Aziz was born in 1936 in the northern city of Mosul to a family of little means. He was originally named Michael Yuhanna but changed his name to Tariq Aziz, which means "glorious past", to be more acceptable to the Muslim majority.
Aziz studied English literature at the Baghdad College of Fine Arts, and launched a career as a journalist in 1985. He worked at several Iraqi newspapers, and was chief editor at two: al-Jamaheer and al-Thawra, the Ba'ath Party's newspaper. It was during this time that Aziz first met Saddam Hussein.
His support for the Ba'ath Party strong, he began to rise through the ranks of Iraqi politics after his party came to power in 1968. He served as a member of the Regional Command, the Ba'ath party's highest governing unit, from 1974 to 1977, and in 1977 became a member of Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council.
Aziz was named Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, where his primary role
is to act as diplomat and explain Iraq's policies to the world. In 1980,
shortly after assuming his new leadership role, he survived an assassination
attempt, which was reportedly Iranian-backed.
Aziz blamed the United States rather than the United Nations for the sanctions that followed the Gulf War, believing they were implemented as a result of U.S. government policies. He used these beliefs to back the expulsion of Americans working for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) in 1997.
-- By Jessica Moore, Online NewsHour