The New Lion of Damascus

Bashar al-Asad and Modern Syria

David W. Lesch

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Is Syria a rogue state? How important is it to the fates of Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Lebanon? Based on unique and extraordinary access to Syria’s President Bashar al-Asad, his circle, and his family, this book tells Syria’s inside story. David W. Lesch presents the essential account of this country and its enigmatic leader at a critical juncture in the history of the Middle East.

Syria has been called the crossroads of civilization for millennia. Lately, however, it is a nation more in the crosshairs than the crossroads. From the U.S. perspective, Syria is on the wrong side of history with respect to Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, the global war on terrorism, and the growth of democracy in the Middle East. Bashar al-Asad assumed the presidency in 2000 after the long reign of his father, Hafiz al-Asad, and soon encountered momentous regional and international events. Bashar’s efforts to integrate his country into this changing environment without being coerced have met with some success and some failure. The fate of Syria, very much tied to its young ophthalmologist-turned-president, will profoundly affect what type of Middle East emerges in the near future.

David W. Lesch is professor at Trinity University in Texas and an expert on Middle Eastern studies. His many books include The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment.

"Having gained unprecedented access to the current president of Syria, the author has produced an extraordinarily readable and timely account deserving of a wide audience. Dr. Lesch is to be commended for doing for Bashar al-Asad what Patrick Seale did so well for his father."—James L. Gelvin, Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles

“A first-rate analysis of the domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the Bashar Asad regime, and Asad’s mixed record in meeting these challenges.”—Robert O. Freedman, Peggy Meyerhoff Pearlstone Professor of Political Science, Baltimore Hebrew University

"[A] comprehensive and well-written study."—Moshe Ma'oz, Middle East Journal

"Lesch's accounts of his meetings with Bashar make fascinating reading. They suggest that there is more to Syria's president that the United States has yet been willing to see, and this alone is a valuable lesson."—Steven Heydemann, Political Science Quarterly

"This is a very well-written book, and flows easily for the reader, making it useful not just for scholars and policymakers interested in a key leader and important country in Middle East politics, but also for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in courses on the comparative politics or international relations of the region. In each of these contexts, the book is sure to generate lively debate."—Curtis Ryan, H-Net Reviews
ISBN: 9780300109917
Publication Date: November 11, 2005
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 b/w illus.