Assad, Hafez al-
The president of syria from 1971 to 2000. Assad was recognized as a hard-liner among Arab politicians for his hostility to Israel. At home he brutally suppressed islamic fundamentalism. He gave active support to terrorism, but he cast his lot with the United Nations against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. He long insisted that Israel hand back to Syria the Golan Heights, which it had conquered in the Six-Day War.