Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ghazi Kanaan's death: More reactions

New York Sun: Suicide in Syria?

The moment the news came over the wires that Syria's interior minister had committed suicide in his office in Damascus, we found ourselves thinking of a wonderful movie that came out some years ago called "Colonel Redl," about an officer in the Hapsburg empire who got into trouble. It ends, as we recall it, with the colonel, played by Klaus Maria Brandauer, being visited in his office by one of his superiors, who leaves him a loaded pistol and departs. The next thing one hears is the shot with which Redl killed himself. It was the way things were done in the old days.

An alternative theory for Kenaan's death, and rumors have been circulating to this effect, is that he was murdered by Mr. Assad for speaking to America and becoming hostile to the Assad regime. The Associated Press reported yesterday that hours before he died Kenaan told a Lebanese radio station that "I believe this is the last statement that I can make." He told the station that while he had been speaking to U.N. investigators, he had not been informing them of corrupt Syrian officials.

...Whatever Mr. Mehlis concludes, and whatever action, if any, the United Nations takes, Kenaan's death may be a signal of the kind of change ahead that would help those who wish to see Syria's people liberated. The regime looks weak and unstable, and the Alawites, who have held onto power by sticking together, are discredited. Others in the regime will now be speculating whether they'll be next. Already isolated by former allies for the Hariri murder, the Assad-regime will only get weaker and weaker. All the free world needs to do now is help those who want to give it the final push.

BBC: Syria struggles with new realities

Syria is not the country it used to be: buttoned up and oblivious to changes in the world at large.
Under intense international pressure since the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri last February, cracks are starting to appear in the once solid shell around the regime in Damascus.

The Syrian leadership seems rattled. The apparent suicide of the Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan will not have helped matters.

Whatever the circumstances of his death, the extra international attention that it has focused on a regime that for years has preferred to conduct its business behind closed doors will be unwelcome.

Even the way that the minister died is arousing further speculation about Syria's possible role in the assassination of Hariri - involvement that the government in Damascus has strenuously denied.

...Having said all this, it would be wrong to suggest that the long-entrenched regime in Syria is in a state of collapse. But if the country is to ride out the storm, then the Damascus leadership will need to adapt to new realities.

Keeping the country buttoned up and oblivious to the world - a policy that served President Assad's father so well for decades - is today no longer an option.