Folder with a mustache

Russia’s Main ally in the middle East and a country that simultaneously attacked the military of the West and assorted terrorists — just like that imagine Syria the Russians. Last time we told you about the life and death of the Almighty Hafez al-Assad. It is time to turn to the history of his son Bashar, the ophthalmologist will of fate, became the head of the Arab Republic. Than lived the younger Assad and why he had become President — says “the”.

one Early morning in January 1994, a black Mercedes was speeding on the highway in the direction of Damascus International airport. It was so foggy that the visibility was hardly more than a few meters. It does not bother the driver: he was driving slower than 140 kilometers per hour. A small hitch in the mist flashed a circular interchange at the airport. The driver tried to fit into it, but in vain. Mercedes at high speed flew into the barrier, and was not fastened by the driver flew through the windshield. It was later revealed that death was instantaneous.

after a couple of hours in a small apartment in Central London, the phone rang. Took the tube not once — in the British capital was still early in the morning.

“Bashar, your elder brother died in a car accident. Come home,” the 28-year-old ophthalmologist heard in the tube killed the voice of his father, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Six years later, Bashar had to take up the reins of Syria and become its President.

Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria since 1970. Then as a result of quick and bloodless coup, he overthrew his friend and fellow — General Salah Jadid. In March 1971, Assad took part in the presidential elections. Being the only candidate, he received the support of 99.2 per cent of the Syrians and won. Soon, the country has formed a cult of personality: in honour of the President and his relatives were called by various institutions and infrastructure, and their portraits hung in the streets across the country.

Family and fellow alawites for Syria’s main asset. Marriage Anis of Machlup in 1958 allowed Hafez, then a young and promising military officer, to become part of one of the richest and most powerful families of Syria. The first in the family born a girl: Bushra was born in 1960. The first son appeared in 1962: it was called Basil, and he forever became a favorite of his father. The first Assad in the long tradition began to be called Abu Basil. Subsequently, there appeared three more sons: in 1965, Bashar was born in 1966 — Majid, and in 1967 — Mahir.

However, until the early 1980s, the reasons to think about the heir of Hafez was not. He had huge expectations on his brother Rifat, and he did not disappoint, having dealt brutally with thousands of peaceful and not so Syrians during the riots of 1982. A little later, Hafez started to have problems with the heart, and he had a long-term move away from the government. At this time the initiative was taken in hand Rifat, who tried to seize power.

Between the brothers began a bloody feud with the participation of a loyal military. To reconcile the two Assad could only their mother, and in 1985, Hafez won his third presidential election. He was the only candidate, and had one hundred percent support of the vote of the Syrians. After the election of Rifat received the post of Vice-President of Syria and the great powers, but almost immediately was sent into exile in Europe.

First, Hafez al-Assad wanted to deal with his brother, but he persuaded the eldest daughter, Bushra. The fact that Rifat, like his brother, was married to the representative of a sort of Machluf. The deal with him has complicated relations not only among the great of the Assad family but also to a large Alawite community in Syria.

the Eldest son of Hafez al-Bassil in those years were far from both the army and from politics. At the time of the rebellion of his uncle, he was graduated from the University of Damascus and was preparing to become an engineer. But Hafez appeared a different plan — he decided to make the eldest son the successor, so Basilio was sent to study first at a military Academy, where from that did the parachutist and commando, and then to the Soviet Union.

In a rare interview, Basile told me that the family members barely saw Hafez al-Assad: “the Father visited the house, but were so busy that we could live for three days without exchanging any word. We never had Breakfast or had lunch together. I can’t remember any real family meal. Except one or two, when it was necessary for state business. The summer we spent in Latakia: the father tried to stay with us for a day or two, and then disappeared for weeks in his office.”

Since 1990, the official Syrian TV channels and Newspapers began to call Basilio Assad exclusively Abu Basile. On the streets of major cities there were portraits of the eldest son of the Syrian President. The country was preparing for the emergence of a successor. And in 1991, Hafez Assad won his fourth presidential election, where being the only candidate improved their result, scoring 99.9 percent of the vote.

the Basil Assad was very fond of horses and was a skilled rider, often taking part in races. The father disapproved of the passion of his son and even named in his honor, the national Racecourse. The Basil was constantly wins in horse racing, but in 1993, Jordan jockey Adnan Kassar managed to reach the finish line first. After that he was severely beaten and thrown into one of the Syrian prisons where he stayed until 2004.

