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Yearbook 1996

Syria. According to, the relationship with the enemy Iraq seemed to improve somewhat during the year, mainly due to both boats' deteriorating relations with Turkey. Both Syria and Iraq are concerned about Turkey's efforts to regulate the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and were upset that Turkey signed a military cooperation agreement with Israel.

Very little information on domestic policy problems seeps out of closed Syria. According to foreign reports, a number of explosive attacks occurred in Syrian cities in May and June, and at least 15 people were reported to have been killed by a bus bomb in Damascus on New Year's Eve. The attacks were linked by some to the tense relationship with Turkey and Syria's support for the Kurdish separatist movement PKK in Turkey, others saw a link to Lebanon, where an increasingly strong anti-Syrian atmosphere was felt in the fall. From a Syrian point of view, nothing was said.

Peace contacts with Israel are frozen. Both Syria and Israel heard mutual accusations in the autumn about preparations for war. The conflict concerns whether Israel should evacuate the annexed Golan Heights in exchange for Syria agreeing to peace and normal relations.

1996 Syria

In 1980, an alliance was established between Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Jordan. The friction between this group and Syria was further heightened by the outbreak of the Iraq-Iran war. The Syrian government blamed Iraq for provoking the war and "for diverting attention from the region's central problem" - the Palestinian issue. At the end of the year, tensions with Jordan were accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. This brought both countries to the brink of war. Only mediation from Saudi Prince Abdalla Ibn Abdul-Aziz prevented the conflict from developing further.

In 1981, the "missile crisis" erupted in Lebanon as troops from the Christian Phalangist militia tried to control the Lebanese city of Zahde. Once again, Syria intervened militarily to prevent the advance of the Christians. Syria installed Soviet SAM-6 ground to air rockets, triggering an Israeli response. The crisis was initially overcome, but in 82 Israel invaded Lebanon and destroyed, among other things. the Syrian air batteries. Damascus retained its 30,000-man invasion force in Lebanon and made its withdrawal dependent on similar withdrawal by the Israeli invasion forces.

In mid-83, a serious crisis developed between the Syrian authorities and the leadership of the PLO, prompting Syria to provide comprehensive support to the Palestinian groups opposed to Yasser Arafat's leadership. Meanwhile, the price of oil on the world market fell, which further exacerbated the financial problems created by the war, and in 84 the government was forced to implement a tight crisis package, including This included tightening control over financial activities, closing the borders on smuggling of ordinary goods - a traffic that had hitherto been tolerated - and a drastic reduction in public spending. In 85, the smuggling of Lebanon fell by 90% and the deterioration of the balance of payments slowed.

In 85, Al-Assad renewed his presidential term by another 7 years when he got 99.8% of the vote. A result similar to the "elections" in 71 and 78. Despite this, in 87, a serious political crisis developed, forcing Prime Minister Abdul Rauf al-Kassem to resign following allegations of corruption. On November 1, President Mahmoud Az-Zoubi was elected new president.

In April 87, an Arab summit was held in which the majority against financial support voted in favor of restoring Syria's position and condemning Iran for extending the war. Syria did not change its stance on Iran, and at the same time took the opportunity to veto Egypt's re-entry into the Arab League.

In October 86, the British government accused Syria of supporting the implementation of a terrorist attack on an Israeli aircraft at London's airport. In November, most of the EU member states cut off diplomatic relations with Syria, although some disagreed with this move. In July 87, all EC countries - with the exception of Britain - decided to resume relations after the Syrian government announced that it was suspending support for the Al-Fatah Revolutionary Council - a Palestinian organization opposed to Yasser Arafat. In May 90, diplomatic relations with Egypt were resumed. Some observers linked this development with the reduction in Soviet military assistance to Syria.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of that year, Syria quickly joined the anti-Iraqi alliance and sent troops to Saudi Arabia. This contributed to a significant improvement in diplomatic relations with the United States. In the shadow of the crisis, Syria significantly increased its influence in Lebanon, where it succeeded in strengthening the country's government and disarming most of the country's independent militias.


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