When Bashar al-Asad became President of Syria in June 2000, he had a tough act to follow. A quiet, unassuming opthalmologist, trained in Britain, young Asad was successor to his dynamic, wily father Hafiz, who had consolidated power in his ethnically diverse and politically restive state through personal charisma, brute force and political balancing acts. Now, some years after Bashar's succession and with mounting international pressure for political and economical reform, his handling of the issues facing Syria raises serious questions for the future stability of the Middle East. This is the first major work on Bashar al-Asad. It assesses the durability of Hafiz's legacy including the persistent influence of the old power-brokers, the effectiveness of Bashar's attempts to move away from his father's shadow, and the prospects for reform. Above all, it evaluates Bashar's continuing hold on power following Syria's humiliating retreat from Lebanon in Spring 2005 and the aggressive American drive to impose democracy in the Middle East.
Bashar al-Asad and the First Years in Power