30 Little Known Facts About Bashar al-Assad Everyone Must Know

Bashar al-Assad
(Photo : Pan Photo Agency)

Bashar al-Assad, the 19th President of Syria, since 17 July 2000, with his leadership, was one considered to be a potential reformer by the United States, the European League as well as the majority of the Arab League. He was re-elected as the President in 2021 with over 95% of the vote in national presidential election. Here are some really interesting facts about the President, which you may not have known before:

    Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Yerevan"Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Yerevan" by PAN Photo Agency is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

  1.  Following the death of the then-president Hafez al-Assad, the Constitution of Syria was amended to lower the minimum age requirement for the presidency from 40 to 34, which was Bashar’s age at that time.
  2.  He was confirmed President with 97.29% support for his leadership on July 10, 2000, and was also appointed the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party.
  3.  Following his appointment as President, a reform movement led to the shutdown of Mezzeh prison, during the Damascus Spring, and the declaration of a wide-ranging amnesty releasing hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated political prisoners.
  4.  Bashar Hafez al-Assad was born on September 11, 1965 to Hafez al-Assad and Anisa Makhlouf in Damascus. He has one elder sister, and three brothers. A sister named Bushra died in infancy.
  5.  His paternal grandfather Ali Sulayman al-Assad managed to change the status of the family from peasant to minor notable in the early 1920s. He was appointed by the French administration to an official post, in 1923.
  6.  Reflecting to his accomplishments, the local residents gave him the nickname “al-Assad.” His grandfather changed the family name from Wahsh (meaning “Savage”) to Al-Assad, which means “The Lion” in Arabic.
  7.  His sister Bushra al-Assad is a pharmacist married to General Assef Shawkat. They have five children together. Shawkat was the deputy-chief of staff of the Syrian army and the former head of military intelligence, before he was killed on 18 July 2012 in a bombing in Damascus, during the Syrian Civil War.
  8.  Following the death of her husband, Bushra moved to United Arab Emirates in the year 2012. His mother followed her and left Syria in 2013. His mother passed away in Damascus in the year 2016.
  9.  His brother Bassel al-Assad was the original candidate for the Presidential succession, but he died in a car accident on January 21, 1994. He was trained as a civil engineer, and he held a PhD in military sciences.
  10.  His brother Majid al-Assad has mostly stayed out of the limelight. He was an electrical engineer, who was reported to have a history of severe mental problems. He died after a long, unspecified illness on December 12, 2009 in Damascus.
  11. Presidente de Siria Bashar Al Assad recibiendo al presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez"Presidente de Siria Bashar Al Assad recibiendo al presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez" by chavezcandanga is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

  12.  His brother Maher al-Assad is the commander of the Republican Guard, which are also known as the Presidential Guard. He is also known by many to be the most ruthless in the Al-Assad family.
  13.  Bashar received his primary and secondary education in the Arab-French al-Hurriya School in Damascus. He studied medicine at Damascus University.
  14.  During his childhood days, he was known to be reserved and lacked interest in anything related to politics or military. He was described as "soft-spoken" and “timid” who avoided eye contact with anyone.
  15.  He graduated from medical school in the year 1988, and started his career as an army doctor at the Tishrin Military Hospital on the outskirts of Damascus.
  16.  He moved to London, after serving four years in the Tishrin Military Hospital. He started a postgraduate training in ophthalmology at the Western Eye Hospital.
  17.  However, with the sudden death of his brother Bassel, his father Hafez al-Assad recalled Bashar to the Syrian Army, to make him the new heir apparent.
  18.  He was trained for the next six and a half years by his father, with preparations for smooth transitions made on three levels – building support within the military, establishing public image and familiarizing the mechanisms of running the country.
  19.  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.
  20.  Assad opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq and used Syria's seat in one of the rotating positions on the United Nations Security Council to try to prevent the invasion of Iraq.
  21.  He married Asma Akhras, a British citizen of Syrian origin from Acton, London, in December 2000. She was an investment banker prior to marriage.
  22. Bashar al-Assad & family"Bashar al-Assad & family" by delayed gratification is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

  23.  The couple welcomed their first child – a son, named Hafez after Bashar’s father – Hafez al-Assad, in the year 2001.The couple welcomed their daughter Zein al-Assad in the year 2003, and a son named Karim al-Assad the very next year.
  24.  January 26, 2011 marked the start of mass protests in Syria, with protestors calling for political reforms and the reinstatement of civil rights. Protests on March 18 -19, 2011 were the largest to take place in Syria for decades.
  25.  The protestors wanted an end to the state of emergency which had been in place since 1963, and the Syrian authority, under the leadership of Bashar, responded with violence.
  26.  In 2013, Bashar claimed in an interview that his wife was pregnant, but, till date there are no reports about the fourth child.
  27.  On August 8, 2018, it was revealed that Asma al-Assad has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and had begun treatment for early stages. A year later, Bashar publicly announced that she has fully recovered from the cancer.
  28.  In 2015, the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, issued a bounty worth millions of dollars for the killing of Assad. The head of the al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, said he would pay "three million euros ($3.4 million) for anyone who can kill Bashar al-Assad and end his story".
  29.  In 2015, Russia intervened in the Syrian Civil War in support of Assad, and on October 21, 2015, Assad flew to Moscow and met with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
  30.  The Presidential office announced that Bashar and his wife Asma have both tested positive for COVID-19 on March 8, 2021, and that they are in “good health with minor symptoms.”
  31.  Later on March 30, 2021, the Presidential office announced again that both of them had recovered completely from COVID, and have also tested negative.
  32.  On 30 August 2020, the Hussein Arnous government was formed, which included a new Council of Ministers, at the appointment of President Bashar al-Assad.
  33.  Bashar al-Assad Net Worth: $1.5 Billion

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