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Intel - Regions
Middle East - Syria

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It is a one-party Baathist state where Islamists and political activists are suppressed, and the secret police arrest political prisoners, many of who will never come before a judge. Violent opposition to the regime is met with brutal force, most dramatically in the case of the armed rising of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in 1982: the city was sealed off and at least 10,000 people were killed, in a similar operation to that later undertaken by the US and its allies in Falluja.

Analysts
  • Ingrid Jones

Blogs

Syria wants the Golan Heights returned

Border Nations

Lebanon splintered out from Syria

Cities
  • Aleppo (1,700,000)
  • Damascus (1,600,000)
  • Homs (1,033,000)
  • Latakia (554,000)
  • Hama (410,000)
  • Ar-Raqqah (188,000)
  • Deir ez-Zor (133,000)

Conflicts
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Pope John Paul II visits Syria in May 2001

Damascus is considered the oldest city in the world, 5000 years old

Demographics
  • Population: 18,881,361
  • Life Expectancy: 70.32 years
  • Literacy: 76.9%
  • Median Age: 20.7 years
  • Suffrage: 18 years - universal


Tomb of John the Baptist, at Umayyad Mosque

2/3 of the country is in the desert

Enemies and Allies
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Half the population live in urban areas
95% of Syrians are Arabs
Half the population is below 19 years of age

Financial
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The population is mostly Sunni, most Jews live in Damascus

Geographics
  • Land size: slightly larger than North Dakota
  • Total: 185,180 sq km
  • Water: 1,130 sq km
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Famous Azem Palace, in Damascus

Government
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Syria is in fact one of the last secular states in the region, and unlike such US allies as Israel or Saudi Arabia does not privilege any religion; indeed, its Allawite rulers are regarded by many orthodox Sunnis as outright heretics.

History
  • Sykes-Picot Agreement
  • Golan Heights
  • Six Day War (1967)
  • Hafez al-Assad overthrew civilian government, becoming the ruler of Syria in 1970, al-Assad ruled the presidency for 30 years through the power of the army.
  • Yom Kippur War (1973)
  • Oil Shocks (1973-1974)
  • History of Muslim Brotherhood in Syria
  • Syrian forces enter Lebanese soil, in Beirut (1976)
  • Syrian army massacres Palestinians in Tel al Zaatar camps in Lebanon (1976)
  • President Hafez al-Assad dies (June 10, 2000)
  • Pope John Paul II visits Syria, becomes first Pope to ever visit a mosque (May 2001)
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Syrian girl in headscarf

Language
  • Arabic (official)
  • Kurdish
  • Armenian
  • Aramaic
  • Circassian widely understood
  • French
  • English somewhat understood
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What no one is discussing openly, however, is the real issue surrounding the Golan Heights: water...A careful look at a map, makes obvious that the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and Golan Heights, was a war fought in significant part over water. The water distribution system of Israel, the National Water Carrier, in the Occupied Territories, takes 20% of its supply from ground water from the rest of Lake Tiberias' as well as wate from the Eastern side of the Occupied Territories, which is from the Jordan River. (Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Executve Intelligence Review, p. 50-51)

News

Henry Kissinger admired Hafez Assad.

News of the Region    

Syrians are cognizant of the prophecy in the Jewish Bible Isaiah 17:1 "An oracle against Damascus: Look, Damascus is no longer a city. It has become a ruined heap." Some commentators state that this prophecy was partially fulfilled in 732 BC when the Assyrians conquered Damascus, but Damascus has never been “destroyed” to the point it ceased to be a city; in fact, Damascus is widely acclaimed as the “oldest continuously inhabited city” in the world.

Organizations
  • Arab League
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Religion
  • Sunni Muslim 74%, Alawite, Druze, and other Muslim sects 16%
  • Christian (various sects) 10%
  • Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)
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Reports
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RSS
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Terrorism
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Treaties
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Wires
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