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Russia’s Ally, a great friend of the Soviet Union — just like that imagine Syria the Russians. In fact, the history of relations between the Arab Republic and the Soviet Union full of dramatic episodes of friendship, betrayal and compromise, beneficial especially Damascus and its permanent owner — the father Bashar Assad, President of Syria Hafez al-Assad. What was the all-powerful Syrian dictator — says “the”.

Over the destroyed Hama roared planes. Under the rubble-riddled buildings had hundreds of bloody corpses of civilians. A few survivors out of the rubble and cellars, did not pay attention to it — they were trying to escape. The city was part of the victorious government forces, the armed forces of a legitimate, elected President.

“We beat the terrorists. They pretended to be Muslims and desecrated mosques, making them armories. They massacred children, women and elderly in the name of Islam. They are criminals,” — said President Assad shortly after the siege.

the City fell after a month-long siege and incessant shelling of residential areas. Hama was razed to the ground. Killed about 40 thousand people, the majority civilians. 1982 came to an end. Hafez Assad was President of Syria for 12 years.

Hafez al-Assad came to light at the foot of the ridge of the Syrian Nasiriya in 1930, near Latakia, already one of the main Syrian ports.

Assad’s Father was a farmer and had authority in the Alawite community, to which belonged to his family. Religious doctrine to Alawite carefully guarded from outsiders, but in General is based on the fact that the nephew of the prophet Muhammad Ali Ibn abi Talib they place above the prophet, they honor Christ and carry out many rituals, hidden from prying eyes. You cannot become Alawi — they can only be born.

the Syrian Muslims at that time belonged to the Alawite with contempt: they were not allowed to get an education and occupy administrative positions. This was one of the reasons why father Hafez sought to cooperate with the occupying Syria by the French. Thanks to the collaboration of his father, Hafez was able to go to school in Latakia, and was the first educated man from Assad. When the question of an independent Syrian state, alawites sent to Paris a letter and asked not to include them in the Sunni of Syria have signed and Hafez al-Assad. However, the French left the country, ignoring the request.

while studying Assad Jr. moved closer to the Baath party, advocated the unification of Arab countries and the destruction of boundaries of middle Eastern States, drawn more by the Europeans after the First world war on agreement Sykes-Picot. In addition to a powerful nationalist component, the party had strong socialist beginning. The convergence of Hafez al-Assad Baathists was largely due to his Alawite origin, and the inability to otherwise advance your career.

Many Soviet sources talked about atheism Hafez, however, he kept active contacts with the Alawite community and even rose in the religious hierarchy. Helped him in this principle, takii — concealment of faith. In subsequent years, this did not prevent the Assad together with party members from among the Christians and Sunnis to engage in open conflict with the “the Muslim brotherhood”.

With the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, Assad has a chance to prove himself to an army career. But fate decreed otherwise: at the recruiting office, Hafez considered too young and not sent to the front. Two years later he managed to enter the military Academy in HOMS, while he attended flight school in Aleppo, and even received the title of “Best pilot of Syria.”

aviation has played in the fate of Assad crucial role. First, behind him on the military path chosen by many alawites, who later became the elite Syrian air force. Secondly, for the great success of Hafez sent for training to Egypt, where he spent six months during the Suez crisis. It was there that he was noticed by the Soviets, who got his training in the Soviet Union.

In the USSR, captain Assad arrived in 1957 as a squadron commander. The future President of Syria has honed the management skills of the latest MiG-17 at a base near Frunze (now Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan). In the same school visited the future President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak and some of the future African leaders. In the same year, Hafez married Anis of Mahluf, the representative of one of the most influential Alawite families in Syria. This has enhanced the prestige and prosperity of Assad.

In 1958, he merged Egypt and Syria — there is the United Arab Republic. In light of this, all political parties in Syria were banned. In addition, have undergone repression in the military. Assad has managed to avoid trouble and even rise in rank to captain. The history of SAR ingloriously ended in 1961, the Syrian military overthrew the Egyptian surrogates and unilaterally withdrew from the Union with Egypt the state.

