Freedom Circle logo
Freedom Circle

Where Can You Find Freedom Today?

Territory in southwest Asia, nominally ruled since 1961 by the al-Jumhūriyyah al-‘Arabīyah as-Sūriyyah

Syria (Arabic: سوريا‎ Sūriyā), officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية‎ al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a country in western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south and Israel to the southwest. Syria's capital and largest city is Damascus. A country of fertile plains, high mountains and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Geographical type: Territory

Latitude: 35° N — Longitude: 38° E

Area: 185,180 km²

ISO 3166-2 code: SY

Measures of Freedom

Human Freedom Index [PDF], The Human Freedom Index 2021
2019: 3.66, Rank: 165, Personal Freedom: 2.6, Economic Freedom: 5.19
Level of Economic Freedom, Economic Freedom of the World
2014: 5.59, Rank: 146
Syria | Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2022
2016: Status: Not Free, Aggregate Score: -1, Political Rights: 7, Civil Liberties: 7
The civil war that started in the wake of a peaceful 2011 uprising continued unabated in 2015. By December it had displaced some 6.6 million people within Syria and created roughly 4.3 million Syrian refugees; most of those who remained in the country were in need of humanitarian assistance. The United Nations stopped providing casualty figures in January 2014, but the independent Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a total of 330,000 dead as of August 2015.


