Jamil al-Assad

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Jamil al-Assad (1933–2004) () was a brother of former Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, and the uncle of present Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. He served in the Parliament of Syria, called the majlis ash-sha'b for many years, until his death.

Of the three Assad brothers, Hafez and Rifaat both have a military background and have played major roles in the Syrian government. While Jamil was certainly influential, he was not very involved in the military, and generally kept a lower profile in politics. However, he did hold various government offices, and grew very wealthy during the rule of his brother.

While both his brothers enforced secularism, Jamil was said to be deeply religious. In the 1980s, he set up a Latakia-based foundation (al-Murtada), which helped fellow Alawite Muslims to go on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The foundation is also said to have tried to convert Sunni Muslim bedouins to the Alawi faith. Whether true or not, the rumours caused friction with the majority Sunni population. Al-Murtada is also said to have had a minor militia wing, made up by Alawi Muslims, which was armed and equipped by Rifaat's powerful internal security division, the Defense Companies.

When Rifaat attempted in 1984 to exploit the failing health of Hafez, using the Defense Companies to stage a failed coup d'état, this cast doubt on Jamil in the eyes of Hafez. Some of his assets are reported to have been confiscated in retaliation, but there is little doubt he remained a very wealthy...
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