Bashar al-Assad

Marshal
Bashar al-Assad
بشار الأسد
Bashar al-Assad in Russia (2015-10-21) 08.jpg
Assad in Moscow in 2015
19th President of Syria
Assumed office
17 July 2000
Prime MinisterMuhammad Mustafa Mero
Muhammad Naji al-Otari
Adel Safar
Riyad Farid Hijab
Omar Ibrahim Ghalawanji
Wael Nader al-Halqi
Imad Khamis
Vice PresidentAbdul Halim Khaddam
Zuhair Masharqa
Farouk al-Sharaa
Najah al-Attar
Preceded byAbdul Halim Khaddam (Acting)
Regional Secretary of the Regional Command of the Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Assumed office
24 June 2000
DeputySulayman Qaddah
Mohammed Saeed Bekheitan
Hilal Hilal
LeaderAbdullah al-Ahmar
Preceded byHafez al-Assad
Personal details
BornBashar Hafez al-Assad
(1965-09-11) 11 September 1965 (age 52)
Damascus, Damascus Governorate, Syria
Political partySyrian Ba'ath Party
Other political
affiliations
National Progressive Front
Spouse(s)Asma al-Assad (m. 2000)
Children
  • Hafez (b. 2001)[1]
  • Zein (b. 2003)
  • Karim (b. 2004)
ParentsHafez al-Assad
Anisa Makhlouf
Alma materDamascus University
Military service
Allegiance Syria
Service/branchSyrian Armed Forces
Years of service1988–present
RankSyria-Army-Mushir.svg Marshal
UnitRepublican Guard (Before 2000)
CommandsSyrian Armed Forces
Battles/warsSyrian Civil War

Bashar Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: بشار حافظ الأسدBaššār Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsad, Levantine pronunciation: [baʃˈʃaːr ˈħaːfezˤ elˈʔasad]; About this sound English pronunciation ; born 11 September 1965) is the 19th and current President of Syria, holding the office since 17 July 2000. He is also commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces, Regional Secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party's branch in Syria. He is a son of Hafez al-Assad, who was President of Syria from 1971 to 2000.

Born and raised in Damascus, Assad graduated from the medical school of Damascus University in 1988, and started to work as a doctor in the Syrian Army. Four years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital in London, specialising in ophthalmology. In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel died in a car crash, Bashar was recalled to Syria to take over Bassel's role as heir apparent. He entered the military academy, taking charge of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon in 1998. On 10 July 2000, Assad was elected as President, succeeding his father, who died in office a month prior. In the 2000 and subsequent 2007 election, he received 99.7% and 97.6% support, respectively, in uncontested referendums on his leadership.[2][3][4]

On 16 July 2014, Assad was sworn in for another seven-year term after receiving 88.7% of votes in the first contested presidential election in Ba'athist Syria's history.[5][6][7] The election was dismissed as a "sham" by the Syrian opposition and its Western allies,[8][9] while an international delegation of observers from more than 30 countries[10] stated that the election was "free and fair".[11] The Assad government describes itself as secular,[12] while some political scientists have claimed that the government exploits sectarian tensions in the country and relies upon the Alawite minority to remain in power.[13][14]

Previously seen by the international community as a potential reformer, the United States, the European Union, and the majority of the Arab League called for Assad's resignation from the presidency after he allegedly ordered crackdowns and military sieges on Arab Spring protesters, which led to the Syrian Civil War.[15][16] During the Syrian Civil War, an inquiry by the United Nations reported finding evidence which implicated Assad in war crimes.[17] In June 2014, Assad was included in a list of war crimes indictments of government officials and rebels handed to the International Criminal Court.[18] Assad has rejected allegations of war crimes, and criticised the American-led intervention in Syria for attempting regime change.[19][20]

Early life

Childhood and education: 1965–1988

Hafez al-Assad with his family in the early 1970s. From left to right: Bashar, Maher, Anisa, Majd, Bushra, and Bassel.

Bashar Hafez al-Assad was born in Damascus on 11 September 1965, the second oldest son of Anisa Makhlouf and Hafez al-Assad.[21] Al-Assad in Arabic means "the Lion”. Assad's paternal grandfather had managed to change his status from peasant to minor notable and, to reflect this, in 1927 he had changed the family name from Wahsh (meaning "Savage") to Al-Assad.[22]

Assad's father, Hafez, was born to an impoverished rural family of Alawite background and rose through the Ba'ath Party ranks to take control of the Syrian branch of the Party in the 1970 Corrective Revolution, culminating in his rise to the Syrian presidency.[23] Hafez promoted his supporters within the Ba'ath Party, many of whom were also of Alawite background.[21][24] After the revolution, Alawite strongmen were installed while Sunnis, Druzes and Ismailis were removed from the army and Ba'ath party.[25]

Assad had five siblings, three of whom are deceased. A sister named Bushra died in infancy.[26] Assad's youngest brother, Majd, was not a public figure and little is known about him other than he was intellectually disabled,[27] and died in 2009 after a "long illness".[28]

The al-Assad family, c. 1993. At the front are Hafez and his wife, Anisa. At the back row, from left to right: Maher, Bashar, Bassel, Majd, and Bushra

Unlike his brothers Bassel and Maher, and second sister, also named Bushra, Bashar was quiet, reserved and lacked interest in politics or the military.[29][27][30] The Assad children reportedly rarely saw their father,[31] and Bashar later stated that he only entered his father's office once while he was president.[32] He was described as "soft-spoken",[33] and according to a university friend, he was very shy, avoiding eye contact and speaking in a low voice.[34]

Assad received his primary and secondary education in the Arab-French al-Hurriya School in Damascus.[29] In 1982, he graduated from high school and went on to study medicine at Damascus University.[35]

Medicine: 1988–1994

Bassel al-Assad, Bashar's older brother, died in 1994, paving the way for Bashar's future presidency.

