The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest Syrian Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,710 Politicians, 70 of which were born in Syria. This makes Syria the birth place of the 39th most number of Politicians behind Argentina and Serbia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Syrian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Syrian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Syrian Politicians.

Photo of Elagabalus

1. Elagabalus (203 - 222)

With an HPI of 81.81, Elagabalus is the most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 73 different languages on wikipedia.

Elagabalus or Heliogabalus (c. 204 – 11 March 222), officially known as Antoninus, was Roman emperor from 218 to 222. His short reign was conspicuous for sex scandals and religious controversy. A close relative to the Severan dynasty, he came from a prominent Arab family in Emesa (Homs), Syria, where in his early youth he served as head priest of the sun god Elagabal. After the death of his cousin the emperor Caracalla, Elagabalus was raised to the principate at 14 years of age in an army revolt instigated by his grandmother, Julia Maesa, against Caracalla's short-lived successor, Macrinus. As a private citizen, he was probably named Varius Avitus Bassianus. Upon becoming emperor he took the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, and only posthumously became known by the Latinised name of his god.Later historians suggest Elagabalus showed a disregard for Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He replaced the traditional head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter, with the deity Elagabal, of whom he had been high priest. He forced leading members of Rome's government to participate in religious rites celebrating this deity, presiding over them in person. He married four women, including a Vestal Virgin, and lavished favours on male courtiers thought to have been his lovers. He was also reported to have prostituted himself. His behavior estranged the Praetorian Guard, the Senate, and the common people alike. Amidst growing opposition, at just 18 years of age he was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander in March 222. The assassination plot against Elagabalus was devised by his grandmother, Julia Maesa, and carried out by disaffected members of the Praetorian Guard. Elagabalus developed a reputation among his contemporaries for extreme eccentricity, decadence, and zealotry. This tradition has persisted, and among writers of the early modern age he suffered one of the worst reputations among Roman emperors. Edward Gibbon, for example, wrote that Elagabalus "abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury". According to Barthold Georg Niebuhr, "the name Elagabalus is branded in history above all others" because of his "unspeakably disgusting life". An example of a modern historian's assessment is Adrian Goldsworthy's: "Elagabalus was not a tyrant, but he was an incompetent, probably the least able emperor Rome had ever had." Despite universal condemnation of his reign, some scholars do write warmly about him, including 6th century Roman chronicler John Malalas, and Warwick Ball, a modern historian who described him as innovative and "a tragic enigma lost behind centuries of prejudice".Because of accounts by contemporary historian Cassius Dio and others that Elagabalus wore women's clothing, preferred to be called a lady, and sought vaginoplasty, the emperor is considered by some historians to be an early transgender figure and one of the first on record as seeking sex reassignment surgery.

Photo of Hafez al-Assad

2. Hafez al-Assad (1930 - 2000)

With an HPI of 80.48, Hafez al-Assad is the 2nd most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 71 different languages.

Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: حَافِظ الْأَسَد‎ Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsad, Levantine Arabic: [ˈħaːfezˤ elˈʔasad], Modern Standard Arabic: [ħaːfɪðˤ al'ʔasad]; 6 October 1930 – 10 June 2000) was a Syrian politician who served as the President of Syria from 1971 to 2000. He was also the Prime Minister of Syria from 1970 to 1971, as well as regional secretary of the regional command of the Syrian regional branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party and secretary general of the National Command of the Ba'ath Party from 1970 to 2000. Assad participated in the 1963 Syrian coup d'état which brought the Syrian regional branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party to power, and the new leadership appointed him commander of the Syrian Air Force. In 1966, Assad participated in a second coup, which toppled the traditional leaders of the Ba'ath Party and brought a radical military faction headed by Salah Jadid to power. Assad was appointed defence minister by the new government. Four years later, Assad initiated a third coup which ousted Jadid, and appointed himself as the undisputed leader of Syria. Assad de-radicalised the Ba'ath government when he took power by giving more space to private property and by strengthening the country's foreign relations with countries which his predecessor had deemed reactionary. He sided with the Soviet Union during the cold war in return for support against Israel, and, while he had forsaken the pan-Arab concept of unifying the Arab world into one Arab nation, he sought to make Syria the defender of Arab interests against Israel. When he came to power, Assad organised state services along sectarian lines (the Sunnis became the heads of political institutions, while the Alawites took control of the military, intelligence, and security apparatuses). The formerly collegial powers of Ba'athist decision-making were curtailed, and were transferred to the Syrian presidency. The Syrian government ceased to be a one-party system in the normal sense of the word, and was turned into a one-party state with a strong presidency. To maintain this system, a cult of personality centred on Assad and his family was created by the president and the Ba'ath party.Having become the main source of initiative inside the Syrian government, Assad began looking for a successor. His first choice was his brother Rifaat, but Rifaat attempted to seize power in 1983–84 when Hafez's health was in doubt. Rifaat was subsequently exiled when Hafez's health recovered. Hafez's next choice of successor was his eldest son, Bassel. However, Bassel died in a car accident in 1994, and Hafez turned to his third choice—his younger son Bashar, who at that time had no political experience. The move to appoint a member of his own family as his successor was met with criticism within some quarters of the Syrian ruling class, but Assad persisted with his plan and demoted officials who opposed this succession. Hafez died in 2000 and Bashar succeeded him as President.

