Bashar al-Assad (Arabic: بشار حافظ الأسد, Baššār al-ʾAsad; born 11 September 1965) is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death. Al-Assad was elected in 2000 and 2007, but was unopposed each time.
Bashar al-Assad was born in Damascus on 11 September 1965, the son of Aniseh (née Makhluf) and Hafez al-Assad. Initially Bashar had few political aspirations. His father had been grooming Bashar's older brother, Basil al-Assad, as a future president. Bashar studied ophthalmology at Damascus University 1988 and arrived in London in 1992 to continue his studies. He was recalled in 1994 to join the Syrian army after Basil's death in an automobile accident. Bashar entered the military academy at Homs, north of Damascus, following the death of Basil, and was propelled through the ranks to become a colonel in January 1999. The accident made Bashar his father's new heir-apparent.
When the elder Assad died in 2000, Bashar was appointed leader of the Baath-Party and the Army and was elected president unopposed with what the regime claimed to be a massive popular support (97.2% of the votes), after the Majlis Al Sha'ab (Parliament) swiftly voted to lower the minimum age for candidates from 40 to 34 (Assad's age when he was elected). On 27 May 2007 Bashar was approved as president for another seven-year term, with the official result of 97.6% of the votes in a referendum without another candidate.