*** Syria Syrian history

Syrian History

Syrian history
Figure 1.--The Arab Spring began in Tunisia and spread to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. The awakening has taken a particularly deadly turn in Syria where President Bashar al-Assad has resorted to brute force to supress challenges to his autocratic rule, the same methods his father used three decades ago. This heart-renching photograph shows a boy nmed Ahmed grieving at the funeral of his father killed by a Syrian Army sniper in Idlib located in the northwest. There is a tendency in the Arab world to blame scenes like this on the autocrats clinging on to power. In a larger sence it is part of a culture of dearh that has been promoted by Islamicists, religious scholars, and intelectuals throughout the Arab world.

Syria is a modern state dating from the post-World War II era, but there isa long historical tradition. Syria arguably has thelongest, most diverse huistory of any country. The Syrians trace their state back to the Assyrians. Pompey the Great annexed Selucid Syria for Rome (64 AD). The Romans added the Nabatean kingdom to its Syrian province (106). This meant Antioch, one of the great cities of the Middle East. When the Roman Empire was split, Syria became a province of the Eastern Empire which evolved into the Byzantine Emoire (395 AD). Islamic Arab armies seized Syria from Byzantium becoming part of the new Islamic Caliphate (636). The Ottoman Turks conquered Syria (1516). At this time the Ottomans established their control over much of the Arab world. The Ottomans controlled Syria for the following four centuries. At first Ottoman rule was progressive and resulted in economic progress. The Ottomons pemitted a degree of autonomy which varied over time. Gradually conditions in Syria and other Arab areas deteriorated, becoming backward and poor in comparison to Europe. Egypt under Mohammed Ali after the Napoleonic Wars began to exet its independence from Ottoman rule. Egypt conquers Syria (1831). The Great Powers (Britain and Austria) force the Egyptians tobwithdraw from Syria (1840). Islamic mobs massacre Christians in Damascus (1860). The French and British open the Suez Canal (1869). This largely replaces overland trade routes and thus adversely affected Syria economically. As a result of World War I, Syria came under French control, but achieved independence after World War II. The country's independent history has been dominated by the conflict with Israel. The country had dabled with Arab socialism and union with Egypt. The Ba'ath Party gradually gained influence and estanlished one-party rule in the country under Hafez al-Assad, the defense minister (1970). Assad has established asystem of state corruption which has left the country economically destitute and a backwater of the world economy. Upon his death he was replaced by his son, Bashar al-Assad (2000). After a brief experiment with political liberalization, Bashar has essentially continued with his father's policy of authoritarian rule and state corruption.


Archaeologists believe that humans first reached the Levant ouut of Africa, perhaps following herd animals, anout 1 million years ago. There is considerable evidence of human activity in the Levant during the Middle Palaeolithic (80,000-35,000 years ago). And sice that time the area has been continually occupied. Archaeologists in recebt years have found increasing evidence of human activity. As a result of these findings, many now believe that Syria and the Levant in general played a critical role leading to human cultural development in southwest Asia. It is here of course that agriculture and civilization first developed. This appears to be largely due to the geographic location of the Levant. The Levant is situated at the junction of routes our of Africa for early humans. It is also the connecting poinr for Africa, Europe, and Asia meaning the necessary path for trade routes. It thus became a location conducive for cultural innovation and the spread of ideas. The Levant appears to have been an important center for the development of agriculture (about 8,000 BP). Several species of plants and animals were domesticated in the Near East which promoted the transition from hunter-gather to sedentary life styles. Neolithic village sites have been found in Syria with evidence of this transition. The center of the Halaf successor culture was in northern Syria. The Halaf culture was the begining of more complex cultural patterns and the shift from village to the beginning of more complex urban life (about 3000 BC). [Moore]

Civilization (2500 BC)

The earliest evidence of civilizatioin in Syria have been found at Ebla--Tell Brak (2500 BC). This is in norther Syria close to modern Aleppo. Alepo thus may be the world's oldest continuously occupied city. This was contempraneous with the early-Egypt and Mesopotamia civilizations. A 4,500 year old temple has been found in Aleppo.

Mesopotamia (2300 BC)

The Akkadian dynasty of Sumer destroy Ebla (about 2300 BC).

Assyria (1800-1700 BC)

The Syrians trace their state back to the Assyrians. King Shamsi-Adad I establishes his capital Shubat Enlil in northeastern Syria (about 1800 BC). This is the first period of Assyrian expansion. The Assyrians were defeated by Babylonian King Hammurabi (1700 BC).

