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Bluesman
12 Oct 05,, 20:44
DAMASCUS, Syria (CNN) -- Syria's interior minister, who was head of the country's military intelligence in neighboring Lebanon for nearly 20 years, has committed suicide, officials said.

Ghazi Kanaan's death was reported Wednesday, days before the expected release of a United Nations report into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a prominent opponent of Syria's presence in Lebanon.

The 63-year-old Baathist major general died in a Damascus hospital of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the interior ministry and other government ministers.

The head of the intensive care unit at the hospital told CNN's Brent Sadler a small-caliber bullet went through the roof of Kanaan's mouth and exited through the back of his head.

Hours before his death, Kanaan had been interviewed by a Lebanese radio station after he called in to refute allegations that aired on Lebanese television Tuesday night that he had accepted bribes and payoffs while in the Lebanon post.

Kanaan told the anchorwoman at the Voice of Lebanon, a Christian radio station, that he had chosen to speak with her because he trusted her and wanted to clear his name after the report on NewTV, an independent television station.

"I want to clarify that what is being reported is baseless and all untrue," the interior minister said in a calm, firm voice.

Kanaan said he had nothing but good intentions for Lebanon and nothing against Hariri.

"I want to clarify that we have affection and mutual respect for our brethren (in) Lebanon and that was for everyone's advantage in order to pull out Lebanon from its crisis at that time," he said.

"We have served the interests of Lebanon with honor and all honesty."

Kanaan noted that Syria made sacrifices of blood for the cause of Lebanese unity and that Lebanon's liberation would not have been possible without Damascus.

And as if he already knew his fate, the interior minister told the anchorwoman that he was giving her this exclusive statement and he wanted her to pass it on to other Lebanese media "because I believe this is the last statement I can make."

Less than two hours later, he was dead.

An important political figure in Syria for more than 35 years, Kanaan was one of the most senior government officials to be interviewed by a German prosecutor heading the U.N. investigation into Hariri's killing. (Full story)

Those interviews took place about a week ago.

In his radio comments, Kanaan said he objectively answered all the questions posed to him by the investigators.

Many Lebanese said Syria ordered the car bombing that killed Hariri in February 2005 but Damascus has repeatedly denied any links.

The assassination sparked a wave of protests in Beirut that helped lead to Syria's announced withdrawal from the country in April.

Four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals have been arrested and charged in connection with Hariri's murder. (Full story)

A report from the U.N. probe is expected to be released within the next 10 days, and while it will mainly deal with the assassination itself, it is also expected to address the millions of dollars alleged to have changed hands in the corruption scandal.

Just before news of Kanaan's death, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview that Syria had no involvement in Hariri's death, and it was impossible for him to have ordered it.

But, he said, if the U.N. probe concluded that Syrians were involved, then they would be regarded as traitors and should be charged with treason and face punishment, either through the Syrian judicial process or by an international court.

"If indeed there is a Syrian national implicated, he would be considered as a traitor and most severely punished," Assad said.

Kanaan was the head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon from 1982 till 2002. He was appointed interior minister in 2004.

In July, the U.S. Department of the Treasury said it had frozen Kanaan's U.S. assets, alleging he was involved in Syria's military and security presence in Lebanon.

CNN's Sadler said Al-Assad's government was extremely shaken by the Kanaan's death. "Officials were incredulous at the news. He was the lynchpin of the Syrian security apparatus for more than two decades."


Well, isn't THAT interesting.

Ray
12 Oct 05,, 20:56
Hardly interesting.

The Lebanese are crooks and fence sitters and the Syrians a bunch of thugs.

West Asia stinks!

And Saudis are putrifying flesh!

Hariri was suppposed to be an illegitimate child of the Saudi royal family.

They all stink!

bull
13 Oct 05,, 07:17
Hardly interesting.

The Lebanese are crooks and fence sitters and the Syrians a bunch of thugs.

West Asia stinks!

And Saudis are putrifying flesh!

Hariri was suppposed to be an illegitimate child of the Saudi royal family.

They all stink!

The other day,during this chat with my lebaneese clients i gathered the courage to throw to them this issue of syria .The kind of hatred that runs in their blood againts the syrians is really disturbing.Its probably more than whats there btw israelis and palestenians or btw indians and pakistanis.

We really have got something nasty coming up in that region.

