Since independence in 1946 Syria's relations with all of its neighbours have at one time or another included direct or indirect military confrontation. Syria supported Iran in the war against Syria's neighbour Iraq in the 1980s. Syria supported the PKK in its conflict against Syria's neighbour Turkey. Syria temporarily invaded its neighbour Jordan in 1970 to support the PLO. Syria's Army entered Lebanon in 1976 (through invitation by the Christian Lebanese factions) and have stayed ever since despite international and local opposition. The Israeli - Syrian relation has been marred by 3 wars (1967, 1973, 1982) and continued war by proxy through Hezbollah and Hamas. Syria assisted America in its war against Iraq during the first Gulf war in 1991. Syria has also recently been accused of assisting insurgents forces fighting the current interim Iraqi government.
Several events have marked the recent history of Syria's international relations:
Lebanon - Following Bashar Assad's ascendance to power in 2000, Syria found itself under growing international pressure in Lebanon. What his father conquered as a "historical right", Bashar was soon to give up due to international pressure.
Following the Mehlis and Fitzgerald reports regarding the Assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, and with ongoing pressure from the international community – as in UN Resolution 1559 – Syria left southern Lebanon in April of 2005.
The War in Lebanon – The conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah (August 2006) showed the increased preoccupation of Israel and the US with the weapon supply routes from Tehran, via Damascus. Albeit a quite role in the conflict, Syria has not denied its interest in this war.
Statements made by Assad at the end of the conflict, in which he said that resistance is the most viable way to recapture lost lands; demonstrate the conflictive direction which Assad aims to take. While many had doubts as to Bashar's international aspirations, this conflict sheds some light as to his increased effort to side away from Europe, towards his eastern counterpart – Iran.
These two events may signal that, having lost Lebanon due to international pressure, Assad may seek to find a resolution to the age old loss of the Golan Heights. He may seek to do so in several manners. But, if anything, his alignment with Iran may prove to be strength in international terms.
Syria was one of the founding members of the Arab league as well as one of its most active members. Since the League's foundation in 1954 Syria has hosted a number of Arab League meetings and has been instrumental in the decision making progress of the organisation, especially during times of crisis in the region.
Syria also has membership in a number of important Arab and Islamic organisations which include:
Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Arab League, Arab Monetary Fund, Council of Arab Economic Unity, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries and Organization of the Islamic Conference and Islamic Development Bank.
By: Meir Javedanfar and Tal Gurevich- www.meepas.com