Hafez Al Assad
Long-serving President and dictator of Syria.
He is the butcher of Hama, the town in Syria in which 25,000 Muslims were slaughtered by his security forces in 1984.
As a student, he joined the Ba'th Party to protest against social conditions in Syria. In 1955, he graduated from the Hims Military Academy as an air force pilot. In 1958, he was sent to the USSR to study night warfare. He was promoted to squadron leader, but was dismissed from the armed forces in 1961 as he opposed Syria's secession from the union with Egypt. This led him to become a very important member of the Ba'th Party.
The Ba'th Party came into power in 1963 and Assad became commander in chief of the air force. In 1966, he became Minister of Defense when the moderate international Ba'th leadership was overthrown by radical Ba'thists. In 1969-70, Assad was involved in a power struggle with the Party's civilian wing as a result of Syria's unsuccessful intervention in the Jordanian civil war. He had opposed this intervention. Since the civilian Ba'thists would not co-operate, he seized power after a successful coup in November 1970 and formed his own government, assuming the role of President on the 22/2/71. The national elections held on 12/3/71 confirmed him as President. He remained President for the next 29 years.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin/M A Sherif