The Assad family, Bushra on the right
|Native name||بشرى الأسد|
|Born||24 October 1960|
|Alma mater||University of Damascus|
|Spouse(s)||Assef Shawkat (1995–2012)|
Bushra al-Assad (Arabic: بشرى الأسد) (born 24 October 1960) is the first child and only daughter of Hafez al-Assad, who was the president of Syria from 1971 to 2000. She is the sister of current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She is the widow of Assef Shawqat, the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian Armed Forces and former head of the Syrian Military Intelligence, who was killed by the rebels on 18 July 2012.
As a result of the Syrian Civil War, in March 2012 she was placed on a list of Syrian government figures who were subject to European Union economic sanctions and travel bans. On 28 September 2012, it was reported and confirmed by Gulf states that Bushra al-Assad had fled Syria with her five children to seek refuge in the United Arab Emirates. In January 2013, Bushra al-Assad was joined by her mother Anisa Makhlouf in Dubai after she too fled Syria.
Early life and education
Bushra is reported to have enjoyed a close relationship with her father Hafez al-Assad and reportedly took a large role in leadership during the last years of his life. During the late 70s, she even accompanied her father during foreign visits and was very active in the decision-making within her father's inner circle, especially in matters relating to economic and foreign affairs, leading to speculation that she was being considered for a leadership role and even possible succession. Despite this, by the 1980s, her younger brother Bassel took on that role instead and after 1994, her second oldest brother, Bashar. There has been widespread speculation that had it not been for her gender, she would have been groomed for the presidency. It is reported that she helped convince her father that jailing her uncle, Rifaat al-Assad, after his failed 1984 coup attempt would disgrace the family.
Bushra received her degree in pharmacy in 1982 from Damascus University. At university Bushra befriended Bouthaina Shaaban who is now member of the Syrian Cabinet. Some sources report that it was Shaaban who introduced Bushra to Shawkat, an army officer 10 years her senior and reportedly married with a reputation for womanizing. Despite family opposition, Bushra married Shawkat in 1995.
Since the death of her brother Bassel al-Assad in 1994, Bushra was credited with increasing influence in Syria. She was reported to have played a major role in guiding the development of Syria's pharmaceutical industry. Bushra was also reported to have worked for her late husband to gain acceptance and recognition. In the late 1990s, Shawkat assumed key security roles within Syria's military and intelligence apparatus.
Tensions between Bushra and her sister-in-law and Syria's first lady Asma al-Assad were reported. Since Asma's marriage to the Syrian president in 2000, Asma defied social conventions by frequently appearing in public and in the media. It was reported that Bushra disapproved of Asma taking such a public role.
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