anything to do with that) is also motive.

It still does not explain the final statement. Had there been no final statement, I think the theory would be more plausible.

At 10/12/2005 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/12/2005 10:26:00 AM, Blogger Innocent_Criminal said...

Well this makes the case of the anti-Syrian government camp a lot easier. Logic would suggest that either the Syrian government killed Hariri and Kanaan was about to spill the beans. Or Kanaan was responsible for it (scapegoat or not) and was going to be punished for it and instead he chose death.

If the man was shot then i doubt he was assassinated because there is an incredible amount of soldiers in these offices and if they saw people coming in his office before a shot was fired then you rest assured not all of them will keep their mouths shut. Anyways I am gonna reserve my comments until more of what happened is known.

Is the interview with the President on CNN live tonight? I doubt it.

At 10/12/2005 10:30:00 AM, Blogger O.D.M said...


Killed, too obvious. I predicted it in my posts earlier, and I also said that in here. He will be the "scapegoat", like Mahmoud Al-Zoubi and other who were "Suicid-ed" by the regime. In my post (September 12, 05) I said:

"-Syria can better handle the situation by making up evidence that Ghazi Kanaan ordered Harriri killed, show it to international community, and then assassinate Kanaan in his house, with an Absolute Vodka bottle next to him and a suicide letter, with a glock in his hand. Perfect suicide." (towards the end of post)

At 10/12/2005 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

"Ghazi Kanaan - the Most Senior Alawi - Suicide? Or was it Murder? "

It's a rhetorical question?

I thought that they were going to suicide Rustom. It looks like Rustom will survive: two suicide will be too much. The reason is simple: if you want to scapegoat Kanann, you need to kill him, you cannot give him to international justice you know too much.

I am sorry that the bastard will never be judged for crimes against humanity, that's all I can say. He didn't deserve this painless death. He's in hell right now, if hell exists.

At 10/12/2005 10:40:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I predicted that rustom will be scapegoated, but the regime must be really afraid if it chose to play the Ghazi card instead!

The reason behind the statement on the radio is easy to understand: Kanaan must have killed himself through a deal (the regime would spare his family and leave the money to them).

If you saw the Godfather II, then remember that the traitor Pentangeli did the same: he killed himself, it was a deal to spare family.

At 10/12/2005 10:55:00 AM, Blogger O.D.M said...

Kanaan is much more powerful than giving up his life for the sake of his family. To a ruthless powerman like him, self-preservation is way more important than his family.

1-The regime needs to get someone involved.

2-The regime and Ghazi both know that If Ghazi goes down, a lot of other will do too.

3-The regime decided to "suicide" him, so he won't say anything.

4-Same with Saddam Hussein now. Many news stories talk about him being "depressed", "sick" and other indications that he may be"suicide" prone. I wouldn't be surprised...

Those who know too much are to be sacrificed. You should have seen that in God Father too.

At 10/12/2005 11:25:00 AM, Blogger Ghassan said...

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At 10/12/2005 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Ghassan said...

The killing "sorry the suicide' of Kanaan proves that Syria was involved in the kiling of Hariri. The mafia regime must give up somebody and the lucky one was Kanaan. But, Kanaan knew too much to be given to the UN.

Several newspapers mentioned that Kanaan said that if he was given immunity and a foreign country residence and protection, he would say everything about what happenned in Lebanon while he was governing it and what is going on in Syria! (I wish I can get a copy of his memoirs!) It makes sense to the Asad mafia regime to get rid of Kanaan.

This is the end of murderers and sooner or later the rest of the murderers will be killed "sorry commit suicide".

For people who have been defending Syria and saying that the US or Israel killed Hariri not Syria, are you convinced now?

At 10/12/2005 12:30:00 PM, Blogger khaled said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/12/2005 01:07:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I wrote a post on this issue here.

BTW this regime is becoming to look more and more like Saddam's.

At 10/12/2005 01:23:00 PM, Blogger khaled said...

According to BBC, he left home, then after 45 minutes he came back to the office and shot himself..

My idea on this issue is:

Kanaan could have been the Secret witness of Mehlis
Sadik was the diversion of Mehlis
Syria found out
hence Kanaan is dead

Read to find out more

At 10/12/2005 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/12/2005 02:27:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

To the Martyre Kanaan:

We all had no idea what you were going through. If only we had seen your suffering but we were so blind. I pray to God that you have no more pain and that you are in His presence. I will never forget those 35 years of hard work and sacrifices made by you toward your country, and its people. Only 62 years old and so much life ahead of you. You will always be in our hearts. So many times, I thought of you and the sacrifices you and ALi Douba and the eternal leader of our country, Hafez Assad made.., the innocents you and they have saved, and the money you gave to the Syrian poor. How I wish that Douba had preceded you to the heaven of the almighty God that you are enjoying now! May be now, the glory of your and your commarades names will shine upon the great spirit of Bashar the Great, and that he will rule for few more years so we can all be blessed by his majesty!

May Douba join you soon, in peace and harmony where ever you are!



At 10/12/2005 02:46:00 PM, Blogger Mr.B said...

Vaguely sounds like the hariri myth: the person who took advantage of the system to gain power and wealth, then started opposing the system... only to loose his life in the process.
Another crazy theory!
Will Kanaan's story continue like the Hariri story, with a revolution and his son taking over? I can already see the first signs of him becoming a martyr. Who would have known... such a bloody personnage...

At 10/12/2005 04:38:00 PM, Blogger Hashem said...

Joshua - What a load of rubbish! The Americans would not accept Gazi Kanaan out of all people as a replacement for Bashar. Where do you get this kind of speculation/information from? Is this what your mother in law thinks?

Please spare us this nonsense.

At 10/12/2005 05:15:00 PM, Blogger Ms Levantine said...

