Monday, October 24, 2005

The Latest Victim??

The Middle East has been rocked again with the announcement of yet another death. The difference with this announcement? Ghazi Kenaan – Former Head of Syrian Intelligence in Lebanon – had been found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head and the usually recalcitrant Syrian government were quick to confirm the matter as a suicide. This in itself was unusual as normally getting anything out of the Syrians is like getting blood from a stone.

On the surface, Kenaan’s suicide looks obvious; he was found holding the gun, a single gunshot wound was declared the cause of death and no one was in his office with him. However if one digs deeper, one finds that things are not always what they seem. Ghazi Kenaan was not a peon in the Syrian Government. Ghazi Kenaan was the Syrian Government. Not only was he in power during the reign of Assad the father, he retained and gained even more power under Assad the son. This was not a man who was an aging relic of the old regime; this was a man who was very much integral to the power structure of the new regime. Simply put, this was a man who had every reason to live and none to die by his own hand.

Before he died, Ghazi Kenaan called into a Beirut show and issued a statement regarding a news report that had appeared on a rival station. In his statement, he made a point of saying that Syria “gave and took” from Lebanon (some would say they only took) and that Syria “…served Lebanon’s interests with honour and loyalty….” (again highly debateable). However, the very last sentence of the statement he made is perhaps the most puzzling and has launched a thousand conspiracy theories. The very last thing he said after thanking the newscaster was “I believe this is the last statement it is possible for me to give”. That single sentence has set off a firestorm of conspiracy theories. Critics of Syria point to that line and say he was killed to silence him so he could not give details about the Hariri murder. One could give credence to this theory except that it is counter-productive since he was interviewed by the commission two weeks prior to his death. However, now that the report has been made public and Syria has been implicated right up to the President’s office; this theory now has more weight to it. He may have been killed so that he could not confirm anything in the report.

What is clear is that Ghazi Kenaan’s death is another piece of a puzzle yet to be put together. If one looks at it clearly enough, the puzzle began not with the death of Prime Minister Hariri, but with the attempted assassination of Marwan Hamade who was against the extension of Syrian puppet Emile Lahoud. Hamade had a bomb placed in his car but survived the attempt. On February 14, 2005, Hariri didn’t. That murder has started a chain of events that could never have been predicted by anyone. After Hariri, we had George Hawi, Samir Kassir, Elias Murr (survived), Judge Nazim Khoury (survived), May Chidiac (survived) and now Ghazi Kanaan. Only when this game is played to the end will any semblance of the truth be known. Until then, the Arab street, particularly the Lebanese, can only wait and hope for justice to be served.


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