Syria has come in focus amidst its elections. However, they are widely being called ‘rigged’ in favour of Bashar al-Assad, who has been in power since 2000 and is associated with an authoritarian regime. In that light, let’s look at his rule in Syria.
Crux of the Matter
Syria will have its Presidential elections on 26th May. 3 candidates out of 51 applications have been approved, with one of those three being President Bashar Assad. However, the elections are widely being called ‘sham’.
- AP News has called it “largely symbolic election… certain to be won by President Bashar Assad”.
- The Guardian, meanwhile, ran the headline “Civil war, ruin, raging poverty… but Assad is guaranteed to win Syria’s fake election”.
Assad Rule In Syria
- It began with Hafez al-Assad (Bashar’s father).
- 1970: Hafez, then Defence Minister, became President by military coup.
- Hafez was Syria’s 1st leader from Alawite sect of Shia in a Sunni majority nation. He was known for his brutal regime.
- His elder son Basil, involved in military and politics was widely considered the successor. Bashar, on the other hand, trained as an ‘eye doctor’ in first Syria then London.
Initial Days Of Bashar Regime
- Basil died in a car crash in 1994, after which Bashar became President in 2000.
- Initially praised for promising more ‘democracy’ (after his father’s brutal regime).
- ‘Damascus Spring’ also came briefly in 2000, where press and opposition leaders were given more freedom.
- However, the Spring didn’t last long as the crackdown started within a year.
- Worst came in 2011 Arab Spring, after pro-democracy protests spread across Arab nations.
- Bashar regime launched strong crackdown on protesters, which quickly became a civil war.
Syrian Civil War
- The war is now roughly divided along religious sect (although foreign powers are intervening for ‘other’ reasons).
- However, it’s been devastating for the people with more than 388,000 casualties reported as per AFP.
- Syrian Govt and pro-Bashar forces (mainly from Shia sect): Iran, Hezbollah (Lebanon), and Russia.
- Rebels (mainly from Sunni sect): Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Islamic State, and US.
- Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is a graduate of King’s College London in 1996. She had a career in investment banking at J.P. Morgan before her marriage.
- Bashar al-Assad belongs to the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party – Syria Region.
- Bashar al-Assad began his career as a doctor in the Syrian Army after graduating from Damascus University’s medical school in 1988.
- AP – Syrian court accepts 3 candidates to run for president
- Livemint – Syria: Assad dynasty’s half century in power – A timeline
- ThoughtCo – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: Profile
- Quartz – The enigma of Assad: How a painfully shy eye doctor turned into a murderous tyrant
- AP – War’s timeline as Syrians mark 10 years since uprising began
- BBC – Syria war: A brief guide to who’s fighting whom