The widow of President Hafez Assad and mother of the current president, she is thought to have considerable influence within the regime. Hailing from a prominent Alawite family, Anisa Makhlouf Assad rarely appeared in public with her late husband, nor has she played much of a public role since her son took power. According to local media reports, she was last seen at an Arab Women’s Union in Damascus in 2006. Nonetheless, it is she, not the president’s wife, Asma Assad, that is considered First Lady. “We’re hearing a lot of stories about her influence on her son, that she’s convincing him what happens now is the same as in the 1980s [when a Muslim Brotherhood revolt was suppressed] and that he has to use force,” opposition figure Radwan Ziadeh told Al Jazeera English.
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