Abu Jamal is a perfect example of the old guard in Syria

publisher: الرياض AL Riyadh

Publishing date: 2006-01-01


Former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, who confirmed his resignation from all political duties in Syria, was once one of the closest associates of the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad before gradually being excluded from the inner presidential circle.

Khaddam, who moved to Paris several months ago, announced on Friday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had threatened Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, but he withdrew the threats after realizing that there was a “mistake.”

Khaddam (73 years old), a Sunni Muslim from a middle-class family in the city of Banias (northwest Syria), studied law and joined the ruling Ba’ath Party at the age of seventeen, being part of what is known as the “old guard” within the party.

After the Ba’ath Party came to power in 1963, Khaddam held the positions of governor of Hama, then governor of Quneitra, and governor of Damascus before being appointed in 1969 as a minister for the first time in the government of Nureddin al-Atassi, where he took on the portfolio of the economy.

In 1970, he was appointed a member of the national leadership of the Ba’ath Party.

“Abu Jamal” was among those who believed in a smooth transition of power in Syria after the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000, as he played a role in supporting Assad’s assumption of power on November 13, 1970, from within the Ba’ath Party.

Khaddam was appointed foreign minister at that time and worked to remove Syria from the isolation it experienced during the previous regime.

Khaddam, of medium height, sharp vision, and known for his frankness, was appointed deputy prime minister in September 1974.

Upon taking up this position, he was assigned two of the most delicate files in Syrian foreign policy: the Lebanese file, as it constituted the main sphere of influence for Syria, and the file of Syrian-Iranian relations during the height of the Iraq-Iran War.

At that time, Syria was the only Arab country supporting Iran, which was facing an “unjust aggression” from the official Syrian point of view.

In March 1984, Khaddam was appointed vice president alongside Rifaat al-Assad, the late Syrian president’s brother, and Zuheir Masharqa. The following July, he became deputy president for foreign policy.

Despite facilitating Bashar al-Assad’s takeover of power in Syria, his political presence diminished with the young Syrian president taking control of the so-called Lebanese dossier.

In fact, Khaddam was excluded from this file in favor of the leaders of Syrian intelligence and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa, who succeeded him in this position.

Despite these developments, Khaddam remained influential in the ruling circles in Syria until he announced his resignation from his duties in the authority and within the Ba’ath Party in June, during the general conference of the ruling party.

However, Damascus has not officially confirmed this resignation.

Khaddam is married and a father of four children.