Meanwhile, Hafez al-Assad continued to grow the party line: by the early 1960s, he headed the military wing of the Baath party. And in 1963, the country has witnessed another coup. As a result, the government of Nazim al-Kudsi was overthrown, all the power in the country took the Baathists. Asad took in the coup directly involved: together with a loyal piece he tried to capture the airfield Doumeira (14 April 2018 allegedly bombed the US and its allies).

the victory of the supporters of the Assad regime in Syria allowed him to take the post of commander of the Syrian air force. Soon the elite of the Syrian army — aviation and intelligence — almost entirely composed of fellow Hafez. Alawites claim on officer positions, which became vacant after the coup of 1963.

had to wait for no reason for another coup, Assad has shown remarkable patience, before he introduced himself. In 1964, the Baathist government tried to carry out in Syria the equivalent of collectivization. It’s not like most of the population of Syria, and were used in the underground “the brotherhood”. A hotbed of the uprising began the Syrian city of Hama.

the Baathists could not agree on how to quell the rebellion. Assad and his supporters among the alawites in particular, the chief of staff of the Syrian army Salah Jadid and opposed the hard power solution to this problem. At the same time, the conservative-minded military wing “Baas” — in particular, the Chairman of the Presidential Council of Syria Amin al-Hafez advocated rapid and aggressive suppression of the rebellion. The softness of the Alawite al-Hafez perceived as a betrayal and after the showdown with the “Muslim brotherhood” was going to do in the city.

Jadid and Assad did not wait and in February 1966, staged a bloody military coup in the history of Syria. In its result the founding fathers of the party fled to Iraq, and those who do not have time to do, was sent to prison. Salah Jadid actually led the country, although the nominal leader was the President Nureddin al-Atasi. Hafez al-Assad became Minister of defense.

against this backdrop of intensified Soviet Union, which fell in Syria long before the arrival of Hafez al-Assad to power, from time to time supplying Arab Republic weapons. In 1956 signed the first Soviet-Syrian contract for the supply to Syria of T-34 tanks, self-propelled guns SU-100, BTR-152 anti-aircraft artillery guns caliber 37 mm and howitzers of caliber 122 mm. Delivery is not stopped even when the Gamal Abdel Nasser created on the basis of Egypt and Syria, the United Arab Republic. Moreover, the T-34 was replaced by more sophisticated T-54. After the coup of 1966, the flow of arms from the Soviet Union only increased.

the Aggressive foreign policy pursued by the Jadid, didn’t like any of the neighbors except Egypt. Moscow, too, was not happy, worried about flooding Syria with slogans about the need for “people’s war” against Israel. However, for the opportunity to pay visits to the Syrian port of Latakia in it turned a blind eye. However, the Syrians never gave the Soviet Union to create any kind of infrastructure: it was just land, I could step in a fatigued sailor.

Another war between Arabs and Israel began in the summer of 1967. This was preceded by a military Alliance between Egypt and Syria, as well as the last attempt to leave Israel without water from the river Jordan. The Soviet Union warned the parties from an open clash, but the support of the Palestinians and tensions on the border of the demilitarized zone, still led to the war that the Soviet Union actually provoked, saying Arab allies on Israel’s plans to strike Syria.

the War lasted from 5 to 10 June 1967. On the first day, Israel managed to destroy all enemy aircraft, and in later days to cause serious damage to the Arab coalition that included Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Algeria. Israel was ready to finally defeat the Arabs, but intervened the countries of the West and the Soviet Union. The war was over.

“for the First time since the founding of Israel, we fought, as fitting to fight. Unprecedented losses of the Israelites in manpower, technology and the spirit convinced all of our combat capability”, — said the Minister of defense of Syria Hafez al-Assad after the war. At its end, Syria lost the Golan heights city of Quneitra and almost all aircraft. Killed almost 70 thousand Arabs and a little less than a thousand Israelis. Meanwhile, Israel has tripled, and the number of Palestinian refugees has exceeded 400 thousand. Assad received the rank of field Marshal.

