By Eyal Zisser
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Additional info for Commanding Syria: Bashar al-Asad and the First Years in Power
Some years later, during the Islamic revolt against the regime (1976–82), the family again felt threatened, as members of the Muslim Brotherhood targeted leaders of the regime (including Asad) and their families for attacks. Basil, who was about 19 at the height of the revolt, recalled about that period: “Because of the random killing [perpetrated by members of the Brotherhood], people advised me not to go out, but I felt I could defend myself. e. he spent his medical residency in London], he would be prepared to abandon his principles and thereby guarantee his rule [by means of Western support].
Apparently, this goal underlay a broad, unprecedented manpower shift in the highest command level, namely the divisional command. Young, mostly unknown Alawite officers were promoted to this level, evidently in the expectation that they would provide Bashar with the support he needed. , together with Bashar, focused on molding and marketing his image as heir apparent to the Syrian public, the Arab world and the West. The first goal was to put Bashar in the spotlight, as he was largely unknown in Syria or outside it until pressed into his new role upon his brother’s death.
Presumably, President Asad entrusted it to him not only because of the importance he attached to it but also because Lebanon was no longer viewed as a volatile issue, as the Syrians had imposed their control over that state successfully. Another important advantage for Bashar in handling the Lebanese issue was that it involved facing down The road to the top 35 several powerful figures in Syria, such as Vice-President ‘Abd alHalim Khaddam and Chief of Staff Hikmat Shihabi, who had been responsible for Lebanon in the past and continued to be involved in developments there.