Photo of Zenobia

3. Zenobia (240 - 275)

With an HPI of 79.82, Zenobia is the 3rd most famous Syrian Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Septimia Zenobia (Palmyrene: (Btzby), pronounced Bat-Zabbai; c. 240 – c. 274 AD) was a third-century queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria. Many legends surround her ancestry; she was probably not a commoner and she married the ruler of the city, Odaenathus. Her husband became king in 260, elevating Palmyra to supreme power in the Near East by defeating the Sassanians and stabilizing the Roman East. After Odaenathus' assassination, Zenobia became the regent of her son Vaballathus and held de facto power throughout his reign. In 270, Zenobia launched an invasion which brought most of the Roman East under her sway and culminated with the annexation of Egypt. By mid-271 her realm extended from Ancyra, central Anatolia, to southern Egypt, although she remained nominally subordinate to Rome. However, in reaction to the campaign of the Roman emperor Aurelian in 272, Zenobia declared her son emperor and assumed the title of empress (declaring Palmyra's secession from Rome). The Romans were victorious after heavy fighting; the queen was besieged in her capital and captured by Aurelian, who exiled her to Rome where she spent the remainder of her life. Zenobia was a cultured monarch and fostered an intellectual environment in her court, which was open to scholars and philosophers. She was tolerant toward her subjects and protected religious minorities. The queen maintained a stable administration which governed a multicultural multiethnic empire. Zenobia died after 274, and many tales have been recorded about her fate. Her rise and fall have inspired historians, artists and novelists, and she is a patriotic symbol in Syria.

Photo of Yazid I

4. Yazid I (647 - 683)

With an HPI of 79.59, Yazid I is the 4th most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.

Yazid ibn Mu'awiya ibn Abi Sufyan (Arabic: يزيد بن معاوية بن أبي سفيان‎, romanized: Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya ibn ʾAbī Sufyān; 646 – 12 November 683), commonly known as Yazid I, was the second caliph of the Umayyad caliphate. He ruled for three years from 680 until his death in 683. His appointment was the first hereditary succession in Islamic history. His caliphate was marked by the death of Muhammad's grandson Husayn ibn Ali as well as the start of the crisis known as the Second Fitna. His nomination in 676 (56 AH) by Muawiya was opposed by several prominent Muslims from the Hejaz. Following his accession, after Muawiya's death in 680, Husayn and Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr refused to recognize him and fled to sanctuary in Mecca. When Husayn was on his way to Kufa to lead a revolt against Yazid, he was killed with his small band of supporters by Yazid's forces in the Battle of Karbala. The killing of Husayn led to resentment in the Hejaz, where Ibn al-Zubayr centered his opposition to the rule of Yazid, and was supported by many people in Mecca and Medina. After failed attempts to regain the confidence of Ibn al-Zubayr and the people of the Hejaz through diplomacy, Yazid sent an army to end the rebellion. The army defeated the Medinese in the Battle of al-Harrah in August 683 and the city was given over to three days of pillage. Later, siege was laid to Mecca, which lasted for several weeks. The siege ended with the death of Yazid in November 683 and the empire fell into civil war. Yazid is considered an illegitimate ruler and a tyrant by many Muslims due to his hereditary succession, the death of Husayn and the attack on the city of Medina by his forces. Modern historians present a milder view of him, and consider him a capable ruler, albeit less successful than his father.

Photo of Philip the Arab

5. Philip the Arab (204 - 249)

With an HPI of 78.64, Philip the Arab is the 5th most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.

Philip the Arab (Latin: Marcus Julius Philippus 'Arabus'; c. 204 – September 249) was Roman emperor from 244 to 249. He was born in Aurantis, Arabia, in a city situated in modern-day Syria. He went on to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. After the death of Gordian III in February 244, Philip, who had been Praetorian prefect, achieved power. He quickly negotiated peace with the Persian Sassanid Empire and returned to Rome to be confirmed by the senate. During his reign, the city of Rome celebrated its millennium. He also introduced the Actia-Dusaria Festivities in Bostra, capital of Arabia. Dusaria is Dushara, the main Nabataean deity. Philip was betrayed and killed at the Battle of Verona in September 249 following a rebellion led by his successor, Gaius Messius Quintus Decius. Philip's reign of five years was uncommonly stable in a turbulent third century.During the late 3rd century and into the 4th, it was held by some churchmen that Philip had been the first Christian emperor; he was described as such in Jerome's Chronicon (Chronicle), which was well known during the Middle Ages, in Orosius' highly popular Historia Adversus Paganos (History Against the Pagans), and was presented as a Christian in Eusebius of Caesarea's Historia Ecclesiastica (Ecclesiastical History). Modern scholars are divided on the issue.

Photo of Abd al-Rahman I

6. Abd al-Rahman I (731 - 788)

With an HPI of 78.00, Abd al-Rahman I is the 6th most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.