Hittites (1600-1200 BC)

The Hittites are of unknown origins but founded a nation in central Anatolia. From there, the Hitttit emerged as a major force in the Middle East. After securing their position in central Antolia. They attemtd to conquer northern Syria. Alepo helped organize a coalition of city states. Alepo held out for a while, but finally fell. The Hitttites thus added norther Syria to their Empire (about 1600). Syria became a battlefield between the Hitties and Egyptians. The petty kingdom of Mitanni appears in southern Syria (avout 1500 BC). The large empires of the region fight to control it. The Hittites conquer Mitani (about 1500 BC). The first great battle recorded in detail was fought at Qadesh in Syria between the Hittites and the Egyptians (1274 BC). The two empires were attempting to control valuable trade routes.


Arameans begam migrating into modern Syria (about 1200 BC). The set up a number of petty kingdoms. Their largest city was Aram, located near to modern Damascus.


The Assyrians were a semietic people who first appeared to history (14th century BC). They became a great military power, building one of the great empires of westen Asia controlling the Fertile Cressent and Egypt. It was at first a small city state city state on the upper Tigris north northeast of Babylonia. Assyria was bounded in the north and east by the Taurus and Zagros mountains--the Mountains of Ashur. Two areas were the central Assyrian breadbasket: the Arbel plain and the Nineveh plain. Here crops as agriculture became more sophisticated could be grown without irrigation, unlike in Babylonia further down river. The rich agriculture provided the wealth that supported a massive army as well as as an educated class and gifted craftsmen. The first great Assyrian king was Shalmaneser I (1276-57 BC). Assyria achieved some importance under Tiglath-pileser I (12th century BC). Assyria became a major power with the great war leader Ashurnasirpal II (9th century BC). He set up the beginnings of an imperial administration with his conquests. His successors (Shalmanser III, Tiglath-pileser III, and Sargon) carved out a great Middle Eastern Empire. They conquered Aram (732 BC). Sargon's son Sennacherib consolidated these gains. Esar Haddon (681-668 BC) conquered the Chaldaeans and sacked Babylon (669 BC). They also conquered the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel. The tribes of Israel disappeat to history as the result of the Assyrian conquest. Sennacherib also gained control of Egypt. Assur-bani-pal (669-633 BC) is seen as reigning during the height of the Empire with important artistic achievements. After Egypt broke away, however, the Assyrian Empire rapidly declined. Assyria despite building a huge empire, rapidly collapsed. Nineveh was sacked (612 BC). Assyria was absorbed by first a revived Babylonian Empire and then the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great.


The Assyrian capital is conquuered by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia (612 BC). He then moves south and defeats the souther Jewish kingdom of Judea. This leads to the Jewish Babalonian captivity


The Babylonians were conquered in turn by the rising Persian Empire. Cyrus the Great added Syria to his Empire (539 BC).

Helenistic Period

Alexander in the process of defeating Darious and the Persian Empire adds Syria to his Empire (333-332 BC). After Alexander's death, Syria becomes part of the Seleucid empire. It is at this time under the rule of Antiochus III and IV that the name Syria begins to be used (about 200 BC).


Pompey the Great annexed Selucid Syria for Rome (64 AD). The Romans added the Nabatean kingdom to its Syrian province (106). This meant Antioch, one of the great cities of the Middle East. Syria was an important Roman province in part because of the trade routes that tranversed what is modern Syria. The desert cityb of Palmyra is an archeological jewel.


When the Roman Empire was split, Syria became a province of the Eastern Empire which evolved into the Byzantine Emoire (395 AD). This occurred after Constantine's conversion and at a time that Syria was becoming Chritianized.

Islamic Caliphate

The area known as Greater Syria was Bilad al-Sham which became known as the Levant. Arab armies fired by Islam appeared on the southern borders of the Byzantine Empire even before the Prophet Muhammad died (632). The first important battle was Mu'tah (629). A more forceful invasion began under Mohammed's successors, the Rashidun Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar ibn Khattab (634). Their major military commander was Khalid ibn al-Walid. The Arabs completed their conquest with the decisive battles of Yarmouk and al-Qādisiyyah (636). The Umayyad Dynasty establish their capital at Damscus (661). The Abbasids moved the capitl of the Caliphate to Bagdad (750). Egypt annexed Syria (877). Syria becomes the center of the Hamadan kingdom (929). The Turkish Seljuqs conquered Syria (1060s).

