Syria: Resources

The Syrian Arab Republic, which gained independence from France in 1946, has recently been swept up by the escalation of the Arab Uprising in the Middle East. Violent clashes between the Syrian government and rebel forces have increased dramatically in the first two months of 2012. According to the CIA World Factbook, as of January 2012, at least 5,400 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict. A quick Google search of the Syrian uprising provides a multitude of resources. We’ve compiled a fraction of them for you here, and will continue to update the list as additional resources become available. Aljazeera English, a news channel which won the George Polk Award in Journalism in February 2012, conducts a weekly overview of the Syrian situation which is very informative. If you have any additional resources or suggestions, feel free to share in the comments.


Country Facts (CIA World Factbook) 

Capital: Damascus

Language: Arabic

Independence: from France (1946); from United Arab Republic (1961)

President: Bashar al-Assad (won Second Term in 2007)

Prime Minister: Adel Safar

Legislature: People’s Council (unicameral)

Population (2011): 22.5 million (estimate)

GDP (2011): $107.6 billion (estimate)

Currency: Syrian Pound

Area: 185,180 sq. km (slightly larger than North Dakota)

Ethnic Makeup: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%

Religion: Sunni Muslim 74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Druze) 16%, Christian; 10%, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)

Links to resources on Syria, including videos, articles, multimedia, and books can be found after the jump. 


 Ambassador Rice: Assad’s Days are Numbered (CNN) – Feb. 7, 2012: In this 3 min video, Wolf Blitzer interviews Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice about the situation in Syria and the U.S. and U.N. role.

China’s View on U.N. Vote and Syria (CNN) – Feb. 7, 2012: China and Russia blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution that would force President Bashar al-Assad to step down and have the Syrian government reform.

 Death Toll and Violence (PBS): A video documenting the rising death toll in Syria and the different factors contributing to it.

Free Syrian Army and the Captured Iranian “Snipers” (Aljazeera) – Jan. 27, 2012: A video documenting the capture of the alleged Iranian snipers by the Free Syrian Army. Iran claims that these “snipers” are really Iranian engineers who went missing in December 2011.

Syrian Council and the Free Syrian Army (Aljazeera) – Jan. 28, 2012: A video reporting on the strong holds of the Free Syrian Army and the escalation in violence between opposition forces and the state security forces.

Red Cross Calls for Aid Ceasefire in Homs (Aljazeera) – Feb. 20, 2012: As the fighting continues in the city of Homs, the Red Cross is asking for an Aid Ceasefire.

Inside Syria: Syrian Conflict (Aljazeera) – Feb. 14, 2012: A 25 min video discussion on the Syrian conflict with different opinions on the current situation and how to move forward.

Inside Syria: Syria Descending into Civil War? (Aljazeera) – Jan. 29, 2012: A 25 min video discussion on the Syrian conflict with different opinions on how to deal with the threat of Civil War. Includes talk of Russian involvement and the UN Security Council vote.

Video Appears to Show Protest Interrupted by Gunfire in Syrian Capital (NYTimes) – Feb. 18, 2012: Various videos showing protesters in Damascus and clashes with security forces.

Syria Steps up Homs Bombardment (BBC) – Feb. 21, 2012: A video and article about the continuing bombardment of the city of Homs.

The World Tonight – Syria Special (BBC) – Feb. 21, 2012: An hour-long special on the Syrian Conflict.


Photo Slideshows

Fighting Intensifies in Syria (NYTimes)

In Rankous, Barely Holding On (NYTimes)

Violence Continues in Syria (NYTimes)

Anthony Shadid, Times Correspondent, Dies in Syria (NYTimes)


Bombardment of Syria’s Homs kills 21 (Reuters) – Feb. 21, 2012: An article detailing the continuing fight in the city of Homs.

Five Years in Damascus (Foreign Policy) – Feb. 29, 2012: One journalist’s firsthand account of life in Syria from 2007 until today.

How to Halt the Butchery in Syria (NYTimes) – Feb. 23, 2012: This Op-Ed article in the New York Times talks about the possible establishment of “No-Kill Zones” in Syria which would curtail the possibility that terrorist organizations gain access to weaponry and halt the spill over of violence into border countries. It would also allow Non-Governmental Institutions like the Red Cross to deliver much needed aid to the people of Syria.

Iranian Warships Leave Syria (NYTimes) – Feb. 20/21, 2012: Iranian-U.S. relations and the Iranian threat of war if there is foreign intervention in Syria.

Russian-Syrian Relationship (NYTimes) – Feb. 18, 2012: Russian-Syrian relations and Russia’s hesitance to intervene in Syria.

Syria and the Arab League (Economist) – Nov. 14, 2011: An article on the Arab League’s decision to suspend the membership of Syria in the League until Syria implements reforms.

Syria, Iran, and the Middle East (Council on Foreign Relations) – July, 2006: An overview of the Syrian-Iranian relationship.

The Struggle for Syria in 2011 (Institute for the Study of War) – Dec. 2011: An in-depth look at the conflict in Syria during 2011.

Why Syria is not Libya (CNN) – Feb. 8, 2012: Many wonder why Western Powers, including NATO, are not intervening in Syria the way that they did in Libya. This article details the many differences between the two countries.



Inheriting Syria: Bashar’s Trial by Fire (by Flynt Leverett): A detailed book on President Basahr al-Assad and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Syria and Iran: Diplomatic Alliance and Power Politics in the Middle East (by Jubin M. Goodarzi): A historical review of the Iranian-Syrian relationship.

The Truth about Syria… (by Barry Rubin): A detailed history of the politics of Syria from before independence to now and the international issues facing Syria.

Additional Resources

Background Note: Syria (U.S. Department of State): Comprehensive background information on the country, including history and foreign relations.

Brief Timeline of Syrian History (BBC): A text based timeline of Syrian History.

Brief Timeline of the Conflict (Guardin UK) – Feb. 16, 2012: A multimedia look at the conflict from March 2011-Feb. 2012.

Situation in Syria: Latest Update (International Committee of the Red Cross): Real-time updates from the ICRC about the situation on the ground in Syria.

Syria (Reuters): The Reuters’ topic page about Syria, including recent articles, videos, and related infographics.

Syria News (NYTimes) – updated Feb. 20, 2012: Overview of Syria and the conflict as well as relevant articles.

Syria Guide (National Geographic): A more cultural look at Syria, including World Heritage sites, facts, and “travel favorites.”

Syria: Country Specific Information (Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. State Department): Travel information for Syria, including Embassy notices to Americans in the country, as well as travel warnings.

Resources compiled by Daniel Johnston, World Affairs Council intern
Updated Wednesday, February 29, 2012