By 1991, Basile was the commander of one of brigades of the Syrian Presidential guard. On his initiative the country began a large-scale anti-corruption campaign. Also Hafez al-Assad appointed his son looking for occupied Lebanon. In the hands of the younger Assad has concentrated enormous power, but the father wanted more and sent Basilio for pilot training. Finish them and learn how to pilot a brand new MiG-21 Basile was not meant to be ominous morning in January, 1994 he was killed in a car accident.

Syria has been declared a national mourning, and in all the hotels of the country temporarily stopped selling alcohol. Basilio Assad was buried in the family vault in the governorate of Latakia, where after six years to join him already Hafez.

the Death of his son was for the Syrian President a real shot. Despite the political ambitions of the eldest daughter Bushra, learned by that time to be a pharmacist, the heir was to be one of the three remaining sons. Majid Asad for this role was not suitable, because childhood suffered from schizophrenia. It would seem that the ideal candidate for the role of successor, the younger son Maher. However, he was the pet of the wife of Hafez, easily lost his temper, and often showed sweepolet. The Syrian President made his choice — the country had to return Bashar.

Bashar al-Assad is the complete opposite of his brother Basil. Since my childhood frail child did prefer the fights reading books and dreamed of a medical career. Hafez did not prevent this and sent his son to study in one of the best schools in Damascus — French Lyceum “Hurriya”. Classmates recalled that in those years, Bashar was quiet and silent child. The teacher didn’t do him any favors, and he studied diligently and practically with anybody did not communicate. The younger Assad grew up insecure child, and many amused by his demeanor upon the people: when Bashar spoke, he pressed a hand to her mouth. Given that his voice had been quiet, very few people with the move was going through his speech.

After graduation, Bashar went to medical faculty of University of Damascus, where he showed himself an apt student. After University he wanted to go abroad and continue her studies, but Hafez insisted on military service. Therefore, from 1988 and 1992, Bashar was assigned to the military tishrin hospital as an ophthalmologist. To go from Syria to London he was allowed only in 1992. A large role was played by the mother of Bashar, who had persuaded her husband, Hafez al-Assad to let his son to learn. Then for Bashar permanently entrenched image of the “Mama’s boy”. According to high-ranking Syrians, he continued to consult with Anisol of Mahluf on all state matters until her death in 2016.

Bashar held in London two years. All this time, he under an assumed name, worked as an ophthalmologist at the London hospital of St. Mary. Due to the fact that the home attention solely to his older brother Basil, Bashar was able to successfully remain incognito, nobody knew even what he looked like. In the British capital, the young Assad and I talked to many immigrants from Syria, particularly strong bonding with the family cardiologist Fawaz Akhras, whom he had known since childhood. Together with his daughter ASMA, Bashar went to concerts Phil Collins and other British rock musicians.

the Quiet life ended in January 1994. One phone call from Damascus put a cross on a medical career, Bashar, and he flew to Syria for the funeral of his brother. Meanwhile, across the country launched a massive propaganda campaign under the slogan “the Basil — our ideal, Bashar — our future”. Across Syria there are statues and posters, dedicated to the “Basile-engineer”, “Bassil-rider”, “the Basil-parachutist”, “Bassil warrior” and so on. The apotheosis of the glorification of the deceased al-Assad was the appearance of his statue in Myagkoi mosque of Damascus, near the Arab heroes of the past like Saladin.

Hafez al-Assad understood that the conversion of Bashar into a full-fledged successor, must solve two problems: to get rid of the popular army and Baath circles of people and to give his son a full military and political experience. For starters, the President has appointed his son, captain medical corps, Syria. He had to go through officer training and staff to take the place of Basil in the Presidential guard. In the end, Bashar al-for four years, received a full military education: his dead brother is gone for 15 years. Such haste is explained by deteriorating every year the health of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.

in Addition to military duties inherited from his brother, Bashar went to the “Syrian computer club”. That’s just the Internet in the country. And computers and if there was, it was obsolete. By 1998, Bashar was able to negotiate with the father and abolish a decades-old ban on the importation of electronics (particularly computers and mobile phones) and arrange the wire to Syria the Internet.

had to deal with internal enemies. The first fell under the distribution of the uncle of Bashar al-Rifat, who returned to Syria in 1992 for his mother’s funeral and decided to stay. He was sent back into exile in Europe where he already had his own media Empire joined the struggle for the legacy of Hafez. However, at least for a time a threat to Bashar al-Rifat ceased to be.

Hafez al-Assad organized a large-scale purges in the army and the party, replacing people that are not were required to Bashar, the new young Alawi officers from the middle level. The resignation was sent to a high-ranking intelligence and military, including representatives stationed in Lebanon.

