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Lu'ay al-Atassi
لؤي الأتاسي
President of Syria

In office
9 March 1963 – 27 July 1963
Preceded by Nazim al-Kudsi
Succeeded by Amin al-Hafiz
Personal details
Born 1926
Homs, Syria
Died 2003 (aged 76–77)
Homs, Syria
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Allegiance Syria
Rank Lieutenant General
Battles/wars 1948 Arab-Israeli War

Lu'ay al-Atassi (1926–November 2003) (Arabic language: لؤي الأتاسي‎) was a senior commander in the Syrian Army and later the President of Syria between 9 March and 27 July 1963.

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

Atassi was born in Homs in 1926 to the politically prominent al-Atassi clan. He entered the officer corps after graduating from the Homs Military Academy in the mid-1940s, and fought during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War in Palestine. In 1954, President Hashim al-Atassi appointed him Chief of Military Protocol. He was transferred to Egypt, where he served as the assistant military attache in Cairo's Syrian embassy in 1956. There, he became a supporter of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and his pan-Arabist policies. Atassi was among the Syrian officers who lobbied for unity with Egypt, which was realized in February 1958 with the formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR).[1] Atassi criticized Syria's secession from the union in September 1961 after a military coup in 1961.[1] In April 1962 unionist officers led by Jassem Alwan staged an attempted coup against the government. Alwan, Hamad Ubayd and Muhammad Umran led the effort in Aleppo and Homs, while Atassi led the operation in Deir ez-Zor.[2] According to historian Sami Moubayed, Atassi attempted to mediate a truce between the coup leaders and the government, but was unable. After the coup attempt, he was sent to the Syrian embassy in Washington D.C. to serve as the military attache. The officers were imprisoned and brought to military trial, where Atassi was recalled to testify against them, but refused out of his sympathies with officers. Atassi was consequently arrested and jailed in Damascus's Mezzeh Prison.[1]

President of Syria[edit | edit source]

Atassi (center) with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (right) and Syrian Prime Minister Salah Bitar (left) during tripartite unity discussions between Egypt, Syria and Iraq in Cairo, early April 1963

On 8 March 1963, a coalition of Arab nationalist officers organized by the Military Committee of the Ba'ath Party launched a military coup, toppling the secessionist government of Nazim al-Qudsi. The officers immediately freed Atassi and appointed him to the National Council for the Revolutionary Command, the effective interim government of the country,[1] and made him president on 23 March. Atassi was not a Nasserist or Ba'athist, but a politically independent Arab nationalist similar to General Ziad al-Hariri, who was the principal leader of the coup and was made Chief-of Staff after its execution.[3] From the Committee's standpoint, Atassi was ideal for the position because he lacked a support base and thus posed no threat to the junta's supremacy. His presidential powers were limited, and in practice he served more as a figurehead leader.[4] On 18 July Atassi led a Syrian delegation to Alexandria, Egypt, to repair Syrian government relations with Nasser after dozens of Nasserist officers were purged from their high-ranking posts between late April and early May by the Military Committee. On the same day, Nasserist officer Jassem Alwan led a coup against the Ba'athists, but failed. Many people were killed in the coup attempt and 20 participating officers were executed by Ba'athist-dominated government. Disapproving of the manner in which the coup officers were dealt with, Atassi resigned on 27 July.[5] Thereafter, he retired from all political activity.[4]

Later life and death[edit | edit source]

Atassi lived the remainder of his life in Homs, until his death in November 2003.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Moubayed, 2006, p. 174.
  2. Rabinovich, 1972, p. 34.
  3. Rabinovich, 1972, p. 52.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Moubayed, 2006, p. 175.
  5. Rabinovich, 1972, pp. 70-72.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

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