Syrian leader who oversaw 1960s nationalisation dies at 88

DAMASCUS - Amin Hafez, the Syrian leader who headed the Baathist regime of the mid-1960s that oversaw the nationalisation of swathes of the economy, has died at the age of 88, state media reported on Friday.
"He died on Thursday in the military hospital in his (northern) hometown of Aleppo," Syria's official SANA news agency said.

Syrian leader who oversaw 1960s nationalisation dies at 88
Hafez was to be buried after Friday prayers, it added, without specifying whether he would be given any state or military honours.
Hafez took over as president of the National Council of the Revolutionary Command, the Baath regime's equivalent of head of state, in July 1963 after the party bloodily crushed a coup attempt by pro-Egyptian elements that wanted to restore the two countries' abortive 1958-1961 union.
A major general, he had served as deputy prime minister and interior minister in the Baathist-dominated government formed in May that year following a military coup two months earlier.
Hafez's government nationalised all Arab-owned banks in Syria, as well as its oil and mineral resources and other industries.
It ruled under a state of emergency declared in 1963 and established the special military tribunal that still tries security cases to this day.
Hafez was close to the historic pan-Arab leadership of the Baath party and his government ran into increasing opposition from the party's more Syrian-minded left wing.
In February 1966, the left overthrew Hafez in a coup and placed him under arrest.
Hafez was to spend most of the rest of his life in exile in neighbouring Iraq where a 1968 coup brought the pan-Arabist wing of the Baath to power, leading to prolonged friction between the two regimes.
Hafez returned to Syria after the US-led invasion of 2003 overthrew now-executed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime.

Friday, December 18th 2009

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