Just three weeks after he faced questioning by a UN investigative team concerning former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri's assassination, Syrian
Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan apparently committed suicide Wednesday. Mr Kanaan, who was the security chief and key enforcer of Syrian policy in
neighbouring Lebanon, was found dead in his office from a gunshot to the head.
About an hour before Kanaan was believed to have placed a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, he called a Lebanese radio station to comment on
Syrian-Lebanese ties, ending with the words: "I think this is the last statement I might give."
Shortly before news of Kanaan's death broke, President Bashar al-Assad told CNN Syria was not involved in Hariri's death and that he could never
have ordered it. Asked if Syrian officials would have ordered the killing without his knowledge, he said: "I don't think so. If it happened then
it's treason. If (Syrians) are implicated they should be punished. International (court) or Syrian, whatever."
The official news agency SANA reported the suicide of the 63-year-old minister and said investigations were under way.
"There was blood on his face. The initial indications are that he put the gun in his mouth and shot himself," a political source said, adding that
he died around 11 a.m. (0900 GMT).
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
October 14th, 2005 marks eight months to the day since the assassination, by massive road-side bomb, of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri,
an event which shocked the world and sparked the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon. Most of the stated goals of that revolution have been achieved,
including the complete withdrawal of Syrian forces to end a 29-year occupation of the country, and the dissolution of the pro-Syrian regime headed by
(former) Prime Minister Omar Karami. But one important goal still remains unachieved, and that is the exposing of Hariri's killers and by whose order
the assassination was carried out. With only eight days until the "Mehlis report" on the investigation into Hariri's assassination is submitted to
the UN Security Council, coupled with continued criticism from Washington that Damascus is not doing enough to stop foreign fighters joining the Iraqi
insurgency, things are certainly heating up in the region, with suspicious "suicides" to-boot.
The progress of the Cedar Revolution hasn't been all smooth-sailing. The pro-Syrian regime was effectively dissolved, reformed and dissolved again,
wrangling between political and military figures in the pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian camps is rife, and assassinations of anti-Syrian figures has
continued, all of which threaten political stability in the country.
Major Events in the Cedar Revolution
2004 Sep - UN Security Council resolution demands Syrian troops leave Lebanon. Syria refuses. Pro-Syrian President Lahoud's term extended by three
years. Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri resigns in protest.
2005 Feb - Hariri assassinated in Beirut, sparking massive anti-Syrian rallies. The cabinet of Prime Minister Omar Karami resigns.
2005 Mar - Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese rally in Beirut in support of Syria. Pro-Syrian former PM Omar Karami is asked by the president to form a
2005 Apr - PM Omar Karami fails to form a government, resigns. Karami is succeeded by pro-Syrian MP Najib Mikati. Syria completes full withdrawal of
its forces from Lebanon.
2005 Jun - Prominent anti-Syrian journalist Samir Qasir is assassinated by car bomb. Anti-Syrian alliance wins control of parliament following
elections, appoints Fouad Siniora as PM.
George Hawi, anti-Syrian former leader of Lebanese Communist Party, killed by car-bomb.
2005 July - PM Siniora meets Syria's President Assad. Talks end in an agreement to revuild damaged relations.
2005 Sep - Four pro-Syrian generals charged in connection with the assassination of Hariri.
The UN earlier this year compiled the Fitgerald Report, which was the result of a month-long initial fact-finding mission into the circumstances
surrounding the Hariri assassination. The report is very critical of all parties involved and implicated in the event, citing undue influence in the
political workings of the country by Syria, tense political polarization between pro and anti Syrian factions including accusations from each side as
to who was responsible, and general incompetence on the part of the Lebanese government and security forces. The report also cast doubt on the ability
of proceeding investigations to produce a result concerning the perpetrators of Hariri's killing.
Fitgerald Report - domino.un.org
On the Lebanese side of the investigation, four pro-Syrian generals have been arrested and charged in connection with the assassination.
Commenting on this aspect of the investigation, Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamade said he had "opened a highway before the UN team" to
advance their investigations concerning the alleged phone calls. He added that before he took office such cooperation "faced hindrances, which were
thrown in the face of the UN team and Lebanese investigations."
The other four arrested in the case are Major General Ali Hajj, Brigadier General Raymond Azar, Brigadier General Mustafa Hamdan, and Major General
Jamil Sayyed, former heads of the Internal Security Forces, Military Intelligence, Presidential Guards and General Security, respectively.Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
The UN's full investigation will be wrapped up this week and team-leader Detlev Mehlis is expected to submit his findings, dubbed "The Mehlis
Report", on October 21st. While anti-Syrian factions in Lebanon are hopeful that the report will implicate Syria and Syrian elements, it is doubtful
such will be the case due to hindrances to the investigation created both in Syria and in Lebanon by elements from both sides of the debacle. But if
the report does indeed show the direct involvement of Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan in the assassination - a possibility that many have
speculated about in light of his recent suicide - then the consequences for Syria may be dire indeed...even more-so if the investigation implicates
Syria's President Assad.
Did Kanaan commit suicide because he feared the implications of the report, or was his death unconnected? Or was he perhaps "suicided"?
Syrian MP Mohammed Habash cast doubts on Syria's official version of Kanaan's death.
"There didn't seem to be any signs of stress on Ghazi Kanaan. Yesterday we were with him in a ministerial meeting and everything appeared normal,"
he said in telephone interview with al-Arabiya pan-Arab news channel.
"It's unbelievable this death by suicide and we don't know how the death of Kanaan actually came."Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
Will the Mehlis Report produce international repercussions for Syria? Or will it simply be another wishy-washy factfile like the Fitzgerald Report?
Will the truth of Hariri's assassination ever be known?
With Lebanon's political situation, there appears to be more internal conflict than productivity, and there appear to be more questions than answers.
One thing is for sure: Syria's involvement in Lebanon has been a complicated and ultimately disastrous move from day one, and the effects of that
involvement will still be felt for a long time to come. The "Cedar Revolution" may turn out to be the most drawn-out revolution in recent
Syria's Assad willing to cooperate with US on Iraq - Reuters
Bush warns Syria over Lebanon, Iraq - Reuters
Lebanese shed few tears for Syria's feared enforcer's suicide - Reuters
The Cedar Revolution - wikipedia
Syrian presence in Lebanon - wikipedia
There is no hiding from Mehlis' report - (Lebanon's) Daily
The political situation in Lebanon is a very complex one. I welcome any corrections to the material presented here.
[edit on 2005-10-14 by wecomeinpeace]
[edit on 10/17/05 by FredT]