"I am carrying my pistol to confirm to you that we are ready to fight the aggressors, American soldiers are nothing but mercenaries and they will be defeated." 1
In 1936 Tareq Aziz was born to a Chaldean Christian family. His birth name is Mikhail Yuhanna and his family lived in Northern Iraq. Aziz graduated from Baghdad College of Fine Arts, where he studied English. Upon graduating, he became a journalist.
In the early sixties, Aziz became a member of the Baath Party and spent most of the 60's in Syria. When asked by Frontline why he joined this party he said
For a young man at that time, such a government was not tolerated. We had to find an alternative. There was the communist ideology. There was the liberal system, which we read about in the books. And there was the nationalist movement--the Arab Socialist Party. . . . When I learned about the Arab Socialist Party, I felt from the very beginning that that's the best choice. It seeks independence and Arab unity. Even before the politicians, we were sympathizing with the Palestinian tragedy. We sympathized with any nationalist movement, and sympathized with socialism, because we belonged to the poor segment of the society and naturally sympathized with socialist ideas and practices. I read books about socialism, European socialism. Therefore, I sympathized with the Arab Socialist Party, and I joined and became an activist." 1
After the Baath Party took power in 1968, Aziz became the editor of the party newspaper and was later appointed cultural and information minister. Once Saddam took power in 1979, he helped run Iraq's foreign policy and in 1983 became foreign minister of Iraq.
Many Muslims have criticized Aziz for his Catholic background. In fact, he was the target of an assassination attempt by Islamic militants in 1980.
Aziz has become the chief spokesman for Iraq during and after the Gulf War. Today Aziz is deputy prime minister and in charge of Iraqi foreign affairs.
Update, the 8 of spades on the Deck of Death was brought into US custody on April 24, 2003.
Opening quote taken from Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53565-2003Mar19.html. There are several good Frontline interviews about Aziz including the one I cited which is found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saddam/interviews/aziz.html. If you are looking for an interview with him on the Gulf War, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/oral/aziz/1.html. Also the bio of Aziz can be found at many new sites and this is a compilation of them