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Khaddam, Abd al-Halim (1932–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, CONTEMPORARIES, THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE, LEGACY

asad syrian president ba’th

Abd al-Halim Sa’id Khaddam is a Syrian politician and former mainstay of the Ba’thist regime of President HAFIZ AL-ASAD .

PERSONAL HISTORY

Born in 1932 to a Sunni Muslim Arab family of modest means from the coastal town of Jabla, just north of Banyas, Syria, Khaddam became active in the pan-Arab Ba’th Party around 1949 while attending secondary school in Latakia. During his student days, he forged a fast friendship with another young firebrand, future Ba’thist leader and Syrian president Hafiz al-Asad. After graduating from the Faculty of Law at Damascus University, he practiced law and served as legal counsel for the Iraq Petroleum Company in Banyas. In 1954, he married Najat Marqabi, from a prominent Alawite family (Alawites are an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam).


INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

In 1963, the Ba’th Party came to power in Syria in a military coup. Khaddam quickly assumed a number of key posts in the new government. In 1964 he was appointed governor of Hama, whose citizenry rose in rebellion against the Ba’th-dominated regime that April. He was governor of the Qunaytra province from 1964 to 1965 and the Damascus province from 1965 to 1969. Khaddam later served as attorney general (1968–1969) and minister of the economy and foreign trade (1969–1970) during the turbulent final years of intra-Ba’th friction. When his old friend al-Asad seized power in November 1970, Khaddam was promoted to the post of foreign minister. President Asad entrusted him with the thankless duty of negotiating the May 1974 disengagement agreement with Israel.

BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Name: Abd al-Halim Khaddam

Birth: 1932, Jabla, Syria

Family: Wife, Najat Marqabi; three sons, Jamal, Jihad, and Basim; one daughter

Nationality: Syrian

Education: University of Damascus, Faculty of Law

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:

  • c. 1949: Joins Ba’th Party
  • 1964: Governor, Hama; governor, Qunaytra province
  • 1965: Governor, Damascus province
  • 1968: Attorney general
  • 1969: Minister of economy and foreign trade
  • 1970: Foreign minister
  • 1970s–1990s: Holds “Lebanon portfolio”
  • 1984: Vice president
  • 2005: Resigns government, Ba’th Party positions; exile in France

In the 1970s and 1980s, Khaddam held Syria’s “Lebanon portfolio” and was tasked with preserving Syrian interests in that country. As a result, he earned the nickname “High Commissioner of Lebanon” among some in the region. Asad gave him the difficult task of mediating among rival Lebanese factions in a manner satisfactory to Syria and Syrian interests during the tense period between the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in April 1975 and Syria’s intervention in the conflict the following June. In May 1975, Khaddam succeeded in pressuring Lebanese president Sulayman Franjieh to appoint Rashid Karami as prime minister. He attended the October 1983 Lebanese National Reconciliation conference in Geneva, brokered a 1985 tripartite agreement among Lebanese factional leaders Nabih Berri, Elie Hobeika, and WALID JUMBLATT , and pushed for all factions to accept the 1989 Ta’if Accord that ended the Lebanese Civil War. Khaddam was a close ally of billionaire Lebanese politician RAFIQ HARIRI , and reportedly made millions of dollars through his connections with Hariri and various business interests in Lebanon.

Asad also gave Khaddam other delicate assignments. He lobbied Arab leaders to reject the Egyptian-Israeli peace initiative of 1977–1978. In the end, no other Arab country joined the peace process, and Egypt was expelled from the Arab League. During the uncertain months immediately following the 1978–1979 Iranian Revolution, Khaddam assumed the tricky role of emissary between Damascus and Tehran. Syria succeeded in establishing good relations with Iran during the 1980s, when Iran was at war with Syria’s rival Ba’thist neighbor, Iraq. Both Syria and Iran also faced a common strategic rival: Israel. The two countries cooperated in the arming of the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hizbullah beginning in the mid-1980s, and shared their support for Hizbullah into the twenty-first century.

When Asad fell ill at the end of November 1983, Khaddam was appointed to the six-person committee charged with keeping affairs of state in order. Four months later, in a move clearly intended to counterbalance the influence of the president’s ambitious brother, Rif’at, Asad named Khaddam as one of Syria’s first three vice presidents, forcing him to relinquish the foreign ministership. As such, he became one of the highest-ranking Sunni Muslims in a Ba’th Party elite dominated by Asad and his fellow Alawites. In June 1984, Khaddam was almost assassinated in a car bombing, and he publicly implied that Rif’at al-Asad was to blame. When one of his sons married a daughter of the venerable al-Atasi family in a lavish ceremony at the Damascus Sheraton Hotel, Khaddam cemented an alliance not only with the ruling Alawite clique (through his marriage to an Alawite), but with the traditional Sunni merchant elite as well.

