Aslan, Ali Shaker (1936–)

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Syrian Alawite, born in 1936 in the Ladhiqiyah region. Ali Aslan chose a military career when he was twenty years old. Trained at the Military Academy of Homs (Syria), he studied also in the Soviet Union. In October 1966, he was appointed commander of the Syrian Infantry Eighth Brigade. In November 1970, he supported the military coup that brought Hafiz al-Asad to power in Syria. In 1973, he was designated leader of the First and Fifth Divisions. Two years later, he became chief of the "operations" bureau of the Syrian Army General Staff.

From 1976 to 1979, he was in charge of the Syrian contingent based in Lebanon, supervising the "hundred days war" against the Christian militia of Bashir Jumayyil. Aslan was one of the principal Syrian interlocutors with the Soviet defense minister. In July 1984, promoted to lieutenant general, he was appointed commander of the Army Second Corps. In 1989 he was named assistant chief of staff of the Syrian Army. After he assumed this post, he was considered the true "operational boss" of the Syrian Army. In July 1998, he became army chief of staff, replacing General Hikmat al-Shihabi, who retired after twenty-four years in this position. A member of the Central Committee of the Baʿth Party, with a reputation for intelligence, Ali Aslan was a powerful member of the Baʿth "old guard" and a member of the inner circle of President Hafiz al-Asad. After al-Asad's death in June 2000, Aslan was retained in his post by al-Asad's son and successor, Bashshar al-Asad. In January 2002, he was retired as part of the younger Asad's program of reform.

SEE ALSO Asad, Bashshar al-;Asad, Hafiz al-;Baʿth;Jumayyil, Bashir;Shihabi, Hikmat al-.