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US conservatives have long trumpeted a hard line--and even US military action--against Syria. Yet the current unrest and the regime's apparent lack of concern about international opinion after its brutal crackdown on Dera'a show that Syria's immediate neighbors support the dictatorial Baath regime as a better alternative than the uncertainties of a democracy that might well be dominated by Islamic parties.

Will Syria emerge as a democracy? And, if the strict bands of the security state are loosened, will Syria descend into the sectarian strife that has engulfed Lebanon and Iraq?

This book by the distinguished German scholar and journalist Carsten Wieland probes the dynamics of the Syrian state. The author explores the politics, family, economic, and regional pressures on the young Syrian president, Bashar al-Asad and elucidates in clear, clean prose the sources of authority that keep the regime in power.

Syria - Ballots or Bullets? is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the social, economic, and political makeup of this pivotal Middle Eastern country.

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