The View From Damascus
Sheds new light on the recent history and current politics and policies of this important Middle Eastern country. Throughout the last hundred years Syria has been a crucial hub of Middle Eastern events: the birth place and 'pulsating heart' of Arab nationalism, the object of colonial and regional ambitions, it has transformed into a regional power exerting influence over Lebanon and the Palestinians, Iran's closest ally and a thorn in the side of the Bush Administration. Itamar Rabinovich is uniquely qualified to take a panoramic view of Syria's modern history and contemporary politics. As a scholar, he spent thirty-five years studying Syria in diplomatic archives and through the range of sources available to current research. As a diplomat, he was Yitzhak Rabin's chief negotiator with Syria and Israel's ambassador to Washington, and thus a key participant in some of the events addressed in this volume. The twenty-one essays cover the century from the eve of the First World War to the Bush Administration's row with Bashar al-Asad. They are focused on three principal themes: the notion of a Syrian entity and its translation into a Syrian state in its current boundaries; the conflict between rival concepts of the political community that inhabits the Syrian state; and issues of foreign policy with a particular emphasis on the Syrian-Israeli conflict and peace process. The main themes of Syrian history and politics are picked up at their inception and followed through the course of the twentieth century to the present day.