DAMASCUS, Syria — The ruling Baath Party elected Bashar Assad its leader Sunday, the state news agency SANA said, paving the way for him to succeed his father as head of state.
The Baath regional command has already put Assad forward as its candidate for president, and he has been appointed commander in chief of the armed forces. His father, President Hafez Assad, died June 10.
SANA said the Baath Party will elect a new regional command today. The composition of the command will give a measure of the power Assad has accumulated and reveal how many of the old guard will remain.
Assad has made clear that he will follow the foreign policy of his father toward Israel and refuse to accept a peace deal that does not return all of the Golan Heights to Syria. Israel has insisted on security guarantees that might require its presence in the Golan, along with water rights to the Sea of Galilee.