Iraqi Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and a close advisor of President Saddam Hussein. Born Mikhail Yuhanna, in Tel Keppe, Iraq. He was married to Violet Yusef Nobud and he had four children. Known for his love of cigars and heavy set black glasses, Aziz rose to global prominence during the first Gulf War in 1991, when he served as the Iraqi Foreign Minister (1983–1991) and the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister (1979–2003). His close association with Saddam Hussein began in the 1950's when they were both activists for the then-banned Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. Although he was an Arab Nationalist he was in fact an ethnic Chaldean, and a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church. Because of security concerns, Saddam rarely left Iraq, so Aziz would often represent Iraq at high-level diplomatic summits. What the United States wanted, he averred, was not "regime change" in Iraq but rather "region change". He said that the Bush Administration's reasons for war were "oil and Israel." He surrendered to American troops on April 24, 2003, shortly after the fall of Baghdad. He was held in prison, first by American forces and subsequently by the Iraqi government, in Camp Cropper in western Baghdad. He was acquitted of some charges on March 1, 2009 following a trial, but was sentenced to 15 years on March 11, 2009 for the executions of 42 merchants found guilty of profiteering in 1992 and another 7 years for relocating Kurds. On October 26, 2010, he was sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal, which sparked regional and international condemnation from Iraqi bishops and other Iraqis, the Vatican, the United Nations, the European Union and Amnesty International, as well as various governments around the world, including Russia. On October 28, 2010, it was reported that Tariq Aziz, as well as twenty-five fellow prison inmates, had begun a hunger strike to protest the fact that they could not receive their once-monthly visit from friends and relatives, which was normally set for the last Friday of each month. In November 2010, it was reported that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani declared that he would not sign Aziz's execution order, thus commuting his death sentence to indefinite life imprisonment. Aziz died in prison after suffering a heart attack, he was 79 years old.
Bio by: Jay Lance