The Crusades

Crusaders seized Western parts of Syria as part of new Christian Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099). Saladin conquered the Crusader kingdoms, including Krak des Chevaliers. He resisted Richard I's efforts to retake Jerusalem (1174-87). Saladin and the subseuent Ayyubids return stability and economic prosperity, brought stability back to the region, with positive influence on the economy. Even during the height of the crusades, however, Venetian Christian merchants were active in Aleppo, tradingvtimber and iron for Indian spices. [Lawler, p. A 21.]

Egyptian Mamlukes

The Egyptian Mamlukes extend their control to most of Syria (about t1250). The last Crusaders are driven out of Syria (about 1300). A strong stae is established in Syria which persecutes local sects.


The Mongols under Tamerlane devastated much of the Middle ast, including Syria (1401).

Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Turks conquered Syria (1516). At this time the Ottomans established their control over much of the Arab world. The Ottomans controlled Syria for the following four centuries. At first Ottoman rule was progressive and resulted in economic progress. The Ottomons pemitted a degree of autonomy which varied over time. Aleppo in particular was a hub for East-West trade. Carpets from Persia, silks from China arriving over the Silk Road, as well as quality textiles purchased locally could be purchased in Aleppo. This gradually changed as the Europen voyages of discovery open sea routes to the East. Aleppo had a trdition of diversity and tolerance. Its rival Damascus became more of a holy cuty and gateway to Mecca became generallyclosed to Westerners. Gradually conditions in Syria and other Arab areas deteriorated, here both the los of East-West trade and Islamic conservatism retarding modern learning were factors. The Ottoons and Aab world became increasingly backward and poor in comparison to dynamic Europe. Egypt under Mohammed Ali after the Napoleonic Wars began to exet its independence from Ottoman rule. Egypt conquers Syria (1831). The Great Powers (Britain and Austria) force the Egyptians tobwithdraw from Syria (1840). Islamic mobs massacre Christians in Damascus (1860). The French and British open the Suez Canal (1869). This largely replaces overland trade routes and thus adversely affected Syria economically.

World War I (1914-18)

The Ottoman Empire seeing the opportunity to regain lost territory, joined the Central Powers in World War I (October 1914). The Ottomans attempted to turn the War into an Islamic crusade against the Russians, British, and French. An Ottomon offese in the Caucaseus failed disaterously. The Ottomans launched the Armenian genocide (1915-16). A few survivors managed to reach Syria. Aleppo took in thousands of Armenian refugees. An Ottomon offensive designed to seize Suez failed (1915). This attempt had little resonance in the Arab provinces of the Empire. The Arabs in fact saw the War as an opportunity to gain their independence. The British promoted an Arab Revolt launched by Hussayn Ibn Ali, the grand sharif of Mecca. The British offered Sharif Hussayn independence after the War. The British and French signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement (February 1916). They essentially divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire into areas of influence. France was given Lebanon and Syria as their area of influence. The Balfour Declaration concerning a Jewish Homeland in Palestine further complicated the situation (1917). The British laynched an offensive into Palestine, seizing Jerusalem (December 1917). A renewed offensive broke Ottoman armies. The Nritish Army was supported by Hussayn Aran Army organized by Col. Lawrence. The British entered Damascus. Another British Army in modern Iraq seized Bagdad and began moving north. The Ottomons asked for ceasefire ending the figting.

Former Ottoman Levant Areas: Disorder and Violence (1919-21)

Following the War the future of the Ottoman Arab Lands was in doubt. The Arabs in Palestine appear to have generally accepted British rule. The situation in Syria was more in doubt and a conflict developed between the French and Arab forces -- the Franco-Syrian War. The Egyptian Expeditionary forces of Edmund Allenby after defeating the Ottoman forces in Palistine entered Damascus (September 30, 1918). The Hasemite Dynasty from Saudi-Arabia King Faisal attempted to establish the Arab Kingdom of Syria. Faisal with Allenby's approval announced the establishment of an Arab constitutional government in Damascus (October 5, 1919). Negotiations with French Prime-Minister Clemencau did not go well (January 1920). The Alawite rose up (Juky 1919). The Arabs began attacking French forces throughout Syria. The Arab Syrian Congress met to declare Faisal the king of Syria (March 19, 1920). The Nananu Revolt began in the north (April 1920). The Arab forces were mostly irregulars that had fought the Ottomans with the British aided by local bedouins. The British and French refused to recognize Feisal, The Laeague of Nations called the San Remo Conference (April 1920). Several attacks were launched by the Arab militias. King Faisal not wanting a war with France surrendered (July 14, 1920). A follower Yusuf al-'Azma refused to surrender and with a group of poorly armed irregulars fought the well-armed French Army of the Levant at the Battle of Maysalun (July 24). The border between Syria and Palestine at the time and the fighting spilled over into northern Palistine--the Gaillee. It was there that one of the Arab actions took place at Tel Hai when Arabs militias attempted to seize a small Jewish outpost in the northern Galilee (March 1). Historians consider it to be the beginning of the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine. It was first notable action by self defense forces that Jewish settlers had begun to organize.

