Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
Who Was Mohammad Nasif?
By Mohammad D.
For Syria Comment – June 30, 2015
Mohammad Nasif Kheirbek, one of Bashar al-Assad most trusted aids, died around 5 AM. Sunday, 6/28/2015 in al-Shami Hospital in Damascus from Prostate cancer, which he was diagnosed with about 8 years ago. Mohammad Nasif, as he is known in Syria, held important security positions under Hafez al-Assad, and then became an Assistant to Vice President Farouk al-Shar’a during the current rule of Bashar al-Assad. He was very highly trusted by both Assads, and was one of the very few who made it from the reign of Hafez al-Assad to that of his son Bashar.
The family of Mohammad Nasif
Not too many people know that Mohammad Nasif Kheirbeik hails from a very big and important Alawite family. His grandfather is Isma’il Kheirbek (1822-1858), the head of al-Mtawra Alawite tribe. He traces his ancestry to al-Makzun al-Sinjari (1187-1240), one of the most important figures in Alawite history.
Ismai’il Kheirbek rebelled against the Ottomans and was able to carve out an independent enclave for about two years 1856-1858 that was centered in Misyaf (45 km west from Hama). He fought the Ottomans and their local allies, like al-Danadesheh, and allied himself with local Christians, like M. Nawfal. He and his allies tried to build bridges with the British. Ismail’s effort at rebellion and independence ended when his uncle Ali al-Shilleh poisoned him. Most of his family were subsequently killed and their bodies sent to the the Ottoman authorities. Soon, the Ottomans shelled al-Laqbah, Ismail Kheirbek’s village. Although Ismail had build a Sarai, with their artillery. That year, 1858, the Alawites rebelled again.
Hawash, the son of Isma’il Kheirbek, who survived the family bloodbath, started a rebellion. But, he was caught and exiled first to Akka and then to Rhodes, where he died in 1897.
The Hawash Kheirbek family played a prominent role in the Alawite State that was granted a broad degree of autonomy during the French during the Mandate (1920-1946). Aziz Hawash became the governor/muhafez of Damascus in 1936, Jihad Hawash, an Ambassador in the 1950s, married a granddaughter of Abd al-Qader al-Jazairi. Mohammad Hawash was an army general in the 1950s who also wrote a history about the Alawite State.
The life of Mohammad Nasif
Mohamamd Nasif was born in al-Laqbeh in 1937. His father died when he was 4. Later, as a teenager, he moved to live with his well-to-do father’s sister living in Hama. Not too many Alawites lived in Hama at that time. But his aunt took care of him and Mohammad was able to graduate form Ibn Rushd high school.
After high school, he moved to Aleppo to get Ahliyat al-Ta’lim (certified as a teacher), at a two-year institute. He became an elementary school teacher in 1958. Then, he was appointed in al-Qamishli becoming a principle for an elementary school in two years. But, in 1960 he was called to do mandatory army service. At this moment, he changed his career outlook and joined the Military Academy in Homs, where he graduated in 1964. In 1965 he was appointed in Far’a 225 where he spend the next ten years. In 1975, he was transferred to head Far’a 251 of Amn Dakhili (Interior Security).
It was during his years working for al-Amn al-Dakhili that Nasif became what he is. So, when the fight between Hafez al-Assad, and his regime versus the Muslim Brothers’s started in 1979, Mohammad Nasif was in the midst of it. His loyalty to Hafez al-Assad was crucial.
During this time period, Mohamamd Nasif played an important role combating the enemies of Hafez al-Assad in and around Damascus. “He was a very hard working man. Did not get married and spent all of his time in his office at that time period,” according to a source. His security branch, along with the two headed by Ali Duba (Mukhaba Askariyah/Army Intelligence) and Mohamamd al-Khuli (Mukhabarat Jawiyyah/ Air Force Intelligence), were according to many, the bedrock of Hafez al-Assad’s rule.
The enemies of Mohamamd Nasif speak of his reign on top of al-Amn al-Dakhili as an era of terror, intimidation, and torture.
Muhammad Nasif was let go from al-Amn al-Dakhili in 1999. He was given a high job in the Idarat al-Mukhabarat al-‘Ammah (Intelligence General Directorate), and later in 2005 he was appointed the Assistant to Faruk al-Shar’, the Syrian Vice President. He was one of the few that were left from the old guards of Hafez al-Assad.
When the Syrian Crisis started in 2011, Muhammad Nasif was almost retired, according to members of his family. He was brought back because of his knowledge and good relations with many people. Most important was his close relationship with Iran’s top leaders.
According to those who knew him, Muhammad Nasif was a workaholic and man of few words. He rarely answered questions and always spoke politely. Not too many things were known about him, which was just as he liked it.