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Syria Replaces Veteran Military Intelligence Chief
The retirement on February 6 of Syria's chief of military intelligence, Gen. Ali Douba, is a strong indication that Bashar Assad, the son and heir apparent of Syrian President Hafez Assad, is now asserting his authority at the highest levels of the Syrian government.
Although the 65-year-old general had just reached the official age of retirement, many other high-ranking Syrian military officers have retained their posts well beyond this limit. Despite Douba's long history of friendship to the Assad family and over twenty-five years of distinguished service as military intelligence chief, Bashar insisted that he go. According to sources in Damascus, the main reason for his disgraceful exit was that his alleged involvement in a number of financial scandals over the years clashed with Bashar's carefully cultivated reputation as a reformer.
Gen. Douba has been linked to illegal activities as far back as 1995, when his son, Mohammed, was arrested on charges of operating a car theft ring. In February 1999, his name surfaced in connection with the illegal trafficking of religious artifacts between Lebanon and Canada through a network under his protection since 1990.1
Douba was replaced by the deputy chief of military intelligence, Gen. Hassan Khalil, who has distinguished himself in recent years as a staunch supporter of Bashar's presidential ambitions. Khalil played a high profile in the negotiations with the Israel both in 1996 and in the Shepherdstown talks earlier this year, where he was a member of two committees relating to borders and security. In the past, Khalil has also been in charge of Syrian relations with various Iraqi opposition groups headquartered in Damascus.
1 "Syria: Key Intelligence Post for Bachar Supporter,"
Intelligence Newsletter, 17 February 2000.
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