Zeki was born in 1862 in Aleppo, and, referring to his hometown, he is also known as Halepli Zeki Pasha. After graduating from the Military Academy in 1886, he served with the Imperial Guard and the Ottoman General Staff. During the Turco-Greek War of 1897 he was with the Army of Alasonia. He became a general in 1900 and afterwards, until the First World War, he undertook several posts, including commander of the fortified zone of Edirne, Governor of Mosul, commander of the 2nd Division, and commander of the Army of Vardar.
Before the start of the First World War, he was serving as the inspector of the Second Army in Damascus. With the beginning of the war, when the Inspectorate of the Second Army was reestablished under the name of the 4th Army, he was appointed as its commander in September 1914.As the First World War broke out, Halepli Zeki Pasha was the commander of the Fourth Army. However, he did not stay at that post for a long time. On November 21, 1914, he was appointed as the Ottoman liaison officer to Kaiser Wilhelm II and sent to Germany. He led the Ottoman delegation that signed the armistice with Russia on December 15, 1917. After the armistice, he returned to Istanbul and served as the Chief of Ottoman General Staff from October 23, 1920 to November 1, 1922. Between October 23, 1920 and November 1, 1922, Zeki Pasha served as the Chief of General Staff and retired from the army in 1923. He retired from the military in 1923. Halepli Zeki Pasha passed away in 1943.