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Elie Ferzli: Ghazi Kenaan Was Once Lebanon’s Most Powerful Authority

Elie Ferzli: Ghazi Kenaan Was Once Lebanon’s Most Powerful Authority

Friday, 21 February, 2020 - 11:15
The cover of Elie Ferzli’s new book (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Beirut - Nazeer Rida

Parliament Deputy Speaker Elie Ferzli highlighted the Syrian era in Lebanon, pointing to the role of former Syrian Security and Reconnaissance Commander Ghazi Kenaan in the country.

“Kenaan understood the Lebanese, but failed to understand Lebanon,” Ferzli said, stressing that the man could not resist the temptations that Beirut had offered him, which led many Lebanese politicians and influential figures to resort to him to achieve their ambitions.

According to Ferzli, former President Emile Lahoud criticized Kenaan’s role at that time saying: “The situation cannot be fixed with two presidents in Lebanon; one of them must go.”

Ferzli highlighted the Syrian hegemony over Lebanon in his new book, “Ajmal al-Tarikh Kana Ghadan" (The best of history was tomorrow).

He presents details about Kenaan’s slipping into the Lebanese temptations that changed him from an officer, who sought to impose the prestige of Damascus on the Bekaa region following the Zahle war in 1981, to “the strongest center of power in the country” at that time.

Ferzli even says that Kenaan “was hiding an extremely complex and multifaceted personality.”

“Ghazi Kenaan had an uncommon maneuvering method; he could act as if he had never knew you at any point, whatever that emotion he had for you or the interest that brought you together,” he recounts.

According to the recently published book, the Syrian official, who was known for achieving Christian reconciliation in Homs and protecting the Christians in the governorate during the Syrian war against the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama, was striving to use force in many events in Zahle, which was then under the control of the Kataeb and Lebanese Forces parties.

Kenaan soon became a very influential person in the Lebanese political life and decision-making, Ferzli says. He could nominate presidents of the Republic, and veto others. He did so with MP Jean Obeid, before extending the term of Lahoud in 2004.

Ferzli also talks about his relationship with Syrian officials, including differences over election laws and electoral coalitions in the Bekaa, the formation of governments, and the nomination of presidents of the Republic, and emphasizes in this regard Lahoud’s accession to the presidency.

After President Bashar al-Assad came to power, Abdel-Halim Khaddam’s influence diminished, and General Hikmat al-Shihabi was sent to retirement. This is when, according to the book, the Lebanese file became in the sole hands of Ghazi Kenaan.

Ferzli notes that his relation with Kenaan deteriorated since the election of Lahoud.

He says that he was a staunch supporter of the latter as he was working against the Syrian hegemony.

“The Syrian forces are present in Lebanon... that’s ok, but Ghazi Kenaan’s presence is not... The country does not bear two presidents,” Lahoud said to Hafez al-Assad in 1999, as the book reports.

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