The Cynical U.S. Policy on Chemical Weapons, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 6 Sep 2013
Discusses evidence of what is known and not so known about countries involved in the Middle East and chemical and nuclear weapons, referencing findings from Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco
[The] gruesome images of children and other noncombatants killed and wounded allegedly by Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons constitute a powerful part of Obama's appeal for public support for his missile strike ... Bear in mind that during the June 1967 war, Israel wrested the Golan Heights from Syria and annexed them in 1981, building settlements in contravention of international law, which forbids acquiring territory via war. While the border between Syria and Israel has been stable all these years, Syria aspires to recover the lost territory and has been willing to negotiate with Israel.
Related Topics: Iraq, Middle East
Here's How the U.S. Can Help Rid the World of Chemical Weapons, by Sheldon Richman, 11 Sep 2013
Argues the U.S. government could set a better example by destroying all its chemical weapons, encouraging Israel and Egypt to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, and itself ratifying the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (which bans cluster bombs)
(UPDATE: Syria has now ratified the [Chemical Weapons Convention].) ... According to Stephen Zunes, a Middle East scholar at the University of San Francisco, "Syria has joined virtually all other Arab states in calling for ... a 'weapons of mass destruction-free zone' for the entire Middle East. In December 2003, Syria introduced a UN Security Council resolution reiterating this clause from 12 years earlier, but the resolution was tabled as a result of a threatened U.S. veto." (Emphasis added.) ... Had that resolution been adopted, Syria would not have chemical weapons today.
Related Topics: Israel, United States, War
Is Obama Trying to Alienate Muslim-American Youth?, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Oct 2014
Examines the Obama administration's contradictory stances on the Islamic State (ISIS) and its outreach efforts towards young American Muslims
The U.S. government says Mohammed Hamzah Khan, an American citizen, faces 15 years in prison because he was at an airport with a ticket to Turkey and had left references to ISIS and a note to his parents saying he was going to Syria ... only about 100 Americans have traveled to Syria or attempted to. That's an insignificant percentage of the 2.6 million American Muslims ... It's unlikely that President Obama and his national-security team will consider the connection between U.S. bombings in Iraq and Syria, which have already taken civilian lives, and the alienation of young American Muslims.
Is the Foreign-Policy Elite Clueless?, by Sheldon Richman, 17 Sep 2014
Examines the policies of the Bush and Obama administrations in Iraq and Syria that led to the rise of the Islamic State
[In] Syria, the brutal Iran-backed dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad became even more egregious in 2011 in response to growing protests. Assad's ... religion is related to Shi'ism, putting the majority Sunnis at a disadvantage ... The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was born when a capable and especially fanatical group ... in Syria had strategic differences with the al-Qaeda affiliate ... The nonaggression pact among the Islamic State and other anti-Assad groups, along with the U.S.-blessed Free Syrian Army's announcement that it would not join Obama's anti-ISIS coalition, seems to sink the president's plan.
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Iran, Barack Obama
It Came From Washington: A Criminally Insane Government, by Paul Craig Roberts, 1 Jul 2012
Examines U.S. government adversarial actions towards Russia and China through NATO, in the Middle East and in the Pacific
The presstitute American press pretends that an evil Syrian government is murdering innocent citizens who only want democracy ... The Syrian 'rebels' are well armed with military weapons. The 'rebels' are battling the Syrian army. The rebels massacre civilians and report to their media whores in the West that the deed was done by the Syrian government, and the Western presstitutes spread the propaganda. Someone is arming the 'rebels' as obviously the weapons can't be purchased in local Syrian markets. Most intelligent people believe the weapons are coming from the US or from US surrogates.
Outsourcing Torture, by Sheldon Richman, 29 Sep 2006
Discusses the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian and Syrian citizen sent by the Bush administration to Syria for interrogation and torture, due to erroneous information from Canadian law enforcement that he had (unproven) terrorist ties
Arar is a Syrian as well as a Canadian citizen. The Canadians did not learn that Arar had been sent to a Syrian prison until two weeks later. "Mr. Arar spent 10 months in the custody of Syrian interrogators who beat him repeatedly with a heavy metal cable and held him in a dank cell scarcely larger than a coffin, according to the commission report ..." the Times reported ... On the basis of no evidence whatsoever, the U.S. government secretly sent a young man to a country known for torturing prisoners ... This is the same Syria with whom the U.S. government refused to speak during the recent Israel-Lebanon war.
Trivial Dispute: Obama versus the Interventionists, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 30 May 2014
Examines Barack Obama's speech at the 2014 West Point graduation and points out the scant differences between him and those advocating military intervention, in arguments for continued U.S. meddling in other countries' affairs
For example, the conflict in Syria became a full-blown civil war when Obama and other Western politicians declared that President Bashar al-Assad "must go" and formally recognized certain members of the opposition as the legitimate government. This removed any incentive that Assad and the opposition had to negotiate, which would have ended the killing of innocents caught in the crossfire. U.S. assistance to alleged "moderates" in the opposition (which is dominated by al-Qaeda affiliates) prolongs the civil war and adds to the casualty toll among noncombatants.
U.S. Has No Moral Standing to Condemn Assad, by Sheldon Richman, 28 Aug 2013
Questions the propriety of the U.S. government's moral pronouncements (and potential military actions) in response to allegations that Syria's government used chemical weapons
Whether or not Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, President Obama has no legitimate grounds to intervene ... Exploiting unsubstantiated allegations about chemical weapons also runs the risk of repeating the blunder of ... Iraq. Are there grounds for confidence in the claims that Assad's forces used chemical weapons? ... something does not add up. Assad has much to lose by their use, while the rebels have much to gain: Western intervention on their behalf. (In May a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria concluded that the rebels may have used chemical weapons at that time.)
Related Topics: Barack Obama, War
We Must Not Be the World’s Policeman, by Sheldon Richman, 4 Sep 2013
Considers whether United States government actions. such as bombing, against the goverment of Syria's Bashar al-Assad are justified from moral or constitutional perspectives
Even if everything Secretary of State John Kerry says about chemical weapons in Syria were true, the evidence would prove only that Bashar al-Assad committed crimes against civilians ... Obama and Kerry have tried hard to invoke "national security" as grounds for bombing Syria, but no one believes Assad threatens Americans. He has made no such statements and taken no threatening actions. He is engulfed in a sectarian civil war. Inexcusably, Obama has taken sides in that civil war — the same side as the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate — but still Assad poses no danger to Americans. Bombing would make him more ... of a threat.

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Syria" as of 1 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.