|Place of origin||Syria|
|Notable members||Hafez al-Assad
|Connected families||Makhlouf, Shalish|
The al-Assad family (Arabic: عائِلَة الأَسَد) has ruled Syria since Hafez al-Assad became President of Syria in 1971 and established an authoritarian regime under the control of the Ba'ath Party. After his death in 2000, his son Bashar succeeded him.
The Assads are originally from Qardaha, just east of Latakia in north-west Syria. They are members of the minority Alawite sect and belong to the Kalbiyya tribe. The family name Assad goes back to 1927, when Ali Sulayman (1875–1963) changed his last name to al Assad, which means "the lion" in Arabic, possibly in connection with his social standing as a local mediator and his political activities. All members of the extended Assad family stem from Ali Sulayman and his second wife Naissa, who came from a village in the An-Nusayriyah Mountains.
Family connections continue to be important in Syrian politics. Several close family members of Hafez al-Assad have held important positions in the government since his rise to power and continuing after his death.
The Assad family originates from Sulayman al-Wahhish, Hafez Assad's grandfather, who lived in the northern Syrian mountains in the village of Qardaha. The locals reportedly nicknamed him Wahhish, which means wild beast in Arabic, because he was physically strong and a good fighter. Al-Wahhish remained the family name until the 1920s when it was changed to al-Assad which means lion in Arabic. Because of Sulayman's reported strength and marksmanship, he was respected in his village. At the outbreak of the World War I, the Ottoman governor of the Aleppo Vilayet sent troops to the area to collect taxes and round up recruits. The troops reportedly were fought off by Sulayman and his friends who were only armed with sabres and old muskets. Because Sulayman was respected, he was a local mediator between quarreling families. He was also one of the local chieftains who were the de facto rulers of the area. The chieftains from the powerful families would provide protection to their neighbours and in return they gained loyalty and respect.
Hafez al-Assad's father Ali Sulayman, who was born in 1875, inherited many similar characteristics of his own father and became well-respected among the locals, and like many others, he opposed the French occupation. For his accomplishments, he was called al-Assad, the lion, by the locals. He made his nickname a surname in 1927. He lived until 1963, long enough to see his son's rise to power. He married twice and over three decades had eleven children. His first wife Sa'ada was from the district of Haffeh. They had three sons and two daughters. His second wife was Na'isa, twenty years younger than him. She was the daughter of Uthman Abbud from the village of Qutilba, a dozen kilometres further up the mountain. They had a daughter and five sons. Hafez was born on 6 October 1930 and was the fourth child.
- Hafez al-Assad (1930–2000). President of Syria 1971–2000.
Anisa Makhlouf (born 1934), wife of Hafez and former First Lady.
- Bushra al-Assad, died as an infant before 1960.
- Bushra al-Assad (born 1960) is a pharmacist and married with five children to:
Gen. Assef Shawkat (1950–2012), was deputy-chief of staff of the Syrian army and the former head of military intelligence. He was killed on 18 July 2012 in a bombing in Damascus, during the Syrian civil war. Bushra is reported to have fled to Abu Dhabi with her children following this.
- Bassel al-Assad (1962–1994), was the original candidate for presidential succession, however, he died in a car accident.
- Bashar al-Assad (born 1965), is the President of Syria since 2000. Before Basil's death he was an ophthalmologist. He is married to Asma al-Assad (born 1975). She is the First Lady of Syria and takes a prominent public role. Before being married she was an investment banker. They have three children.
- Majd al-Assad (1966–2009), electrical engineer with a reported history of severe mental problems. Died after a long, unspecified illness. He was married to Ru’a Ayyoub (born 1976) and had no children.
- Maher al-Assad (born 1968), is the commander of the Republican Guard, which are also known as the Presidential Guard, and the army's elite Fourth Armored Division, which together with Syria's secret police form the core of the country's security forces. He is also a member of the Ba'ath Party central command and is said to have an aggressive and uncontrollable personality. He is married and has two daughters. He is reported to have been severely handicapped in a 2012 bombing in Damascus during the Syrian civil war.
- Jamil al-Assad (1933–2004), parliamentarian and commander of a minor militia. Politically marginalized years before his death.
