When Hafiz al-Assad died in June 2000, ending a 30-year reign, he was succeeded by his son Bashar, marking what may well be an emerging Arab tradition of republican monarchy. These two succinct International Crisis Group reports analyze Bashar's first four years in power, showing how the great promise of liberalization faded and documenting Syria's foreign relations, especially with the United States and Israel. The policy recommendations are somewhat scattershot: too many people are asked to do too many things simultaneously -- the Syrian government, various opposition groups, Syria's neighbors, the European Union, and the United States. Washington, now garnished with SALSA (the December 2003 Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act), seems neither well positioned nor inclined to do its part.
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