But this did not satisfy the political ambitions Jadid and Assad. In the fall of 1970, Syria supported the Palestinians revolted in Jordan: the Kingdom gave them refuge and they in gratitude, staged an armed rebellion, tried to kill the king and usurp power, de facto destroying Jordan. During the events of black September to the North of Jordan from Syria was even sent armoured corps, however, this Odyssey ended ignominiously: two tank columns got lost and night collided, after a fierce battle with each other, ending significant losses, both returned to Syria. Damascus never recognized, explaining the failure to the lack of air support.

This adventure has played into the hands of Assad, who with his brother, Rifat, and long-time friend Mustapha Tlass, who became the head of the General staff the country made a bloodless military coup. This contributed to the high credibility of Assad among Syrian officers, which were alawites. Jadida was thrown into prison, where he remained until his death in 1993.

In November 1970, at the tenth Congress of the Baath party, Hafez al-Assad was elected Secretary-General. In 1971, Assad won the election and became President of Syria and Supreme commander. He was the only candidate. For the presidency Assad had to go to the Syrian Constitution: with the help of the Iranian sheiks have issued a fatwa, claiming that alawites are still Muslims, not pagans.

After the advent of Assad to power, the Soviet Union deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean significant naval forces: battleships, diesel submarines and other ships that were in high alert. In addition, the country sent a huge number of military trainers and equipment, was considerably extended air defense system — all this was done in order to warn Israel against attack on the Syrians.

In Syria received a large batch of SAM “Square”, combat aircraft, tanks T-62 and other equipment.

Assad, meanwhile, was trying to build from a national leader to unite the country: went to the cities and villages, communicated with local residents, conducted a series of liberal reforms weakened the pressure from the secret services on citizens. Soon, however, such activities Assad tired, and he decided to do what he likes most dictators — building a personality cult. In the hands of the Syrian President played the death of the main and the only hero of the Arab nationalism of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Assad tried to try on this role, simultaneously surrounding himself and his family an aura of entitlement, and naming in his honor, all folded under the arm.

the Main positions in the state and the army occupied exclusively by alawites. Preference was given to the relatives of Assad and his brother Rifat became the leader of the “combat brigades”, son of Adnan Makhluf actually commanded the presidential guard. This has contributed to the growth of corruption and nepotism, and Syria has gradually become one of the poorest countries in the world.

in the Summer of 1973 Assad and his Egyptian friend Sadat decided to do something that failed their predecessors: to win the war with Israel. The determination they had, however, only in October, and lasted 18 days of military action has entered history as the “Yom Kippur war”. The winner again came Israel. From the total defeat of Assad once again saved the Soviet Union, deployed in Damascus, the latest air defense systems, and selected armored brigade under the command of Assad’s brother, stationed in the capital.

Into the hands of Syria was played by the cooling of relations between the USSR and Egypt for a peace Treaty with Israel. In fact, Syria was the last ally of the Soviet Union in the middle East, though highly variable. With the help of the Soviet Union in 1973 was built the Tabqa dam on the Euphrates, which formed the reservoir of al-Assad, named in honor of the President of Syria. Due to this, agriculture, which had employed more than half the population of the country received a new impetus.

In 1974, the Minister of foreign Affairs of the USSR Andrei Gromyko he flew to Damascus three times: increased cooperation was on all fronts. All this did not prevent Assad from time to time to talk about the “liberation of Jerusalem” and “the creation of a greater Syria.” However, beyond words these things did not come.

Subsequently, the Assad regime continued to beg for Moscow’s money and arms. In the fall of 1980, he paid a visit to the head of the Soviet state Leonid Brezhnev, October 9, signed a Treaty of friendship and cooperation, which meant military assistance to Syria in case of military conflict. In the Arab Republic continued to send hundreds of Soviet specialists, and in July 1981 in the Mediterranean sea were Soviet-Syrian military exercises.

friend of the Soviet people Assad was not perfect: flirting with Moscow, he established relations with the United States. In June 1974 in Damascus was visited by the President of the United States Richard Nixon, announced the restoration of diplomatic relations. And in the period from 1975 to 1978, the U.S. has provided Syria the large credit tranche and provided an opportunity to buy wheat in exchange for agreements on exploration, production and subsequent sale of Syrian oil.

