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Prof. Eyal Zisser: 'It Cannot Be Ruled Out That Syrians Killed Their Intelligence Ghazi Kanaan In Order To Cover-Up Involvement In Assassination Of Former Lebanese Leader Rafik Hariri'

'Fall Of Syrian President Bashar Assad's Minority Regime Could Lead Trigger Chaos Similar To Iraq'

'Prime Minister Sharon Is Correct In Steering Clear Of U.S.- Syrian Confrontation'

Ghazi Kanaan

Is the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad responsible for the death of Syrian intelligence chief Gen. Ghazi Kanaan? Professor Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria at Tel Aviv University discusses the latest scandal linked to possible Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The death of Kanaan, Syria's strongman in Lebanon for may years, also comes against the backdrop of the current U.S. - Syrian confrontation over the stream of Islamist terrorists into Iraq, where they have been killing American soldiers.

'It cannot be ruled out that the Syrians killed Syrian General Ghazi Kanaan to cover up their assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. That's the assessment of Prof. Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria at Tel Aviv University who says it is impossible to know what happened inside Gen. Kanaan's office.

Syrian President Bashar Assad

However, if Syrian agents did assassinate the former Lebanese leader, then Syrian intelligence chief Kanaan would have been involved. A U.N. investigation into Hariri's assassination is due to reveal its findings shortly.Hariri's murder aroused strong reaction both in Lebanon and the international community and sparked demands that Damascus terminate its political and military domination of the Lebanese state. Zisser says Syrian President Bashaar Assad is obviously feeling the heat of American pressure. The U.S. has repeatedly warned Syria to stem the flow of Islamist terrorists into Iraq where they have been killing American soldiers. When asked if President Assad is politically insane in provoking the U.S., Zisser replied: 'The Syrian leadership lives in a different world'.

Prof. Eyal Zisser

Professor Eyal Zisser is the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and the Head of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History, both at Tel Aviv University. Prof. Zisser wrote extensively on the history and the modern politics of Syria and Lebanon and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was said recently to have vetoed an American military strike against Syria. Zisser says although the minority Alewite regime is now very weak, it could survive a limited American attack. However, a massive strike such as in Iraq would topple the Syrian regime. In that case, Zisser warned the result could resemble the chaos in Iraq. In this case, it was in Israel's interest that stability prevailed along her border with Syria. In the long run, what was good for the Americans would be good for Israel. On this score, Zisser believes Prime Minister Sharon has adopted the right policy in steering clear of what is an U.S. - Syrian confrontation. In so doing, Israel will not be blamed for encouraging the U.S. to promote Israeli interests visvis Syria.

David Essing

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