Old adage. You learn something every day.
It was done with the aquiescence of Israel at the time because they convinced Israel that bashar would not be as anti-Israel as his father or brother.
Imagine their surprise when the top advisor he chose was once the top advisor to saddam hussein...and who consequently cut him off from everyone including his own government. For years he was completely under the control of this advisor. He never hardly even spoke with anyone else...and even then the advisor was always present.
Que the picture of Pelosi and Assad from the wayback machine.