Middle East

State funeral for three Syrian officials as Assad’s inner circle shrinks

Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, Sharaa, Defense Minister General Fahd al-Freij andspeaker Mohammed Jihad al-Laham attend the funeral of victims of Wednesday’s blast.

A bombing in Damascus claimed by Syrian rebels Wednesday killed key figures in President Bashar Assad’s inner circle.

A look at some surviving members:

- Maher Assad, the president’s youngest brother, commands Syria’s best equipped army division and six brigades of the Republican Guard, responsible for security in the capital, Damascus. He is known for his hot temper and ruthless tactics.

- Ali Mamlouk, special security adviser, once the head of the feared internal security service, also has links to other security branches and operations.

- Abdel-Fattah Qudsiyeh, chief of military intelligence, is among the many officials sanctioned by the European Union for his role in the brutal crackdown against protesters.

- Walid al-Moallem, foreign minister, one of the few officials who appear before reporters to explain the regime’s actions. The U.S. has placed him on a list of sanctioned officials due to his role in the crackdown. Before being named foreign minister in 2006, he was involved in failed peace talks with Israel.

- Farouk Sharaa, Assad’s vice president, would succeed him if he resigns or dies under the current regime. Once the most public face of the regime of Assad and his father before him, Sharaa has dropped out of sight in recent weeks.

- Bushra Shawkat, Assad’s older sister and widow of Assef Shawkat, a feared general who was killed in Wednesday’s bomb blast. She is thought to wield considerable influence over her brother and her husband.

- Asma Assad, the president’s British-born wife, is known more for her expensive tastes and glamorous appearance than her political influence, but the EU listed her among the Syrians against whom it has imposed sanctions.

- Bouthaina Shabaan, Assad’s spokeswoman, has been the main representative of the regime to the outside world. It is not known how much influence she has over its policies. She started as an interpreter for Assad’s father.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 21, 2012, on page 10.




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