French Colonial Rule (1920-39)

The French move into Lebanon and Syria. Lebanon clse to the coast and with a large Christian population proved easier to contriol. Faysal attempted to establish an Arab government in Damascus. While he failed, he succeeded with British support in setting up a government in Bagdad for Iraq. French forces clashed with King Faysal's Arab forces at the battle of Maysalun (1920). French forces proceeded to occupy Syria when the League of Nations approved a mandate for France. An Arab uprising, this rime better organized, attempted to ousr the French, but failed (1925-27). Syrian leaders and French officials negotiate an agreement prividing for substantial Syrian independence (1938). The French, however, refused to ratify this agreement. The French turn over of Alexandretta, with the ancient Syrian capital of Antioch, to the Turks (1939).

World War II (1939-45)

After the fall of France. French authorities in Syria, recognized the authority of Vichy Government. This included a military force totling about 40,000 Legioneers and Muslim soldiers backed by 90 tanks and prepared fortifications. Admiral Darlan provided logistical support to the Germans and Italians in efforts to support the Rashid Ali revolt in Iraq. This was a clear violation of Vichy's neutrality. Syria located in the Eastern Mediterranean was of some strastegic importance. The British feared that Vichy would allow the Luftwaffe to establish air bases in the country. This would have threatened the British position in Egypt as well as provided a jumping off point to seize the oil fields in Iraq. Churchill thus ordered Wavell after putting down the Iraqii Revolt to seize Syria. Degualle assured Wavell that the Vichy garison would come over to the Free French with little resistance. They did not. After the failes pro-Axis coup in Iraq, British and Free French forces seize Syria. The Allies then commit to Syrian independence after the War. Elections are held (1943). President Shukri l-Kuwatli organizes a government. The French make some effort to maintain their influence after the War.

Independent Syria

Syria aftr the War becomes a a charter member of United Nations (1945).

Isreali-Arab War (1948-49)

The United Natiins attempts to resolve the conflict in Palstinre by a compromise partition plan. The Arab world including the Syriahs reject any compromise. Syria participates in the joint Arab invasion of Palestine to destoy Israel (1948). I do not know know a great deal about Syrin prticipation in the War at this time. The Arabs assumed that the Jews would easily be defeated. The failure to defeat the Jews stuns the Arab world.


The Kurdish leader General Husni l-Zaim heds a junta which seizes power ((March 1949). Army officers overthrow Zaim and execute him (August 1949). A new constitution is promulgated and elections held. Hashimu l-Atasi wins the election (September 1950).

Border Clashes (1951)

Border clashes occur with Israel. The Isrelis were undertaking a drainage project in the border area.

Political Developments (1951-58)

Another military coup organized by Shishakli takes place (1951). President Atasi quickly resigned. A new constitution is promugated (1953). The new constitution places substantial limitations on civil liberties. This is essentially the beginning of the end of Syrian democracy. nother militry coup forced out Shishakli (1954). President Atasi is restored to power and reinstates the constitution of 1950. Syria begins to reoriente itself toward the Soviet bloc as was the case of Nasser's Egypt. Nasser electified the Arab world by seizungv the Suez Cana (1956). The Anglo-French attempt to retake the Canal in league with the Isrealis during the Suez War alienates public opinion in Syria (1956). Tensions developed with Turkey, a NATO member (1959). Syrian officials charged that Turkey with American support was attempting to take control of the country. We know of no evidehce for such a plan. I'm not sure why Syrian officials made this charge. The United Nations helped to descalate the situation. The Soviets increased economic and military assistance. The Soviet become Syria's principal arms supplier and enable the country to build a modern military force..

