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Al-Assad family
"Al-Assad" redirects here. For other uses, see Asad.
The al-Assad family (Arabic: عَائِلَة الْأَسَد‎‎ ʿāʾilat al-ʾAsad) has ruled Syria since Hafez al-Assad became President of Syria in 1971 and established an authoritarian to totalitarian regime under the control of the Ba'ath Party. After his death in June 2000, his son Bashar succeeded him.[1]
Al-Assad Family
عَائِلَة الْأَسَد
ʿāʾilat al-ʾAsad

The al-Assad family, c. 1993. Front: Hafez al-Assad and his wife, Anisa Makhlouf. Rear, left to right: Maher, Bashar, Bassel, Majd, and Bushra al-Assad
Current regionLatakia
Place of originSyria
MembersHafez al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Maher al-Assad
Rifaat al-Assad
Connected familiesMakhlouf, Shalish
The Assads are originally from Qardaha, just east of Latakia in north-west Syria. They are members of the minority Alawite sect and belong to the Kalbiyya tribe.[2] The family name Assad goes back to 1927, when Ali Sulayman (1875–1963) changed his last name to al-Assad, Arabic for "the lion", possibly in connection with his social standing as a local mediator and his political activities. All members of the extended Assad family stem from Ali Sulayman and his second wife Naissa, who came from a village in the An-Nusayriyah Mountains.[3]
Family connections continue to be important in Syrian politics. Several close family members of Hafez al-Assad have held important positions in the government since his rise to power and continuing after his death.[4][5]
Origin
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The Assad family originates from Sulayman al-Wahsh, Hafez Assad's grandfather, who lived in the northern Syrian mountains in the village of Qardaha. The locals reportedly nicknamed him "Wahsh", Arabic for "wild beast", because he was physically strong and a good fighter. Al-Wahhish remained the family name until the 1920s when it was changed to al-Assad, Arabic for "lion". Because of Sulayman's reported strength and marksmanship, he was respected in his village. At the outbreak of the World War I, the Ottoman governor of the Aleppo Vilayet sent troops to the area to collect taxes and round up recruits. The troops reportedly were fought off by Sulayman and his friends who were only armed with sabres and old muskets.[6] Because Sulayman was respected, he was a local mediator between quarreling families. He was also one of the local chieftains who were the de facto rulers of the area. The chieftains from the powerful families would provide protection to their neighbours and in return they gained loyalty and respect.[7]
Hafez al-Assad's father Ali Sulayman al-Assad, who was born in 1875, inherited many similar characteristics of his own father and became well-respected among the locals. For his accomplishments, he was called al-Assad, the lion, by the locals.[8] He made his nickname a surname in 1927.[9] He lived until 1963, long enough to see his son's rise to power. He married twice and over three decades had eleven children. His first wife Sa'ada was from the district of Haffeh. They had three sons and two daughters. His second wife was Na'isa, twenty years younger than him. She was the daughter of Uthman Abbud from the village of Al-Qutailibiyah, a dozen kilometres further up the mountain. They had a daughter and five sons. Hafez was born on 6 October 1930 and was the fourth child.[10]
The family religion of al-Assad is Shia Islam, more specifically the Alawite sect.
Hafez's family
Hafez al-Assad
President Hafez al-Assad with his family in the early 1970s. Left to right: Bashar, Maher, Anisa Makhlouf, Majid, Bushra, and Bassel
Hafez al-Assad (1930–2000). President of Syria 1971–2000.
Anisa Makhlouf (1930–2016), wife of Hafez and First Lady.[11]
Hafez's siblings
Jamil al-Assad
Rifaat al-Assad and Hafez in the early 1980s
Jamil al-Assad (1932–2004), parliamentarian and commander of a minor militia. Politically marginalized years before his death.[5]
Children:
Rifaat al-Assad
Rifaat al-Assad (born 1937). Formerly a powerful security chief and commander of the Defense Companies, who was responsible for the 1982 Hama massacre. After attempting a coup d'état in 1987, he went into exile in France and now lives in London.[28] He is married with four wives:
Amira al-Assad, a cousin[27]
Sana' Makhlouf, from the family of Hafez's wife[27]
Raja Barakat, from a wealthy Sunni Damascene family[27]
Lina al-Khayer, sister in law of the late Saudiking Abdullah bin Abdulaziz[27]
Rifaat has a number of children from these marriages, including:
Shalish family
Sister of Hafez al-Assad married into the Shalish family. The family through paternal cousin General Dhu al Himma al-Shalish maintains a significant level of influence in the Bashar al-Assad government. The Shalishes are mainly active in the automobile and construction sectors. American government sources also report that the Shalish family has engaged in a wide range of illicit activities including smuggling and money laundering.[32]
Ahmed al-Assad
Ahmed al-Assad, was an older half-brother of Hafez al-Assad from Ali Sulayman's first wife Sa'ada.[39]
Anwar al-Assad,
Ibrahim al-Assad
Ibrahim al-Assad, was an older half-brother of Hafez al-Assad from Ali Sulayman's first wife Sa'ada. He was married to Umm Anwar who took over the smuggling business of her son Malek.[42]
Malek al-Assad was the first known smuggler in the Assad family.[42]
About Hafez's siblings who died early: Bayat, Bahijat and an unknown sister almost nothing is known.[3]
Anisa's siblings
Makhlouf family
The Makhloufs belong to the Alawi Haddad tribe,[27][43] both Hafez and Rifaat are related through marriage to the Makhloufs. The Makhlouf family rose from humble beginnings to become the financial advisor to Hafez al-Assad after the former President married Makhlouf's sister. The family headed by Mohammad Makhlouf has established a vast financial empire in the telecommunication, retail, banking, power generation, and oil and gas sectors.[32] The net worth of the family was estimated in 2010 to be at least five billion dollars.[15][44]
Hafez's cousins
Other relatives
References
Citations
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  2. ^ McConville, Patrick Seale with the assistance of Maureen (1990). Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-520-06976-3. Kalbiya seale.
  3. ^ a b Martin Stäheli: Die syrische Außenpolitik unter Hafiz Assad, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-515-07867-3; p. 40
  4. ^ Robin Wright (22 February 2008). "Sanctions on Businessman Target Syria's Inner Sanctum". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 20 August 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
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  6. ^ Seale 1990, p. 3.
  7. ^ Seale 1990, p. 4.
  8. ^ Zahler 2009, p. 25.
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  10. ^ Seale 1990, p. 5.
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Bibliography
External links
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Last edited on 12 April 2021, at 01:40
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