Hafiz al-Asad's socioeconomic legacy: The balance of achievements and failures

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During the three decades of Hafiz al-Asad's rule, the most prominent characteristic of the Syrian economy were the frequent fluctuations between high growth and severe recession resulting, mainly, from the increasing dependence on rental income sources. The three aims of this article are: first, to examine the major economic developments in Hafiz al-Asad's Syria; second, to evaluate the balance of socio-economic achievements and failures in Syria during the past three decades; and third, to examine the pressing economic challenges facing the new Syrian President - Bashar al-Asad. The major conclusion of this article is that while in the political arena Hafiz al-Asad's achievements were impressive - mainly, the stabilization of the Syrian political system and the taking control of Lebanon, which gave Syria a considerable strategic advantage over Israel - Asad's achievements were not at all impressive in the socioeconomic field. There is no doubt that during the past three decades Syria has made some major steps in the areas of social and infrastructure developments. However, upon the death of Hafiz al-Asad on June 10, 2000, Syria, despite its huge economic potential, remained one of the poorest Middle Eastern and North African countries, with a per capita GNP of about $US 1,000 and crucial dependence on oil revenues and Arab aid as the major govermental income sources. Thus, from a historical perspective, Asad's socioeconomic approach can be summarized as a "survival economy.".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-468
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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