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A Syrian boy rides a bicycle through a devastated part of the old city of Homs A Syrian boy rides a bicycle through a devastated part of the old city of Homs, Syria, Feb. 26, 2016 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

Where 50 Years of Assad Family Rule Have Left Syria

Monday, Nov. 16, 2020

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week.

Nov. 13 marked a grim milestone in Syria: 50 years since Hafez al-Assad, then a young Alawite air force officer from the coastal hills outside Latakia, seized power in a bloodless coup. At the time, it was just the latest in a string of coups and countercoups in Damascus—starting with the Arab world’s first military putsch in 1949—that had made Syria so unstable in the first few decades of its independence following French colonial rule. But where other military officers had failed, leading short-lived juntas, only to be deposed and in some cases executed by their rivals, Assad succeeded, brutally. ...

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