In 1976, Hafez al-Assad has once again decided to try his luck on the world stage and to make a great diplomat. By that time, in neighbouring Lebanon, less than a year, there was a civil war. A country where peacefully coexisted with Sunnis, Shiites, Druze and Christians-Maronites suffered from the influx of violent Palestinians who were expelled from Jordan for attempting to overthrow the government.

They took advantage of the hospitality of the Lebanese people and the country has created a “state within a state”: formed militias of thugs, and, gaining strength, de facto, challenged the official government — demanded the transfer of the main levers of government to Muslims. Decided to act the usual way — terror, killing the leader of one of the Christian communities. When the right wing Christian brigade assisted the militants of the resistance, a civil war ensued. Outnumbered the Muslim forces defeated the Christian combat units and asked for help from the Syrians — then that Hafez al-Assad and acted as the architect of the truce, actually resulted in military intervention. Soviet ammo it about this operation are not notified, however, according to some reports, had received approval from the U.S. Ambassador in Damascus.

the Syrian military overthrew the armed forces of the Christians and put them to flight. The Muslims took and 70 percent of the country, but the Christians managed to regroup and inflict a massive defeat. In response, the natives of Palestine and their allies staged cleaning among the civilian population. The Syrians did not allow the final defeat of the Muslims. Everything changed after the camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Fearing defeat of the Muslims, the Syrians began to arm the Palestinians under their control and did not heed the demands of the Christians calling to remove their occupation forces from Lebanon. Trying to cope with the inevitable advent of Muslims, Christians secretly began to cooperate with Israel.

as a result, Israel invaded Lebanon and occupied the southern regions, and the Syrians knocked the legitimate government of the country and de facto took control over it. Until 2005 the people’s revolution Damascus gained full control over the neighbor.

Further relations with Damascus after the Lebanese adventure lasted rather by inertia: the Soviet Union did not want to lose one of their last allies in the middle East. Therefore, Assad defended even the Soviet General Secretary Andropov, who organized in the fall of 1982, the delivery to Syria sophisticated missile systems “earth-air” (SAM-5) with radar support, SS-23 missiles, and about six thousand military personnel of a new air defense system and training the Syrian fighters. In the same year, Syria has officially denied the USSR in the construction of a naval base on its coast, considering it inappropriate. Forgot Assad and about the promise to help in the construction on its territory of a Soviet military base land.

Meanwhile, Hafez al-Assad had accumulated enough problems in the country. The defeat in the “Yom Kippur war”, rampant corruption and the economic crisis has caused discontent among broad sectors of the population. However, this did not prevent the Assad regime to win the presidential election in 1978: he was the only candidate.

Protested the Syrians and against friendship with Shia Iran became after the 1979 revolution, one of the main allies of the Assad regime.

By the beginning of 1980-ies Syrian Islamists merged into a single organization — “the Islamic action Front,” and even organized a failed assassination attempt on Assad. The authorities in the investigation found the culprit — Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, is hoping to unite with whom Hafez did not leave for several years. As a result, all relations with Iraq were frozen.

In response to the nascent uprising in Syria were a “company of national defence”, the head of which stood the brother of Hafez al-Rifat. At the same time, the country adopted a law according to which belonging to the Islamists was punishable by death. But repressive measures were not sufficient to fully suppress the rebellion, the focus of which in February 1982 and became the city of Hama.

Assad has solved the problem by destroying Hama, together with Islamists and all its inhabitants using aircraft and artillery. The siege lasted throughout the month of February, when the assault on the city killed more than 40 thousand people. A “company of national defence” we finished the job, cutting out unwanted across the country. The situation in the economy is not fixed, however, the demonstrations and riots have been suppressed.

a New trouble came from not waiting for: against Hafez decided to make his brother Rifat. A year after the uprising of the Islamists, Assad Sr. had discovered a problem with the heart, and he actually withdrew from the management of the country. In Syria was organized by the Committee of six, which was charged with the management of the country.

not one of them came Rifat, who commanded 55 thousand Syrian troops, including pilots, gunners and tank crews. They were not satisfied with this state of Affairs, and soon the supporters of the younger al-Assad took Damascus. The war between forces loyal to Hafez and Rifat. Along the way, first attempted to carry out liberal reforms, to little to alleviate the dire economic situation of the country.

