Dhu al-Himma Shalish

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Dhu al-Himma Shalish
ذو الهمة شاليش
Head of Presidential Security
President Bashar al-Assad
Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab
Wael Nader al-Halqi
Personal details
Nationality Syrian
Political party Ba'ath Party
Religion Alawite
Military service
Allegiance  Syria
Rank Major General[1]

Dhu al-Himma Shalish (Arabic: ذو الهمة شاليش‎‎) is the first cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and head of presidential security. He is part Bashar al-Assad's inner circle.[2][3][4]


Dhu al-Himma Shalish was born sometime around 1950 in the town of Qardaha in Latakia to an Alawi family. His mother was the sister of Hafez al-Assad.[5] The Shalishs through Dhu al-Himma maintain a significant level of influence in the Syrian government and economy and are comparatively as influential as the Makhloufs who are the family of Hafez al-Assad’s wife.[6]

Shalish owns SES International, which is active in the construction and automobile import sectors.[6] He is also the brother of Riyad Shalish, who is the director of the government construction firm the Military Housing Establishment, which during the 1990s he managed to transform into his own company. He subsequently made a fortune on construction and contracting deals in Syria involving large scale projects financed by other Arab states.[5][7] It is also reported that the Shalishs have engaged in a number of illicit activities including smuggling and money laundering.[6][8]

Iraqi activity[edit]

In June 2005, Dhu al-Himma and his nephew, Asef Isa Shalish, and their company, SES International Corporation, were sanctioned by the United States government for procuring defense-related goods for Saddam Hussein in violation of former sanctions against Iraq.[1][9][10] According to the United States Treasury Department, SES helped the former Iraqi government access weapons systems by issuing false end-user certificates to foreign suppliers that listed Syria as the final country of destination. SES International then transshipped the goods to Iraq.[6][8]

Prior to the war in Iraq, the Syrian government awarded Shalish's SES International exclusive rights on contracts to supply the Iraqi market with goods from construction materials to detergent. SES then sold the contracts to Syrian and foreign companies for a substantial profit.[6] Dhu al-Himma Shalish is also reported to have received a significant amount of the $580 million USD in Iraqi assets that the Syrian government illegally paid out to Syrian claimants in 2003.[11]

Dhu al-Himma Shalish and Assef Shawkat, Bashar al-Assad’s brother in law, prior to the Iraqi war also possibly helped the Iraqi government transport its weapons of mass destruction out of the country and into Syria for storage. The Syrian defector Nizar Nayuf reported that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were moved with the help of the Russians and Syrians to underground tunnels inside Syria.[12][13]

Syrian civil war[edit]

Dhu al-Himma Shalish has played an important role in containing the unrest during the Syrian civil war. On 24 June 2011, the European Union sanctioned him along with a number of other Syrian government officials for their role in the violent repression of protesters during the early stages of the civil war.[5] His influence within the president's inner circle was believed to have increased since the beginning of the uprising. It was reported that he was now a key financier and organiser of the pro-Assad militia groups known as the shabiha. Before the Syrian civil war, Shalish and his immediate family were poorly regarded by the Assads but they were reportedly elevated into the inner circle because they were willing to do the dirty work and because there were only so many family members.[14]


  1. ^ a b Segell, Glen (2005). Axis of evil and rogue states : the Bush administration 2000-2004. London: Glen Segell. p. 228. ISBN 1901414272. 
  2. ^ Al Hendi, Ahed (3 May 2011). "The Structure of Syria's Repression". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Biography for Dhu al-Himma Shalish". Siloworker. Retrieved 16 May 2011. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Alphabetical Listing of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons ("SDN List")". US Department of the Treasury. 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2011-04-03. 
  5. ^ a b c "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 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Seche, Stephen (6 January 2006). "Syria's Corrupt Classes". US Embassy Cables (Syria). Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Biography for Riyad Shalish". Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Blanford, Nicholas (2007). Killing Mr Lebanon (Repr. ed.). London: I.B. Tauris. pp. 54–55. ISBN 1845112024. 
  9. ^ Bar, Shmuel (2006). "Bashar's Syria: The Regime and its Strategic Worldview" (PDF). Comparative Strategy. 25: 379, 395. doi:10.1080/01495930601105412. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Duelfer, Charles (30 September 2004). Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD (PDF). Central Intelligence Agency. pp. 103–104. 
  11. ^ Seche, Stephen (4 January 2006). "Applying Targeted Sanctions To Syria". US Embassy Cables (Syria). Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Salter, Howard (2006). Defending liars: in defense of President Bush and the war on terror in Iraq. Denver, Colo.: Outskirts Press. p. 78. ISBN 1598007505. 
  13. ^ Sada, Georges (2006). Saddam's Secrets. Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 9781418561147. 
  14. ^ Bashar al-Assad's inner circle BBC News, 20 July 2012