CONTEMPORARIES

Ghazi Kan’an (1942–2005) was born in Bahamra, Syria, to an Alawite family, and became an officer in the Syrian military upon completing studies at the military academy in 1965 (he eventually rose to become a brigadier general in the Syrian army). Thereafter, he worked in military security in the Hums district. In August 1983, during the 1975–1990 Lebanese Civil War, he was made head of Syrian intelligence operations in Lebanon, and served in effect as the Syrian military proconsul and uncrowned king of the country. In this position he worked with Syrian vice president Abd al-Halim Khaddam, who held the “Lebanese portfolio” in the Syrian government. Both men amassed a fortune as a result.

Kan’an was close to Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad, and one of his four sons married Asad’s niece. He also allied himself with Asad’s son, Bashar, who had held the Lebanon portfolio in the Syrian government starting in the late 1990s and who assumed the presidency after his father’s death in 2000. However, Asad replaced Kan’an in October 2002 with Brigadier General Rustum Ghazala. Kan’an returned to Syria to serve in internal security, and later was appointed minister of interior in October 2004.

After the United Nations (UN) began investigating the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, Kan’an was interviewed by UN investigators. On 12 October 2005, shortly before the UN report was to be issued, Kan’an died of a gunshot wound to the head, a suicide, according to the Syrian government.

By the mid-1990s, some felt that Khaddam’s evident astuteness and longevity made him the most likely candidate to succeed Asad as president of the republic. Despite this, however, he lacked two important qualities: he had never served in the military, nor was he an Alawite. Indeed, Asad instead began grooming his own sons, Basil (until his death in 1994) and BASHAR AL-ASAD , for the job. In the late 1990s, he gave Bashar the Lebanon portfolio, sidelining Khaddam. Although technically Khaddam became interim president after the elder Asad’s death in June 2000, Bashar ultimately assumed the presidency shortly thereafter. Khaddam remained a vice president, but not being a protégé of the younger Asad, slipped into a largely ceremonial role in Syrian politics. At the important June 2005 conference of the Syrian Ba’th Party during which many of the old guard were removed from their positions, Khaddam resigned from his post as vice president as well as his senior posts in the party, but not before criticizing the government’s recent handling of events in Lebanon. He moved to Paris shortly thereafter.

On 30 December 2005, Khaddam gave an interview with the al-Arabiyya television network in which he criticized Asad and his government for their “blunders” in Lebanon, defended the memory of Brigadier General Ghazi Kan’an, former Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon, and criticized Kan’an’s replacement, Rustum Ghazala. He stated that Hariri, who had been assassinated in a massive car bombing in February 2005, had received “many threats” from Asad. Such open criticism by a former regime insider was startling, and constituted the highest-level defection from Syrian Ba’thist ranks since the exile of Rif’at al-Asad in 1983. The day after the interview, the Ba’th Party formally expelled Khaddam from the party amid calls that he be charged with treason. On 14 January, Khaddam claimed he was forming a “government in exile” in opposition to Asad and the Ba’th, and later created the National Salvation Front in cooperation with the longtime opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE

Khaddam was long seen as one of the Sunni frontmen which the Alawite-based Ba’th regime in Syria used to present a multiconfessional appearance inside Syria. He was seen as a key figure in Syria’s long occupation of parts of Lebanon as well as a high-profile emissary of President Hafiz al-Asad. His startling defection has left many around the world puzzled as to his present and future ambitions.

LEGACY

It remains unclear exactly how the world will remember Abd al-Halim Khaddam. On the one hand, there is no doubting that he long was a pillar of the Ba’thist regime in Syria. On the other hand, his recent falling out with President Bashar al-Asad and announcement that he is forming a foreign-based opposition seems to represent a stark about-face.

CRITICIZING THE REGIME

Many threats were directed at Prime Minister Hariri … [Bashar al-Asad said to Hariri], “You want to decide who the next Lebanese president will be?! You want to? I will not let you. I will crush anyone who tries to oppose our decision.” That’s how harsh it was. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was extremely harsh.

KHADDAM, ABD AL-HALIM. “EX-SYRIAN VICE PRESIDENT KHAD-DAM CRITICIZES REGIME (INTERVIEW).” AL-ARABIYYA TELEVISION. 30 DECEMBER 2005. AVAILABLE FROM HTTP://WWW.NEWSLIBRARY.COM.

Khader, Asma (1952–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE, LEGACY [next] [back] Key Witness (1960) - Overview, Synopsis, Critique

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about 1 year ago

السلام عليكم ممكن أحد يساعدني في الحصول على مصادر ووثائق عن نائب الرئيس السوري السابق عبد الحليم خدام وشكراً.

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السلام عليكم ممكن أحد يساعدني في الحصول على مصادر ووثائق عن نائب الرئيس السوري السابق عبد الحليم خدام وشكراً.

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السلام عليكم ممكن مساعدتي في الحصول على مصادر ووثائق لنائب الرئيس السوري السابق عبد الحليم سعيد خدام

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