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Anisa (or Aniseh) Makhlouf (Arabic: أنيسة مخلوف‎; 1930 or 1934 – 6 February 2016)[1] 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.[2][3][4]

Anisa Makhlouf
Anisa Makhlouf.jpg
Makhlouf in 1970
First Lady of Syria
In role
March 12, 1971 – June 10, 2000
PresidentHafez al-Assad
Preceded by?
Succeeded byNajat Marqabi (interim)
Asma al-Assad
Personal details
Born1930 or 1934 [1]
Latakia, Syria
Died6 February 2016(2016-02-06) (aged 85–86)
Damascus, Syria
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.[3] 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.[3][5] She is believed to have advocated for a heavy, military crackdown on Syrian protesters and rebels during the ongoing Civil War.[3]

Makhlouf was born around 1929 or 1930 in Latakia, Syria, to the Makhloufs, an influential family from Bustan al-Basha, Latakia Governorate.[2][3][6]

She married Hafez al-Assad, an officer of the Syrian Arab Air Force, in 1957.[2] 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.[5] Anisa Makhlouf's relatives were awarded lucrative contracts within the country's banking, oil and telecommunication sectors.[5] One nephew, Rami Makhlouf, is believed to be the wealthiest man in Syria, with a net worth of $5 billion USD, as of 2012.[5]

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.[4] Instead, Bashar al-Assad returned from London, joined the military, and succeeded his father as President of Syria in 2000.[4]

Makhlouf is believed to have advocated for a harsh crackdown on protesters and rebels during the Arab Spring and Syrian Civil War.[3] 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.[2]

The EU sanctions included a travel ban and the freezing of her assets.[2] Prior to the travel ban, she had reportedly made frequent trips to Germany for medical treatments for an undisclosed illness.[2][3][7]


Anisa Makhlouf died in Damascus on 6 February 2016 from undisclosed causes.[8]


  1. ^ a b One source cites 1934 as her year of birth (see p. 26),; accessed 9 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Syrian president's mother Anissa Assad dies aged 86". Al Jazeera English. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "The Assad family: Where are they now?". The Economist. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Ali, Nour (11 October 2011). "At home with the Assads: Syria's ruthless ruling family". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Dow, Nicole (18 July 2012). "Getting to know Syria's first family". CNN. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  6. ^ Bacias, Amanda (6 February 2016). "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's mother has died". Reuters (Business Insider). Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Bashar al-Assad's mother has fled Syria, US ambassador claims". The Daily Telegraph. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Syrian president's mother Anissa Assad dies aged 86". Al Jazeera. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.