Bashar Hafez al-Assad

Bashar Hafez al-Assad[a] (Arabic: بَشَّارُ ٱلْأَسَدِ, born 11 September 1965) is a Syrian politician who is the 19th president of Syria, since 17 July 2000. In addition, he is the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces and the Secretary-General of the Central Command of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party.

His father, Hafez al-Assad, was the president of Syria before him, serving from 1971 to 2000. Born and raised in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad graduated from the medical school of Damascus University in 1988 and began to work as a doctor in the Syrian Army. Four years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital in London, specialising in ophthalmology. In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel died in a car accident, Bashar was recalled to Syria to take over Bassel’s role as heir apparent. He entered the military academy, taking charge of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon in 1998.

Political scientists have characterised the Assad family’s rule of Syria as a personalist dictatorship.[b] On 17 July 2000, Assad became president, succeeding his father, who died in office on 10 June 2000. In the 2000 and 2007 elections, he received 97.29% and 97.6% support, respectively.[c] On 16 July 2014, Assad was sworn in for another seven-year term after another election gave him 88.7% of the vote.[d] The election was held only in areas controlled by the Syrian government during the country’s ongoing civil war and was criticised by the United Nations (UN).[21][22] Assad was re-elected in 2021 with over 95% of the vote in national election. Throughout his leadership, human rights groups have characterized Syria’s human rights situation as poor. The Assad government describes itself as secular,[23] while some political scientists write that his regime exploits sectarian tensions in the country.[24][25]

Assad received his primary and secondary education in the Arab-French al-Hurriya School in Damascus.[41] In 1982, he graduated from high school and then studied medicine at Damascus University.[47]

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