Rumor has it that Kanaan was eliminated because he was asking for too big a cut of the 1.5 billion dollars annual windfall from the Iraqi pipeline project brilliantly advocated by Professor Landis.

At 10/12/2005 05:43:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/12/2005 06:48:00 PM, Blogger Joseph ALi Mohammed said...

I definetly agree with Josh's analysis. It is not rubbish as some one said.

I listened to some of Bashar's interview with CNN. He is likeable on TV. He spoke well. Then, when thinking about some of the things he said, he seemed to me that either he is totally dumb, ignorant of what goes on around him, tricky like his father, or simply crazy. He asks for long does he need? He did never say how long. He just says we need long time. Should his job as the president of Syria be guaranteed to him for that long to enable him to do what he "aspires" to do? Why does he think that his job should always be secured to him and that he alone should carry the changes in Syria? I am just at loss how a man like him can not think or question himself as to why he is there, and why the people must wait while he continues his experminets on Syria. Were 35 years not enough to judge that his father and his way did not work? His father condemned his friends to death in eternal jails while they only governed for one year, and that was enough to say they needed a "correctionist" so called movement that he undertook in 1970. 35 years are not enough?

He said Syrians have chosen him, and he sounded genuine in is belief, but that alone should raise the flag as to his state of mind. He is definitely crazy.


At 10/12/2005 08:15:00 PM, Blogger Stella said...

The Bush administration has hinted that its agenda with Syria is regime change. Was the assassination of Rafik Hariri a step in this direction? The financial isolation by John Snow? The death of General Kenaan? With the UN investigation into Rafik Hariri closed, we may never know.


At 10/12/2005 08:29:00 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

I watched the Assad interview because I wanted to get a sense of what this man was all about. I've heard a great deal about him from being the son of a dictator to being educated in the UK. In some way I really wanted to see why this guy maybe on Bush's hit list. I must admit that I agree with Joseph, Assad does seem like a well spoken man who seems to be likeable. I have been following events in Syria-Lebanon since Hariri's murder. While watching the interview I tried my hardest not to be biased, but when Assad said the Syrian people chose him to be president, I knew right there he was spewing utter nonsense. I thought to myself that if Assad had put Syria on a different path after his father's death, he would be one of the most revered leaders on the planet. Its sad that whatever potential Assad may have possed, he flushed down the toilet by holding onto his father's ways. The Hariri assassination was the point of no return for Assad & Syria, whether he planned it or not.

At 10/12/2005 09:48:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

JAM, Assad interview sucked. The guy was worried, you could tell by the way he was playing with his hands and flipping to Arabic when he was stressed. His arguments were weak: "why would I kill Hariri if he was our ally" etc... etc... I love the part where he said, I am not a dictator, my authority comes from the constitution.

He's a moron. You don't talk to the world public opinion with BS arguments. He should use this sovietic style with the Syrian press only.

He's not a good orator that's for sure.

At 10/12/2005 10:49:00 PM, Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

An Intelligence Chief is necessarily very close if not joined at the hip to the very core of power. He knows everyone's intimate details. It's unbelievable that an assassin could get close enough to kill him, except his own staff. But why should he die? 1,001 conspiracies come to mind.

At 10/12/2005 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Kirk H. Sowell said...

Click here to check out a hilariously apt cartoon in the Arab newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi. Remembering that Arabic reads from right to left, the four captions are translated as follows: "Suicide by the Russian Method"; "Suicide by the Japanese Samarai Method"; "Suicide by the French Method"; "Suicide by the Syrian Method." The "Syrian Method, " of course, is the one showing the guy being tied up and shot in the head.

At 10/12/2005 11:02:00 PM, Blogger Kirk H. Sowell said...

This whole matter reminds me of the article in Slate I read once that said that Americans imagine the world filled with evil genuises from watching movies. But Bashar Assad is no Evil Genuis. He's an Evil Moron. Just like Saddam, who thought he could beat Iran in the 1980s, thought America wouldn't care if he took Kuwait, and thought Bush wouldn't really depose him. But Bashar has just made one mistake after another. I listened to the interview on CNN and Bashar, Evil Moron of Syria, did not come off credible at all. He can't seem to get anything right.

KHS, Arab World Analysis

At 10/12/2005 11:35:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/12/2005 11:36:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This one is not bad too.

Asad: We don’t have this history of assassination in Syria .


At 10/13/2005 07:18:00 AM, Blogger GottfriedStutz said...

Josh, it took me some time to realise why, despite the very interesting blog entry you made, it bothers me. It's the title. "The most senior Alawi". I'm not sure that the emphasis on Kanaan's religion is relevant. It may even be a bit misleading in the sense that his rank as an officer may have been more important than his faith.

At 10/14/2005 12:41:00 AM, Blogger الدومري السوري said...

Foreign Minister Al-Shareh said that Kana'n caved under the Lebanese media pressure.
Believe that and you would believe anything.
See what I mean by visiting my blog.

At 10/14/2005 07:05:00 AM, Blogger lebo said...

You gotta love all the news/rumours springing left and right after Kanaan's death. That media pressure nonsense that Al-Share'e mentioned yesterday is just another diversion for the naive Syrian population (that's after a major slip of tongue at Kanaan's funeral mentioning the latter's death, twice, as an assassination, before finally correcting himself). There was also another stupidity reported in Lebanon's AlDiyar newspaper of a possible lawsuit by Kanaan's family against a Lebanese TV station after the airing of a report on Kanaan's meeting with the Hariri assassination UN investigation team. What a pile of rubbish! Knowing the ways of the Syrian intelligence, I think it's quite obvious that his life was taken to create a kink in the link leading upwards to the Syrian head of intelligence Asef Shawkat or Asad himself. An Arabic leader committing suicide? I have yet to see that.


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