Ali Sulayman al-Assad

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Sulayman Ali al-Assad (1875 – 1963) was a leader of the Alawites in Latakia and was an opposition figure to the French occupation in the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon. He was the father of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.[1][2]


The al-Assads live in Qardaha, an Alawite town in Latakia,[3] and are members of the Kalbiyya tribe.[4][5][6] In 1936, al-Assad was one of 80 Alawite notables who signed a letter addressed to the French Prime Minister saying that "[the] Alawi people rejected attachment to Syria and wished to stay under French protection."[7] He was also one of the signatories of another letter which implored the French not to abandon Syria, stating: "The spirit of hatred and fanaticism embedded in the hearts of the Arab Muslims against everything that is non-Muslim has been perpetually nurtured by the Islamic religion. There is no hope that the situation will ever change. Therefore, the abolition of the mandate will expose the minorities in Syria to the dangers of death and annihilation, irrespective of the fact that such abolition will annihilate the freedom of thought and belief."[8]

For his accomplishments, he was called al-Assad (a lion) by his fellow Alawites[1] and made the nickname his surname in 1927.[2]


Al-Assad 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.[9]


  1. ^ a b Zahler 2009, p. 25.
  2. ^ a b Alianak 2007, p. 128.
  3. ^ Reich 1990, p. 52.
  4. ^ Bengio 1998, p. 135.
  5. ^ Jessup 1998, p. 41.
  6. ^ Alianak 2007, pp. 127–128.
  7. ^ Seale 1990, p. 20.
  8. ^ ROBERT F. WORTH (19 June 2013). "The Price of Loyalty in Syria". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Seale 1990, p. 5.


  • 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.