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Syria's Political System

Constitution and political system

After the 1973 constitution, Syria is a unified state, planning economic and socialist people's republic, although the socialist element has been somewhat diminished since 1990. President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father Hafez al-Assad when he died in 2000.

Formally, the president is elected in the general election for seven years; the candidate is nominated by the National Assembly on the suggestion of the ruling Baath Party. The President appoints the Vice President and members of the government; they are accountable to him. The president is also secretary general of the Baath party and military commander-in-chief.

Legislative authority rests formally with the popular assembly (Majlis ash-Sha'ab). It is elected for four years and has 250 members. 83 seats are reserved for independent candidates.

Administratively

Administratively, Syria is divided into 14 provinces (mohafazat), including the metropolitan area. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of SY and its meanings of Syria. The provinces are governed by state-appointed governors and partially elected councils.

Judiciary

The judiciary is characterized by a mixture of French, Ottoman and Islamic law.

The judiciary is divided into two branches, one for public courts and one for administrative courts. At the top, the two branches gather under the Supreme Constitutional Court. It consists of a leader and four judges; all are appointed by the president for four years and can be reappointed.

The Court of Cassation is the supreme general court. Furthermore, there is an appeal court in each province and one or more first instance tribunals. Locally, there are also peace tribunals who judge in minor cases. There are also courts that rule on matters of personal status (family matters) and cases involving minors.

Apart from the latter, all the courts are divided into different chambers for civil and criminal cases. The administrative courts adjudicate on cases involving the state or any of its bodies. There are pure administrative courts and judicial administrative courts. The Supreme Administrative Court ultimately ruled. There are separate military courts in which the Court of Cassation acts as the last court of appeal.

Government and Politics of Syria

On October 2, IS had conquered 350 of 354 villages around Kobanę and stood just outside the city. The advance continued and at the end of the month IS had control of approx. 60% of the city. By then, 300,000 Kurds had fled to Turkey. The strategic situation did not change until the end of the month, when the United States succeeded in forcing Turkey to accept that Iraqi Kurdish forces came to the aid of the YPG. Iraqis were detained in Turkey for several days, but reached Nov. 1 on Kobanę carrying ammunition and weapons. At the same time, 3-400 partisans from the FSA joined the fighting against IS. But IS also strengthened Kobanę from, among other things. 

The Kurdish people in Turkey reacted with fury to Turkey's alliance with IS. Throughout October, Kurdish demonstrations were conducted in many Turkish cities. The Turkish state again responded with violence. Up to 50 Kurdish protesters were killed in Turkey in October, the PK threatened to withdraw from the ongoing peace talks and attack the military positions. On November 1, an international protest day was held in solidarity with the Kurds in Kobanę. 5,000 demonstrated in the city of Suruc 10km from the border with Syrian Kurdistan and 15,000 in Diyarbakir. The Turkish security forces remained calm and the demonstrations were peaceful. However, Turkey still kept the border hermetically closed to Turkish Kurdish supplies to Kobanę.

Western propaganda said the aim of the bombings was to weaken IS, but the bombings had the opposite effect. In Syria, partisans deserted thousands of Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups and joined the IS. Thousands of young people from North Africa, Europe and the Caucasus went to the Middle East where they joined IS. At the same time, more and more Islamist militant groups around the world declared that they were subordinating themselves or allied to IS. This was the case with the large al-Nusra group in Syria, which was previously allied with al-Qaeda; it was the Taliban in Pakistan; and it involved a large number of militant groups in the Arabian Peninsula, in Egypt and the rest of North Africa. The West had first created IS, and now the West made the movement a beacon for militant Islamists throughout the world.

At a stroke 10-28. August, IS Tabqa captured the air base in eastern Syria from government forces. It was possible after the conquest of the heavy North American weapons in Iraq 2 months before. IS took no prisoners on base. The soldiers and officers they caught were decapitated and their heads displayed on stays in Raqqa. The loss of the base and the barbaric way it fell triggered for the first time significant criticism internally in the Syrian government and among Alawites. IS's beheadings were so dreaded, and it worked.

The dramatic strengthening of IS in the eastern part of the country pushed the other rebel groups further west. In mid-August 2014, al-Nusra front captured most of the border area against Israel and the Golan Heights from the FSA. It didn't worry Israel. A senior Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post that it was "unlikely that Jabhat al-Nusra would attack Israel in the near future." The opinion came as no surprise. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had already stated that he considered al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra a "gentle" group. Already, there had been ongoing reports of co-ordination between al-Nusra and Israel, and several al-Nusra partisans should have been treated in Israeli hospitals. In August, FSA commander Sharif As-Safouri admitted working with Israel, receiving anti-tank weapons, and also treating wounded rebels in Israeli hospitals. It seemed that both Israel and the Syrian rebel groups followed the Middle Eastern paradigm that "my enemy's enemy is my friend". For the rebels, Israeli support was welcome in the fight against the Assad regime. For Israel, Syria was the last major military threat close to the country, and 3 years of rebellion had helped make this threat completely harmless to Israel.

In December, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura raised alarm over the humanitarian situation in Aleppo, which still housed 60,000 civilians. Mistura suggested that a solution be found like in Homs, evacuated by the rebels after the city was besieged and starved. A ceasefire was to be implemented in Aleppo and set some kind of boundaries between the armed combatants. While the Syrian government expressed interest in the proposal, it was rejected by the rebels.

In October, to get Turkey to accept allowing Iraqi Kurds to travel through Turkey and into Kobanę, the United States had to promise them to launch a training program for 5,000 partisans from the FSA. The story, however, helped to quickly make the deal unimportant, as the FSA was wiping out across the country. By the start of 2015, there were virtually only Islamist rebels with al-Nusra and IS in the lead. West had not learned from the experience of Afghanistan where the West (US) policy created al-Qaeda. After supporting the rebels since 2011, several European governments began to get cold feet in 2014 when they discovered that through their support for the rebellion they had been fanatical Islamists. Several countries - including Denmark - then began to consider what to do with returning jihadists. European countries had no problems with this jihadi tourism in 2011-13. Most European countries now resorted to medieval solutions such as banishing the returning - depriving them of their passports and citizenship. In a few years, the development in the Middle East had peeled 700 years of European «civilization».

 

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