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Syria : political conditions and relations with the United States after the Iraq War

Author: Alfred B Prados; Jeremy Maxwell Sharp; Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service.
Publisher: [Washington, D.C.] : Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress ; Derwood, MD : Distributed by Penny Hill Press, [2005]
Series: CRS report for Congress, RL32727.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : National government publication : English
Summary:
This report focuses on Syria₂s internal politics and the impact of hostilities in Iraq on Syria₂s stability and U.S.-Syrian relations. It outlines the development of the regime currently headed by President Bashar al-Asad and its support base; describes potential challenges to the regime; examines the effect of the Iraq war on Syrian domestic politics and U.S.-Syrian relations; and reviews U.S. policy options toward  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Government publication, National government publication, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Alfred B Prados; Jeremy Maxwell Sharp; Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service.
OCLC Number: 59008906
Notes: Title from title screen as viewed on April 15, 2005.
"Updated February 28, 2005."
Description: 30 pages.
Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.; System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Series Title: CRS report for Congress, RL32727.
Responsibility: Alfred B. Prados and Jeremy M. Sharp.

Abstract:

This report focuses on Syria₂s internal politics and the impact of hostilities in Iraq on Syria₂s stability and U.S.-Syrian relations. It outlines the development of the regime currently headed by President Bashar al-Asad and its support base; describes potential challenges to the regime; examines the effect of the Iraq war on Syrian domestic politics and U.S.-Syrian relations; and reviews U.S. policy options toward Syria. It will be updated when significant changes take place and affect these relationships. For more information on Syrian foreign policy issues, see CRS Issue Brief IB92075, Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues, by Alfred B. Prados. For over three decades, the Asad family has controlled and ruled Syria. Although few observers believe that the Syrian political system faces an imminent rupture, Syria₂s precarious long-term economic outlook coupled with continued uncertainty over the future of neighboring Iraq could have a serious impact on Syrian politics. Economic pressures from the loss of oil revenues and population growth could push the question of reform to the forefront of Syrian politics. Many analysts believe that Syria₂s efforts to reform its economy and political system have stalled, and it remains unclear whether or not the Syrian government will be able to control the reform process indefinitely. Events in Iraq also may impact Syria₂s domestic stability. Some analysts believe that movement toward Iraqi Kurdish independence could embolden Syria₂s Kurdish population of an estimated two million to demand greater political participation in Syria. In addition, there is much concern that conflict in Iraq could radicalize homegrown Syrian Islamists, who potentially could target Syria₂s secular government or export radicalism to Iraq. Syria has been at the forefront of a number of important U.S. policy issues in the Middle East, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and the war on terror. Since the toppling of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein₂s regime in April 2003, U.S.-Syrian relations have taken on a new dimension. The United States has taken a keen interest in the Syrian regime₂s behavior, in particular demanding Syrian cooperation in monitoring the Iraqi-Syrian border in order to curb the infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq. In addition, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and again prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, the United States has spoken out against authoritarian regimes like Syria and promoted reform in the ₃broader Middle East.₄ Some U.S. officials have advocated stern policy measures toward Syria in order to demonstrate U.S. dissatisfaction with its perceived interference in Iraq, its support for Palestinian terrorist groups, and its violations of Lebanese sovereignty. On November 20, 2003, Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act (P.L. 108-175), which authorized the President to impose economic sanctions on Syria. Some Members also have proposed funding groups inside Syria to promote political reform and condemned human rights violations against reformists in Syria. Others have cautioned against isolating Syria and have advocated offering incentives to secure cooperation in stabilizing Iraq and fighting international terrorism.

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