Former influential matriarch of Syria The first lady of Syria Aniseh Makhlouf was an influential matriarch reinforcing the dictatorships of both her husband (Hafez al-Assad) and son (Bashar al-Assad). She was the archetypical Arab matriarch - self-effacing and demure in public but behind the scenes a powerful and strong-willed figure who was the linchpin of her husband and her son. For more than 40 years Aniseh Makhlouf was the seat of power, consolidating the hold that the Alawite minority had on Syria, while encircling her extended family and supporting the regime's tough line in crushing dissent. She was a symbol of stability - presiding over family councils as they gathered to dine on Friday nights. It was not an image shared by the regime's opponents. Many Syrians believe that she shared the moral responsibility for turning the uprising into a full-blown civil war. Born into a prominent and wealthy Alawite family in Qardaha in the coastal province of Lataka, the heartland of the religious minority, Aniseh Makhlouf was educated, intelligent and cultured.
Compiler: M. Nauman Khan