(Arabic: حكمت الشهابي)
|Member of the Regional Command of the Syrian Regional Branch|
7 January 1980 – 1 July 1998
1 July 1931|
Al-Bab, Aleppo Governorate, Syria
|Died||5 March 2013
California, United States
|Political party||Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party|
|Service/branch||Syrian Arab Army|
|Years of service||1952-1998|
|Unit||10th Armoured Division|
|Commands||Syrian Arab Army
10th Armoured Division
Yom Kippur War
|Awards||Hero of the Republic|
Early life and education
Chehabi began his career in aviation, training in the Soviet Union and the United States. From 1968 to 1971 he served as deputy head of the military security department. In 1970, he earned a Soviet degree in intelligence services. In April 1971, he was named head of intelligence services of the (military intelligence), assisted by Colonel Ali Duba. He was promoted to a general the following year, and supervised the department of military security. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, he led the Syrian delegation to the United States in April 1974, negotiating the conditions of the Syrian–Israeli disengagement. On 12 August 1974, he was appointed chief of staff of the Syrian Army, replacing Yusuf Shakkur, who was promoted to deputy defense minister. In December 1983, while President Hafez Assad was ill, Shihabi was part, along with General Mustafa Tlass and Ali Duba, of the committee in charge of running the country. From 1994 to 1995 he was part of a delegation that traveled to the United States to discuss peace negotiations with Israel. His term as chief of staff lasted until 1998.
Resignation and exile
On 8 July 1998, after twenty-four years as army chief of staff, Chehabi resigned his post in a purge prior to Hafez Assad's death and was succeeded by Ali Aslan. It occurred because Shihabi's close association with then-vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam caused Bashar Assad to see him as a threat. Also, Shihabi was against Hafez's son succeeding him. Shihabi publicly announced his rejection of Bashar Assad as the future ruler of Syria. In 2000, rumors surfaced in Syrian newspapers, which proved false, claiming that Shihabi would soon be indicted on corruption charges. Shihabi quickly fled to California from Lebanon, where he had been when he received word of the rumors. His exile was short-lived however, and he returned to Syria a month later and was deemed "rehabilitated" by Bashar Assad and promoted to the rank of Colonel General to give him parity with his rival Mustafa Tlass and to show that Tlass was losing favour with Assad.
On 5 March 2013, Chehabi died in California.
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