Shihabi, Hikmat Al- (Al-Shehabi; 1931–)

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SHIHABI, HIKMAT AL- (al-Shehabi; 1931–)

Syrian career officer, born in Bab el-Hawa. Hikmat al-Shihabi began his career in aviation, training in the Soviet Union and the United States. In 1970 he earned a Soviet degree in intelligence services. In April 1971 he was named head of intelligence services of the Syrian Army, assisted by Colonel Ali Douba. Appointed a general the following year, he also supervised the department of military security. After the 1973 War, he led the Syrian delegation to the United States in April of 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 Hafiz al-Asad was ill, Shihabi was part, along with General Tlass, of the committee in charge of running the country. In August 1984 he escaped an assassination attempt. Between 1994 and 1995 he was part of a delegation that traveled to the United States to discuss peace negotiations with Israel. In July 1998, after twenty-four years as army chief of staff, he resigned his post. He is thought of as an influential figure in the Syrian regime and has been considered several times for prime minister.

SEE ALSO Arab-Israel War (1973); Asad, Hafiz al-; Douba, Ali Issa Ibrahim.