2. Background: Background notes
Independence was achieved on April 17, 1946 from a League of Nations mandate under French administration.
Syria is located in the heart of a region that has experienced intense political conflict since World War II. Its strategic location and considerable military power give it a political significance within the Middle East that contrasts with its small size and economic potential. Syria has been deeply involved in many of the region’s political problems.
The political system places virtually absolute authority in the hands of President Hafiz Al-Asad. Al-Asad’s election to a fifth 7-year term was confirmed by a March (1999) national referendum. Key decisions, regarding foreign policy, national security, internal politics, and the economy, are made by President Asad with counsel from his ministers, high-ranking members of the ruling Ba’th Party.
The Government continues to restrict or deny fundamental rights. The Ba’th Party dominates the political system, as provided for by the Constitution, and citizens do not have the right to change their government. The Government uses its vast powers so effectively that there is no organized political opposition, and there have been very few anti-regime manifestations.
The Government does not allow independent domestic human rights groups to exist and discriminates against the stateless Kurdish minority, suppresses worker rights, and child labor continues to occur.