The Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad is one of the Middle East's most prominent leaders, under whose stewardship Syria became a regional power determined to exert its influence, if not hegemony, over the Middle East. Yet three decades after he took power, Syria was plunged into deep social and economic crisis and found itself in utter political isolation, both internationally and regionally, following the demise of its long-time ally, the Soviet Union. In the late 1980s and 1990s the country found itself at a cross-roads. Should it opt for the status quo, or make a long-term strategic choice in favour of peace with Israel and the economic rewards which would flow into the country from grateful western states and international institutions? This book presents a careful analysis of Syria's political and economic fortunes over the last decades, of Asad, his regime and his policies, and of what is happening to Syrian society in the face of changing circumstances, domestically and regionally. Taken together Zisser's analysis of these issues provides a comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of Syrian affairs at the end of the 1990s.
Part 1 Syria under Asad - regime and state: Asad's regime - the three orbits - Alawi, Syrian and Arab; the system of government in Asad's Syria. Part 2 A new path: the friendship that failed - Syria in the shadow of the Soviet collapse; the start of the new path -Syria during the Gulf crisis. Part 3 Syrian foreign policy in the 1990s: Syria - between East and West; Israel and Syria - on the road to peace; Syria in Lebanon. Part 4 Inside Syria - a country at a cross-roads: the struggle over succession; Syria - state, society and economy in the 1990s.