Who was Mohammad Nasif Kheirbek?” by Mohammad D.

Who Was Mohammad Nasif?
By Mohammad D.

For Syria Comment – June 30, 2015

Muhammad Nasif

Muhammad Nasif

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.

Comments (120)

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101. omen said:

some context for #98 :

Reunited after being freed from Assads dungeons Idlib

someone noted it as part of a prisoner exchange.

more detail of an earlier exchange.

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July 8th, 2015, 12:31 am


102. Majedkhaldoun said:

HA lost 3000 soldier, and another 4000 are wounded and can not go back to fight, HA attrition is going on,

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July 8th, 2015, 8:20 am


103. Sami said:

What is the end game by sticking by more Assad? More Alawites dying as canon fodder to keep him in his throne?

The amount of death of Alawite men fighting for Assad or are serious casualties is staggering. Some say 30% of Alawite men of age are either dead or seriously wounded. It’s a shame really. When will these men and their families realize that Assad as a dead end for them?

Alawites deserve better than Assad, Sunnis deserve better than Daesh. Syria deserves better from its people.

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July 8th, 2015, 11:30 am


104. omen said:

94. ghufran said: The so-called experts and analysts fail in their predictions […] Even the ex-Israeli PM Ehud Barak said Assad would fall in two months, and this was in 2011.

this explains the misleading “assad willl fall” rhetoric critics like to jump all over experts for. it wasn’t so much prediction but CYA (cover your ass).

Q: You and I have disagreed on Syria, do you think that Syria experts have been wrong in the last years especially with the regular and constant predictions of the imminent fall of the regime?

A: The generalisation is problematic. Such predictions were rather made by journalists, who have the good excuse of not being Syria experts, and Western officials, who often did so for a bad reason, i.e. in order to justify their inaction: if Asad is about to fall, then there is no need to do anything to stop him.

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July 8th, 2015, 12:41 pm


105. mjabali said:

Not all Alawites support al-Assad or want what happened to the Sunnis to have happened. This is a fact. But, many of them fight for al-Assad for many reasons.

To know the leanings of the Alawites exactly you need to make a scientific survey.

Many Alawites I know are against al-Assad, but, the problem, is there is not one group willing to help them organize and do something. All they hear is revenge and more threats, the regular insults, and talk that never leads anywhere.

My two cousins, one is hiding does not dare going out. If they stop him, they would drag him to service because his name is up. His younger brother wants to leave the country.

Not all Alawites are with al-Assad: help the independent ones thrive.

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July 8th, 2015, 12:55 pm


106. Ghufran said:

SOHR web site got hacked by Isis supporters.
SOHR angered both pro and anti regime people by reporting events instead of spinning the news
تعرض الموقع الالكتروني للمرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان، المحسوب على المعارضة وأحد أبرز مصادر الأخبار حول النزاع في سوريا، للقرصنة على أيدي عناصر يقولون إنهم ينتمون إلى تنظيم “الدولة الإسلامية” المعروف إعلاميا باسم “داعش”، ما تسبب بتوقف الموقع عن العمل وتدمير محتوياته.

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July 8th, 2015, 1:40 pm


107. Ghufran said:

Make no mistake about it, the constant beating on the Sunni- alawites issue is a mere distraction ftom the fact that rebels have lost support, are dominated by Islamist thugs and have failed to replace the bad regime in Syria with something better.
The posts that look the other way and are only spreading hatred and misinformation are only worthy of the nearest trash can.

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July 8th, 2015, 3:25 pm


108. Observer said:

No way to have a scientific pole in this atmosphere.

I would therefore ask what approximate percentage are with the regime?

In the 80’s the campaign by the MB to target the regime was purely sectarian and the response was sectarian and one can go back and forth about the origins of the sectarian divide.

Now the strategy of painting the opposition as another Islamist movement from the get go in an effort to redo an 1980’s scenario of violent repression has backfired big time and now the protagonists are stuck with sticking with their sects.

This is a failed state, a Somalia with a few urban centers that are still functioning DESPITE the regime not because of it.

Not sure how and where and when and with whom is the help of the independents going to happen.

I am afraid it is too little too late.

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July 8th, 2015, 8:07 pm


110. Akbar Palace said:

The Iranian mullahs keep telling us how much they hate joos while they continue to kill sunnis. Sounds like a good stategy. Hitler got away with it for a few years, until he decided to take over Europe.


