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Salah al-Din Bitar
Arabic: salāhu d-dini l-bitār


(1912- 80) Syrian politician, prime minister of Syria 1963- 66, foreign minister 1956- 57.
He was probably the least philosophical of the 3 founders of the Ba'th Party, but proved to be the most successful politician of all of them. However, his period of political success only lasted for 10 years, and eventually he came to be regarded by the president of Syria, Hafez al-Assad, as a dangerous opponent.
From his exile in Paris he used his last years to promote the cause of the Syrian opposition, through his magazine Al-Ihyatu l-Arabi (Arab Revival), and it is believed that this activity eventually was the reason for him being killed.

Biography
1912: Born in Damascus, Syria, into a prominent family.
Early 1930s: Studies first at Damascus University, then at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France.
1934: Returns to Syria, where he starts to teach mathematics and physics at a secondary school.
1940: Establishes a study circle together with Michel Aflaq, which they called Movement of Arab Renaissance, which in Arabic is Ba'th. Ba'th came to be the name of the movement developing from these study circles.
1947: Central in the formation of the Arab Ba'th Party.
1954: Becomes member of the parliament.
1956: Is appointed foreign minister, and becomes a supporter of a union between Syria and Egypt — a union that is formed the following year.
1957: Becomes minister of national guidance.
1959: Resigns after that the Ba'th Party has been dissolved by the president of the union of Syria and Egypt, the United Arab Republic, by Gamal Abdel Nasser.
1963 March Becomes prime minister after the Ba'th coup.
1966 February: Following the conflict in the Ba'th Party, Bitar has to resign as prime minister. Due to the level of the tensions, he has to escape to Lebanon.
1969: Sentenced to death in absentia.
1970: Following Hafez al-Assad's takeover of power, Bitar is pardoned, but he does not return.
1970s: Bitar establishes himself in Paris, France. From here he starts publishing material that is strongly critical of the government of Syria.
1978: Is invited to Syria for talks with President Assad. He travels to Syria, but the two do not manage to reconcile their views.
1980 July: Is assassinated in Paris, and it is widely believed that Syria was behind this, though that has never been proved.




By Tore Kjeilen