The death of Abdel Halim Khaddam… by Ghassan Al-Mufleh

publisher: the elevant news

AUTHOR: غسان المفلح

Publishing date: 2020-03-31


Abdul Halim Khaddam, the former Vice President to Hafez al-Assad and later to Bashar al-Assad for five years, passed away after announcing his defection from the Assad regime in December 2005, following the assassination of his close friend, the martyr Rafik Hariri.

I will only speak of the man in terms of my proximity to him for a considerable period, approximately five years, starting from the moment of his defection, even before the formation of the National Salvation Front and during its formation, until its dissolution due to a decision influenced by foreign countries. France under Sarkozy, Qatar led by its former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa, and Turkey under Erdogan, through the withdrawal of the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies from the Front, citing the regime’s support for Gaza against Israel. I was not an organizer within the National Salvation Front and refused to join until the Muslim Brotherhood withdrew, and for this reason, another discussion and further details will have their place elsewhere.

I had written many articles at the time about the significance of this man’s defection and emphasized the importance for the opposition to capitalize on that moment, during which international sanctions were imposed on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

I will not engage in a debate now with anyone on this issue because it belongs to the past and because it is a history I wanted to document in this article, and perhaps in subsequent ones. For future generations, a personal touch will be present. That period of my interaction with the man constituted an important lesson for me in two aspects:

_Firstly, the nature of the Assad regime and its internal mechanisms, and how foreign policy was also managed.

_Secondly, understanding some of the mechanisms of international and regional politics towards Syria and some countries in the region. In addition, the man was, for me, a source of information; in general, he did not hesitate to answer any questions for me, which I will not deny. In short, I learned from him.

Khaddam remained, even after his defection, referring to Hafez al-Assad as “President” when discussing Assad’s senior. Despite his personal friendship with him since the mid-sixties of the last century, what lurked behind this phrase was how nightmarish that regime was.

My relationship with the man began theoretically before that through two incidents:

_Firstly, a very close friend brought me Khaddam’s book, published in 2002 as I recall, titled: “The Contemporary Arab System – Reading Reality and Anticipating the Future.” He was still in his position as Bashar al-Assad’s deputy. Perhaps those who read the book know what I am talking about. After reading this book, I jokingly told my friend that maybe this man will defect from the Assad regime.” Khaddam repeats in this book four words that summarize his approach in analysis: mistakes, negatives, gaps, and side conflicts. As reasons for backwardness and failure, he focuses on them in his analysis of the reasons that led us to where we are. In contrast, he puts other words against them, such as control, popular participation, democracy, reform, and common Arab interests within the concept of Arab solidarity, while I was still in Syria.

_Secondly, when he went to offer condolences for Rafik Hariri on a personal decision because the Assad media at that time did not cover the news at all.

I also want to say: “Hafez al-Assad and Bashar afterward did not allow Khaddam to intervene in any security or military file in Syria, not because he was Sunni, but for all officials of all religions and sects. The only exception was Rifaat al-Assad until he left Syria in 1985.

He was allowed to carry out his duties as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and later as the Vice President defending the regime and handling some foreign affairs. Any claim beyond this is untrue. As for the story of Bashar’s inheritance, it’s a joke if Khaddam assisted in it.”

The waste incident was also the responsibility of Brigadier Ahmed Aboud, the head of the Military Security branch for officers. He was later dismissed by Assad, but he was not arrested due to his service and his close relationship with Ali Duba, the head of Military Intelligence at that time. The death of Abdul Halim Khaddam.

The man and his family were part of the Assad’s corrupt machine for three and a half decades, so people have the right to take a negative stance against him. However, the man’s defection and how he is dealt with is a political matter. As for the corruption case, it is a legal issue. The man stated more than once that he accepts any court decision. Nevertheless, I told him this several times, and he was more democratic than many of us. But attitudes towards defection vary from one person to another and from one opposition figure to another. I don’t want to delve into the details of this story because I discussed it extensively in my articles during that period.

Personally, my position before Khaddam’s defection and after it, and until now, is that the opposition must accept the defector, and the rest should be left to the judiciary once we get rid of this Assad nightmare.

Perhaps we will return soon to discuss other details. In the end, condolences to his family, especially to my friend Jihad Khaddam.