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July 8th, 2015, 8:28 pm


111. Ghufran said:

Another turn of events in Syria which confirms the fact that the war will not
end in the way either side wants. Aleppo offensive stalling , dara’a storm
stopped blowing, zabadani was entered by Hezbollah and the syrian army
and isis is now trying to keep raqqa and Tadmur.
Stop the war instead of chasing a mirage.
Rebels killed scores of civilians and kidnapped women and children, that is why
You see the release of women and children from both sides, do not twist the news,
instead try to admit that there are no clean players in this dirty war.
Killings and counter killings is not a strategy, it is a trap. People will eventually
be willing to lick their wounds but they need their tongues to do that, give people
a chance to keep their tongues.

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July 8th, 2015, 8:37 pm


112. Tara said:


I do not disagree. Not all Alawis support the regime. There are Alawis who are against it before and now . I do not know their percentage. Those are honest people who are not corrupt and did not use the letter قاف in a hateful way.

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July 8th, 2015, 9:01 pm


113. Ghufran said:

This is how the unbanned Thawraji described alawites ( on hitaan):
“They are just like flies they see the fire they go directly there, and there they die”

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July 8th, 2015, 9:47 pm


114. omen said:

107. Ghufran said: Make no mistake about it, the constant beating on the Sunni-alawites issue is a mere distraction ftom the fact that rebels have lost support, are dominated by Islamist thugs and have failed to replace the bad regime in Syria with something better. The posts that look the other way and are only spreading hatred and misinformation are only worthy of the nearest trash can.

what? rebels failed to replace the bad regime with something better?? please. whenever cities are liberated, the regime either punishes it with relentless barrel bombs to make difficult any attempt at self governance or unleashes isis upon them. the last thing the regime wants to allow is any example of successful rebel governance.

no, this anger was precipitated by your objection to matthew barber daring to post a video showing reality of typical shabiha’s relentless torture of young kid.

loyalists continue to be in denial and refuse to show sympathy for the staggering level of persecution and suffering sunnis are enduring.

like ostriches, you wont even acknowledge it. preferring instead to fearmonger & lament a hypothetical threat to minorities which is code for “let assad genocide continue so i can be protected.” loyalists show a staggering level of selfishness, effectively turning the perpetuator of violence into the victims. “dont look at sunnis, worry about me instead.” that’s how cold blooded loyalists are.

article after article covering loyalist sentiment has noted regime supporters anger with the regime for not killing more arabs! and faulting assad for not succeeding in putting down the revolt.

over 500,000 fellow syrians killed by assad and not a word of pity. hundreds of thousands more locked up for nothing, being tortured, condemned to dying a slow death. even though alawi themselves have been locked up by the regime – loyalists are silent.

be a human being and say you are sorry. it’s the least alawi can do.

until alawite masses disavow assad evil and express regret – they will incur hatred.

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July 8th, 2015, 9:52 pm


115. omen said:

Please meet Muhammad, Raghad and Shahd. Assad killed them by chlorine attack in Dier Ezzor, Syria.


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July 8th, 2015, 11:06 pm


116. omen said:

correction in #114: it’s not about loyalists wanting protection but their willingness to sacrifice others in selfishly seeking to preserve their own privilege granted to them from being a loyalist, as others on the board have noted before.

you can thank me for not naming names.

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July 8th, 2015, 11:54 pm


117. Syrian said:

Syria Stocks
13 hrs ·
‫#‏استقرار‬ مؤشر بورصة دمشق والتداولات بحدود 300 ألف ليرة
Yesterday’s Damascus stock market trade volume was a whopping 1000 dollars!

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July 9th, 2015, 3:47 am


118. omen said:

another connect-the-dot:

Laura Rozen: Almost no Israeli reporters at Iran talks.

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July 9th, 2015, 4:04 pm


119. omen said:

Times of Israel: Intelligence chief assassinated

In what may be one of the highest-profile assassinations since civil war broke out in 2011, a senior official in Syria’s most powerful intelligence service was found shot in the head, opposition sources claimed Wednesday.

The body of Maj. Gen. Nadeem Shallah, head of the Damascus branch in the Air Force Intelligence Directorate, was found in his car in the Syrian capital’s al-Hamra street, Israeli media quoted unnamed Syrian sources as saying.


Shallah’s Damascus branch is the largest within the organization. Among his responsibilities, Shallah was charged with overseeing Iranian missile shipments intended for the Syrian Air Force.

He was also charged with coordinating between the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force commando unit and Hezbollah’s special ops units.

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July 9th, 2015, 4:56 pm


120. omen said:

i might have been tad harsh with our guest blogger, monsieur mohammad.

i forgot scholarship shared is a privilege. ill manners to trash a gift.

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July 9th, 2015, 11:42 pm


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