Thursday, October 13, 2005

Kanaan Death Doesn't seem to be Related to the Mehlis Report

It is becoming clearer that Ghazi Kanaan's death was not related to the Mehlis report or Lebanon-Syria relations, as I speculated yesterday.

One good reporter I heard from today said they are "hearing Kanaan was tried in-camera and executed."

Hassan Fattah of the New York Times reported in today's NYTimes that the Mehlis people said Ghazi Kanaan was not a suspect in the Hariri murder investigation.

As I wrote yesterday, I have heard from several different sources that Washington had been hearing from "senior" Syrian sources of real dissatisfaction among top Alawi officers.

If Ghazi Kanaan's death was due to a purge, it will be the first in recent Syrian history. It is an indication of present regime weakness in the face of foreign pressure. It will also chasten others. Over the last week, I have argued on Syria Comment, that the regime was made fairly coup-proof by Hafiz. Of course, it was Hafiz's wisdom and political acumen that kept it that way. But it is also due to the replication of security forces, which makes it particularly difficult for any individual to organize a putsch. Too many people need to be drawn into the conspiracy for it to have much chance of remaining secret.

By the way, my phone number in Lebanon, where I will be until Friday, is (961) 70955012

Albert Aji, AP's bureau chief in Damascus writes:

Syrian opposition figure, Ali Sadrelddine al-Beyanouni, the London-exiled leader of the banned Syrian Muslim Brotherhood group, told Al-Jazeera that a Kenaan statement to a radio station shortly before his death "indicated that he felt in danger, and this supports rumors that there has been a deal in which the Syrian regime might sacrifice some of its heads for saving the regime."

President Asad made it clear in his CNN interview yesterday (taped in the morning before the announcement of Ghazi K.'s suicide)that Syria's stand is that it is innocent in the Hariri murder. It will punish those implicated - if any are. He did not say, however, as some are reporting this morning, that he would turn them over to an international court. He said they would be punished either at home or abroad. There is a big difference between the two statements. What the president said means Syria can still claim that the Mehlis report is all political and refuse to send Syrians to an international court if they are indicted. He can say that Syria will punish them at home after being tried by Syrian courts, much as the Lebanese will be tried in at home.

Many of my readers are still arguing that Kanaan was sacrificed or fell on his sword in order to take the fall for Syria, should it be implicated in the Mehlis report. Kanaan is not a suspect in the Hariri murder, although he was interviewed by Mehlis' team. He left Lebanon in 2003 and was head of Syria's police system by February 14 and not head of Mukhabarat or Lebanon. Syria cannot be exonerated by his death.

Here is CNN's interview with Asad.
Al-Assad: 'Syria has nothing to do with this crime'CNN International - USASyrian President Bashar Al-Assad denied that Syria was involved in the killing of Rafik Hariri. ... BASHAR AL-ASSAD, PRESIDENT OF SYRIA: We're not isolated. ...


At 10/13/2005 07:46:00 AM, Blogger Kirk H. Sowell said...

I don't think it necessarily follows that Kenaan's death was not related to the investigation because he himself was not culpable. If he gave information inculpating the regime, or if they thought that he might in the future, that would still be a motive to kill him, or force him to commit suicide or face a Stalinist/Baathist show trial in Syria. Therefore, Syria might be exonerated by his death if he had dangerous information.

Or then again, it really could be suicide. But I wouldn't conclude that the regime didn't kill him because Kenaan himself wasn't guilty.

KHS, Window on the Arab World

At 10/13/2005 09:01:00 AM, Blogger fred said...

What does "was tried in-camera and executed" mean?


At 10/13/2005 10:02:00 AM, Blogger Abu Kais said...

I agree, but only in the sense that Kanaan's death cannot be seen through the Lebanese and Mehlis investigation prism. We have to look at the big picture, what Syria's predicament is (think Iraq, Arab-Israeli struggle and Lebanon) and what alternatives it has right now. Kanaan was weakening their position and providing them with an alternative they did not want to consider.

More here:

At 10/13/2005 11:05:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

Syrian opponent says Kanaan's death signals change

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, Oct 13 (Reuters) - A top Syrian opposition activist said on Thursday that the death of Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan could be the beginning of change in President Bashar al-Assad's powerful inner circle.

Aktham Naise, head of the Syrian Committee for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights, also said he expected a U.N. probe to find senior Syrian officials were involved in the killing of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Kanaan, Syria's top official in Lebanon for two decades until 2002, committed suicide in his office on Wednesday, officials said, three weeks after he was questioned by a U.N. team led by Detlev Mehlis which is probing Hariri's death.

"Kanaan's death is positive, it is the beginning of a change in Syria. That is the political explanation of the suicide," Naise told Reuters in an interview in Geneva after receiving a prestigious international human rights prize.

Syria, where Assad came to power following the death of his father Hafez in 2000, is ruled by a "small, strong circle", according to Naise, 53, who has been jailed six times.

"Kanaan was one of its pillars. Now that this element has been eliminated, others will follow, either through the Mehlis report or the President will be forced to sideline them to save his own head," he added.


Mehlis, a veteran German prosecutor, discussed the investigation with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Geneva last week. Mehlis is due to present his report to the Security Council by Oct 25.