In 1998, Bashar al-Assad was appointed head of the occupying forces of Syria in Lebanon. In this position, he replaced one of the closest associates of his father, Abdel Halim khaddam. Within a year after his appointment in Lebanon killed several high-ranking Syrian generals, dissatisfied with the nomination of Bashar. Who dealt with them, is still unknown. In January 1999, Bashar was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

After a month in Syria held presidential elections, which became the fifth of Hafez al-Assad. He improved his result and being the only candidate, received one hundred percent of the votes. Along with this, the country launched a massive anti-corruption campaign. At its head stood personally Bashar al-Assad. In addition to these bribes came under attack, many members of the “old guard” that played into the hands of a future President.

Cleansing escalated in the autumn of 1999 when in Latakia, clashes broke out between Syrian security forces and supporters of Bashar’s uncle, Rifat. Last with his entourage where he organized the huge port warehouse complex and earned through smuggling. Controlled by the Bashar forces defeated the port illegal and arrested more than a thousand supporters Rifat. Why no one had touched the birthplace of uncle Assad over the past six years of its existence — is unknown. Shortly before expelled from the country Rifat was deprived of the post of Vice President, which he formally occupied, even in exile.

the Health of Hafez al-Assad was rapidly deteriorating: in 1999, he worked two hours a day. This did not prevent him to commit a series of foreign visits, including to visit Russia. The Syrian President managed to organize a major tour of the Middle East, which drove and Bashar. The heir was presented to the king of Saudi Arabia and other monarchs.

a few months Later, on 10 June 2000, Hafez al-Assad held a telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Lebanon. During it the President of Syria became ill, and he died of a heart attack. The country was headed by an Advisory Committee headed by Abdel Halim khaddam. One of the first decrees of the Committee gave Bashar the rank of Marshal. According to the Constitution, the President of Syria could become a person under the age of 40 years. Bashar al-Assad at the time was only 34 years, but this was not a problem: the relevant article of the Constitution changed.

on June 20, the Congress passed the Baath party, where Bashar was elected General Secretary and nominated candidate for President of Syria. The meeting was held all day and all night — all two hundred members of Parliament wanted to personally Express their support for Assad. A month later, elections: Bashar al-Assad was the only candidate and scored a record low of 97.29 percent of the vote. Soon after, in Syria appeared first on mobile phones. In November 2000, in Damascus, from London back ASMA akhras. Soon Bashar al-Assad were married, and she became first lady.

“my Dear compatriots, my love and trust in you is boundless. I hope you’ll let me emphasize that the person you knew, who you loved and trusted, will not change, finishing this post. He came from the people, lived with people and be a part of the people the Man who became President — the same one that was a doctor, an officer, and, first and foremost citizen,” the inaugural speech of Bashar al-Assad leaves the impression that the power in the country comes the real candidate of the people.

“When a person without a sense of responsibility occupies an important position, he gets nothing except power. And power without responsibility — the source of chaos, recklessness and collapse of state institutions,” said the man with gentle manners and good looks of a European policy. From the rostrum were the words “democracy”, “transparency” and calls for public constructive criticism of the shortcomings of the ruling regime. It seemed that Syria is waiting for democratization and freedom.

Asad really launched the “Damascus spring” — the government legalized several opposition parties, the ideological pressure on the press was loosened, was released from prison hundreds of political prisoners. Citizens began to gather and openly discuss how they would like to change their home country. In Syria began political life.

However, the imposition of Western political freedoms on the rotten reality of Oriental despotism gave predictable results: after a few weeks they demanded a change of government. It was not a radical Syrians: frosty the regime was not capable nor the slightest change, fossilized social and political structure did not assume any reform without a radical breaking of the entire system. After a few months after “biserovskoe thaw” the newly elected President sternly warned that critics of the regime are helping the enemies of the country and they can expect retribution. Soon ten of the most prominent opposition has again thrown in jail. A “constructive criticism” Assad somehow did not remember.

it is still unclear how sincere was Bashar in his reformist impulse. Its advocates argue that the reason the conservative environment of his father, which gave European democracy has seen the ophthalmologist to transform the country. Opponents — all “thaw” was designed to attract Western investment and to the legitimacy of the young leader, which has changed a charismatic and experienced father.

the Political “spring” did not take place, but the economy is urgently demanded attention. The father of Bashar, Hafez al-Assad, has concluded with the people of the country some kind of a deal — people not involved in politics, supports the current government, but in exchange, even the rural poor have the opportunity to somehow make ends meet, using the state regulation of prices of essential products and targeted assistance to the most vulnerable segments of the population.

