Hafez al-Assad

President of Syria From 1970–2000
Born Oct 6, 1930

Hafez al-Assad was a Syrian statesman, politician and general who served as Prime Minister of Syria between 1970 and 1971 and then President between 1971 and 2000. He also served as Secretary of the Syrian Regional Command of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party and Secretary General of the National Command of the Ba'ath Party from 1970 to 2000 and Minister of Defense from 1966 to 1972.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Hafez al-Assad.


1930 Birth Born on October 6, 1930.
1936 5 Years Old In 1936, he was one of 80 Alawite notables who signed a letter addressed to the French Prime Minister saying that "the Alawi people rejected attachment to Syria and wished to stay under French protection." … Read More


1949 18 Years Old …  While still a teenager, Assad became increasingly prominent in the party as an organizer and recruiter, head of his school's student-affairs committee from 1949 to 1951 and president of the Union of Syrian Students. … Read More
1950 19 Years Old 1 More Event
After graduating from high school Assad wanted to be a medical doctor, but his father could not pay for his study at the Jesuit University of St. Joseph in Beirut. Instead, in 1950 he decided to join the Syrian Armed Forces. … Read More


1955 24 Years Old 1 More Event
Assad graduated in 1955, after which he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Syrian Air Force. … Read More
1956 25 Years Old When Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, Syria feared retaliation from the United Kingdom, and Assad flew in an air-defense mission. … Read More
In his early 20s, he married Anisa Makhlouf in 1957, a distant relative of a powerful family. In 1954, the military split in a revolt against President Adib Shishakli. Hashim al-Atassi, head of the National Bloc and briefly president after Sami al-Hinnawi's coup, returned as president and Syria was again under civilian rule. After 1955, Atassi's hold on the country was increasingly shaky. As a result of the 1955 election Atassi was replaced by Shukri al-Quwatli, who was president before Syria's independence from France.


1961 30 Years Old After Syria left the UAR in September 1961, Assad and other Ba'athist officers were removed from the military by the new government in Damascus, and he was given a minor clerical position at the Ministry of Transport.
1962 31 Years Old Assad played a minor role in the failed 1962 military coup, for which he was jailed in Lebanon and later repatriated. … Read More
Assad was promoted to major and then to lieutenant colonel, and by the end of 1963 was in charge of the Syrian Air Force. … Read More
1965 34 Years Old …  At the Eighth National Congress in 1965 Assad was elected to the National Command, the party's highest decision-making body. … Read More
1968 37 Years Old 1 More Event
…  When the Ba'athist Iraqi Regional Branch (which continued to support the Aflaqite leadership) took control of Iraq in the 17 July Revolution, Assad was one of the few high-level politicians wishing to reconcile with them; he called for the establishment of an "Eastern Front" with Iraq against Israel in 1968. … Read More
1969 38 Years Old 1 More Event
In February 1969, the Assad-Jadid conflict erupted in violent clashes through their respective proteges: Rifaat al-Assad (Assad's brother and a high-ranking military commander) and Jundi. … Read More
1970 39 Years Old 1 More Event
When the National Congress ended on 12 November 1970, Assad ordered loyalists to arrest leading members of Jadid's government. … Read More


1971 40 Years Old …  The new relationship bore fruit, and between February 1971 and October 1973 Assad met several times with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. … Read More
1973 42 Years Old At 14:05 on 6 October 1973, Egyptian forces (attacking through the Sinai desert) and Syrian forces (attacking the Golan Heights) crossed the border into Israel and penetrated the Israeli defense lines. … Read More
1976 45 Years Old 1 More Event
In early 1976 Assad was approached by Lebanese politicians for help in forcing the resignation of Suleiman Frangieh, the Christian President of Lebanon. … Read More
…  The Seventh Regional Congress, in 1980, was held in an atmosphere of crisis. … Read More


1983 52 Years Old In November 1983 Assad, a diabetic, had a major heart attack complicated by phlebitis; this triggered a succession crisis. … Read More
1984 53 Years Old During the early 1980s, Syria's economy worsened; by mid-1984, the food crisis was severe, and the press was full of complaints. … Read More
1985 54 Years Old Until his 1985 ouster, Rifaat al-Assad was considered the face of corruption by the Syrian people. … Read More
1986 55 Years Old Bassel al-Assad became a security officer at the Presidential Palace in 1986, and a year later he was appointed Commander of the Defense Companies. … Read More


1991 - 1997 4 More Events
1998 67 Years Old 1 More Event
By 1998 Bashar al-Assad had made inroads into the Ba'ath Party, taking over Khaddam's Lebanon portfolio (a post he had held since the 1970s).
1999 68 Years Old 1 More Event
His spokesperson ignored the speculation, and Assad's official routine in 1999 was basically unchanged from the previous decade.
2000 69 Years Old 1 More Event
On 10 June 2000, at the age of 69, Hafez al-Assad died of a heart attack while on the telephone with Lebanese prime minister Hoss. 40 days of mourning was declared in Syria and 7 days in Lebanon thereafter. … Read More
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