Thursday, October 13, 2005

Strange happenings in Syria

A month after being questioned by U.N. investigators over the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, Syria's interior minister Ghazi Kanaan has been found dead:

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 12 - Ghazi Kanaan, Syria's powerful interior minister and the Syrian government's key man in Lebanon for two decades, was found dead, apparently a suicide, in his Damascus office on Wednesday, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported.

The death of Mr. Kanaan, who was head of military intelligence in Lebanon until 2002, added an ominous twist to the continuing United Nations investigation into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

Mr. Kanaan, 63, was one of several figures interrogated by a United Nations investigator last month about the killing of Mr. Hariri and 21 others in Beirut in February, deaths that many Lebanese, as well as members of the Bush administration, believe was the work of Syrian officials. A preliminary report of the investigation is due out this month.

Kanaan's last words were somewhat chilling:

"I want to make clear that our relation with our brothers in Lebanon was based on love and mutual respect," he said, his voice cracking at times. "We have served Lebanon's interest with honor and honesty."

Then, just before concluding, he added tersely, "I think this is the last statement I will give."