Bashar al Assad

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Person.png Bashar al-Assad   WebsiteRdf-icon.png
Asma Queen.jpg
Meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace in December 2002
Born Bashar Hafez al-Assad
1965-09-11
Damascus, Syria
Alma mater Damascus University
Religion Islam
Children • Hafez Zein
• Karim
Parents • Hafez al-Assad
• Anisa Makhlouf
Spouse Asma al-Assad
Party Syrian Ba'ath Party

Bashar al-Assad (born 11 September 1965) is the 19th and current President of Syria, elected first on 17 July 2000 and re-elected in 2007 and 2014.

Having married his British wife Asma in December 2000, and following a visit to Syria by Tony Blair in November 2001,[1] Bashar and Asma al-Assad were invited to pay an official visit to the United Kingdom in December 2002.[2]

By March 2016, five years after the Arab Spring violence first erupted in Syria, some 250,000 Syrians had lost their lives and more than 11 million others forced from their homes as the Syrian Arab Army, supported by Iran's Hezbollah militia and Vladimir Putin's Russia, were battling with those opposed to Bashar al-Assad, including the NATO-backed Free Syrian Army, Al Nusra jihadis, Al Qaeda's White Helmets, the US-backed Kurdish YPG forces and Israeli-backed ISIS militants.[3]

On 7 April 2017, President Donald Trump launched 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian airforce base in response to the alleged sarin gas bombing of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province on 4 April 2017, which the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported had resulted in the death of more than 80 people. Syria's air defences and electronic counter measures were reported to have destroyed 34 of the cruise missiles.[4] Without providing supporting evidence, Trump said:

"On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack."[5]

Commentators were quick to refute the Trump Administration narrative,[6] and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to Moscow on 12 April 2017 to apologise for the cruise missile attack.[7]

On 27 April 2017, Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he and Prime Minister Theresa May agreed that in the event of "another chemical attack by the Assad regime", it would be hard for the UK to refuse any request from the US to join airstrikes:

"If the United States has a proposal to have some sort of action in response to a chemical weapons attack, and if they come to us and ask for our support, whether it is with submarine cruise missiles in the Med or whatever it happens to be, in my view, and I know this is also the view of Prime Minister, it would be very difficult for us to say no,” told the BBC. Asked if any UK strikes against Syria would need approval from the House of Commons (to be dissolved on 3 May for the UK/2017 General Election), Johnson said: “I think that needs to be tested."[8]

Medical background

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 al-Assad 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 occupation of Lebanon in 1998.

Elected President

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 elections, he received 99.7% and 97.6% support, respectively, in referendums on his leadership.[9][10][11]

President Assad, targeted by NATO for regime change

On 16 July 2014, Assad was sworn in for another seven-year term after taking 88.7% of votes in the first contested presidential election in Ba'athist Syria's history.[12][13][14] The election was criticised by media outlets as "tightly controlled" and without independent election monitors, while an international delegation led by allies of Assad issued a statement asserting that the election was "free, fair and transparent".[15][16][17] The Assad government describes itself as secular,[18] while some experts claim that the government exploits sectarian tensions in the country and relies upon the Alawite minority to remain in power.[19][20]

Insurgency

Once 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 insurgency.[21][22][23] During the insurgency, an inquiry by the United Nations reported finding evidence which implicated Assad in war crimes.[24] In June 2014, Assad was included in a list of war crimes indictments of government officials and rebels handed to the International Criminal Court.[25] Assad has rejected allegations of war crimes, and criticised the American-led intervention in Syria for attempting regime change.[26][27] After the election of Donald Trump, the priority of the United States concerning Assad was initially not to force him out of power, but this policy quickly reversed in the wake of the 2017 Khan Sheikhun chemical attack.[28][29]

 

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Destroying SyriaArticle23 January 2018Philip GiraldiFormer CIA officer Philip Giraldi says the United States has zero evidence on the Syrian conflict. Someone should remind the President that similar scenarios did not turn out very well in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
President Bashar al Assad - Interview 17 June 2013interview17 June 2013Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung editorial staffAn interview with Syrian President Basher al-Assad
President Bashar al Assad - Interview 3 March 2013interview3 March 2013Sunday Times editorial staff
The Trump Administration’s Syria Gas Attack Narrative Continues to UnravelArticle18 April 2017Michael KriegerUnited States Government: "They Lied About Iraq; They Lied About Libya; They're Lying About Syria."