Ray
13 Oct 05,, 07:32
Last night, I saw the interview of Assad on CNN.

A rather soft spoken and unsure of himself type of a man.

His trousers seems to be too short and he sat like a schoolboy before the Principal and answered in the same way!

SloMax
13 Oct 05,, 10:15
Last night, I saw the interview of Assad on CNN.

A rather soft spoken and unsure of himself type of a man.

His trousers seems to be too short and he sat like a schoolboy before the Principal and answered in the same way!
Appearances can be deceiving. If he leads Syrian politics he surly isn't a schoolboy.

lemontree
13 Oct 05,, 10:49
Why would the Ghazi Kanaan kill himself?..It's not as if the Syrians are a law abiding nation and would hand him over to the UN (if implecated in Hariri's assasination).
Could he have been killed?...(by the Syrians to silence him for good, incase world pressure forced them to surrender Ghazi to the UN).

Monk
13 Oct 05,, 14:45
Why am I not surprised over this incident? The UN report on the hariri assassination was due and we already have a ready made scape goat, Ghazi Kanaan. It all worked out very well didn't it, now we have the plausible deniability ground available for Assad. His government never knew about Ghazi's involvement in the Hariri assassination. Oh my! They are horrified and petrified over what has happened. Assad is as dangerous as a snake, no one should "misunderestimate" (people may call this wrong English, but I love this expression) him.

Just like Pakistan was over A.Q.Khan's nuke mart. In all the islamic states the government never knows what its servants are upto. All of it happened without their knowledge.

I don't know which is a greater crime state taking part in things like assassinations and selling nuclear secrets or claiming they didn't know.

lemontree
14 Oct 05,, 08:15
Some comments emerging...
http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2005/10/syria_general_k.html

Syria: General Kanaan's "assisted" suicide? Top news on al Jazeera and in the Arab world, the officially dubbed "suicide" of Brigadier General Gaazi Kanaan, Syria's interior minister is a high indicator of storms to come Report. The Security General had ruled Syrian occupied Lebanon for almost two decades. His knowledge of the intelligence and terrorism web is boundless. Some sources in Syria and Lebanon, reacting to the news this morning called the death, an "assisted suicide." Kanaan, according to these sources knew "significantly" about the assassins of former Prime Minister Hariri. He "committed" suicide as the time President Assad would be addressing world opinion and the American public via CNN.

bull
14 Oct 05,, 13:49
assisted suicide ...interesting term

Bluesman
19 Oct 05,, 14:20
From Captain's Quarters (http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/005630.php):


US, France To Isolate Syria Over Hariri Assassination
The alliance of France and the US against Bashar Assad and the Syrian government continues at the UN, where the unlikely partnership will press the Security Council to force Syria to account for its role in the murder of Rafik Hariri:

The United States and France are planning to introduce two U.N. resolutions next week aimed at holding Syria to account for meddling in Lebanon and for its alleged links to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, according to several sources close to the diplomacy.
The moves would be the toughest international action ever taken against Syria and would be designed to further isolate President Bashar Assad, who for the first time is getting the cold shoulder from key Arab governments such as those in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Western envoys said.

The impending actions will be "the perfect storm for Damascus," said a Western diplomat at the United Nations, speaking on the condition of anonymity because planning is still underway. "It's pretty clear the Syrians don't have any friends left."


No doubt that Syrians face a low ebb on international relations at the moment. While the Israelis have made the rounds of Arab nations this week, establishing diplomatic ties with most governments in the region, Assad got an earful from Mubarak about his lack of cooperation in the assassination investigation. Even the Palestinians have issued scolding press releases against the Syrians for arming refugee camps, which wind up in the control of Hamas.

The clumsy and incompetent rule of Bashar Assad seems ripe for plucking. If the sanctions that wind up coming out of the Security Council create any real economic damage or diplomatic embarrassment, the dictatorship will not last very much longer. The various powers behind the throne will eject Assad and look for another leader who will better keep those powers safe. Assad's fall, however, may open an opportunity for a popular uprising that could sweep through Syria and put a truly democratic republic in place in Damascus.

As Michael Ledeen would say, "Faster, please."

dalem
19 Oct 05,, 16:33
If only there was a wargame that would allow us to play this one out, Bluesman. :):)

-dale

667medic
19 Oct 05,, 16:49
Stupid Syrians, they should have just blown up his car and put the blame on the Israelis....