United Arab Republic (1958)

Presidentb Gamal Abu l-Nasser in Egypt becomes the leading figure in the Arab world, promoting Pan-Arabism. Syria and Egypt establish the United Arab Republic with Nasser the president of the unified country (February 1958). Nasser immediately moves to dissolve political parties in Syria (March 1958). He also introduces aland refirm program, limiting the size of land holdings. Nasser next unifies ministries with centralized offices in Cairo (October 1958). Nasser appoints Syrias to the cabinent (March 1960). Nasser established a single UAR cabinet (August 1961). Opposition to the union gradually increases in Syria. Part if this is due to the new policies introduced by Nasser. The Army takes control in Damascus and declared Syria independent once more (September 1961). Nasser made no attempt to preserve the union.

Pan-Arab Ba'ath

The Ba'ath or Renaisance Party becomes increasingly influention, especially in Iraq and Syria. The Syrian military oversees the drafting of a new constitution which is approved by areferendum (December 1961). A new Syrin national government is established. The new government makes concessions to both the growing nt Ba'ath Party and to pan-Arabists disappointecby the filure of the UAR. A bloodless military coup installs central Ba'ath leaders (March 1963). The Ba'ath leders set up a national council with Major General Amin el-Hafez at its head. The new regime renews apan-Arb efforts. They attemp to explpre the possibility of joining with Iraq and Egypt. The discussions with Egyopt are unsuccesful, but some prof=gress is made with neighboring Iraq. This ends, however, with the overthrow of the Ba'ath in Iraq (November 1963). The Government set up a new presidency council to replace the the national council (May 1964). The presidency council is composed of five members (three civilian and two military). Another military coup is executed (February 1966). The new regime ends the influence of foreign Ba'ath intellectuals in Syria. n politics. The Syrian Ba'ath Party dominated by a more nationalist outlook predominate. Nuur ad-Din il-Attasi is appointed deputy prime minister.

Six Days War (June 1967

Soviet military assistance help both Syria as well as Iraq and Egypt to build up powerful militry forces including both modern air forces and armored formations. They plan a coordinated invasion of Israel under Egyptian leadership. Syria participates in the disaterous Six-Day War against Israel. The Isrealis strike first before the Arabs are prepared and destroy the Egyptian air force. The Egyoptian army in Sianai is ordred to withdraw which becomes a panic, Nasser tells King Husseni that the Isrealis are being defeated and the King orders an attack on Jerusalem, but the Jordanians are also defeated. All this occurs before the Syrians attack in force to support their allies. The Usrealis are this able to focus their efforts on the Su=yrains in the north. A major target is the Golan Heigts. The Syrians had for years been usung artillery emplacenents there to shell Isreali kibitzes. The Isrealis succeed in seizing the Golan befor a cease fire is declared. The Syrian Air Force and much of the Aemy's armored force is destroyed in the fighting.

Hafez al-Assad (1970)

Syria's defeat in the Six Days War and loss of territory resulted in considerable reassessment within government circles. There were two principal factions within the Ba'ath Party. The nationalist wing was led by Defence Minister Hafez al-Assad. The socialist wing was led by Salah Jadid. Assad emerges as the victor in party infighting and forms a new government (November 1970). Assad is elected presidentv in a referendum, meaning a non-competitic=ve election (March 1971).

Yom Kippur War (1973)

The Soviet Union resupply its Arab allies with advanced militry equipmebntvafter the disasterous Six Days War. Egypt and Syria stage a coordinated attck on Israel (October 1973). Both the Egyptians and Syrians achieve some early successes, but again are defeated by the Isrelis.

Lebanese Civil War

Syria intervened in Lebanon (1976)

Insurrection (1980)

Islamicists in Syria saw Syrian intervention in Lebanon as favoring the Christian community. This helped the Muslim Brotherhood increase their support. The Muslim Brotherhood stageca rebellion in in Hama and Aleppo (March 1980). An attemted assasination of Assad occurs (June 1980). The Government makes membership in the Muslim Brotherhood a capital offence (1981). Thecsecurity forces ininiate a brutal crackdiwn on the Brotherhood. Governmental actions on the Muslim Brotherhood result in thousands of deaths. There is no exact count. Estimates of those killed in Hama alone vary, assessments range between 5,000 and 25,000 (February 1982).

Developments under Assad

Assad emerges from the Muslim Brotherhood insurrection as the absolute ruler of Syria. Syria under Assad has a terrible human rights record. Human rights uin some quarters are considered a luxury for modern industrial states. In fact there is astrong correlation between human rights and economic modernization and growth. The Assad regime is a system of state corruption which has resulted in a moribund economy leaving Syria poverty sticken and with little economic opportunity. Assad staged a Soviet-style show election. He claims 99.9 percent of the votes (1985). Britain and the United States identify Syria as a supporter of international terrorism and recall their ambassadors (1986). The United States sends another ambassador after Syria closes the training camps of Abu Nidal (1987). Syrian establishes control over much of Lebanon (1990). Syria participates in the international coaltion to drive Iraqi troops out of Kuwait (1991). Assad refuses to engage in the Oslo Peace process (1993). President Clinton reports that he showed some interest in peace with Israel, but that the Isrealis failed to engafe. H cwas apparently insisting on a Sea Of Galiee coast and the return of the Golan. President Assad died (2000).

