"Furiously curious" veteran Beirut correspondent Patrick Seale dies aged 84
Seale was a real expert on Syria, having spent the first 15 years of his life in the now-wartorn country. (Image courtesy of The Guardian)
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Patrick Seale, a veteran Middle East correspondent and one of the Western world’s leading experts on Syria, has died in London at the age of 84 of brain cancer.
He was a prolific writer on the region who also appeared regularly on TV talk shows and public speaking engagements at home and abroad.
Educated in England, he became the Beirut correspondent for the Observer and was well-known for his erudition, eloquence and sense of humor.
Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher, commented that Seale “knew the Middle East inside out. But his wisdom was that he also knew how much he didn’t know, and was furiously curious.”
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1930, Seale spent the first 15 years of his life in Syria, where his father was a Christian missionary.
He authored an important trilogy of books, all with the word “struggle” in the title: The Struggle for Syria (1965), which focused on the unstable period of military coups during the post-independence era; The Struggle for the Middle East (1988), on the political career of Hafez Assad; and The Struggle for Arab Independence (2010), a look at Lebanon’s first post-independence prime minister, Riad Solh.
Seale advocated a political solution for the Syrian crisis with a place for the government at the negotiating table, which did little to counter accusations by critics that he was too close to the Baath regime.
Seale is survived by four children, two of whom were from his wife Lamorna Heath, who died in 1971, and two from Rana Kabbani, from whom he was separated.