Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror in the Middle East

Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror in the Middle East

by Robert G. Rabil
Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror in the Middle East

Syria, the United States, and the War on Terror in the Middle East

by Robert G. Rabil


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Ever since Syria won its independence from France in 1946, it has been a crucial player in Middle Eastern politics. Over the years, relations between the United States and Syria have fluctuated as Washington has tried to balance its commitment to Israel's security with its support for Arab regimes in order to protect vital and strategic interests in the Arab world. The Arab-Israeli conflict is, however. no longer the only focal point of the relationship. Now, terrorism has entered the fray. On the State Department's terrorism list since 1979, Syria became even more persona non grata as far as Washington was concerned when Damascus vocally opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The American war in Iraq, occupation, and promotion of democracy throughout the Middle East pose a strong challenge to the Syrian regime. The new Syrian leadership, in power only since 2000, faces immense challenges—protecting Syria's regional status and surviving internal and external threats. Against this background, Syria and the United States have set themselves on a collision course over terrorism, arms proliferation, Lebanon, the Middle East peace process, and Iraq. Syria is, nevertheless, extremely important to the United States, because it can be a force for either stability or instability in an extremely volatile region.

Recent events have put the spotlight on Syria's policies and actions. After the assassination of a Lebanese politician, protests in Lebanon led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops. While the withdrawal averted an immediate threat of bloodshed, the Bush administration accused Syria of being a source of instability in the Middle East, with Secretary of State Rice charging that Syria was still active in Lebanon and was supporting foreign terrorists fueling the insurgency in Iraq. The U.S.-Syrian relationship is of critical importance to the United States' efforts to promote democracy throughout the Middle East. At the same time, the United States has been pressuring Syria to clamp down on terrorism within its own borders. Rabil provides a history of the modern U.S.-Syrian relationship, putting the latest events in the context of this contemporary history, and placing the relationship in the context of Middle Eastern politics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780275990152
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/28/2006
Series: Praeger Security International
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Robert G. Rabil is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Political Science Department at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. The author of Embattled Neighbors: Syria, Israel, and Lebanon (2003), he writes frequently for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank founded in 1985 to promote understanding of America's interests in the Middle East.

Table of Contents

Cradle of Arab Nationalism: The Fatherland, the Ba'th and Modern Syria under Asad
The Beginning of U.S.-Syrian Relations: Between the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Cold War
The Emergence of U.S.-Syrian Ambivalent Relationship
The Fulcrum of Elusive Peace
The Unholy Relationship
A New Cold War?
The New Struggle for Lebanon: Democracy and Syria's Withdrawal
Syria Post-Withdrawal: Reform or Dictatorship?
Selected Bibliography

What People are Saying About This

Moshe Ma'oz

"A comprehensive, analytical and balanced study of the changes in American-Syrian relations since 9/11 and the repercussions for Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and terrorism."

Faleh A. Jabarm

"Robert Rabil's book thoroughly examines current U.S.-Syrian relations, nay tensions. His focus, the interplay of reform and nationalism, is a well-researched reminder to scholars and politicians alike of how even the best, not to mention the impromptu, of international strategies can be counterproductive when detached from the nuances of native realities. Rabil's examination is grounded in unique familiarity with the region as well as in political theory."

Robert J. Allison

"This is essential reading. Robert Rabil clearly and eloquently explains the relationships between Syria, the United States, and the war on terror. His wise and courageous voice must be heard by those shaping policy, and by those of us living with the consequences of this troubled history."

Patrick Clawson

"Rabil provides a dispassionate and fair analysis of the most contentious issues: Syria's role in Lebanon, Syria's relation with international terrorism, Syria's actions about the peace process."

Lenore G. Martin

"Robert Rabil analyzes the key fault lines of the Syrian-U.S. relationship with the eye of an experienced and keen observer and the mind of a strong academic. In conceptualizing the relationship he covers all of the major points in the developing relationship; Israel, Lebanon, Hizbollah, September 11, and Iraq. This is an important study for policy makers, scholars, and intelligent readers who recognize this as a critical juncture in the Syrian-U.S. relationship and its impact on the larger Middle East."

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