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HARD-LINE BAATHISTS CONSOLIDATE CONTROL IN SYRIA
General Hafiz'to the chairmanship of Syria's Revolutionary Command Council onuly appears to solidify hard-line Baathist control of Syria's government.
Hafiz, vho is believed responsible for the regime's recent bloody suppression of pro-Nasir and other anti-Baathist elements, now holds most of the key positions in the government. Besidesthe chairmanship of the Command Council, he is armyin chief, minister of defense and interior, and deputy to civilian Premier Salah Bitar.
Former chairman and army chief Atasi's conciliatory policy toward the regime's enemies, including Nasir, was probably the cause of his Hafiz' rise appears to
ortent that the younger and tougher military faction of the Baath is in the ascendancy and already may dominate the party. It also puts in doubt the future of Bitar, who has reportedly been losing support among the Baathist membership.
Egypt's attitude toward the change is probablyby the reaction of the Cairo-controlled Middle East News Agency, which calls Hafiz Syria's "absolute ruler." The agency claims the change means that the Baathists Intend to continue the "killings and arrests of the Syrian people."
INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY SUMMARY