Everyone expected that the regime would find a way to make Bashar president after Hafez al-Assad’s death. I thought maybe they would remove the age requirement altogether. And all they did, in five minutes, in front of our very eyes, it was put down to 34, his exact age. They might as well have said, ‘The president must be 34 and his name must be Bashar al-Assad.’
Rime Allaf is a Syrian-born writer and political analyst. In a wide-ranging conversation with Newlines’ Faisal Al Yafai, she recalls living through the end of the Hafez al-Assad era and traces the Bashar years from the initial optimism of Syrians, through the end of the Lebanon occupation and the Iraq War, to the start of the Syrian revolution.