Shortly before news of Kanaan's death broke, al-Assad told CNN that Syria was not involved in Hariri's death and that he could never have ordered it.

Naise, referring to Kanaan, said: "Even if he wasn't implicated in the assassination of Hariri, he was responsible for intelligence in Lebanon and for many bad things perpetrated in Lebanon."

"I am convinced that others will be implicated in the Mehlis report and they should also be punished for their crimes against the Syrian people," Naise said.

"They should be removed from office immediately to ensure the future of the Syrian people and pave the way for democratic change. It is imperative to get rid of this little circle which is running Syria in an arbitrary way," he added.

On Wednesday, Naise collected an international human rights prize given annually by the Swiss-based Martin Ennals Foundation.

The prize, announced last January, is named after the first secretary of the London-based group Amnesty International. Previous laureates include leading Chinese dissident Harry Wu.

Naise spent five months in jail last year for publishing a report on human rights in Syria and urging an end to 40 years of emergency rule that has stifled political life in the country.

He was released from jail on bail in August 2004. Charges of tarnishing the country's image were dropped in June.

At 10/13/2005 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I agree with you Josh, here's another element that tell us that Kanaan has nothing to do with Hariri's assassination, it's a short and mysterious statement by Walid Jumblat:

The Progressive Socialist Party leader broke with Syria when Bashar Assad took the helm after his father's death and then replaced Kanaan with his right-hand man, Gen. Rustom Ghazaleh, in 2003, who, Jumblat said, 'double-crossed Gen. Kanaan.'

As interior minister of Syria, Jumblat said, Kanaan disagreed with the Assad administration over the extension of Lebanese President Lahoud's term in office, which Ghazaleh forced the Lebanese parliament to vote it literally at gunpoint.

Jumblat said Kanaan tried in vain to ease the strain between the Assad regime and the Hariri-Jumblat alliance.

"If Kanaan had a hand in the Hariri assassination, then he did well by committing suicide. But if he rebelled for his dignity against humiliation, then his suicide is a brave act by a brave man," said Jumblat, who declined to take questions after reading his written statement.

At 10/13/2005 11:43:00 AM, Blogger adonis syria said...

It's likely that kanaan had some knowledge about Hariri's assassination plan.
He had become an embarrassing person for the asad's circle,bashar,maher,shawkat-boushra.

At 10/13/2005 11:43:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

I don’t think that Kanaan’s ’suicide’ is primarily related to Hariri’s investigation.

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. Notice that Bashar told to Amanpour that he is in control now, and I believe him on this.

It's possible that Kanann will be used as a scapegoat for Hariri’s assassination, but this is not the primary explanation of his elimination. Anyway, Jumblat's latest move (see declaration above) tells us that the Lebanese will not accept this. They want to get the bigger guy.

At 10/13/2005 03:10:00 PM, Blogger O.D.M said...



It is not in the interest of the West, Israel, nor America to eliminate the Bashar regime.

Take your analysis on this matter from the above point. Why is the above point right?

Because We have no viable political party ready yet to take over, other than the Muslim Brothers in the Hood (Brotherhood) and the Communist Party maybe. Neither of these party will ever have control of anything in Syria.

Do not give me the RPS, PPS, SSNP, SRP and whatever-RP, those are discredited by most Syrians and their agendas are unknown to say the least, and questionable at best. This is the Syrian street talk.

Taking that into consideration, Kanaan's death can save a lot of trouble, for World Public Opinion against Syria and America. Now, For all they can care, they can come up with a video of Kanaan saying "I want to Kill Hariri!"

Syrian President knows that if Kanaan goes down, he will speak, Kanaan's loyalty was to power, not to Bashar. Kanaan's Death buries 30+ years of political assassinations. He is expendible, his death meant:
1-Death of one of the old guards
2-Shutting up some Lebanese opposition
3-A relieve from responsibility

The Governemtn can now give up two or three other people if the report finds evidence. Which will happen anyway because according to Bush's comments, he kows that syria is involved before the investigation started.

Bush will get a lot of concessions from Syria, Bashar will get more time. This is where my Civil Disobedience Movement fits in the equation, a movement that appeal to the masses, to have peaceful Disobedience in syria, asking for the rights to be represented legally in fully functional Parliament..and then we take more reforms from there.

Practice and learn democracy in the Parliament, and mess up in there..Do not mess up a whole country with recently established parties.

At 10/13/2005 04:12:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

ODM you're right, but if the rumors are true, it's not a video of Kanaan that's going to pop up but an audio recording of King Lion II. So this is not going to save Bashar, assuming that anyone would take Kanaan scapegoating seriously.

And we can stop talking about the old guard. I think that the new clique is completely in control now.

Initially, the Lebanese leaders (including Jumblat) wanted to keep a good relationship with Syria and were afrait of the chaos that might contaminate Lebanon. But Bashar's idiotic attempts to destabilize Lebanon means that more and more Lebanese (citizens or politicians) think that keeping this regime is worse than the potential chaos in Syria that could spread to Lebanon. This is why Jumblat did those declarations. Frankly, I can't blame him. This regime is beyond redemption.

At 10/13/2005 04:15:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Unfortunately, a regime change is unlikely, if the Assad family is fully in control and is purging the security apparatus, it means that nobody can organize a coup.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home