Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Friday, January 06, 2006

Portrait of Abdel Halim Khaddam

Abdel Halim Khaddam, the former right-hand man of Hafaz al-Assad

From Le Monde, 30 December 2005

Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, who reiterated his resignation on Friday 30 December from all political functions, was a faithful companion of former Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad before being progressively marginalized from the President’s inner circle.

At 73, Khaddam, a Sunni Muslim who hails from a family of petite bourgeoisie in the town of Banias in northwest Syria, was a member of the Ba’ath Party for 17 years. He was a member of the party’s old guard.

Mr. Khaddam had filled in as interim president of the Syrian Republic following the death of Hafez al-Assad, whom he had supported in al-Assad’s 13 November 1970 takeover of leadership of the Ba’ath Party. Immediately appointed Foreign Minister, Mr. Khaddam worked to free Syria from the isolation into which the radical policies of President Salah Jedid had plunged the nation.

Heavy-set, of medium stature but with sparkling eyes, Abdel Halim Khaddam, known for his frank views, became Vice Premier in September 1974. In this function, this stalwart among stalwarts of Hafez Al-Assad was handed two thorny yet strategic dossiers: Lebanon, Syria’s principal area of influence, and Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. Syria was the only Arab country to have condemned Iraq’s “unjust aggression” (in Syrian official parlance) towards Iran.

In March 1984, Khaddam was named Vice President. In July of the same year, he became Vice President in Charge of Foreign Affairs. He paved the way for the ascension of Bashar al-Assad to the supreme magistracy. But his public appearances became less and less frequent when the Syrian President took personal charge of the “Lebanese dossier”.

Mr. Khaddam was removed from the Lebanon dossier to make way for intelligence chiefs and the Foreign Minister, Farook al-Shareh, his successor as the head of Syrian diplomacy. Despite these developments, Abdel Halim Khaddam continued to be esteemed by and participated in the circle of Syrian leadership until the announcement of his resignation from Ba’ath Party functions and from Government on July 7 during a party conference. His resignation was never officially confirmed by Damascus.


Blogger markfromireland said...

Nur off topic to this more in the way of a "heads-up"

Not the first time this sort of thing has been done and it's not only the US who've pulled this sort of unbelievably stupid stunt. Nor (amazingly enough) is it those who tried this sort of idiocy who actually get blown up.

Do you remember back in October 2005 how 8 British soldiers were killed by bombing? The headline was lurid (subscription link to UK Independent) :

"IRA bombs killed eight British soldiers in Iraq."

The "IRA" bombs in question were in fact command detonated devices using a very sophisticated and unjammable detonator. Unjammable because it didn't use radio signalling. Instead it used a three-way detonator command system consisting of:

1. A command wire.
2. A radio signal and
3. A coded infra-red pulse unit.

This method of issuing the detonation command is an adaptation of a technology supplied by the UK Army's Force Research Unit to the IRA as part of a "sting operation" that went badly wrong. The IRA duly passed on the the technology, which they were researching anyway, to groups in the Middle East, as part of a quid pro quo deal. There is some dispute as to which groups were originally supplied this UK military technology by the IRA. I lean to them having supplied it to Palestinian groups rather than to Hizbollah purely on the basis that that would fit better.

I'll add that according to "normally reliable sources" that the Irish govternment got wind of this pointed out how it would almost inevitably go wrong and blow up in everyone's faces and begged pleaded with the British Government to get their fucking army intellignece thugs back under control - to no avail of course.

Maybe the UK officials thought that the Army was about due to get a Queen's Award to Industry for helping an export drive eh?

Now the interesting thing about all of this is that Bridadier Gordon Kerr who commanded the Force Research Unit now commands the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) which officially (I can give a link to Hansard if you want it)went operational in Iraq amongst other places on April 6th 2005. You and your readers remember I'm sure that members of this regiment got caught and arrested dressed as locals and carrying an "interesting" selection of technology. The lovely couple had to be rescued by regular British troops who bashed down Basra policestation/jail using armoured vehicles to do the job. I'm sure that the squaddies involved were thrilled that they had to risk their lives to rescue some of what the rest of the British Army refer to as the "Green Slime." There were some very dramatic photos of a squaddy exiting his vehicle at speed because his uniform was on fire - remember that?

What seems to have been missed is that the UK government now publicly admits that their accusations that Iran was stirring things up in Southern Iraq by inter alia supplying bomb making equipment were unfounded or as I'm not feeling in a particularly good mood today that those accusations were a pack of lies

Makes you wonder what else the US and UK have been supplying and to whom doesn't it? Did you know that iran has a very sophisticated bio-tech sector and that they recently cloned a sheep? I wonder how they got that far that fast.


12:26 AM  
Blogger markfromireland said...

To summarise the above: Governments that supply oh for example "doctored" plans for nuclear weapons are being so sharp that they risk cutting themselves.

12:33 AM  
Blogger kei & yuri said...

The day after the Israeli attorney general declared Sharon's defence a "state" matter, Hobeika was killed by a massive car bomb in east Beirut. Israel denied responsibility. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Brussels and quietly threatened to withdraw Nato headquarters from Belgium if the country maintained its laws to punish war criminals from foreign nations. Within months, George W Bush had declared Sharon "a man of peace". It was all over.


Syria had no reason to kill Hariri, let alone with an Israeli-style massive car bomb that took out a block. We tried telling someone else this and they misundderstood, imagining that we doubted Syria's ability to move so much explosive material around. Syria's neighbor just got invaded by a US gone mad looking for reasons to spread; why would they do this, and do it this way, as loudly and as arrogantly as possible? All (further) Israeli war-formenting must be resisted to the expense of other activities. If that means "objectively" keeping scum like Assad in power well hell it's not like there are attractive alternatives outside of the Feith-based bizarro plane.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Karin said...

Great post, Nur

7:39 PM  
Blogger Nur-al-Cubicle said...

3. A coded infra-red pulse unit.

Mark, I wonder how much, say, the Indian Army would know about that technology?

What I'm trying to say is that there are a lot of militaries in the world all researching the same sort of things. Washington's aggression has made everyone paranoid, and I'd say efforts are redoubled. The results then circulate...and may have come to the insurgency by other conduits?

6:51 PM  

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