In 1988, Assad graduated from medical school and began working as an army doctor at the Tishrin Military Hospital on the outskirts of Damascus.[36][37] Four years later, he went to London to begin postgraduate training in ophthalmology at the Western Eye Hospital.[38] He was described as a "geeky I.T. guy" during his time in London.[39] Bashar had few political aspirations,[40] and his father had been grooming Bashar's older brother Bassel as the future president.[41] However, Bassel died in a car accident in 1994 and Bashar was recalled to the Syrian Army shortly thereafter.

Rise to power: 1994–2000

Soon after the death of Bassel, Hafez al-Assad made the decision to make Bashar the new heir apparent.[42] Over the next six and half years, until his death in 2000, Hafez prepared Bashar for taking over power. Preparations for a smooth transition were made on three levels. First, support was built up for Bashar in the military and security apparatus. Second, Bashar's image was established with the public. And lastly, Bashar was familiarised with the mechanisms of running the country.[43]

To establish his credentials in the military, Bashar entered the military academy at Homs in 1994, and was propelled through the ranks to become a colonel of the elite Syrian Republican Guard in January 1999.[36][44][45] To establish a power base for Bashar in the military, old divisional commanders were pushed into retirement, and new, young, Alawite officers with loyalties to him took their place.[46]

In 1998, Bashar took charge of Syria's Lebanon file, which had since the 1970s been handled by Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, who had until then been a potential contender for president.[46] By taking charge of Syrian affairs in Lebanon, Bashar was able to push Khaddam aside and establish his own power base in Lebanon.[47] In the same year, after minor consultation with Lebanese politicians, Bashar installed Emile Lahoud, a loyal ally of his, as the President of Lebanon and pushed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri aside, by not placing his political weight behind his nomination as prime minister.[48] To further weaken the old Syrian order in Lebanon, Bashar replaced the long serving de facto Syrian High Commissioner of Lebanon, Ghazi Kanaan, with Rustum Ghazaleh.[49]

Parallel to his military career, Bashar was engaged in public affairs. He was granted wide powers and became head of the bureau to receive complaints and appeals of citizens, and led a campaign against corruption. As a result of this campaign, many of Bashar's potential rivals for president were put on trial for corruption.[36] Bashar also became the President of the Syrian Computer Society and helped to introduce the internet in Syria, which aided his image as a moderniser and reformer.[50]

Other Languages
العربية: بشار الأسد
aragonés: Baixar al-Assad
azərbaycanca: Bəşər Əsəd
تۆرکجه: بشار اسد
Bân-lâm-gú: Bashar al-Assad
беларуская: Башар Асад
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Башар Асад
Bikol Central: Bashar al-Assad,
български: Башар Асад
bosanski: Bašar el Asad
brezhoneg: Bashar al-Assad
Чӑвашла: Башар Асад
čeština: Bašár al-Asad
español: Bashar al-Ásad
Esperanto: Baŝar al-Asad
فارسی: بشار اسد
français: Bachar el-Assad
हिन्दी: बशर अल-असद
hrvatski: Bašar al-Asad
Bahasa Indonesia: Bashar al-Assad
Interlingue: Bashar al-Assad
íslenska: Bashar al-Assad
italiano: Bashar al-Assad
Kapampangan: Bashar al-Assad
қазақша: Башар әл-Асад
kurdî: Beşar Esed
Bahasa Melayu: Bashar al-Assad
Nederlands: Bashar al-Assad
नेपाली: बसर अल असद
нохчийн: Асад, Башар
norsk nynorsk: Bashar al-Assad
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Bashar al-Assad
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਬਸ਼ਰ ਅਲ-ਅਸਦ
پنجابی: بشار الاسد
Papiamentu: Bashar al-Assad
português: Bashar al-Assad
română: Bashar al-Assad
русский: Асад, Башар
саха тыла: Башар Асад
sicilianu: Bashar al-Assad
Simple English: Bashar al-Assad
slovenčina: Baššár al-Asad
slovenščina: Bašar al Asad
српски / srpski: Башар ел Асад
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Bašar al-Asad
татарча/tatarça: Bäşär Äsäd
Türkçe: Beşşar Esad
українська: Башар аль-Асад
vepsän kel’: Asad Bašar
Tiếng Việt: Bashar al-Assad
Yorùbá: Bashar al-Assad
粵語: 巴沙爾
Zazaki: Beşer Esad
डोटेली: बशर अल - असद