Ali Sulayman al-Assad

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Ali Sulayman al-Assad

Ali Sulayman al-Assad (1875 – 1963), born Ali Sulayman al-Wahhish, was a leader of the Alawites in Latakia. He was the father of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

Ali Sulayman al-Assad was the son of Sulayman al-Wahhish. The al-Assad family lived in Qardaha, an Alawite town in Latakia, in the northern Syrian mountains.[3] They are members of the Kalbiyya tribe.[4][5][6] For his accomplishments, Ali was called al-Assad ("the lion" in Arabic) by his fellow Alawites[1] and made the nickname his surname in 1927.[2]

Ali 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, about 12 kilometres further up the mountain. They had a daughter and five sons. Hafez was born on 6 October 1930 and was the fourth child.[7]

Political influence[edit]

In 1936, al-Assad was one of 80 Alawite notables who signed a letter addressed to French Prime Minister Léon Blum, saying that:

"[the] Alawi people rejected attachment to Syria and wished to stay under French protection."[8]

He was also one of the signatories of another letter to Blum, 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."[9][10][11][12][13]

The French Prime Minister to whom these were addressed was Léon Blum, a Jew, so Sulayman included some positive references to Jews in his statement. However, this is unlikely to have been sincere, since Alawite religious texts condemn the Jews and Judaism like the Kitab al-Usus.[14]

See also[edit]


  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. 5.
  8. ^ Seale 1990, p. 20.
  9. ^ ROBERT F. WORTH (19 June 2013). "The Price of Loyalty in Syria". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Al-Tamimi, Aymenn Jawad (Fall 2012). "Looking at Alawites". The Levantine Review. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 


  • 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.