Tariq Aziz, a Chaldean Catholic who represented Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein’s government on the world stage as foreign minister and deputy prime minister, died June 5 after
suffering a heart attack.
Aziz, 79, died in a hospital in the southern Iraq city of Nasiriya after being transferred from a prison where he had been held under a death sentence since being convicted in 2010 for his role in the 1992 execution of more than three dozen merchants found guilty of profiteering and for his role in the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq.
Despite belonging to Iraq’s Christian minority, Aziz rose to the highest ranks of Saddam’s Sunni Muslim-dominated government. The two began working together in the 1950s when both were activists in the then-banned Baath Party. As Saddam rose in power, Aziz was at his side, serving as one of the most visible of the Iraqi dictator’s lieutenants.
He served as Iraq’s foreign minister from 1983 to 1991 and deputy prime minister between 1979 and 2003.