In 1984, the brothers reconciled their mother NASA Assad. Recovering from illness Hafez promised Rifat Vice-President of Syria. In 1985, Hafez won the third presidential election, where he again was the only candidate. Peace with brother was purely formal: in 1986 Rifat al-Assad sent from Syria. However, the Vice-President position he retained until 1998.

With an outstretched hand Asad went to the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. And for the first time even succeeded: in 1985, the Soviet Union has supplied Syria with military boats, a few hundred T-80 tanks and missiles SS-23 with a range of 500 kilometers, and two years later Damascus got brand new MiG-29.

However, to pay the bills Assad did not like. Military Syria’s debt to the USSR by the end of the 1980s was about $ 15 billion, some call astronomical sum of 80 billion. And it was understandable that the Soviet Union was interested in Syria only as a supplier of weapons. Meanwhile, the volume of Soviet trade with Damascus was less than two percent of their gross turnover.

After that, relations between the USSR and Syria have cooled completely. Gorbachev in the presence of Hafez al-Assad said that the absence of diplomatic relations between Syria and Israel is not normal. Soon the Soviet Union collapsed and aid flows to Syria stopped. After the collapse of the USSR in Syria has delivered 300 T-72S. Further cooperation stopped because of the huge debt of the Arab Republic for Soviet military supplies.

In Syria, almost nothing has changed. At least definitely not better: first, the 1980s, Assad banned the importation of foreign electronics, clothing, alcohol and tobacco. In addition, it was impossible to Fax machines, satellite dishes, and later mobile phones. All this was imported into Syria from Lebanon. After the uprising “Muslim brotherhood” in Syria has speeded up proceedings: decision making rarely took more than 48 hours, and sentenced to death were hanged in the morning in the Central squares of the cities.

In the 1990s, for the sake of correcting the plight of the Assad liberalized the country’s economy. In particular, steps were taken to revitalize the private sector. However, the problem is not solved, and Damascus was forced to go cap in hand to the United States. So, in 1990, the Syria agreed to join coalition operations against Iraq, and even dispatched armored division. And in February 1991 17 thousand Syrian military participated in operation “desert Storm”.

In 1991, Assad has won the fourth presidential election in which he traditionally was the only candidate. In those years, Hafez thinking about a successor, which was supposed to be his son Basile — brilliantly educated pilot, and charismatic lover of women. However, three years later, the Basil was killed in a car accident. Assad is the only hope — son Bashar, the ophthalmologist who studied in London.

Their latest, the fifth elections Assad won in 1999. To them he was the only candidate and won more than 98 percent of the vote. In 1999, Hafez al-Assad came to modern Russia for the first time met Boris Yeltsin. It did not stop Boris Yeltsin called his longtime friend. About the debt of the Arab Republic of Russian President did not mention and pledged to provide Syria with the latest weapons. Then the contract was estimated at $ 2 billion, and the Syrian debt, according to conservative estimates, amounted to 15 billion dollars. In many ways, this assignment was due to the fact that Syria was the only Muslim country that supported Russia’s position on the Yugoslav question.

In the last years of his life, Assad suffered from cancer and was unable to work for more than two hours a day. He died of heart failure June 10, 2000 during the conversation with Prime Minister of occupied Lebanon. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin at his funeral did not go, among the world’s leaders were attended by the President of the France Jacques Chirac.

the next day after the death of Assad, his son was given the rank of Lieutenant General and appointed commander in chief, but in July 2000, Bashar Assad became a Marshal without winning a single battle and not even having a military education. In the elections, Assad received 97.29 percent of votes and became President. Ahead was little more than a decade of relative calm.