Hafez al-Assad was a Syrian statesman and military officer who served as President of Syria from taking power in 1971 until his death in 2000.
45 Facts About Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad was Prime Minister of Syria from 1970 to 1971, as well as regional secretary of the regional command of the Syrian regional branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party and secretary general of the National Command of the Ba'ath Party from 1970 to 2000.
Hafez al-Assad was a key participant in the 1963 Syrian coup d'etat which brought the Syrian regional branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party to power in the country.
Hafez al-Assad died in 2000 and Bashar succeeded him as president.
Hafez al-Assad was born on 6 October 1930 in Qardaha to an Alawite family of the Kalbiyya tribe.
Hafez al-Assad's parents were Na'asa Shalish and Ali Sulayman al-Assad.
Hafez al-Assad was his ninth son, and the fourth from his second marriage.
Alawites initially opposed a united Syrian state, and Hafez al-Assad's father shared this belief.
Hafez al-Assad left his Alawite village, beginning his education at age nine in Sunni-dominated Latakia.
Hafez al-Assad became the first in his family to attend high school, but in Latakia, Assad faced anti-Alawite bias from Sunnis.
Hafez al-Assad was an excellent student, winning several prizes at about age 14.
Hafez al-Assad was opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood, which allied itself with wealthy and conservative Muslim families.
Hafez al-Assad made many Sunni friends, some of whom later became his political allies.
Hafez al-Assad wanted to fly, and entered the flying school in Aleppo in 1950.
Hafez al-Assad married Anisa Makhlouf in 1957, a distant relative of the powerful Makhlouf family.
Hafez al-Assad was among the Syrian pilots who flew to Cairo to show Syria's commitment to Egypt.
Hafez al-Assad spent ten months in the Soviet Union, during which he fathered a daughter with his wife.
Hafez al-Assad's group was the only one that encountered resistance.
Hafez al-Assad demonstrated his skill as a patient planner during this period.
Hafez al-Assad's government was radically socialist, and sought to remake society from top to bottom.
Shortly after his release, Hafez al-Assad was approached by dissident Syrian military officers to oust the government; he refused, believing that a coup at that time would have helped Israel, but not Syria.
Hafez al-Assad felt that the Palestinian guerrilla fighters had been given too much autonomy and had raided Israel constantly, which in turn sparked the war.
Hafez al-Assad first tried to establish national unity, which he felt had been lost under the leadership of Aflaq and Jadid.
Hafez al-Assad cut prices for basic foodstuffs 15 percent, which won him support from ordinary citizens.
The leading figures in the Alawite-dominated security system had family connections; Rifaat Hafez al-Assad controlled the Struggle Companies, and Assad's son-in-law Adnan Makhlouf was his second-in-command as Commander of the Presidential Guard.
Until his 1985 ouster, Rifaat Hafez al-Assad was considered the face of corruption by the Syrian people.
Hafez al-Assad lacked his brother's stature and charisma, and was vulnerable to charges of corruption.
Rifaat Hafez al-Assad lacked military support; officers and soldiers resented the Defense Companies' monopoly of Damascus' security, their separate intelligence services and prisons and their higher pay.
Hafez al-Assad did not abandon the hope of succeeding his brother, opting to take control of the country through his post as Commander of Defense Companies.
Shortly after the poster war, all Rifaat Hafez al-Assad's proteges were removed from positions of power.
Hafez al-Assad acquired this post by surrendering his position as Commander of Defense Companies to an Assad supporter.
Rifaat Hafez al-Assad was succeeded as Defense Companies head by his son-in-law.
Makhluf, the Republican Guard commander was promoted to major general, and Bassel Hafez al-Assad became influential in the guard.
Hafez al-Assad gave a larger role to Bassel al-Assad, who was rumored to be his father's planned successor; this kindled jealousy within the government.
When he returned to Syria, Bashar Hafez al-Assad enrolled in the Homs Military Academy.
Hafez al-Assad was quickly promoted to Brigadier Commander, and served for a time in the Republican Guard.
Hafez al-Assad studied most military subjects, "including a tank battalion commander, command and staff".
Bashar Hafez al-Assad was promoted to lieutenant colonel in July 1997, and to colonel in January 1999.
Hafez al-Assad's spokesperson ignored the speculation, and Assad's official routine in 1999 was basically unchanged from the previous decade.
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.
Hafez al-Assad tried to modernize Syria's agricultural and industrial sectors; one of his main achievements was the completion of the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River in 1974.
The Defense Detachment commanded by Rifaat Hafez al-Assad played a leading role in the smuggling, importing $400,000 worth of goods a day.
Hafez al-Assad believed, and continued to believe until long into his rule, that the only way to get Israel to negotiate with the Arabs was through war.
Hafez al-Assad believed that if the United Arab Republic had not collapsed, the Arabs would already have liberated Palestine.
Hafez al-Assad did not want a rightist victory either, instead of seeking a middle-ground solution which would safeguard Lebanon and the region.