When Bashar such a model has not worked: the population of the country since the takeover by the Assads has almost doubled, and the money was not corny enough. Therefore, the new leader, despite the opposition of the old guard, decided to economic reforms. In the country there are private universities with courses in English, and subjects like international relations, private banks and private press (which, however, instantly closed with the slightest hint of disloyalty).

As often happens in the middle East, the economic reforms were intended not so much to enrich the population as friends of Assad. One of the University colleagues of President Abdel Nour, who helped develop legislation to sever all ties with Bashar after he was asked to include in the law favorable to the regime henchmen status. “Then I realized that I don’t work for the country, and the family business,” said Nur. He went to Los Angeles and founded an opposition newspaper All4Syria. The result is close to the government elite have gained unprecedented wealth, led to large-scale stratification and aroused the hatred of rural workers, which constituted the political basis of the regime.

In 2002, Syria was included in the “Axis of evil” proclaimed by Bush administration George Bush.

on 14 February 2005 in Beirut, capital of Lebanon, a powerful explosion is turned into a car bomb tore open several buildings and blew up the motorcade of former President Rafiq Hariri, one of the leaders of the anti-Syrian opposition. By the time Syria is de facto ruled Lebanon for nearly 30 years.

Its troops entered Lebanon still under Hafez al-Assad, in the 1970s: while the country’s civil war was raging between the Muslims and Christians, which unleashed an aggressive gang of Palestinians. Then, at the request of Muslims, the Syrians invaded the country, overthrew its government and de facto occupied Lebanon became a Syrian colony. Damascus controlled the Beirut by force, the suppression provided and the group Hezbollah: created by Iran in the 1980s, the umbrella organization of Shiites became so strong that military power was superior to the official Lebanese army. After the death of Hafez al-Assad, however, the country increasingly, there were calls to expel the Syrian forces and achieve independence.

the Hariri Assassination and the possible role of Hezbollah and the Syrian government was the last straw. People poured into the streets, launching a “revolution of cedars” — the most peaceful civil disobedience. Before all the protests were predominantly Christian and Muslims based on the government easily suppressed them by force. This time, however, the rebels were not divided into classes or religious grounds, which created problems puppet rulers. In addition, huge pressure on Damascus began to provide and outside: the US and France have called for a resolution UN security Council, adopted in 2004 and calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. They were joined by Germany and Russia. “Syria should withdraw from Lebanon, but we have to be sure that this withdrawal does not violate the delicate balance in Lebanon as in this country very difficult ethnic, religious and state structure”, — said the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergei Lavrov.

Handy Assad responded with a campaign of terror throughout Beirut bombs exploded, opponents of Syrian domination shot and undermined. But the people did not give up: in support of getting rid of them out of hundreds of thousands of people, and tyrants tremble — the Syrians left. The reasons for this resistance are still an object of discussion. The Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said that he was inspired by the American invasion of Iraq: “at First I was skeptical about it. But when I saw how Iraqis vote, all 8 million… it was the beginning of a new Arab world.” One of the leaders of the opposition Samir Kassir, however, wrote that democracy began a March on the Middle East not because of President Bush, but in spite of it.

having Suffered defeat in Lebanon, the Assad regime continued to consolidate power. The Alawite old guard was pushed from power, he escaped and joined the opposition himself Khaddam, the de jure head of the country, between Hafez and Bashar. The Sunnis prevailed not only among the elite of the country: in 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq, Assad allowed the use of the aerodromes of the country for the transfer of jihadists who wanted to kill Yankees. The idea of radical Sunni Islam will strike at the very Assad, but it will happen later.

Over time pojavilas Baath party, Assad has increasingly worked on the background a national, not party flags. Experience with Bashar al-Assad remembered the American historian David Lesh, repeatedly interviewing the dictator in the 2000s. in 2004, according to Lesh, the President was “self-deprecating, unassuming, modest guy.”

But everything changed after the 2007 elections, in which Assad received 97.3 percent of the vote. “I really thought he would say something like “Oh, come on, it’s not real elections,” and he leaned back in his chair and said, “So people like me. It shows their real love.” I remember I thought then that it really tasted power and now will remain eternal President,” said Lesh. According to journalist Reese Ehrlich, who also took Assad interview, the President was fearful and constantly afraid of conspiracies: “I brought the microphone to his, saying, and when instructed, he immediately jumped up. While his guards checked the microphone and made sure there was no weapons.”

