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Bashar-ul-Assad is an unlikely leader and a dictator. He was supposed to live a normal life of an eye doctor away from Arab society somewhere in Europe, he loves western lifestyle. But life propelled him to take the role of Syrian leader. His older brother Basel who was publicly groomed to lead Syria died in a car crash in 1994.


Assad (left) and Maher (right). Maher is entrusted with family's survival in power.
Assad (left) and Maher (right). Maher is entrusted with family’s survival in power.


The Syrians never really accepted Assad as their leader. After Basel’s death they expected Maher, Assad’s younger brother who is a military officer, to become the heir of the throne but Assad’s father favored him.

During the peaceful uprising in Syria there was a slogan chanted by Assad’s own sect, – Alawite – which is a minority in Syria, that was quickly killed by Maher’s soldiers – “Bashar lal iyada wa Maher lal ghiyada,” meaning, Bashar should go back to the clinic and Maher should become the leader.

Assad always had the image of ‘mama’s boy.’ When he became the President Syrians questioned his ability to stand against Israel and the United State. For 12 years Assad has been ruling with iron fist. All the major positions in the Syrian government are held by Assad’s close relative, to avoid any coups.

Assad kept his younger brother – Maher – closed and depends on his muscle power to stay in power. Maher is known as a ‘hot head’ and his ferocity when it comes to put out dissent. The director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics has been quoted in Haaretz, “The life of the regime depends on Maher’s ability to prevent the rebels from infiltrating Damascus and toppling his brother’s government. … If Damascus falls, the regime goes.”

However, Assad has been hiding Maher’s whereabouts for some time now. Maher was injured in 2012 Damascus bombings and died in a hospital during medical treatment but no one has been able to confirm the news.

Assad was trained for two years in politics and military before he was brought in as the heir of his father. Assad’s father was a dictator and so far he has lived up to his father’s image. He is said to be responsible for more deaths and mayhem than his father. He has proved his nation wrong.

Hina Ali

Twitter – @uzaam


    1. I think I couldn’t make my point clear because I tried to keep it short. I made a point that he could have been a different person from his father because of his leniency toward the West and his personal nature but he chose to be a dictator and worse than his father because deep down he hated the fact that people of Syria considered him unworthy of the throne.

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