- Mundhir al-Assad (born 1961), was arrested in 2005 at the Beirut Airport while entering Lebanon. He was reported to have been involved in arms smuggling to the Iraqi insurgents. In 2011, the EU placed sanctions on him for being involved with the Shabbiha militia in the repression of protestors during the Syrian civil war.
- Fawwaz al-Assad (born 1962), was the first real Shabiha and gave the meaning known today to the word Shabiha and the concept of Tashbeeh that is to act like a thug. He had sanctions placed on him in 2011 by the EU for being involved with the Shabbiha militia in the repression of protestors during the Syrian civil war.
- One daughter is married to Yarob Kanaan, whose father is:
Ghazi Kanaan (1942–2005) who in 2005 during his term as interior minister presumably killed himself. The Kanaans come from the Kalabiyya tribe.
- Rifaat al-Assad (born 1937). Formerly a powerful security chief who was responsible for the 1982 Hama massacre. After attempting a coup d'état in 1984 he went into exile in France and now lives in London. He is married with four wives:
Amira al-Assad, a cousin
Sana' Makhlouf, from the family of Hafez's wife
Raja Barakat, from a wealthy Sunni Damascene family
Lina al-Khayer, sister in law of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Rifaat has a number of children from these marriages, including:
- Ribal al-Assad, has lived abroad since he was nine years old, currently he lives in the United States. In an interview in 2010, he denied that his father was involved in the massacre of Hama or that his family's branch was connected to Abdul Halim Khaddam or Ghazi Kanaan.
- Somar al-Assad, supports his father actively in his opposition to Bashar.
- Lamia, is married to 'Ala al-Fayad, the son of Shafiq al-Fayad (former Syrian General).
- Mudar al-Assad, is married to May Haydar, daughter of the Syrian multimillionaire Muhammad Haydar.
- Tumadhir, is married to Mu'ein Nasef Kheir Bek also from the Kalabiyya tribe and related to Mohammed Nasif Kheirbek, who is indirectly related by marriage and blood to Abd al-Halim Khaddam, Rafik Hariri and the influential Homs al-Atassi family.
- Sister of Hafez al-Assad married into the Shalish family. The family through paternal cousin General Dhu al Himma al-Shalish maintains a significant level of influence in the Bashar al-Assad regime. The Shalishes are mainly active in the automobile and construction sectors. American government sources also report that the Shalish family has engaged in a wide range of illicit activities including smuggling and money laundering.
- Gen. Dhu al-Himma Shalish (born 1956), a cousin of Bashar al-Assad, is the head of presidential security and is part of the inner circle of leadership of the Bashar al-Assad regime. He had sanctions placed on him by the US government for supplying weapons to Saddam Hussein and his regime. On 24 June 2011, the EU sanctioned him for being involved in violence against demonstrators during the Syrian civil war.
- Riyad Shalish is a cousin of Bashar Assad and the director of the governmental construction organization the Military Housing Establishment, which during the 1990s he managed to transform into his own company. He made a fortune on construction and contracting deals in Syria involving large scale projects financed by other Arab states. On 24 June 2011, the EU sanctioned him for providing funding to the regime to repress protesters of the Syrian civil war.
- Ahmed al-Assad, was an older half-brother of Hafez al-Assad from Ali Sulayman's first wife Sa'ada.
- Anwar al-Assad,
- Hilal al-Assad, is the president of the Syrian Arabian Horse Association. His fortune comes from the embezzlement of funds from the Iskan Askari military construction company, in the governorate of Latakia. He is allegedly responsible for imprisoning women in the Latakia Sports Stadium during the revolution. Rebels hope to exchange the prisoners for the Alawite, pro-regime cleric Badr Eddine Ghazal, captureed during the 2013 Latakia offensive.
- Hael al-Assad, is the head of the Military Police of the army's 4th Armoured Division, whose official commander is General Ali Ammar, but whose de facto commander is Maher al-Assad. He is also the director of the prison in which Maher al-Assad keeps his personal prisoners outside of state jurisdiction.
- Haroun al-Assad, is an elected municipal official of the village of Qardaha.
- Daad al-Assad, is married to General Zouheir al-Assad, who was born in 1958 and is a distant cousin. General Zouheir al-Assad commanded the 90th Regiment, a unit of some 10,000 men, charged with protecting the capital.
