Obituary: Salah Jadid

Salah Jadid, army officer and politician: born 1924; died Damascus 19 August 1993.

SALAH JADID was the man who lost a power struggle with Hafez Assad, the Syrian president, and paid for his failure with 23 years in a Damascus jail.

An austere, incorruptible army officer, he began his political career as Assad's friend and co-conspirator on the Military Committee which they set up - modelled on Gamal Abdel Nasser's Free Officers' Movement - while serving in Cairo during the short- lived union between Egypt and Syria. Assad, Jadid and three others represented the new young radical trend in the Baath party, which was then dominated by the more conservative civilian elements around Michel Aflaq and Saleh Bitar, the founders of this party dedicated to socialism, pan-Arab nationalism, and renewal.

In 1966 Jadid was the architect of the coup which managed to seize power, though he and his colleagues had no popular backing; as so often in the history of the Baath and Syria, the struggle was entirely between the party leaders and their supporters, while the great mass of the people tried to carry on with their lives and avoid becoming embroiled.

Then an army major, Jadid was a man who never courted popularity, and often antagonised people by expecting them to follow his example of long hours of work, austere living, and cheap cars instead of ministerial limousines. As the effective leader of the party from 1966 to 1970, Jadid made the mistake of allowing control of the army to slip away from him, for all his early reliance on disaffected army officers to back his take-over.

Hafez Assad, less doctrinaire and more pragmatic than Jadid, quietly began chipping away at his colleague's support, removing a chief of staff loyal to Jadid, and then ousting the commander of the 7th Armoured Brigade, known as one of Jadid's men. The crunch came in 1970 when King Hussein of Jordan was finally forced into confrontation with the Palestine guerrillas who had set up a state within the state, and seemed on the point of trying to take over in Amman itself. Both Assad and Jadid paid lip-service to the cause of Palestine, and supported the Palestinian fighters. But Assad realised, as Jadid did not, that the Palestinians were a greater threat to the Arab countries in which they were allowed to operate than they were to Israel. Their hit-and-run raids could never cause enough damage to make Israel waver in its policies, but their actions could bring Israeli reprisals at a time and a place not of the Arabs' choice.

Hard pressed by King Hussein's Bedouin troops, the Palestinians in Jordan appealed to Syria for help. Assad, then defence minister, sent arms, and eventually and with great reluctance was forced to agree to Jadid's demand that Syrian tanks should go in. But Assad, a pilot and former head of the air force, would not commit Syrian planes, with the result that the small Jordanian air force was able to pick off the tanks without opposition. The Syrian expeditionary force was humiliated and forced to retreat.

The fiasco brought the simmering struggle for power between Assad and Jadid to a head. Still in control of the civilian wing of the party, Jadid called a party congress which as its first move ordered Assad not to make any further military transfers or appointments without party approval. Assad took no notice and, while Jadid's apparatchiks in the Congress hall passed resolutions stripping Assad and his supporters of their functions, Assad quietly surrounded the building with his own troops.

On 12 November 1970, the party congress ended, and the next day Assad ordered the arrest of his leading opponents, headed by Jadid. Many were quietly exiled, and Jadid might have been given that option. But when Assad confronted him, Jadid neither sought mercy nor promised support. 'If ever I attain power, you will be dragged through the streets of Damascus until you are dead,' he told Assad. That sealed Jadid's fate. He was sent off to the Mezze prison in Damascus, where he remained until his death last Thursday.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home