Bashar Hafez al-Assad is the President of Syria since 2000. He is commander-in-chief of Syrian Armed Forces, General Secretary of the ruling Ba'ath Party and Regional Secretary of the party's branch in Syria. The Assad government has described itself as secular, while experts have contended that the government exploits ethnic and sectarian tensions in the country to remain in power.
Bashar al-Assad was born in Damascus on 11 September 1965, the son of Aniseh and Hafez al-Assad. His father rose through the Ba'ath Party ranks to take control of the Syrian branch of the Party in the 1970 Corrective Revolution, culminating in his rise to the Syrian presidency. Hafez al-Assad promoted his supporters within the Ba'ath Party, many of whom were of also Alawite background. His last name in Arabic means "the lion".
Unlike his brothers, Bassel and Maher, and sister, Bushra, Bashar was quiet and reserved and says that he lacked interest in politics or the military; he was said to have been bullied by his older brother Bassel. The Assad children reportedly rarely saw their father, and Bashar later stated that he only entered his father's office once while he was in power and he never spoke about politics with him.
The first place to study for Bashar was an élite Arabic-French lyceum “Al Juria".
In 1982 sergeant Bashar al-Assad went to the medical school of the University of Damascus with two specializations - therapeutics and ophthalmology. He graduated in 1988.
Four years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital, in London, specializing in ophthalmology. After graduating the future head of the state worked as an ophthalmologist in a military hospital “Teeshreene” for four years.
In 1992-1994 he practiced anonymously in St. Mary’s Hospital in London.
After his brother's death, Bashar was recalled back to Syria to enter the military academy, taking charge of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 1998.
In 1996 Bashar was appointed as a policy adviser.
Assad was reconfirmed by the national electorate as President of Syria in 2000 and 2007, after the People's Council of Syria had voted to propose the incumbent uncontested each time.
In late April 2014, Assad announced he would run for a third term in Syria's first multi-candidate direct presidential election in decades, amid serious concerns by the European Union, the United States and other countries regarding the legitimacy of this vote and the effect it will have on peace talks with the Syrian Opposition. He was sworn in for his third seven-year term, on July 16, 2014, in the presidential palace in Damascus.