While Ba'thi Syria is often considered the last bastion of Arab socialism, Asad's regime has introduced sweeping economic change over the last decade. Gradual and discreet in the mid-1980's, economic reform quickly gained momentum. The easing of political repression and Syria's participation in the Arab-Israeli peace process have also been highly significant. Through analyzing the complex relationship between processes of economic and political liberalization in the domestic arena - and their repercussions internationally - the contributors to the book develop possible scenarios of the future development of Syria and its role in the Middle East.
Introduction - liberalization between Cold War and cold peace, Eberhard Kienle. Part I Economic reform - realities and tendencies: Investment Law No. 10 - which future for the private sector?, Sylvia Polling; the crisis of 1986 and Syria's plan for reform, Nabil Sukkar. Part II Elements and prospects of political change: stages of economic and political liberalization, Volker Perthes; the Syrian business community, its politics and prospects, Joseph Bahout; al-dimuqratiyya hiyya al-hall? the Syrian opposition at the end of the Asad era, Hans Gunter Lobmeyer; liberalization in Syria - the struggle of economic and political rationality, Raymond A. Hinnebusch; the return of politics? scenarios for Syria's second Infitah, Eberhard Kienle. Part III International implications: Syria after Ta'if - Lebanon and the Lebanese in Syrian politics, Fida Nasrallah; domestic pressures and the peace process - fillip or hindrance?, Fred H. Lawson.