Syria: The Return Address on a Car Bomb

Syria: The Return Address on a Car Bomb

When the Syrian capital of Damascus was rocked by a car bomb on Sept. 27, the wheels started spinning wildly inside intelligence agencies, Middle Eastern tea houses, and conspiracy theorist circles alike. The explosion, which killed 17 people and injured 14, took place along the Damascus airport highway close to a Syrian intelligence installation. The question on everyone's mind was: Who did this and why? The most striking aspect of the search for answers is just how many theories are potentially credible. Clearly, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been walking a high wire of strategic alliances, making friends and enemies within every conflict in the Middle East; a dangerous game, indeed.

Under the young Assad, Syria has built strong links with Shiite militias operating in Lebanon and with Sunni extremists in the Palestinian territories. It has allied itself with Iran and it has initiated indirect peace talks with Israel. The regime is simultaneously strengthening ties with France, while vowing lasting and deep friendship with Iran. Syria has worked to bolster relations with a resurgent Russia, even as it looks to the West in search of new friends.

Countries ruled by secure and well-entrenched dictatorships tend to look calm on the surface. But Syria has lately seen a number of attacks that indicate the regime of Bashar al-Assad does not have as firm a grip on the country as his father Hafez did. The elder Assad ruled Syria with an iron fist for almost 30 years, until his death in 2000. Since succeeding him, Bashar has sought to keep his minority Alawite regime in control of the country while navigating the treacherous strategic landscape of the Middle East.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review