A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, December 14, 2009

Majd al-Asad Dies at 43: The Least-Known Asad

Later: Yes, I should have captioned the others in the photo. Left to right, back row: Maher, Bashar, Basil, Majd, Bushra; front row: parents Anisa (Makhlouf) and Hafiz al-Asad.

You've probably never heard of Majd al-Asad. He's one of the younger brothers of Bashar al-Asad (in fact he's the one you've never heard of), and he's just died at age 43. Second from right, back row, in the photo. There have been many rumors about Majd, suggesting that he suffered from mental or other problems, and Josh Landis at Syria Comment goes to some pains to deny that he's endorsed some of the rumors; the official statement merely says he died of "chronic disease."

Majd was not a political figure, unlike his late brother Basil (original heir apparent, deceased) and President Bashar and his younger brother Maher (Chief, Presidential Guard) and, in her own way, his elder sister Bushra, wife of ‘Assaf Shawqat (former intel chief, now Chief of Staff) and, some say, the brains of the family. As I noted earlier, Majd is the second from right (back row) in the photo. He was an electrical engineer, married, but died without children.

I have no knowledge of what the "long illness" he died from may have been, and since he had no political role — pretty much the only Asad who didn't — it's none of my business. So I merely note his passing for the record. May he rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

Landis goes to some pains to deny that he is confirming rumors about the death of Majd Assad because he is very close to the regime. He doesn't want to damage his relationship with the regime in any way by being perceived to be spreading rumors, true or false, about the Assad family. You will see on Landis' blog that his thread on Majd Assad's brother was closed (unheard of on that blog). Landis, once again, has confirmed himself as "Assad's academic."

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Anonymous (if that IS your real name):

I would simply note in Josh Landis' defense that his subsequent post on the US attitude towards Mukhabarat states (spinning off David Ignatius' op-ed in the Washington Post on the death of the former Jordanian Mukhabarat chief) is very critical of US support of security state apparatuses in the region. He may not address Syria directly, but I can't imagine it was far from his mind. Here's the post with Ignatius'text imcluded: