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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ghazi Kanaan commits suicide/Assad talks to CNN

Syria's official news agency (SANA) has reported that Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan, a former military intelligence chief in Lebanon (until 2002), committed suicide in his Damascus office on Wednesday.

"General Ghazi Kanaan, minister of the interior, committed suicide this morning in his office in Damascus", SANA said, adding that the authorities are investigating the incident.

UPDATE 1: Earlier this morning, Kanaan gave a phone interview to Voice of Lebanon (VDL), in which he strongly denied claims made by New TV that he had presented Mehlis with copies of checks signed by Rafik Hariri and made out to himself and several other top officials, allegedly as proof of rampant corruption in Lebanon that was spearheaded by Hariri himself.

"And this might be my last statement," he told VDL.

UPDATE 2: Reuters has more on this.

UPDATE 3: Elaph is raising the possibility he might have been a scapegoat. They published a statement by a Syrian opposition group that claims Kanaan was forced to read a written statement to VDL at gunpoint.

UPDATE 4: Joshua Landis in Syria on the theory that Kanaan might have been setting himself up as Bashar's alternative. Here's also Abu Aardvark's take.

The timing of the suicide, right after the emergence of corruption (alleged) reports linking him to Rafik Hariri is interesting. Destroy the guy's reputation then shut him up, possibly suggesting Hariri's death was somehow linked to a financial dispute between corrupt individuals, which would absolve the pure and innocent Syrian regime of any responsibility (scapegoat theory). Kanaan was, after all, "old Guard" and "close" to Hariri, disliked by Lahoud, who, the story goes, had lobbied for his removal and eventual replacement with Rustom Ghazaleh.

This the time of speculation. Watch this space for more, and send me your analysis if you have any.

UPDATE 5: Meanwhile, Assad tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that Syria "has no history of assassinations" and it was "impossible for him to have ordered it" because he is a "quiet person." He added that if the "UN investigation concludes Syrians were involved, those people would be regarded as traitors who would be charged with treason and face either an international court or the Syrian judicial process." Watch the video here (scroll down).

UPDATE 6. Tony from Across the Bay has more on the theory that Kenaan might have been eliminated because the "new guard" suspected that he would cut a deal with the Americans or would be "used to remove Bashar from power."

Harriri was trying to free Lebanon from the Syrian occupation by using his money, well he paid with his blood (May Allah bless him). If you have a gun in your head, you are willing to give up ALL your money!

Kanaan mentioned that if he was given immunity and a foreign country residence and protection, he would say everything about what happenned inside Lebanon while he was governing it and what is going on in Syria! I wish I can get a copy of memoirs!

I don't believe that he (Kanaan) is innocent of killing Harriri. At least he knew about it. That thug knew everything in Lebanon! Well, that is the end of murderers.
"Elaph is raising the possibility he might have been a scapegoat.

Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa... but we were all expecting Rustom to be picked rather than Kanaan.
see my latest update. What do you think now? Ghazale as scapegoat doesn't work, he's too close to Bashar.
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 he is dead
Man the link to the video is not working!

I am really sad, I wanted Kanaan to be judged for his crime. He escaped justice like Hafez.
Woops, I fixed the link. Try it now (it's a link to the story, you have to scroll down to the relevant part).
Kais is right, it's very telling that Rustom is not touched. It makes all the sense in the world that Ghazi was the one to go. I've been expecting it for the longest time.
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