Bashar al-Assad (2000- )

President Assad is replaced by his son Bashar al-Assad, a U.S. educated dentist. He was reportedly quickly installed to preclude any political infighting over his faher's successor. There were hopes of reform given his life in the West and limited asociation with his father's dictatorial rule. He had married a Sunni woman of Homsi background. This suggested possible fence-mending with the country' sunni majority. He talked about reform. Once in power, however, there were none of the hoped for reforms. Israel attacked a site near Damascus which it concluded was a training ground for Islamic Jihad (2003). The Syriahs denied the Isreali charge. Increasing international pressure leads to a Syrian pullout from Lebanon (2004). U.S. sources accused Syria of allowing insurgent forces to cross the Syrian border into Iraq. Assad met with President Jalal Talabani and issued a condemnation of attacks on both Iraqi and U.S. security forces. Russia under President Putin expanded military cooperation with Syria. Syria took in thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees fleeing attacks from Islamic fundmentalists (after 2003).

Arab Spring (2011-12)

The Arab uprising in Syria began in the run-down town of Deraa began it all. A few idealistic kids wrote graffiti on the walls, first pleading forvreform. Grdualy bthe criticism of the government escalated. This is common form of criticism in the Arab world where the press is commonly controlled. It was also a brave act in a police state like Syria. The children were arrested and torchered in prison. This was the spark for the uprising to take hold. The regime's response was force, the rule of the gun. And tecregime had the guns. There were 27 torture centers located theoughout the country ready to smash any resistace. [Human Rights watch] The Muslim Brotherhood Islamists are organizing and helping uprising. The Assad police state has proven more willing and capable of using violence than the authoritative regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. And Assad the hoped-for reformer has proven a calculating tyrant. Instead of just using the security forces to supress the largely Sunni rebellion, he has involved Alawite villigers. As one Syrian expert writes, :The Assads can be caid ti have broughtvthe Alawites both spoils and peril. They took them--a histoirically despised community--from the destitutin of the mountains, and gave them a dominion of four decades. The ediifice was unnaturalk, a majority Sunni siciety with pride as to its place in Islamic history submitting to the rule of a 'godless' bunch of schismatics." [Ajami, p. A17.] Thus the Alawites are now committed to a the increasingly horific fight. The protestors have without Western military support been less successful in developing a real military capability, although the bomb attack in Damascus killing top Assad security officials (July 2012)suggest that the insurgency is becoming oncreasingly potent and they now control substantial areas outside of the capital. It is thus less clear as to how the uprising will play out in Syria. Russia continues to back the Assad regime which it has armed. Russian officials insist tht they are no longer providing heavy weapons, but it is unclear ht Russian policy toward raw mterials and soare parts is. Russia and China continue to block action in the United Nations Security Council,minsisting that the U.N. should not intervene in domestoc affairs. The fact that Rusia has arned Assad and may be still doing so and routinely intervenes in the domestic affair of neigboring states (Belrus, Georgia, and the Ukraine) leads some to suspect Rissian motive. The Russians see the insurgent forces as largely Islamicists which along with their heavy investmnjt in the Assad regime explains their policy. Assad has allowed the Russians to continue to use Tartus asca naval base. This is a Soviet-era naval supply and maintenance base established under a 1971 agreement. Syria is not an oil rich country and this base is part of the Syrian payment for the vast quantity of arms delivered by the Russians. The Assad regime has admitted to having weapons of mass destruction, in his case chemical weapons. They are tgreatening to use them against 'foreign elements'. Assad insists that the insirgency iscbeing conducted by these foreign elements.


Ajami, Fouad. "Syria's war hits the house of Assad," Wall Street Journal (July 19, 2012), p. A17.

Lawler, Andrew. "Syria's lost history," Wshington Post (October 30, 2012), p. A21.

Human Rights Watch.

Moore, Andrew M.T. "The prehistory of Syria," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research No. 270 Ancient Syria (May 1988), pp. 3-12.


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Created: 3:34 AM 9/17/2007
Last updated: 2:36 PM 3/22/2017