|“||I am Syrian, I was made in Syria, I have to live in Syria and die in Syria.||„|
|~ Bashar al-Assad|
Bashar Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: بشار حافظ الأسد Baššār Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsad, Levantine pronunciation: [baʃˈʃaːr ˈħaːfezˤ elˈʔasad]; born September 11, 1965) is the current President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Syrian-led branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party since 2000 after the death of his father Hafez al-Assad , who had ruled Syria for over 29 years. Initally touted as a reformer for his country, many critics have said that his regime is worse than his father's, with some of the worst known human rights violations occurring.
Al-Assad graduated from the medical school of the University of Damascus in 1988 and he started to work as a physician in the army. 4 years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital, in London, specializing in ophthalmology. In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel, the heir apparent to their father Hafez al-Assad, was killed in a car crash, Bashar was hastily recalled to Syria to take over his role. He entered the military academy and he took charge of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 1998. In December 2000, al-Assad married Asma Assad (née Akhras). He was elected as President of Syria in 2000, 2007 and 2014, unopposed each time.
Initially seen by the domestic and international community as a potential reformer and gaining the nickname "The Hope," this expectation gave way to the events of the Syrian civil war. The domestic Syrian opposition and large parts of the wider international community - namely the European Union and the Arab League - have subsequently called for al-Assad's resignation from power.
Human Rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have detailed how the Assad government's secret police allegedly tortured, imprisoned, and killed political opponents, and those who speak out against the government. In addition, some 600 Lebanese political prisoners are thought to be held in government prisons since the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, with some held for as long as over 30 years. Since 2006, the Assad government has expanded the use of travel bans against political dissidents. In an interview with ABC News in 2007, Assad stated: "We don't have such [things as] political prisoners," though The New York Times reported the arrest of 30 Syrian political dissidents who were organizing a joint opposition front in December 2007, with 3 members of this group considered to be opposition leaders being remanded in custody.
During the Iraq war Assad was believed to have Al-Qaeda fighters into Iraq to kill coalition troops and try to start a preemptive war with the US and it's allies. He was backed by Iran in its proxy war for control of the region.
The bloody response to the popular demand for political change led to an utterly devastating civil war which has claimed more than half a million lives and drove millions of Syrians to flee the country. To maintain their leader, Assad's forces used war techniques such as torture, terror, massive execution of prisoners, massacres, genocide, bombing hospitals and schools, rape, toxic gas attacks on civilians and bombing civilian homes. More than 600,000 people have been killed since he started the war on his own people. These atrocities have caused several other sovereign governments - including those of the United States and France - to demand that al-Assad be investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity. al-Assad has already been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and an ad hoc tribunal to investigate al-Assad's government has also been proposed. Assad has rejected allegations of war crimes and criticized the American-led intervention in Syria for attempting regime change.
There have also been accusations that al-Assad is secretly funding The Islamic State and that his military were training jihadist fighters for their cause, despite it seeming at that the secular Syrian government is fighting the Islamist opposition. The Syrian National Coalition has stated that the Assad government has operatives inside ISIS, as has the leadership of Ahrar al-Sham (a coalition of Salafist groups.) ISIS members captured by the Free Syrian Army have claimed that they were directed to commit attacks by Assad regime operatives.
The United States, the European Union, the March 14 Alliance, and France accuse Assad of providing support to militant groups active against Israel and opposition political groups. The latter category would include most political parties other than Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Assad stated the U.S. could benefit from the Syrian experience in fighting organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood at the Hama massacre.
Assad has frequently been defended by those affiliated with the Alt-Right movement, both before and during the Syrian Civil War. David Duke hosted a televised speech on Syrian national television in 2005. He has also received praise from Nick Griffin and the BNP, the National Front, the Golden Dawn, and Steve Bannon. Others who have spoken highly of him include Vladimir Putin (who continues to support his regime financially and militarily), former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former South African president Jacob Zuma, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Around 125,000 or more have estimated to have been killed inside Assad's prison network so far.
- Assad is known for his calm, charismatic demeanor, a fact that surprises many journalists. In fact, after his father passed, he was initially seen as a reformer for the country.
- However, journalists have noted that he is extremely paranoid in interviews, to the point where there have been incidents when journalists would point a microphone to him, he would immediately jump, fearing for his life.
- In addition to Arabic, Assad is fluent in English and French.