Hafez al-Assad

President of Syria from 1970–2000 Hafez al-Assad

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.
Hafez al-Assad's personal information overview.
10 June 2000
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Donald Trump, Your 'Rigged' Election Will Not Hijack My America
Huffington Post - over 1 year
I've had enough. I've sat idle witnessing Donald Trump become the Republican nominee for president, despite his lack of qualifications and general decency as a human being. He did that, while violating everything this country stands for. Recently he added the straw that broke the camel's back. (Which hit close to home in my case.) "Elections are rigged," Trump has repeated. Mr. Trump, allow me to tell you about rigged elections. Growing up in Damascus, Syria, my dad never allowed us to go vote. "It's not safe," he would say. I used to watch the "elections" on television. Hafez Al-Assad had been president for years and won every time by an overwhelming majority. One year without him knowing, I went with a friend to satisfy that itch for lofty principles we experience as teenagers - ready to conquer the world. We entered the library and had to show our IDs and sign a sheet that said: I will vote for President Hafez Al-Assad. Going into the small booth, I passed two...
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 Huffington Post article
Moscow's Historical Relationship with Damascus: Why it Matters Now
Huffington Post - about 2 years
Current relations - Source: Sputnik News There have been many objections to what is denominated as the Russian interference in Syria, more specifically in the Syrian Armed Conflict. Most of the objections coming from these analysts concentrate on one sided-arguments and therefore ignore the historical relationship that Moscow has had with Damascus. Many of the reasons given for why Russia is in Syria could be part of the general spectrum of things - they are neither completely false nor completely true - yet they all sidestep history as an unfounded phenomenon. They paint an ingenious yet delusional picture of a foreign intruder coming out of nowhere to the aid of an internal despot, while ignoring the fact that the relations of cooperation between Syria and Russia were established literally as the former gained independence from the French and thereby became a modern nation-state. The objections raised by many analysts are therefore tantamount to objecting to the historical assist...
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 Huffington Post article
How U.S. Interventions Dismembered the Middle East
Huffington Post - about 2 years
Despite everything, hawks are still pushing President Obama to send ground troops to Syria. He would be wise to reject their advice. For the last few decades in the Middle East, the policy of western powers -- led by the United States -- has been to ensure the flow of oil; maintain stable and secure allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Gulf States, Egypt and Israel; and maintain military and economic influence when needed. Usually these ends were met through economic or military-to-military partnerships. After September 11, however -- with a big push from the neoconservatives -- U.S. policy toward the Middle East lurched toward overt military intervention, such as the one in Iraq in 2003. The goal was to spread U.S. influence and secure supposed U.S. interests by regime change. So U.S. policy planners looked for a weak and corrupt regime that enjoyed little support from its people (in this case, Saddam Hussein's Iraq), and cooked up a justification for the military in...
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 Huffington Post article
Syria's Two-Body Problem
Huffington Post - over 2 years
In medieval Europe, the king had two bodies. He sat on his throne in his own personal body, which suffered from the same sicknesses and infirmities that afflict all corporeal beings. But he also possessed a second body, the body politic, which represented the entire realm. The king served as "head of state," a phrase that harkens back to this peculiar political theology. After the death of his own physical body, the king's second body passed on to his successor, ideally his male offspring. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also has two bodies, and he's worried about the fate of both of them. The Syrian body politic is in the process of slow-motion dismemberment, for the head of state has lost quite a few of his extremities. Yet Assad is clinging to power in this shrunken entity, fearful of what might happen to his physical body -- and those of his family and colleagues -- if he should leave power, voluntarily or involuntarily. Images of the end days of Saddam Hussein (hanged) a...
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 Huffington Post article
Man arrested after murder of Assad critic in London
Yahoo News - almost 3 years
A man has been arrested in connection with the murder in London of an imam who was a critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, police said Monday. Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, was found in his car with gunshot wounds to the chest in Wembley, northwest London, on Tuesday. Scotland Yard said a 36-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and remains in police custody. Arwani reportedly fled Syria as a teenager after surviving the 1982 Hama massacre, in which the current president's father Hafez al-Assad sent troops to brutally crush an Islamist-led uprising.
