Amin al-Hafiz

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Amin Al-Hafiz
أمين الحافظ
Regional Secretary of the Regional Command of the Syrian Regional Branch
In office
4 October 1964 – 19 December 1965
Secretary GeneralMichel Aflaq
Munif al-Razzaz
Preceded byShibli al-Aysami
Succeeded byNureddin al-Atassi
(Regional Command dissolved in December 1965, new Regional Secretary elected in March 1966)
President of Syria
In office
27 July 1963 – 23 February 1966
Vice PresidentMuhammad Umran
Nureddin al-Atassi
Shibli al-Aysami
Preceded byLu'ay al-Atassi
Succeeded byNureddin al-Atassi
Prime Minister of Syria
In office
4 October 1964 – 23 September 1965
Preceded bySalah al-Din Bitar
Succeeded byYusuf Zu'ayyin
In office
12 November 1963 – 13 May 1964
Preceded bySalah al-Din Bitar
Succeeded bySalah al-Din Bitar
Member of the National Command of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
In office
23 October 1963 – 23 February 1966
Member of the Regional Command of the Syrian Regional Branch
In office
1 February 1964 – 19 December 1965
Personal details
Born(1921-11-12)12 November 1921
Aleppo, French Syria
Died17 December 2009(2009-12-17) (aged 88)
Aleppo, Syria
Political partySyrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
SpouseZeinab al-Hafiz
Military service
Allegiance Syria
Branch/service Syrian Arab Army
Years of service1938–1966
Rank General of the Army
Battles/warsFirst Arab-Israeli War

Amin al-Hafiz (Arabic: أمين الحافظ, romanizedAmīn al-Ḥāfiẓ 12 November 1921[1] – 17 December 2009),[2] also known as Amin Hafez, was a Syrian general, politician, and member of the Ba'ath Party who served as the President of Syria from 27 July 1963 to 23 February 1966.

Early life[edit]

Amin al-Hafiz was born in 1921 in a Sunni Arab family, the son of a police officer from the city of Aleppo. When he was young, like other students, he threw stones at the French colonial authorities during the French mandate of Syria. In 1948, at the age of 27, al-Hafiz volunteered to fight in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. In 1954, he joined the uprising against Adib Shishakli and was promoted to command the Eastern Front at Deir ez-Zor and then to be commander of the Homs academy, before being posted to Cairo. When Syria broke with Egypt in September 1961, al-Hafiz was sent home to Damascus.[3]


Rise to power[edit]

Hafiz (right) with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser on his arrival to Cairo for the Arab League summit, 1964.

During his stay in Damascus, he was contacted again by the military committee's leader, Muhammad Umran. In December 1961, the Qudsi regime exiled Amin to Buenos Aires as military attaché, and it was from there that he was summoned back to Syria by the victorious officers after the 8 March coup.[3] The coup d'état, led by the military committee, introduced al-Hafiz to public life. In the aftermath, the National Council of the Revolutionary Command (NCRC) became the country's supreme organ. It was dominated by the Syrian branch of the radical, pan-Arab Ba'ath Party. Amin became president, instituted socialist reforms, and oriented his country towards the Eastern Bloc.


On 23 February 1966, al-Hafiz was overthrown by a radical Ba'athist faction headed by Chief of Staff Salah Jadid.[4][5] A late warning telegram of the coup d'état was sent from Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to Nasim al-Safarjalani (The General Secretary of Presidential Council), on the early morning of the coup d'état. The coup sprung out of factional rivalry between Jadid's "regionalist" (qutri) camp of the Ba'ath Party, which promoted ambitions for a Greater Syria, and the more traditionally pan-Arab al-Hafiz faction, called the "nationalist" (qawmi) faction. Jadid's supporters were also seen as more radically left-wing.[6] The coup was also supported and led by officers from Syria's religious minorities, especially the Alawites and the Druze, whereas al-Hafiz belonged to the majority Sunni population.

Exile and return[edit]

After being wounded in the three-hour shootout that preceded the coup, in which two of his children were seriously injured, al-Hafiz was jailed in Damascus's Mezzeh prison before being sent to Lebanon in June 1967. A year later, he was relocated to Baghdad. In 1971, the courts of Damascus sentenced him to death in absentia; however, Saddam Hussein "treated him and his fellow exile, Ba'ath founder Michel Aflaq, like royalty", and the sentence was not carried out.[7] After the fall of Saddam in the Iraq War of 2003, al-Hafiz was quietly allowed to return to Syria.[8] He died in Aleppo on 17 December 2009; reports of his age differ, but he was believed to be in his late 80s.[2][9] He received a state-sponsored funeral.[7]

Popular culture[edit]

Amin al-Hafiz was portrayed by Waleed Zuaiter in the Netflix series The Spy.[10]


  1. ^ "Celebrity Astrology & Numerology - celebrity horoscopes astrology directory".
  2. ^ a b Syria-news Archived 5 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Arabic)
  3. ^ a b Seale 1990, p. 80.
  4. ^ "Amin al-Hafez obituary". The Guardian. London. Associated Press. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Salah Jadid, 63, Leader of Syria Deposed and Imprisoned by Assad". The New York Times. Associated Press. 24 August 1993. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  6. ^ "Syria:Coups and Countercoups, 1961-70". Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  7. ^ a b Joffe, Lawrence (16 February 2010). "Amin al-Hafez obituary: Leader of Syria's first Ba'athist regime". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  8. ^ Anthony Shadid (18 May 2005). "Syria Heralds Reforms, But Many Have Doubts". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  9. ^ AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE (18 December 2009). "Amin el-Hafez, Baathist Leader of Syria in 1960s, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  10. ^ "The Spy – Full Cast and Crew". TV Guide. Retrieved 12 September 2023.

Works cited[edit]