It is almost 16 years of our spiritual and intellectual minute by minute journey into the afterlife along with our father, the builder of our Syria. In commemoration, the Syria Times republishes a series of articles:
The Full text of the heart-breaking-news announcement, Saturday, 10 June, 2000,
The following is the text of the sad announcement of the death of President Hafez Al-Assad, the builder of Modern Syria
In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with God: Of them some have completed their vow to the extreme, and some still wait. But they have never changed their determination in the least. Death has taken away a peerless leader and an unrivalled wise man. brother citizens, Arabs everywhere: The National and Regional Commands of the Arab Socialist Baa’th Party, the Central Command of the National Progressive Front, the People's Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces, the popular organizations, the Professional Associations, the children of the great late leader: Bashar, Mahir, Majd, Bushra, and Al Al-Assad and Makhluf, announce to the Arab nation and the Syrian Arab people the death of leader Hafez Assad, Secretary general of the Arab Socialist Baa’th Party and President of the Republic.
Today morning, 8 Rabi al-Awwal 1421 Hegira, corresponding to 10th June 2000, God has decreed the death of a great, unparalleled leader and wise man. He was a soldier, a fighter, and one who believed that life has no value without a free, dignified, and united homeland. Syrians and Arabs, the steadfast leader died in defense of the rights of the nation and the homeland. The leader, whose values, principles, policies, and approach are lofty, has died. The leader has died. He struggled for more than half a century for the sake of the Arabs' pride, unity, freedom, and for the sake of safeguarding their dignity and restoring their rights. The leader, who relentlessly resisted strong storms, has died. His courage has never been weakened, his vision has never been narrowed, and his convictions have never been shaken. He was the most courageous one in making decisions and confronting the enemies of the nation. He was the one who loved the people the most. The star, who lit the sky of Syria and the Arabs for more than three decades, has fallen. 'He was a lion'. He devoted his brain, body, and heart for the sake of hoisting the banner of the nation. He struggled, was patient, and endured for the sake of a safe, prosperous, proud, and strong homeland.
He preserved his pledge - the pledge of love for the homeland and struggle to regain the rights of the nation and raise its standing. He was a lion in facing ordeals, difficulties, and storms. He was a soldier, a fighter, and one who believed that life has no value without a free, dignified, and united homeland. He was a president who was aware of his responsibilities in building the homeland and providing its requirements and liberating its occupied land. He was a father. Yes, he was a father in his love for his citizens. He shared with them their sorrow and joy. My brothers: Today, we lost a brother, comrade, friend, father, leader, and teacher. Today is a day of sorrow and pain in every house, in every school, university, factory, farm, and shop.
Sorrow is in every heart of every man, woman, and child. The one who departed was a piece of the heart. He will remain in his legacy, accomplishments, thought, and conduct a star that shines not only for this generation, but also for future generations.
Peace be upon you, president leader. Peace be upon you, struggler comrade. Peace be upon you. You were an example of sincerity and loyalty, work and struggle.
From God we come and unto him we shall return.
To the righteous soul will be said: " thou soul in complete rest and satisfaction. Come back thou to thy lord, well pleased thyself, and well-pleasing unto him.
Some of what world press wrote:
The Independent October 28, 1994, Friday
By ROBERT FISK IN DAMASCUS
It was a victory for President Hafez Al-Assad, a victory of words. Mr Assad has been using since the Madrid conference three years ago. And it was Bill Clinton who was using them. It was President Clinton's replies - not Mr Assad's – which told the story. He talked about ''a just and comprehensive peace'', about UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and 425, about how peace could never be lasting unless it was just, about ''the principle of land for peace'' upon which a treaty must be based.
Mr. Assad did not talk of victory. He smothered Mr. Clinton in praise for his peace- making efforts and insisted that he wanted ''to express my readiness to work with him for making a real, comprehensive and just peace throughout the region''. ''Comprehensive'' is the code word for withdrawal of Israeli troops from all Arab land. Mr. Assad implied. ''Anyone who does not believe what we are saying doesn't want peace themselves,'' he said. ''Why are the other side not convinced we are serious? I've heard statements from Israeli officials that Syria is serious. ''Our views were identical on the importance of making a comprehensive peace,'' Mr. Assad said. Then came the key phrase. ''I stressed to President Clinton the readiness of Syria to commit itself to the objective requirements of peace through the establishment of peaceful, normal relations with Israel in return for Israel's full withdrawal to the line of June 4, 1967 and from the south of Lebanon.''
