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Background: Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the Socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawite sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007 Bashar al-ASAD was elected to his second term as president.
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $59.63 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2010 est.); 5% (2009 est.); 4.3% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $4,800 (2010 est.); $4,700 (2009 est.); $4,600 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 17.6%; industry: 26.8%; services: 55.6% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 11.9% (2006 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 5.527 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 17%; industry: 16%; services: 67% (2008 est.);
Unemployment rate: 8.3% (2010 est.); 8.5% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $12.53 billion; expenditures: $15.3 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, car assembly;
Industrial production growth rate: 6% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 36.5 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 27.35 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008);
Electricity - imports: 1.4 billion kWh (2007);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
Displaying 13 to 16 of 45 items.
While Syria's suspension from the Arab League represents a significant blow to the regime, the authority of regional bodies is not without its limitations.
Intervention in Syria would have many more diplomatic strings attached to it than intervention in Libya did. Syrians die while the international community debates.
Protests in Syria make clear that cosmetic reforms will not be enough. Meanwhile, several regional players have a vested political interest in the fate of the regime.
As the Obama administration puts together a financial aid package for countries emerging from the Arab Spring, it must be careful to fund democracy not religious fundamentalism.