- Anwar al-Assad,
- Ibrahim al-Assad, was an older half-brother of Hafez al-Assad from Ali Sulayman's first wife Sa'ada. He was married to Umm Anwar who took over the smuggling business of her son Malek.
- Malek al-Assad was the first known smuggler in the Assad family.
About Hafez's siblings who died early: Bayat, Bahijat and an unknown sister almost nothing is known.
The Makhloufs belong to the Alawi Haddad tribe, both Hafez and Rifaat are related through marriage to the Makhloufs. The Makhlouf family rose from humble beginnings to become the financial advisor to Hafez al-Assad after the former President married Makhlouf's sister. The family headed by Mohammad Makhlouf has established a vast financial empire in the telecommunication, retail, banking, power generation, and oil and gas sectors. The net worth of the family was estimated in 2010 to be at least five billion dollars.
- Muhammad Makhlouf (born 1932), made a fortune, both through management of state companies and in the private sector
- Rami Makhlouf (born 1969), is a wealthy businessman and the main owner of SyriaTel. According to the Financial Times he is thought to control as much as 60% of the economy through his web of business interests that include telecommunications, oil and gas, construction, banking, airlines and retail, and he is widely seen as the business arm of the Assad regime. American government sources report that Rami Makhlouf has used the Syrian security services and his personal relationship to President Assad to intimidate and steal promising business ventures from other businessmen. He is regarded as Syria's wealthiest man - worth approximately 5 billion dollars.
- Col. Hafez Makhlouf (1971), is the deputy director of the General Security Directorate and intelligence chief of the Damascus branch. He works under Ali Mamlouk but enjoys far greater influence with his cousin, Bashar al-Assad. He, along with Maher al-Assad, Assef Shawkat and Dhu al-Himma Shalish, comprise the inner circle of leadership.
- Iyad Makhlouf (born 1973), twin of Ihab Makhlouf, is a General Security Directorate officer. The EU sanctioned him for being involved in violence against the civilian population during the Syrian civil war.
- Ihab Makhlouf (born 1973), twin of Iyad Makhlouf, is Vice-President of SyriaTel and caretaker for Rami Makhlouf's US company. The EU sanctioned him for providing funding to the Assad regime and allowing violence against demonstrators in the Syrian civil war. He is believed to be in charge of the sniper units that are being used to shoot at protestors in the uprising.
- Fatma Makhlouf, sister of Anisa Makhlouf.
- Namir al-Assad, reportedly established with Rifaat al-Assad in the 1980s the shabiha who controlled the organized smuggling networks, anchored in Lattakia's port.
- Adnan al-Assad, leader of "Struggle companies" militia in Damascus.
- Muhammad al-Assad, another leader of the "Struggle companies".
- Gen. Shafiq Fayyad, cousin of Hafez from his aunt in the village of Ayn al-Arus in Jableh. Commander of the 7th Mechanized Infantry Division 1973–78. Commander of the 3rd Armored Division since 1978. Reportedly incapacitated in 1991/92 due to a heart attack.
Batatu describes him as an army corps general.
- Nizar al-Assad, is a cousin of Bashar Al-Assad. He was the head of the Nizar Oilfield Supplies company. He was sanctioned by the EU for being very close to key government officials and for financing Shabiha in the region of Latakia.
- Eyal Zisser (2004). "Bashar al-Asad and his Regime – Between Continuity and Change". Orient. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- McConville, Patrick Seale with the assistance of Maureen (1990). Asad of Syria: The Struggle For The Middle East. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-520-06976-3.
- Martin Stäheli: Die syrische Außenpolitik unter Hafiz Assad, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-515-07867-3; p. 40
- Robin Wright (22 February 2008). "Sanctions on Businessman Target Syria's Inner Sanctum". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
- Bar, Shmuel (2006). "Bashar's Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview". Comparative Strategy 25: 380. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- Seale 1990, p. 3.
- Seale 1990, p. 4.
- Zahler 2009, p. 25.
- Alianak 2007, p. 128.
- Seale 1990, p. 5.
- "Council Implementing Decision". European Union. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- Mohamad Daoud (Oktober 2006). "Dossier: Bushra Assad". Mideast Monitor (in German). Retrieved 2011-04-02.
