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Politics of Syria


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Politics of Syria

  1. 1. Politics of Syria Benedict Gombocz
  2. 2. Overview of Syrian politics • The politics of Syria (officially the Syrian Arab Republic) function in what is (in theory) officially a semi-presidential republic, but Syria’s political system is widely seen as dictatorial. • According to the CIA, authority is in the hands of the President of Syria and his family, each member of the governing Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, a fraction of the Syrian-controlled Ba’ath Party (founded in 1966 when the original Ba’ath Party was dissolved and divided into two). • Since the Ba’ath came to power, an uneven number of leading posts have been given to members of the Alawi faction in a move similar to the rule of the Ba’ath Party in neighboring Iraq (from 1968-2003) when people from Saddam’s home town, Tikrit, were nominated in important positions.
  3. 3. Major leaders of Syria Major leaders of Syria • Government Unitary dominant-party semi-presidential republic under authoritarian rule • President Bashar al-Assad • Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Hlqi • Speaker of the People’s Council Mohammed Jihad al-Laham • Legislature People’s Council People’s Council
  4. 4. Political Map of Syria
  5. 5. Background • In 1970, Hafiz al-Assad assumed power; after his death in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad replaced him as President. • Adding the years of their respective presidencies makes the Assad family, after Muammar Gaddafi’s rule, the second-longest ruling government in the Arab world. • The expansion of the government bureaucracy has additionally made a large class devoted with an allegiance to the government. • The never ending power of the President is also a result of the military’s never ending devotion and to the efficiency of Syria’s large inner security apparatus, of which the dominant leaderships are made mainly of members of Assad’s own Alawi cult. • The numerous primary branches of the security services function independently of one another and outside of the legal system; each also is still responsible for human rights violations in Syria. • After President Bashar al-Assad came to power in July 2000, a heave of interest in political change occurred. • Human rights activists and other civil society supporters, along with some parliamentarians, were more outspoken throughout a period known as the “Damascus Spring” (July 2000-Febuary 2001). • Additionally, Assad appointed a series of reform-minded advisors to official (and less official) posts, which included numerous similarly oriented persons in his Cabinet.
  6. 6. Government administration • The old Syrian constitution of 1973 bestowed the Ba’ath Party (officially the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party) with leadership roles in the Syrian state and society and extensive powers to the President. • The President, approved by a referendum for a seven-year term, also served as Secretary General of the Ba’ath Party and leader of the National Progressive Front; a new constitution was decided on during the 2011-2012 Syrian Civil War. • The new constitution, among other things, removed the old article 8 that established the authority of the Ba’ath Party; the new article 8 reads: "The political system of the state shall be based on the principle of political pluralism, and exercising power democratically through the ballot box". • In a new article 88, the new article 8 introduced presidential elections, restricting the term of office for the President to seven years with a maximum of one re-election. • The referendum led to the approval of the new constitution, which became effective on 27 February 2012. • The President of Syria has the following powers: nominate ministers (Council of Ministers), declare war and states of emergency, issue laws (which, excluding the case of emergency, require approval by the People’s Council), issue pardons, modify the constitution, nominate civil servants, and military personnel. • The deceased President Hafiz al-Assad was confirmed by unchallenged referendums five times; his son (and the current President) Bashar al-Assad was confirmed by an unchallenged referendum in July 2000; on May 27, 2007, he was confirmed again with 97.6% of the vote; he also won the most recent presidential election, held on June 3, 2014, with 88.7% of the vote. • The President, together with the National Progressive Front, determines issues of war and peace and approves the country’s five-year economic plans; the National Progressive Front additionally serves as a forum where economic policies are discussed and the nation’s political orientation is decided. • Even though the Syrian Constitution of 2012 requires that the President be a Muslim, Islam is not necessarily the state religion, but Islamic jurisprudence is required to be the primary source of legislation. • Syria’s judicial system is a mixture of Ottoman, French, and Islamic laws, with three levels of courts: courts of first instance, courts of appeals, and the constitutional court, the most supreme court; religious courts additionally deal with questions of personal and family law. • The Ba’ath Party stands for socialism and secular Pan-Arabism. • In spite of the Ba’ath Party’s policy of establishing national (instead of ethnic) identify , matters of ethnic, religious, and regional loyalties are still vital in Syria.
