It depends on how far back or how far ahead the influence is or has taken place. For me, the leader who impacted Syrian history and continues to impact Syria is Hafez al-Assad. He used his gravitas, inelegance, and fearlessness to create a dynasty or coerced governmental aristocracy. As long as the same family is in charge in a nation diverse and compact like Syria the people will suffer, greatly.
Hafez al-Assad manipulated the Syrian constitution to give him control over so many areas in the country. Including veto power over parliament. Unlike the United States where a Congress can overturn the President’s veto, the Syrian Parliament cannot. This is crucial because this structures the Constitution to empower every serious concern of government to go through one man. This distinct heritage has carried its way into the modern rule of Syria. The son of Hafez al-Assad has worked closely with the Parliament to do the same thing. Political scientist predict that he will set it up for his son to take his place in 2028.
Dynasties are as old as ancient Israel. King David and his lineage sat on the throne for decades perhaps a century, but that was a monarchy that feared God. Not God generally, but God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who we know now as the Father of Jesus Christ. Hafez al-Assad should have used his leadership to operate a Federalist type government. After all Syria is quite diverse in region. It seems there is a pattern in the Near East of a tribal culture. It would make sense to have a Federal government that can bring together the Christians, Muslims, and Druze.
As Americans we often get to brag that we have the oldest government in the western world. That is only true because great men did not believe the Constitution was just a piece of paper. They truly believed it and upheld it. They also understood that man is bent toward sin. Therefore, if Hafez al-Assad would have had that frame of mind Syria would be a prosperous nation and a free nation at that.