The Assad Regime, Political Power, and the Future of Syria


Sam Dagher

Author and Journalist


Joe Macaron

Former Resident Fellow

Arab Center Washington DC

About the Book 


Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family’s Lust for Power Destroyed Syria

In spring 2011, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turned to his friend and army commander, Manaf Tlass, for advice about how to respond to Arab Spring-inspired protests. Tlass pushed for conciliation but Assad decided to crush the uprising, an act that would catapult the country into an eight-year-long war, killing almost half a million Syrians and fueling terrorism and a global refugee crisis. Assad or We Burn the Country examines Syria’s tragedy through the generational saga of the Assad and Tlass families, once deeply intertwined—and now estranged—in Bashar’s bloody quest to preserve his father’s inheritance. By drawing on his own reporting experience in Damascus and exclusive interviews with Tlass, Dagher takes readers inside palace walls to reveal the family behind the destruction of a country and the chaos of an entire region. Click here to read the book review



Speaker Bio 

Sam Dagher is the author of Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family’s Lust for Power Destroyed Syria. He has reported on the Middle East for more than 15 years. He was the only western reporter based in Damascus from 2012 to 2014, until he was detained by Assad’s guards in an underground prison and expelled for reporting deemed unfavorable to the regime.

Dagher has worked for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Agence France Presse and has covered the conflicts in Iraq and Libya and the Arab Spring uprisings. The Wall Street Journal nominated Dagher’s work from Syria for the Pulitzer Prize and other journalism awards.


Event Photos



Tuesday July 9, 2019