The constitution, approved in a controversial referendum on February 26, 2012, defines Syria as an Arab Republic with a presidential system. The head of state is the president, who has extensive powers (directly elected for 7 years, one-time re-election possible), since 2000 B. al-Assad . He is the commander in chief of the armed forces, appoints the government chaired by the prime minister, can declare a state of emergency and dissolve parliament. The legislature lies with the people’s assembly (250 members elected for 4 years). In fact, Syria is a dictatorship. According to carswers, the Assad regime relies on elite armed forces, secret services, paramilitary groups and the Ba’ath Party, which has been in government since 1963. Only parties loyal to the regime are represented in parliament. The hopes for political liberalization associated with Assad’s accession to power were fulfilled. The crackdown on protests by his security forces in 2011 fueled the Syrian civil war.
The national flag was adopted on March 28, 1980. It is horizontally streaked red over white over black. There are two five-pointed green stars in the white stripe. The coloring corresponds to the Arabic colors ; Black symbolizes the colonial era, red the revolution, white the peaceful future. The two stars stand for unity, their color indicates Islam.
The coat of arms was last changed in 1980. It shows a stylized golden eagle heraldically to the left, the chest of which is covered with a shield in the colors of the national flag. In his claws he is holding a tape with the official name of the state; Two golden ears of wheat cross between the breastplate and the tape. The eagle is traced back to Chalid Ibn al-Walid , who conquered Damascus as a general of Muhammad in the 7th century.
The national holiday on April 17th commemorates the withdrawal of the last French and British troops in 1946.
The most influential party is the Syrian Baath Party (Baath). It dominates the National Progressive Front (NPF), a party alliance founded in 1972, to which, among others, a. the Syrian Communist Party (founded in 1924), the Arab Socialist Union (founded in 1973), the Unity Socialist Party (founded in 1961), the Democratic Socialist Unionist Party (founded in 1974) and the Syrian Social-Nationalist Party (founded in 1932). The leading role of the Ba’ath Party in state and society as enshrined in the constitution of 1973 was formally repealed with the new constitution of 2012.
There are around 20 state-controlled individual unions under the umbrella organization of the General Federation of Workers’ Unions. There is also a general farmers’ union and various professional associations.
The total strength of the conscript army (basic military service: 30 months) has decreased due to losses and desertions since the beginning of the civil war. It is still around 128,000 soldiers in the army, air force and navy. There are also relatives in the auxiliary forces and paramilitary forces. In addition to the army, which is divided into three corps, the Republican Guard and the 4th Panzer Division act as independent units.
Syria is divided into 13 governorates (Muhafazat) and the capital district.
Administrative division in Syria
|Administrative division (2011)|
|Governorate 1)(Muhafazat)||Area (in km 2)||Population (in 1,000)||Residents (per km 2)|
|Damascus (city)||105||1,754.0||16 705|
|Damascus (District)||18 032||2,836.0||157|
|Homs||42 223||1 803.0||42|
|Latakia||2 297||1 008.0||439|
|Deir ez-Zor||33 060||1,239.0||37|
|Hasakeh||23 334||1 512.0||65|
|1) The governorates are named after their capitals.|
The law is rooted in the Islamic tradition of Sharia, which is a major source of legislation, but is also subject to French influences. The court system is divided into two parts and consists of Sharia courts (family matters) and secular courts (civil and criminal matters). The four-tier structure of the secular courts includes courts of justice, courts of first instance, an assistant court, a court of appeal and a court of cassation in Damascus, and there is also a Supreme Constitutional Court.
Syrian media require a state license. State and private media (approved since 2008) are subject to censorship.
Press: The daily newspapers with the highest circulation are Al-Baath, Al-Thaura, Tishrin and the English-language Syria Times. In addition appear among others. the Arabic-language weekly newspapers “Al-Iqtissadiya” and “Abiad wa Asuad” as well as the English-language monthly magazines “Syria Today” and “Forward Magazine”.
News Agency: The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA, founded in 1966) distributes a service in Arabic.
Broadcasting: Radio and television are regulated by the Directorate-General of Broadcasting and Television. Organizme de la Radio-Télévision Arabe Syrienne (ORTAS, founded in 1945) broadcasts radio programs in eleven languages. State television (since 1960) operates one satellite channel and two terrestrial channels.