By Nabil Al Mulhem
Syria's Baath Party on Tuesday concluded a landmark congress by electing the country’s heir apparent, Bashar Assad, as its secretary general of the regional command. Assad now chairs a 21-seat command, responsible for all of the decision making of the ruling party.
The election is a major step to propel Bashar to succeed his father, the late President Hafez Assad who died June 10.
Two days later, Bashar was promoted to the rank of general and assumed leadership of the 316,000-strong army.
The Peoples’ Assembly is scheduled to meet on June 25th to endorse the party's nomination of Assad as president, to be followed in the first week of July by a referendum to confirm Bashar as the 16th president of Syria.
Bashar is also expected to become secretary general of the Baath party after the pan-national command holds its congress in September.
Following is a list of the new command, which includes 12 new members and nine incumbents.
Bashar al-Assad, new, secretary general.
Abdallah al-Ahmar, incumbent,
Abdel Halim Khaddam, incumbent
Suleiman Qaddah, incumbent,
Zuheir Masharqa, incumbent
Abdel Qader Qaddura, incumbent
Fayez Nasser, incumbent
Ahmad Dergham, incumbent
Mustafa Tlass, incumbent
Walid Hamdun, incumbent
Mustafa Miro, new
Naji Otri, new
Faruq Shara, new
Sallam Yassine, new
Ibrahim Hneidi, new
Faruq Abu Shamat, new
Ghayyath Barakat, new
Walid al-Bouz, new
Mohammad al-Hussein, new
Majed Shaddoud, new
Mohammad Saeed Bkheitan, new.
It is noticed in the composition of the command that only one member comes from the military, namely, Mustafa Tlas, Syria’s defense minister.
It had been speculated that at least one more officer would join the elite Baathists: either Marshal Ali Assaln, chief of staff, or Marshal Ibrahim Safi, a top army officer.
As far as sectarian distribution in the command is concerned, 13 are Sunni Muslims: Ahmar, Qaddah, Khaddam, Masharqa, Qaddoura, Tlas, Otri, Miro, Shara, Abu Shamat, Hamdoun, Bkheitan and Hneidi. From the Alawite sect, there are Dergham, Hussein, Barakat, Shaddoud in addition to Assad.
Fayez Nasser is a Catholic, Bouz is a Christian Maronite, whereas Yassine is a Durzi.
Most prominent of the newcomers is Faruq Shara, a veteran politician and Syrian foreign minister.
Of the outgoing members, Izzeddine Nasser is a big name. He has been for a long time head of the Arab Trade Union, and played a key part during the 1983 crisis when Bashar’s uncle, Rifa’t led a coup to overthrow his brother, who had had a heart attack.
Another distinguished ex-member of the regional command is Rasheed Ikhtarini, who has had major contributions to Syria’s economy over the past ten years. However, it has been rumored lately that the leading Baathist was on the black list of corrupted officials who were targeted by the anti-corruption campaign reportedly led by Bashar Assad himself under the name “Clean hands campaign.” – Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)