Anisa (or Aniseh) Makhlouf (Arabic: أنيسة مخلوف; 1930 or 1934 – 6 February 2016) was the Syrian matriarch of the Al-Assad family, which has ruled the country since 1971. The wife of the late President Hafez al-Assad, Makhlouf held the position of First Lady of Syria from 1971 until 2000. Her five children include Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria since 2000.
Makhlouf in 1970
|First Lady of Syria|
March 12, 1971 – June 10, 2000
|Succeeded by||Najat Marqabi (interim)|
|Born||1930 or 1934 |
|Died||6 February 2016 (aged 85–86)|
|Spouse(s)||Hafez al-Assad (1957–2000; his death)|
The Economist described Anisa Makhlouf as "a formidable figure" within the al-Assad family and the Ba'athist government. A highly influential member of the government, she was one of the few people with whom Bashar al-Assad regularly consulted during the Syrian Civil War. She is believed to have advocated for a heavy, military crackdown on Syrian protesters and rebels during the ongoing Civil War.
She married Hafez al-Assad, an officer of the Syrian Arab Air Force, in 1957. They had five children: Bushra (b. 1960), Bassel al-Assad (1962–1994), Bashar al-Assad (b. 1965), Majd al-Assad (1966–2009), and Maher al-Assad (b. 1967). Her marriage to Hafez al-Assad elevated the status and wealth of the Makhlouf family. Anisa Makhlouf's relatives were awarded lucrative contracts within the country's banking, oil and telecommunication sectors. One nephew, Rami Makhlouf, is believed to be the wealthiest man in Syria, with a net worth of $5 billion USD, as of 2012.
Following the death of Bassel al-Assad in 1994, Makhlouf favored Maher al-Assad, her youngest son and a Syrian general, as a possible successor for her husband. Instead, Bashar al-Assad returned from London, joined the military, and succeeded his father as President of Syria in 2000.
Makhlouf is believed to have advocated for a harsh crackdown on protesters and rebels during the Arab Spring and Syrian Civil War. In 2012, Makhlouf, as well as other members of the Al-Assad family, were sanctioned by the European Union amid the country's civil war and attacks on protesters by the Syrian government.
The EU sanctions included a travel ban and the freezing of her assets. Prior to the travel ban, she had reportedly made frequent trips to Germany for medical treatments for an undisclosed illness.
Anisa Makhlouf died in Damascus on 6 February 2016 from undisclosed causes.
- One source cites 1934 as her year of birth (see p. 26), onpcsb.ro; accessed 9 July 2017.
- "Syrian president's mother Anissa Assad dies aged 86". Al Jazeera English. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- "The Assad family: Where are they now?". The Economist. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- Ali, Nour (11 October 2011). "At home with the Assads: Syria's ruthless ruling family". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- Dow, Nicole (18 July 2012). "Getting to know Syria's first family". CNN. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- Bacias, Amanda (6 February 2016). "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's mother has died". Reuters (Business Insider). Retrieved 9 July 2017.
- "Bashar al-Assad's mother has fled Syria, US ambassador claims". The Daily Telegraph. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- "Syrian president's mother Anissa Assad dies aged 86". Al Jazeera. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
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