References

  1. "Rifkind attacks Blair's 'unwise' mission to the Middle East"
  2. "Flashback to 2001: Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to British Prime Minister Tony Blair: ‘Stop Bombing Afghan Civilians’"
  3. "Syria: The story of the conflict"
  4. "Trump Humilated: Syria Shoots Down 34 of 59 Cruise Missiles, Russia to Upgrade System Soon"
  5. "Trump launches attack on Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles"
  6. "The Trump Administration’s Syria Gas Attack Narrative Continues to Unravel"
  7. "Trump Apologised to Russia for Syria Attack"
  8. "MPs attack Boris Johnson remarks about strikes against Assad"
  9. "Syrians Vote For Assad in Uncontested Referendum". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 28 May 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  10. "Syria's Assad wins another term". BBC News. 29 May 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  11. "Democracy Damascus style: Assad the only choice in referendum". The Guardian. 28 May 2007. 
  12. "Confident Assad launches new term in stronger position". Reuters. 16 July 2014. 
  13. Evans, Dominic (28 April 2014). "Assad seeks re-election as Syrian civil war rages". Reuters. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  14. "UK's William Hague attacks Assad's Syria elections plan". BBC News. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  15. "Syria's Assad wins presidential vote in landslide". Daily Mail. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  16. "Foreign delegation in Syria slams West, endorses elections". The Times of India. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  17. "Bashar al-Assad sworn in for a third term as Syrian president". The Daily Telegraph. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  18. Bronner 2007, p. 63.
  19. "Flight of Icarus? The PYD's Precarious Rise in Syria" (PDF). International Crisis Group. 8 May 2014. p. 23. Retrieved 4 October 2014. The regime aims to compel people to take refuge in their sectarian and communitarian identities; to split each community into competing branches, dividing those who support it from those who oppose it 
  20. Meuse, Alison (18 April 2015). "Syria's Minorities: Caught Between Sword Of ISIS And Wrath of Assad". NPR. Retrieved 19 April 2015. Karim Bitar, a Middle East analyst at Paris think tank IRIS [...] says [...] "Minorities are often used as a shield by authoritarian regimes, who try to portray themselves as protectors and as a bulwark against radical Islam." 
  21. "Syria's Assad tightens grip after four years of war". Daily Mail. Agence France-Presse. 12 April 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  22. Bassem Mroue (18 April 2011). "Bashar Assad Resignation Called For By Syria Sit-In Activists". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  23. "Arab League to offer 'safe exit' if Assad resigns". CNN. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  24. "UN implicates Bashar al-Assad in Syria war crimes". BBC News. 2 December 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  25. Nebehay, Stephanie (10 June 2014). "Assad tops list of Syria war crimes suspects handed to ICC: former prosecutor". Reuters. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  26. King, Esther (2 November 2016). "Assad denies responsibility for Syrian war". Politico. Retrieved 21 December 2016. The Syrian president maintained he was fighting to preserve his country and criticised the West for intervening. “Good government or bad, it’s not your mission” to change it, he said. 
  27. Staff writer(s) (6 October 2016). "'Bombing hospitals is a war crime,' Syria's Assad says". ITV News. Retrieved 21 December 2016. The intense bombardment of Aleppo during an army offensive that began two weeks ago has included several strikes on hospitals, residents and medical workers there have said. But Assad denied any knowledge of such attacks, saying that there were only "allegations". 
  28. "U.S. priority on Syria no longer focused on 'getting Assad out': Haley". Reuters. 30 March 2017. 
  29. Treene, Alayna (6 April 2017). "Tillerson: U.S. will lead coalition to oust Assad".