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Syria vs. Iraq

Introduction

SyriaIraq
Background

Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability and experienced a series of military coups. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights region to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional, albeit unsuccessful, peace talks over its return. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the socialist Ba'ath Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. Following the death of President Hafiz al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007, Bashar al-ASAD's second term as president was approved by popular referendum.

Influenced by major uprisings that began elsewhere in the region, and compounded by additional social and economic factors, antigovernment protests broke out first in the southern province of Dar'a in March 2011 with protesters calling for the repeal of the restrictive Emergency Law allowing arrests without charge, the legalization of political parties, and the removal of corrupt local officials. Demonstrations and violent unrest spread across Syria with the size and intensity of protests fluctuating. The government responded to unrest with a mix of concessions - including the repeal of the Emergency Law, new laws permitting new political parties, and liberalizing local and national elections - and with military force and detentions. The government's efforts to quell unrest and armed opposition activity led to extended clashes and eventually civil war between government forces, their allies, and oppositionists.

International pressure on the ASAD regime intensified after late 2011, as the Arab League, the EU, Turkey, and the US expanded economic sanctions against the regime and those entities that support it. In December 2012, the Syrian National Coalition, was recognized by more than 130 countries as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. In September 2015, Russia launched a military intervention on behalf of the ASAD regime, and domestic and foreign government-aligned forces recaptured swaths of territory from opposition forces, and eventually the country’s second largest city, Aleppo, in December 2016, shifting the conflict in the regime’s favor. The regime, with this foreign support, also recaptured opposition strongholds in the Damascus suburbs and the southern province of Dar’a in 2018. The government lacks territorial control over much of the northeastern part of the country, which is dominated by the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF has expanded its territorial hold over much of the northeast since 2014 as it has captured territory from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Since 2016, Turkey has also conducted three large-scale military operations into Syria, capturing territory along Syria's northern border in the provinces of Aleppo, Ar Raqqah, and Al Hasakah. Political negotiations between the government and opposition delegations at UN-sponsored Geneva conferences since 2014 have failed to produce a resolution of the conflict. Since early 2017, Iran, Russia, and Turkey have held separate political negotiations outside of UN auspices to attempt to reduce violence in Syria. According to an April 2016 UN estimate, the death toll among Syrian Government forces, opposition forces, and civilians was over 400,000, though other estimates placed the number well over 500,000. As of December 2019, approximately 6 million Syrians were internally displaced. Approximately 11.1 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance across the country, and an additional 5.7 million Syrians were registered refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and North Africa. The conflict in Syria remains one of the largest humanitarian crises worldwide.

Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by the United Kingdom during World War I and was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration in 1920. Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. It was proclaimed a "republic" in 1958 after a coup overthrew the monarchy, but in actuality, a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husayn from 1979 to 2003. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. After Iraq's expulsion, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions led to the Second Gulf War in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led forces.

In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005. The COR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half century. Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all governorates in January 2009 and April 2013 and postponed the next provincial elections, originally planned for April 2017, until 2019. Iraq has held three national legislative elections since 2005, most recently in May 2018 when 329 legislators were elected to the COR. Adil ABD AL-MAHDI assumed the premiership in October 2018 as a consensus and independent candidate - the first prime minister who is not an active member of a major political bloc. However, widespread protests that began in October 2019 demanding more employment opportunities and an end to corruption prompted ABD AL-MAHDI to announce his resignation on 20 November 2019.

Between 2014 and 2017, Iraq was engaged in a military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) to recapture territory lost in the western and northern portion of the country. Iraqi and allied forces recaptured Mosul, the country's second-largest city, in 2017 and drove ISIS out of its other urban strongholds. In December 2017, then-Prime Minister Haydar al-ABADI publicly declared victory against ISIS while continuing operations against the group's residual presence in rural areas. Also in late 2017, ABADI responded to an independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government by ordering Iraqi forces to take control of disputed territories across central and northern Iraq that were previously occupied and governed by Kurdish forces.