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 Yahoo News article
Jesse Jackson offers to go after North Korea rescinds invite on Bae release
Chicago Times - about 4 years
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has rescinded an invitation for a senior U.S. official to visit Pyongyang to seek the release of imprisoned U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae, a State Department official said on Sunday, adding civil rights activist Jesse Jackson had offered to go to Pyongyang to try to free Bae. "We are deeply disappointed by the DPRK (North Korean) decision - for a second time - to rescind its invitation for Ambassador (Robert) King to travel to Pyongyang to discuss Kenneth Bae's release. The DPRK announced publicly in May 2013 it would not use the fate of Kenneth Bae as a political bargaining chip," the official said. "At the request of the Bae family, Reverend Jackson offered to travel to Pyongyang on a humanitarian mission focused on Bae's release. We support the efforts of the Bae family and Reverend Jackson to bring Bae home," the official said. The U.S. official referred to U.S.-South Korean (Republic of Korea) military exercises, which North Korea opposes. "We remi...
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 Chicago Times article
The Source of Assad's Staying Power
Huffington Post - over 4 years
When Basil Assad, oldest son and heir apparent to the late President Hafez Assad, was killed in a car accident in 1994, the father turned to his inexperienced son Bashar to groom him for the presidency. Whereas Basil was trained in military and political affairs and the workings of the state, Bashar was studying ophthalmology in England and showed little promise that he could embrace the operative skills in domestic and foreign affairs of his shrewd father. I was told by top Syrian officials, who are still in positions of power, that the elder Assad wanted to leave nothing to chance. He reduced his political philosophy to seven principles (which he drilled in his son's mind) to safeguard the security and stability of the state and ensure the continuity of the Assad dynasty. First, Syria must maintain and further strengthen ties with its allies, emphasizing in particular the importance of the financial support of Iran, Russia's military supplies, and the political backing of bot...
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40 Years Later: A Look Back at the Yom Kippur War
Huffington Post - over 4 years
It should not have come as a surprise to Israel. Not after Egyptian President Anwar el Sadat threatened war repeatedly, not after Egypt and Syria assembled massive military forces on the frontiers, not after Jordan's King Hussein flew secretly to Israel to warn Prime Minister Golda Meir that an attack was imminent. But it did. And when full-scale war erupted at 2 p.m. on October 6, 1973, Israel was rocked back on its heels. In the first three days, Egypt re-crossed the Suez Canal and retook portions of the western Sinai; Syria rolled across the Golan Heights and shelled Israel's northern settlements. Israel hurriedly mobilized, fought back, regained lost territory, pushed forward to occupy more Arab land and finally, reluctantly, accepted a ceasefire on October 25. When the shooting stopped, Israel's forces stood in place, 25 miles from Damascus, 63 miles from Cairo. The war came as a surprise because of skillful deception on the Arab side, but mainly because of hubris...
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 Huffington Post article
Syria: A Need for Action, With No Clear Goal
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice - over 4 years
When children die indiscriminately at the hands of a dictator, our natural instinct is to protect and prevent.— by Adam L. Beitman This week, as the government is carefully building up public support for intervention in Syria, a consideration of recent history and the current situation in the Middle East presses itself upon us. More than anywhere else in the region, the dynamic in Syria illustrates the complexity of America's conflicting foreign policy considerations, along with the impossibility of determining where our strategic interests (however conceived) reside. When children die indiscriminately at the hands of a dictator, our natural instinct is to protect and prevent. Our impulse to stop these abuses, however we can, is the right one. Yet, beyond that impulse, current U.S. foreign policy toward Syria has no clear goal. More after the jump. In 2011, the United States intervened in Libya, using airstrikes to help rebels overthrow that country's long time dictator, Muammar...
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 The Philadelphia Jewish Voice article
Syria's New Friend in Cairo
Huffington Post - over 4 years
As the tumultuous waters continue to swirl in the Middle East, President Mohammed Morsi's fall, the Egyptian military's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Sinai insurgency have added new dynamics to Cairo's foreign policy. Egypt's emboldened interim-government has embarked on a dramatic new path, which includes a restoration of Egyptian-Syrian relations. The growing Egyptian-Syrian partnership has potential to significantly alter the Middle East's balance of power when the conflicts in both countries finally resolve. The latter half of the Cold War's impact on the Arab world, coupled with several important developments that impacted the region's balance, pitted the strategic interests of Damascus and Cairo against each other. Such transformations included the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, the fall of Iran's Shah in 1979, the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), Hezbollah's 2006 standoff with Israel, the rise of Hamas in Gaza and Western-imposed sanctions ...