World Socialist Web Site
16 June 2000
"Assad spent his 30 years in power carrying out a tortuous balancing act. Domestically, he was compelled to maneuver between various social interests and factions Assad's legacy. He is mourned in Washington, London and Paris because his sudden departure is one more destabilizing factor in a region ."
The BBC's Nick Bryant in Washington
"There was a strong sense that (Assad) was genuinely committed to peace"
BBC News Online
"Syria's shrewd master ,the late Hafez al-Assad was a key player in Middle Eastern politics."
TIME Magazine: JUNE 19, 2000
"He never worried about the clock ticking. He was legendary for his marathon negotiating sessions and infuriating intransigence. He left--as so many negotiators have over the years--reminded that Assad's 30 years in power had made him one of the world's sharpest and most patient negotiators."
"A Syria - or a Middle East - without President Hafez al-Assad would be hard to imagine."
BBC News Online
"Mr. Assad wants to regain the Golan Heights on his own terms. In the decades since becoming president and overseeing an unprecedented era of stability in Syria,"
Saturday June 10, 2000
President Hafez Assad of Syria died this morning in Damascus. In breaking the news to the Syrian public, state-run television announced: "Death has taken away from Syria a leader." The announcer's voice choked as he began to cry. Syrian television showed MPs standing, heads bowed in the chamber for a moment of silence, wiping away tears. Assad could never be discounted in the Middle East equation. "The Lion of Damascus" - his family name means lion in Arabic -. He was credited with bringing political stability to a country of repeated coups . He worked long hours and prided himself on managing the minutest details of his administration. His discipline extended to his private life - he was a vegetarian who abstained from alcohol, Like his hero Saladin, the warrior who defeated the Crusaders in the 12th Century, Assad dreamed of becoming the unchallenged leader of the Arab world. Israel, though, was an alternative centre of power in the region and, in Assad's view intent on weakening its Arab neighbors. His attempts to rally other Arab leaders to present a unified front against Israel gained little ground.
Let's look at a few of the most common adjectives used by the Western press to describe the late Hafez Al-Assad: inexhaustible. Much of the commentary can be summed up in the way Washington Post columnist E J Dionne Jr described Assad in a piece on Tuesday. Dionne says that Assad was "crafty, perhaps even brilliant,"
On Monday, the highly popular MSNBC (Microsoft NBC) Web site led its world news section with an article entitled, "Mideast Script: Waiting for Bashar." Interestingly, the article mentions that Assad is known as "the Lion of Damascus," but doesn't bother to add that 'lion' is the meaning of the Arabic word "Assad."
Newspapers across the Middle East have added their voices to the messages of condolence pouring in from world leaders following the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad.Lebanon's As-Safir said in its front-page tribute: "The lion of steadfastness... goodbye".
Al-Anwar, alongside a picture of Assad and his son said: "From Hafez to Bashar, the march continues." Assad made Syria a bedrock of Arab determination, a crucial friend to like-minded states and a worthy foe "
The Beirut-based Daily Star said: "Few people go to their graves having left such sweeping legacies that their country's history can thereafter be divided into two unmistakably different eras - before them and after them. "Hafez al-Assad was such a man because the Syria he leaves behind bears so little resemblance to the one that he grew up in". The Daily Star said that during his three decades in power Assad made Syria "a bedrock of Arab determination, a crucial friend to like-minded states and a worthy foe for any that opposed it".
The Jordan Times paid tribute to a leader which it said had "shaped much of modern Middle Eastern history". it added that Jordan would support Syria's struggle and work with Assad's successor. He not only maintained his calm at times of crisis, but also restored calm to the entire Arab world.
The English-language Iran Daily said the Arab community had "lost one of its greatest contemporary politicians". "Assad was a no-nonsense politician and truly understood all the complications involved. He not only maintained his calm at times of crisis, but also restored calm to the entire Arab world," it said.
"Assad is no longer with us, but his brilliant track record will always remain documented as a golden page in the history of the Middle East." Israel's 'toughest enemy'
Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim
The Late President Hafez Al-Assad