Country Listing

Syria Table of Contents



Government: Governmental system based on Permanent Constitution of March 13, 1973. Theoretically, power divided into executive, legislative, and judicial spheres, but all institutions overshadowed by preeminence of president (reelected February 10, 1985, in national referendum for seven-year term), who was head of state, chief executive, and secretary of ruling Baath (Arab Socialist Resurrection) Party. People's Council, 195- member parliament, popularly elected in 1986 for term of four years. Judiciary based on amalgam of Ottoman, French, and Islamic laws and practices. Some legal rights abrogated under state of martial law, in effect since 1963.

Politics: Baath Party--popular name for ruling party-- provided ideological rationale for Syrian socialism and panArabism . Directed by twenty-one-member Regional Command (top national decision-making body of party) led by regional secretary. Party allied in coalition with minor parties (including communist) through framework of National Progressive Front. Dominant aspect of political system pivotal role of military as real source and guarantor of power. Disproportionately significant role played by country's largest minority, Alawis, who held many key positions in armed forces, Baath Party, and government.

Administrative Divisions: Divided into thirteen provinces, each consisting of capital, districts, and subdistricts.

Foreign Affairs: Arab-Israeli conflict remained paramount foreign policy concern, Syrian objective being to secure withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories, to restore sovereignty over Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, and to ensure full political self-determination for Palestinians. In attempting to resolve Arab-Israeli issue, Syria seeks unilateral strategic and military parity with Israel to negotiate from position of strength. Syria attempts to exert regional dominance over its Arab neighbors, focusing on Lebanon, which it has partially occupied since 1976.

Data as of April 1987