There was a morbid joke that went around then, and sadly, still applies today, that senior officials in Syria seem to die either from a “heart attack” or “suicide.” One case I remember very well as I happened to report on it, was the “suicide” of the late Syrian Brigadier General Ghazi Kanaan, an interior minister and former chief of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon. At the time (2005), even Syrian media didn’t do much to hide that, allegedly, “two bullets” were used in this alleged suicide.
“In the Arab world whenever there are regime changes, the results are always extremes. You are in jail or killed or in power,” a senior source once told me.
My grandfather was one of the top officers of the former Syrian regime, Syria the republic, a proud yet turbulent Syria that had won its independence from France & then from Gamal Abdul Nasser’s United Arab Republic.Ironically, my grandfather, who welcomed Nasser, was one of the officers who joined Abdul Al Karim Al Nahlawi in staging a coup that ended the union of Syria and Egypt as the United Arab Republic on September 28, 1961.
Many believe it is during this time, the early 1960s, that the roots of Syria were destroyed, crippling its soul allowing for men like Hafez Assad — who came on the scene in 1970 — to be able to rule over with an iron fist.