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 Huffington Post article
U.S. Allies Give a Frosty Reception to Syrian Chemical Weapons Deal
Foreign Policy - over 4 years
BEIRUT, Lebanon — At the end of the press conference unveiling their deal over Syria's chemical weapons program, a smiling Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared to exchange a joke before walking offstage. Some of America's allies in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad, however, weren't laughing. Even as a Syrian official hailed the Sept. 14 plan as a "victory" for the Assad regime, the reaction from U.S. partners in the Middle East ranged from skepticism to outright hostility. Turkey, which has been at the forefront of the anti-Assad cause, said it welcomed the initiative -- but expressed doubts that the Syrian regime would comply with its terms. Officials in Ankara warned that the deal does nothing to resolve the Syrian crisis and said that more must be done to pressure Assad to relinquish power. "The Syrian crisis is not only about use of chemical weapons -- up until now, more than 100,000 people have died, not because ...
Article Link:
 Foreign Policy article
Video: 60 Minutes Overtime, 09.15.13
CBS News - over 4 years
After years of delivering classified CIA briefings to presidents, Mike Morell retired. Two days after Mike Morell retired from the CIA, he briefed the rest of us in a 60 Minutes interview about Syria; then, What's next for medical marijuana? Hint: it doesn't involve a match, pipe or rolling papers; also, When Bashar al-Assad inherited the presidency, Syrians hoped he would reform the country but it did not take long before they saw the young eye doctor turn into a ruthless dictator; and, Hafez al-Assad committed some of the worst atrocities in the Middle East but keeping a low profile helped him escape international scrutiny.
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 CBS News article
Why journalists are like cops and firefighters
Reuters Canada - over 4 years
When some of our friends in academia read the top news about Syria on a website or in a newspaper, they do so through a lens ground by UCLA political scientist John Zaller. In a 2003 paper (pdf), Zaller analyzed two modes of news production that journalists often employ. While working in patrol mode, the press surveys the landscape for trouble and writes up what it finds, like a cop walking a beat and writing the occasional ticket or making the routine arrest. In alarm mode, aroused reporters respond to calls for help by lighting up the gumball, tossing it on the roof, and peeling out for the crime scene, the building afire, or the battleground. I simplify Zaller here, just as he modified the patrol/alarm idea of two other political scientists on his way to his insight. But the simplification stands: The journalistic transmission knows two basic gears: slow or fast; monitoring from afar or fully entrenched; casual or obsessed. The press has long treated Syria as just another stop on...
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 Reuters Canada article
War Again
Huffington Post - over 4 years
I have been preparing to write my blog for the Peacemaker Corps regaling the beauty and elegance of Martin Luther King Jr's march for Jobs and Freedom celebration on August 28, 1963, and the repeat of the event 50 years later just 10 days ago. I wanted to say how proud we as a nation should be of that moment in history when many diverse groups became a community, which made up a powerful coalition that together marched and prayed for peaceful changes of all the in justices that our government and part of the population were perpetrating on our own, very much like what we now see in other countries all over the world -- Syria is a good example. I was a strong and loyal supporter of Dr King and would have been at the mall to celebrate the beginning of positive change in our country, but as a new mom, I stayed home at watched and cheered from my kitchen through the TV while feeding and looking after my son Robert, just recently born. Unfortunately he did not live long enough for us...
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 Huffington Post article
How Assad Wooed the American Right, and Won the Syria Propaganda War
Foreign Policy - over 4 years
Even before President Barack Obama put his plans to strike the Syrian regime on hold, he was losing the battle of public opinion about military intervention. Part of the credit, no doubt, goes to a successful media blitz by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and its supporters. In an interview aired on Monday night, Assad himself advanced his government's case to Charlie Rose, saying that the United States had not presented "a single shred of evidence" proving the Syrian military had used chemical weapons. Assad has always been able to skillfully parry Western journalists' criticisms of his regime -- and, at times, it has won him positive international coverage. Before the uprising, the U.S. media often described the Assad family as Westernized leaders who were trying to bring their country into the 21st century. The most infamous example was Vogue's profile of Asma al-Assad, which described Syria's first lady as "a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind .....
Article Link:
 Foreign Policy article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Hafez al-Assad
  • 2000
    Age 69
    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.
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  • 1999
    Age 68
    Assad continued to conduct meetings, traveling abroad occasionally; he visited Moscow in July 1999.
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    His spokesperson ignored the speculation, and Assad's official routine in 1999 was basically unchanged from the previous decade.
  • 1998
    Age 67
    By December 1998 Bashar al-Assad had replaced Rafiq al-Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon and one of Khaddam's proteges, with Selim Hoss.
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    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).