Abd al-Rahman I, more fully Abd al-Rahman ibn Mu'awiya ibn Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (731–788) was the founder of the Arab dynasty that ruled the greater part of Iberia for nearly three centuries (including the succeeding Caliphate of Córdoba). Abd al-Rahman was a member of the Umayyad dynasty in Damascus, and his establishment of a government in Iberia represented a break with the Abbasids, who had overthrown the Umayyads in 750. He was also known by the surnames al-Dakhil ("the Entrant"), Saqr Quraish ("the Falcon of Quraysh") and the "Falcon of Andalus". Variations of the spelling of his name include Abd ar-Rahman I, Abdul Rahman I, Abdar Rahman I, and Abderraman I.

Photo of Bashar al-Assad

7. Bashar al-Assad (1965 - )

With an HPI of 76.74, Bashar al-Assad is the 7th most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 101 different languages.

Bashar Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: بَشَّار حَافِظ الْأَسَد‎, Baššār Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsad, Levantine pronunciation: [baʃˈʃaːr ˈħaːfezˤ elˈʔasad]; English pronunciation ; born 11 September 1965) is a Syrian politician who has been the 19th president of Syria since 17 July 2000. In addition, he is the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces and regional secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party's branch in Syria. His father, Hafez al-Assad, was the president of Syria before him, serving from 1971 to 2000. Born and raised in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad graduated from the medical school of Damascus University in 1988 and began to work as a doctor in the Syrian Army. Four years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital in London, specialising in ophthalmology. In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel died in a car crash, Bashar was recalled to Syria to take over Bassel's role as heir apparent. He entered the military academy, taking charge of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon in 1998. Political scientists have characterised the Assad family's rule of Syria as a personalist dictatorship. On 17 July 2000, Assad became president, succeeding his father, who died in office a month prior. In the uncontested and non-democratic 2000 and 2007 elections, he received 97.29% and 97.6% support, respectively. On 16 July 2014, Assad was sworn in for another seven-year term after another non-democratic election gave him 88.7% of the vote. The election was held only in areas controlled by the Syrian government during the country's ongoing civil war and was criticised by the UN, the Syrian opposition and Western countries, while Syria's allies, including Iran, Russia and Venezuela, stated that the election was "free and fair". Throughout his leadership, human rights groups have characterized Syria's human rights situation as poor. The Assad government describes itself as secular, while some political scientists have claimed that the government exploits sectarian tensions in the country and relies upon the Alawite minority to remain in power.Once seen by many states as a potential reformer, the United States, the European Union and the majority of the Arab League called for Assad's resignation from the presidency in 2011 after he ordered a violent crackdown on Arab Spring protesters, which led to the Syrian Civil War. In December 2013, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that findings from an inquiry by the United Nations implicated Assad in war crimes. The OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism concluded in October 2017 that Assad's government was responsible for the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack. In June 2014, the American Syrian Accountability Project included Assad on a list of war crimes indictments of government officials and rebels it sent to the International Criminal Court. Assad has rejected allegations of war crimes and criticised the American-led intervention in Syria for attempting regime change.

Photo of Muawiya II

8. Muawiya II (661 - 684)

With an HPI of 75.68, Muawiya II is the 8th most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.

Muawiya II or Muawiya ibn Yazid (Arabic: معاوية بن يزيد‎, romanized: Mu‘āwiya ibn Yazīd; c. 664 – 684 CE) succeeded his father Yazid I as the third Umayyad caliph and last caliph of the Sufyanid line. He ruled briefly in 683-684 (64 AH) before he died.

Photo of Marwan II

9. Marwan II (688 - 750)

With an HPI of 75.12, Marwan II is the 9th most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Marwan ibn Muhammad ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam (Arabic: مروان بن محمد بن مروان بن الحكم‎, romanized: Marwān ibn Muḥammad ibn Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam; 691 – 6 August 750), also called Marwan II, was the fourteenth and last caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate, ruling from 744 until he was killed in 750. Much of his reign was dominated by the Third Muslim Civil War, and he was the last Umayyad ruler to rule the united Caliphate before the Abbasid Revolution toppled the Umayyad dynasty.

Photo of Imad ad-Din Zengi

10. Imad ad-Din Zengi (1087 - 1146)

With an HPI of 74.71, Imad ad-Din Zengi is the 10th most famous Syrian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Imad al-Din Zengi (Arabic: عماد الدین زنكي‎; c. 1085 – 14 September 1146), also romanized as Zangi, Zengui, Zenki, and Zanki, was an Oghuz Turkish atabeg who ruled Mosul, Aleppo, Hama, and, later, Edessa. He was the namesake of the Zengid dynasty.

Pantheon has 70 people classified as politicians born between 1800 BC and 1998. Of these 70, 15 (21.43%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Bashar al-Assad, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, and Salih Muslim. The most famous deceased politicians include Elagabalus, Hafez al-Assad, and Zenobia. As of October 2020, 5 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din, Assef Shawkat, and Soraya Tarzi.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2020)

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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 17 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.