Then the Russian-Syrian relations were not in the information picture of the day, although in 2005 the Bashar al-Assad arrived in Moscow, hoping for a settlement of Syria’s debt to Russia. After that Vladimir Putin wrote off 73 percent of Syrian debt to the Soviet Union. It was estimated at 13.4 billion dollars. The trade turnover between the two countries is barely 459 million dollars a year.

Meanwhile, a close Assad was rich, but the people did not see almost no improvement. In total corruption and decay of the state apparatus was superimposed natural disaster: from 2006 to 2011, the country was raging dust storms, which are large areas completely destroyed the top layer of fertile soil. Given that most of the country unsuitable for agriculture, it created particularly difficult conditions for dramatically increased population: the productivity of some lands has declined by 75 percent, has killed 85 percent of livestock in the country. Millions of Syrians are impoverished, 800 thousand farmers lost almost all their belongings, hundreds of thousands poured into the city, where nobody was waiting for them.

the Government has gone to suicidal action: klyunuv on the high price of grain, Damascus in 2006, sold its entire strategic reserve. In subsequent years, Syria was forced to buy grain abroad, to protect the population from starvation. The Minister of agriculture warned that Syria does not have the strength to cope with this crisis, UN sounded the alarm: “Syria threatens destruction from the inside.” Corruption, collapse of state institutions and tens of thousands of angry, frightened and hunger puhnuschih poor people in the cities have created an ideal situation for large-scale fire which was destined to embrace the whole of Syria.

Hamza al-Khatib was 13 years old. Before he loved to swim in the irrigation canals on the farm of his father, when the rain filled them with water, and breed pigeons on the roof of my parent’s house. Another boy often asked for money from their parents to give them to the poor. 24 may 2011 the castrated corpse of al-Khatib gave the family. His arm was shot, his body was covered with terrible bruises, burns and marks from beatings with a whip. The child’s neck was broken with a powerful shot.

al-Khatib mutilated and killed by the military loyal to Bashar al-Assad. The boy was among the protesters, dissatisfied with government inaction and the inability of the government to help the starving peasants driven from the land by drought. They staged a demonstration near the city of Daraa, and the military was ordered to disperse the rioters. Al-Khatib was among those who painted the graffiti “the People want the fall of the regime”.

Bashar al-Assad remembered the lesson his father, who virtually wiped off the face of the earth the rebellious city of Hama, and decided to follow in his footsteps. The army, humiliated by many defeats of Israeli forces was ruthless: people were thrown into the dungeon, tortured, beaten and killed. Thousands March in Damascus, police and military also met with bullets.

Syrians rose up: disobedience actions took place across the country. A wave of popular anger has United as the Syrian nationalists (for whom the overthrow of Assad was the means of salvation of the Motherland) and foreign jihadists (to which Syria was merely a springboard for the creation of a worldwide Caliphate). Assad is not shy in the media: the city of Aleppo, which rebels from neighbouring villages seized in 2012, just ironed artillery, sparing residential areas, even despite the fact that many of the indigenous population did not oppose Bashar. It is the brutality of Assad and the atrocities of loyal soldiers led to the creation of Free Syrian army — military units, not willing to kill their own people.

During the years of civil war, Syria has virtually ceased to exist: part of the territory was captured by the Kurds, part — militants of the banned in Russia group “Islamic state”, part of the Islamist gangs, part — secular opposition, and countless different groups.

Assad fully become a puppet of the influential in the region and ideologically close to Iran, and then with the support of Moscow was able to win nearly half of the country. Russian forces made tens of thousands of sorties, struck nearly 100 thousand air strikes in the Syrian Sands killed 89 soldiers and probably several dozen fighters of private military companies. In addition, Syria had received welfare assistance by nearly $ 40 million (about 2.5 billion).

In 2017 Bashar repaid benefactors, but not all: freed from paying taxes to Iranian companies operating in Syria. In relation to Russian entrepreneurs such steps was not done — Moscow will have to settle for the airfield and naval base.

April 15, 2018 Bashar al-Assad shortly after the attack on the United States and its allies in Syria, met in his residence the delegation of the Russian deputies. In a meeting he mentioned that the reconstruction of Syria needs $ 400 billion. How Assad is going to get them, is not specified.

“the Syrian President particularly drew attention to the fact that Syria will continue its independent and sovereign development, despite agenda imposed by the West,” — said the coordinator of the group state Duma for relations with Parliament of the Arab Republic Dmitry Sablin. It is hoped that the “independent and sovereign development,” Iranian puppets will do without Russian taxpayers ‘ money.