Syria Brief MIDN 1/C Stepanic MIDN 1/C Williams
History • Syria has been a country of conflict. • Syria has been under the rule of many ancient empires. • Rome, Persia, Egypt, and Babylon • Came under Turkish rule in 1516 and remained under their control for four centuries. • Came under French occupation in 1919. • Finally gained independence in 1946.
History Continued • The country lacked political stability and experienced military coups. • They united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. • In September 1961 they separated and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. • In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. • President al-ASAD died in July 2000, his son, Bashar al-ASAD took power.
Demographics • Full country name: Syrian Arab Republic • Area: 185,180 sq km (72,150 sq mi) • Slightly larger than North Dakota • Population: 17 million • Capital city: Damascus (pop 6 million)
Demographics • Terrain: • primarily semiarid and desert plateau • Narrow coastal plain • Mountains in west
Demographics • People: Arabs (90%), Kurds, Armenians, Circassians, Turks • Language: Arabic, Kurdish, Armenian, Turkish, English • Religion: 74% Sunni Muslim, 16% other Muslim, 10% Christian
Demographics • Government: Military republic • President: Bashar al-Assad
Economy • GDP: $63.86 billion (2005 est.) • Industry: • Petroleum • Textiles • food processing • Beverages • Tobacco • phosphate rock mining • Currency: Syrian pound • 48.5 Syrian pound = $1 US (2004)
Military • Syrian Arab Army • Syrian Arab Navy • Syrian Arab Air Force • Police and Security Force • Conscription force • 24 months upon reaching age 18 • Active troops: 319,000 • Infantry Support Weapons: 2,750 • Battlefield squad support weapons such as mortars
Military Units • Airborne Units: 1,070 • Armor: 9,650 • Main Battle Tanks: 4,700 (2004 est.) • Artillery: 4,745 • Missile Defense Systems: 11,233 • Portable and static surface-to-air missile launcher systems
Military Development • Concentrated on development of Sarin and VX gas • Advanced surface-to-surface missiles • Primary enemy: Israel • Scud-D development with North Korea and Iran • Developing defensive weapons
Syrian Arab Navy • 4,000 regular/2,500 reserve • 2-3 Soviet submarines • 22 missile attack craft • 2 submarine chasers • 4 mine warfare vessels • 8 gunboats • 6 patrol craft • 3 landing craft • 1 torpedo recovery vessel Information as of 1985
Politics • Political effectiveness of leadership depends heavily on control of military and internal security. • Political energy has been channeled toward opposition to the government in power and criticism of other political forces. • Individuals interested in politics are limited in expressing their opinion. • Most direct means include: strikes, demonstrations, personal conflicts with politicians, and even violence and assassination. • Limitations due to unorganized political parties. • Citizens question effectiveness of party activity as a means to political ends and personal advancement.
Six-Day War: June 5, 1967 • Israel vs. Egypt, Jordon, and Syria. • This war escalated the problems in the Middle-East. • Israel launched a pre-emptive attack against Egypt to start the war. • Israel gained the Sinai and Gaza Strip from Egypt, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.
Surprise joint attack of Egypt and Syria against Israel on October 26, 1973. Both Nations wanted to gain back what they lost in the Six-Day War. Successful push for about 48 hours, then Israel crushed them. Completed humiliated the alliance and allowed a push for peace. Yom Kippur War: 1973
Lebanon Occupation • Lebanese president invited Syria in 1976 after a bloody civil war • Entered country 1 June 1976 • Suppressed Palestinian forces and Soviet-backed Muslim militia • Resistance to Israeli occupation
Lebanon Occupation • ~14,000 Syrian troops occupied Lebanon • Syria exerted control over government • economical and security interests in region • Syria left Lebanon 27 April 2005
Syria participates in terrorism and its part of their foreign policy. Syria is on the US State Department's list of countries sponsoring terrorism. Syria provides safe haven and support to several terrorist groups. Maintains training camps. Examples: Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) are supposedly housed in Damascus. US Interest
Weapons of mass destruction has become an issue in Syrian - U.S. relations, with Syria developing chemical weapons. Spurred by the Israel’s nuclear weapons. Iraq: Bashar al-Assad believes that the War in Iraq is an American plan to redraw the Middle East in favor of Israel Syrian media has been focused on vicious anti-American propaganda US Interest continued..
Travel Agency Quote • The Syrian government may not be among the world's most benevolent, but the Syrian people are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality. Once you get used to the general weirdness of being in another culture, you'll probably feel safer in Syria than you do at home as long as you avoid demonstrations and political gatherings.
References • http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/sy.html • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_Syria • http://www.militaryfactory.com/countries/detail.asp?country_id=32 • http://www.slate.com/id/2113567/ • http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/03/05/syria/index.html • http://memory.loc.gov/frd/cs/sytoc.html • http://www.washingtonpost.com • http://www.syria-net.com/ • http://www.vacationtimesharerentals.com • http://www.syriaonline.com/ • http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/syria/index.html • http://www.einnews.com/syria/newsfeed-SyriaMilitary • http://www.photius.com/wfb1999/syria/syria_military.html • http://globalization.about.com/od/bigstories/a/bigstorysyria.htm • http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-13568.html