  7. 7. Flag of the Syrian Opposition
  8. 8. Legislative Branch • The People’s Council (Majlis al-Sha'ab) is made up of 250 members who are elected to a four-year term in fifteen multi-seat constituencies. • Syria, in accordance with the old 1973 constitution, is (unofficially) a single-party state where only one political party, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, can legitimately hold authority. • Of the 250 council seats, 167 are reserved for the National Progressive Front (founded in 1972), while eighty-three (as of 2007) are reserved for members of the Ba’ath Party. • The Progressive Front’s smaller parties were by law required to accept the Ba’ath Party’s leadership; for instance, the Progressive Front’s other parties may not appeal for supporters in the army or the student body that are “reserved exclusively for the Ba’ath”. • In theory, the new 2012 Syrian constitution introduced a multi-party system with no guaranteed leadership of a specific political party.
  9. 9. Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Syria Region Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Syria Region • Officially the Syrian Regional Branch. • Neo-Ba’athist regional organization established on 7 April 1947 by Michel Aflaq, Salah al-Din al-Bitar, and supporters of Zaki al-Arsuzi. • Originally the regional faction of the original Ba’ath Party (1947-1966) prior to switching its loyalty to the Syrian-controlled Ba’ath movement (since 1966) after the split within that party in 1966. • Has uninterruptedly governed Syrian politics since the 1963 Syrian coup d’état that led to the rule of the Ba’athists. Logo
  10. 10. Bashar al-Assad Bashar al-Assad • Born 11 September 1965 in Damascus. • Current President of Syria; also current General Secretary of the Ba’ath Party and Regional Secretary of that party’s Syrian branch. • Has served as President since July 2000, when he succeeded his father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria for 30 years until his death. • Graduated from the medical school of Damascus University in 1988, and began working as a surgeon in the military; attended postgrad studies at the Western Eye Hospital in London, where he majored in ophthalmology, four years later. • Returned to Syria in 1994 to assume his older brother Bassel’s role as heir apparent after Bassel’s death in a car accident. • Joined the military academy and assumed charge of the 1998 Syrian occupation of Lebanon. • Married Asma Assad (maiden name Akhras) in December 2000. • Was reconfirmed by the national constituency as President of Syria three times (2000, 2007, 2014) after the People’s Council of Syria voted in favor of proposing the incumbent unopposed each time. • His government claims to be secular, but international affairs experts believe that his government abuses religious tensions in Syria to prevent any possibly of being overthrown. Photo
  11. 11. Wael Nader al-Hlqi Wael Nader al-Hlqi • Born 1964 in Jasim. • Current PM of Syria. • Was nominated to the post of PM on 9 August 2012 after having served as Minister of Health. • Was born in the Daraa Governorate into a Sunni Muslim family. • Obtained a degree in medicine (MD) from the University of Damascus and a master’s degree in gynaecology and obstetrics (also from the University of Damascus) in 1987 and 1991, respectively. • Served as director of primary health care in Jasim from 1997-2000 and subsequently as secretary of the Daraa faction of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party from 2000-2004. • Also served as the director of health in Daraa; was nominated head of Syria’s doctors in 2010. • Was nominated as Syria’s PM on 9 August 2012 by President Basher al-Assad after Halqi’s predecessor Riyad Farid Hijab escaped to neighboring Jordan and committed himself to the Syrian opposition. • Escaped an outward attempt on his life by car bombers in the Mezzeh district of Damascus; six civilians were killed in that attack. • Is married and has four children. Photo
  12. 12. Mohammed Jihad al-Laham Mohammed Jihad al-Laham • Born in Damascus. • Speaker of the People’s Council of Syria since 24 May 2012. • Prominent criminal lawyer; leads the Damascus office of the Syrian Lawyers’ Syndicate. • Was elected as a delegate of Damascus on 7 May 2012. • Was subsequently elected as Speaker of Parliament on 24 May 2012, winning 225 out of 250 seats; his selection was one of the new Syrian Parliament’s acts. • Member of the Ba’ath Party of Syria. • Stated, during his election as Speaker, that "Syria is passing through a stage that requires every individual to exert his efforts" and that "the Assembly should be a mirror that reflects the reality of all Syrians and meet their aspirations." Photo
  13. 13. The End (‫)النهاية‬