- Bushra Assad children
- "Bomb kills Syria defense minister, Assad’s brother-in-law and key aides". Al Arabiya. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Asad's son killed in an auto crash". New York Times (in English). 22 January 1994. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
- Bar, Shmuel (2006). "Bashar's Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview". Comparative Strategy 25: 379. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- "SANA: Bashar al-Assads Youngest Brother Dead". iloubnan.info (in German). 12 December 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Martin Stäheli: Die syrische Außenpolitik unter Hafiz Assad, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-515-07867-3; p. 42
- "Syria's military: what does Assad have?". Reuters. 6 April 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- "COUNCIL DECISION 2011/273/CFSP of 9 May 2011 concerning restrictive measures against Syria". Official Journal of the European Union. L121/11. 10. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- "Syria: Bashar al-Assad's brother Maher 'loses leg'". The Telegraph. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
- "Assad's feared brother lost leg in bomb attack: sources". Reuters. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
- Landis, Joshua. "An Asad Arrested for Smuggling Weapons". Syria Comment. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- "COUNCIL IMPLEMENTING DECISION 2011/302/CFSP of 23 May 2011 implementing Decision 2011/273/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria". Official Journal of the European Union. L136/91. 24. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
- "The Original Shabiha". Joshua Landis. 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- Bar, Shmuel (2006). "Bashar's Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview". Comparative Strategy 25: 381. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- "Freedom, democracy and human rights in Syria – Ribal al-Assad gives our writer a rare insight into the dynasty that has shaped modern Syria" (in German). 16 September 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Duelfer, Charles (30 September 2004). Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD. Central Intelligence Agency. pp. 103–104.
- Shmuel Bar: Bashar’s Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview In: Comparative Strategy, 25, 2006, Special Issue, p. 382
- "Cable Viewer". Wikileaks. 2 January 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- Al Hendi, Ahed (3 May 2011). "The Structure of Syria's Repression". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- "Biography for Dhu al-Himma Shalish". Siloworker. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- "Alphabetical Listing of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (“SDN List”)". US Department of the Treasury (in German). 31 March 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- "Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 611/2011 of 23 June 2011 implementing Regulation(EU) No 442/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria". Official Journal of the European Union. L164/54. 24. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- Bar, Shmuel (2006). "Bashar's Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview". Comparative Strategy 25: 395. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- "Biography for Riyad Shalish". Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- Leverrier, Ignace (25 February 2012). "In Bashar al-Assad's Syria, the disinformation is also a family affair". Le Monde. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- "Syria Comment » Archives » “The Original Shabiha,” by Mohammad D". Joshualandis.com. 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- Briscoe, Ivan; Floor Janssen Rosan Smits (November 2012). "Stability and economic recovery after Assad: key steps for Syria’s post-conflict transition". Clingendael: 1-51. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- Tim Lister, and Jamie Crawford (7 March 2012). "Meet Syria's wealthiest and most elusive man". CNN. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- "US embassy cables: US sought financial pressure on top Syrian officials". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- Peel, Michael (27 April 2011). "Assad's Family Picked up by the West's Radar". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 29 April 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- Getting to know Syria's first family
- "Office of Foreign Assets Control: To List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons". Treasury Department. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- Shadid, Anthony (10 May 2011). "Syrian Elite to Fight Protests to ‘the End’". New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
- Trombetta, Lorenzo (27 April 2011). "Le sanzioni americane colpiscono i boss dell’apparato repressivo (American sanctions target the leaders of repression)". Europa. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- "Biography for Atif Najib". Silobreaker. Able2Act. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
- "Cable Viewer". Wikileaks. 7 February 1994. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
- Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand Global Post. "Inside Syria’s shabiha death squads". thestar.com. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
- Seale, Patrick (1988). Asad of Syria: the struggle for the Middle East. University of California Press. p. 429. ISBN 0-520-06667-7.
- Hanna Batatu (1999). Syria's Peasantry, the Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics. Princeton University Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-691-00254-5. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- "Syria's Praetorian Guards: A Primer". Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. Vol. 2 No. 7 (5 August 2000). Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- Seale, Patrick (1990). Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520069763.
- Alianak, Sonia (2007). Middle Eastern Leaders and Islam: A Precarious Equilibrium. Peter Lang. ISBN 9780820469249.
- Zahler, Kathy A. (2009). The Assads' Syria. Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 9780822590958.