In This Review

The Struggle for Power in Syria: Politics and Society Under Asad and the Ba'th Party
The Struggle for Power in Syria: Politics and Society Under Asad and the Ba'th Party
By Nikolaos van Dam
I. B. Tauris, 1996, 228 pp.

First published in 1979, this excellent study of the sectarian bases of Syrian politics has been thoroughly updated. The author remains pessimistic about a peaceful evolution away from today's Alawi-dominated dictatorship toward a more representative and democratic regime, but he does believe that some measure of liberalization is nonetheless possible. He also argues that the regime's foreign policy has nothing to do with its sectarian base. He expects the post-Asad period to remain one of Alawi preeminence, but without the commanding figure of Hafiz al-Asad to dominate the scene, many uncertainties will arise.