  • 1997
    Age 66
    Bashar al-Assad was promoted to lieutenant general in July 1997, and to colonel in January 1999.
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  • 1994
    Age 63
    On 21 January 1994, Bassel al-Assad died in a car accident.
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    However, things did not go according to plan, and in 1994 Bassel al-Assad died in a car accident.
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  • 1991
    Age 60
    Bassel al-Assad continued his climb to the top; at the time of the 1991 presidential referendum, citizens were ordered to sing songs praising him.
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  • 1986
    Age 55
    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.
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  • 1985
    Age 54
    Until his 1985 ouster, Rifaat al-Assad was considered the face of corruption by the Syrian people.
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  • 1984
    Age 53
    During the early 1980s, Syria's economy worsened; by mid-1984, the food crisis was severe, and the press was full of complaints.
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  • 1983
    Age 52
    In November 1983 Assad, a diabetic, had a major heart attack complicated by phlebitis; this triggered a succession crisis.
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  • 1980
    Age 49
    The hard-liners won the debate after a failed attempt on Assad's life in June 1980, and began responding to the uprising with state terrorism later that year.
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    Believing they had the upper hand in the conflict, beginning in 1980 the Islamists began a series of campaigns against government installations in Aleppo; the attacks became urban guerilla warfare.
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    The Seventh Regional Congress, in 1980, was held in an atmosphere of crisis.
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  • 1976
    Age 45
    When Frangieh stepped down in 1976, Syria pressured Lebanese members of parliament to elect Elias Sarkis president.
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    In early 1976 Assad was approached by Lebanese politicians for help in forcing the resignation of Suleiman Frangieh, the Christian President of Lebanon.
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  • 1973
    Age 42
    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.
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  • 1971
    Age 40
    The new relationship bore fruit, and between February 1971 and October 1973 Assad met several times with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
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  • 1970
    Age 39
    Most of Jadid's supporters faced a choice: continue working for the Ba'ath government under Assad, or face repression. Assad made it clear from the beginning "that there would be no second chances". However, later in 1970 he recruited support from the Ba'athist old guard who had supported Aflaq's leadership during the 1963–1966 power struggle.
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    When the National Congress ended on 12 November 1970, Assad ordered loyalists to arrest leading members of Jadid's government.
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  • 1969
    Age 38
    From 25 to 28 February 1969, the Assad brothers initiated "something just short of a coup".
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    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.
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  • 1968
    Age 37
    By the Fourth Regional Congress and Tenth National Congress in September and October 1968, Assad had extended his grip on the army, and Jadid still controlled the party.
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    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.
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  • 1965
    Age 34
    At the Eighth National Congress in 1965 Assad was elected to the National Command, the party's highest decision-making body.
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  • 1963
    Age 32
    From the 1963 Syrian coup d'état to the Six-Day War in 1967, Assad did not play a leading role in politics and was usually overshadowed by his contemporaries.
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    Hatum (who felt snubbed when he was not appointed to the Regional Command after the February 1966 coup d'état) sought revenge and the return to power of Hammud al-Shufi, the first Regional Secretary of the Regional Command after the Syrian Regional Branch's re-establishment in 1963.
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    Khalid al-Falhum, a Palestinian who would later work for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), met Assad in 1963; he noted that Assad was a strong leftist "but was clearly not a communist", committed instead to Arab nationalism.
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    In the aftermath of the 1963 coup, at the First Regional Congress (held 5 September 1963) Assad was elected to the Syrian Regional Command (the highest decision-making body in the Syrian Regional Branch).
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    Assad was promoted to major and then to lieutenant colonel, and by the end of 1963 was in charge of the Syrian Air Force.
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  • 1962
    Age 31
    Assad played a minor role in the failed 1962 military coup, for which he was jailed in Lebanon and later repatriated.
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  • 1961
    Age 30
    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.
  • 1957
    Age 26
    In 1957–58 Assad rose to a dominant position in the Military Committee, which mitigated his transfer to Egypt.
    In 1957, as squadron commander, Assad was sent to the Soviet Union for training in flying MiG-17s.
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    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.
  • 1956
    Age 25
    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.
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  • 1955
    Age 24
    In 1955, Assad was sent to Egypt for a further six months of training.
    Assad graduated in 1955, after which he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Syrian Air Force.
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  • 1950
    Age 19
    He wanted to fly, and entered the flying school in Aleppo in 1950.
    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.
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  • 1949
    Age 18
    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.
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  • 1936
    Age 5
    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."
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  • 1930
    Born on October 6, 1930.
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