Syria strongman Rustum Ghazaleh speaks of 'suicide' fears

Syria strongman Rustum Ghazaleh speaks of 'suicide' fears
3 min read
20 March, 2015
Ghazaleh's position in the regime’s inner circle has reportedly become increasingly precarious, and he is said to fear for his own security.
Ghazaleh reportedly fears for his life while lying in a Damascus hospital bed [AFP]
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has fired General Rustum Ghazaleh as the head of the Political Security Directorate, according to published reports.

Ghazaleh was dismissed along with another senior intelligence figure, General Rafiq Shahadah, who headed the Military Intelligence Directorate.

The two men had not got along.

"Due to a violent argument between the two men - that developed into a fist fight between their supporters - Ghazaleh received a severe beating over two weeks ago," a security source told AFP.



Ghazaleh's condition is critical according to doctors as his body is not responding well to medicine.

Sources close to both the regime and Ghazaleh that wished to remain anonymous told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Rustum Ghazaleh has been in a Damascus hospital for the past ten days suffering from asphyxiation.

A recent visitor told al-Araby that Ghazaleh fears his "suicide" - that he would be assassinated by the regime and have his murder covered up by officials.

The sources added that Ghazaleh "has been admitted to hospital more than once in the past month, and his condition is critical, according to doctors, as his body is not responding well to medicine".

People close to Ghazaleh have said that he has been living in a state of anxiety and fear for more than six months due to the pressures and circumstances he faces within the regime's security circle.

Ghazaleh's history includes reports of Mafiosi-type activities in Lebanon and becoming Syrian intelligence chief in the country.

He is also approaching Syria's retirement age this year, which means he will lose all political and security privileges and will be excluded from the decision-making circle.

Some of Ghazaleh's recent visitors have talked about his fears of "the constant threat under which most Baath party officials currently live".

Despite havin occupied a powerful position, Ghazaleh's retirement would have meant that his security detail would be reduced to between five and ten bodyguards.

"Ghalazeh imagined this situation and realised that death is closing in on him - due to the internal struggles within the regime or the battle with the Syrian opposition," one of his recent visitors told al-Araby.

Ghalazeh imagined this situation and realised that death is closing in on him
- Hospital visitor

Ghazaleh's fears have been particularly growing after the recent discovery of a smuggling network in the south of Syria, believed to be operated by Ghazaleh's relatives, who are understood to have been providing opposition fighters with fuel and food.

Due to his growing fears of political and security vulnerability, Ghazaleh has attempted to rally the support of residents in his hometown of Qarfa, in Daraa.

He has visited the area twice and promised residents that he would provide them support and protection against opposition fighters, and even give up his house and possessions if required.

Ghalazeh's house in Qarfa had been looted and burned by regime forces, according to local rumours.

Some believe that Ghazaleh's visits to Qarfa were an effort to create a special security unit composed of around 200 fighters from Daraa, for his personal protection.

The plan was reportedly discovered by figures within the administration, which is what is understood to have been behind both the assault at the Political Security Directorate building in late February and his subsequent dismissal.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.