Bashar al-Assad poised to return to power
BEIRUT: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, poised to return to power in Tuesday’s vote, is an autocrat with a courteous appearance, a cross between family man and warlord.
Unlike Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi, now both ousted and killed after decades in power, the gangly Assad hardly resembles the stereotypical Middle East strongman.
With their rugged features and stern looks, Kadhafi and Hussein were often pictured in military fatigues or traditional Bedouin clothes.
Assad, 48, tends to appear in smart suit and tie, looking more like a senior civil servant or bank manager than the head of state of a country at war.
The former ophthalmologist’s fate changed radically when elder brother Bassel, lined up to inherit power from Syria’s strongman Hafez al-Assad, was killed in a 1994 road accident in Damascus.
Bashar al-Assad had to leave London, where he had met his wife Asma, a British-Syrian and Sunni Muslim who worked for financial services firm J.P. Morgan.
He took a course in military studies and was tutored in politics by his father, a former military man who ruled Syria with an iron fist from 1971 until his death in 2000.