INTRODUCTION: CONCEPTUALISING THE SYRIAN BA’TH STATE
The theme of this study is the nature and development of the Syrian state, chiefly as it has emerged over nearly four decades of militaryBa’thist rule. The Ba’th party was by no means Syria’s only important political force but it left the most profound imprint on modern Syria. Indeed, the Ba’th’s half century history has paralleled the history of modern Syria itself. The Ba’th created a regime which proved remarkably enduring. It confounded observers who expected its collapse or transformation from the Nasserist opposition of the sixties, the Islamic uprising of the late seventies, from the economic stagnation of the eighties, from the end of the Cold War’s Soviet aid and protection, and from economic globalization and democratisation. Moreover, this regime is arguably strong: it carried out a substantial revolution from above in the 1960s and since the 1970s its economic and foreign policies have retained a remarkable consistency in spite of substantial changes in its domestic and international environments.