Luai al-Atassi

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Luai al-Atassi (1926-2003) was a Syrian military leader and Head of State (March 9 - July 27, 1963). He was born in Homs to a politically prominent family, and studied at the Military Academy in that city. He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and rose to become chief of Military Protocol under his kinsman, President Hashim al-Atassi in 1954. Luai served as military attaché at the Syrian embassy in Cairo and became an adherent of the Pan-Arab nationalism of Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser. In 1958 Atassi strongly supported the union of Syria and Egypt in the United Arab Republic and criticized the coup in Syria that dissolved it in 1961. He went on to serve as military attaché at the Syrian embassy in Washington, D.C. He was recalled to Damascus to testify against Nasserist officers charged in a coup seeking to restore the UAR. He refused to condemn the officers and was himself imprisoned. On March 8, 1963, the military wing of the Baath party seized power, released Atassi, and appointed him Chairman of the National Revolutionary Command Council charged with administering executive authority. He was vested with limited presidential powers, and became Head of state in that capacity. However his position was mostly ceremonial, and he resigned four months later on July 27, 1963. He then retired to his native Homs where he lived for another four decades and took no further part in military or political activity. His complete detachment from public life after his retirement is credited with saving him from serious molestation from the Assad regime that overthrew his kinsman President Noureddin al-Atassi in 1970.

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