Geography

SyriaIraq
Location
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Geographic coordinates
35 00 N, 38 00 E
33 00 N, 44 00 E
Map references
Middle East
Middle East
Area
total: 187,437 sq km
land: 185,887 sq km
water: 1,550 sq km

note: includes 1,295 sq km of Israeli-occupied territory

total: 438,317 sq km
land: 437,367 sq km
water: 950 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly more than 1.5 times the size of Pennsylvania
slightly more than three times the size of New York state
Land boundaries
total: 2,343 km
border countries (5): Iraq 599 km, Israel 79 km, Jordan 362 km, Lebanon 394 km, Turkey 909 km
total: 3,809 km
border countries (6): Iran 1599 km, Jordan 179 km, Kuwait 254 km, Saudi Arabia 811 km, Syria 599 km, Turkey 367 km
Coastline
193 km
58 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate
mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast; cold weather with snow or sleet periodically in Damascus
mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
Terrain
primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west
mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
Elevation extremes
mean elevation: 514 m
lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -208 m
highest point: Mount Hermon (Jabal a-Shayk) 2,814 m
mean elevation: 312 m
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Cheekha Dar (Kurdish for "Black Tent") 3,611 m
Natural resources
petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use
agricultural land: 75.8% (2011 est.)
arable land: 25.4% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 5.8% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 44.6% (2011 est.)
forest: 2.7% (2011 est.)
other: 21.5% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 18.1% (2011 est.)
arable land: 8.4% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0.5% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 9.2% (2011 est.)
forest: 1.9% (2011 est.)
other: 80% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land
14,280 sq km (2012)
35,250 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards

dust storms, sandstorms

volcanism: Syria's two historically active volcanoes, Es Safa and an unnamed volcano near the Turkish border have not erupted in centuries

dust storms; sandstorms; floods
Environment - current issues
deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; depletion of water resources; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water
government water control projects drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification; military and industrial infrastructure has released heavy metals and other hazardous substances into the air, soil, and groundwater; major sources of environmental damage are effluents from oil refineries, factory and sewage discharges into rivers, fertilizer and chemical contamination of the soil, and industrial air pollution in urban areas
Environment - international agreements
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
party to: Biodiversity, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note
the capital of Damascus - located at an oasis fed by the Barada River - is thought to be one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities; there are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights (2017)
strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
Population distribution
significant population density along the Mediterranean coast; larger concentrations found in the major cities of Damascus, Aleppo (the country's largest city), and Hims (Homs); more than half of the population lives in the coastal plain, the province of Halab, and the Euphrates River valley

note: the ongoing civil war has altered the population distribution

population is concentrated in the north, center, and eastern parts of the country, with many of the larger urban agglomerations found along extensive parts of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; much of the western and southern areas are either lightly populated or uninhabited

Demographics

SyriaIraq
Population
19,398,448 (July 2020 est.)

note: approximately 22,000 Israeli settlers live in the Golan Heights (2016)

38,872,655 (July 2020 est.)
Age structure
0-14 years: 33.47% (male 3,323,072/female 3,170,444)
15-24 years: 19.34% (male 1,872,903/female 1,879,564)
25-54 years: 37.31% (male 3,558,241/female 3,679,596)
55-64 years: 5.41% (male 516,209/female 534,189)
65 years and over: 4.46% (male 404,813/female 459,417) (2020 est.)
0-14 years: 37.02% (male 7,349,868/female 7,041,405)
15-24 years: 19.83% (male 3,918,433/female 3,788,157)
25-54 years: 35.59% (male 6,919,569/female 6,914,856)
55-64 years: 4.23% (male 805,397/female 839,137)
65 years and over: 3.33% (male 576,593/female 719,240) (2020 est.)
Median age
total: 23.5 years
male: 23 years
female: 24 years (2020 est.)
total: 21.2 years
male: 20.8 years
female: 21.6 years (2020 est.)
Population growth rate
4.25% NA (2020 est.)
2.16% (2020 est.)
Birth rate
23.8 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
25.7 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Death rate
4.5 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
3.9 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Net migration rate
27.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population NA (2020 est.)
-0.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 99.5 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 101.4 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
Infant mortality rate
total: 16.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 18.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
total: 19.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 20.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 73.7 years
male: 72.3 years
female: 75.3 years (2020 est.)
total population: 72.6 years
male: 70.7 years
female: 74.6 years (2020 est.)
Total fertility rate
2.9 children born/woman (2020 est.)
3.39 children born/woman (2020 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
<.1% (2019)
NA
Nationality
noun: Syrian(s)
adjective: Syrian
noun: Iraqi(s)
adjective: Iraqi
Ethnic groups
Arab ~50%, Alawite ~15%, Kurd ~10%, Levantine ~10%, other ~15% (includes Druze, Ismaili, Imami, Nusairi, Assyrian, Turkoman, Armenian)
Arab 75-80%, Kurdish 15-20%, other 5% (includes Turkmen, Yezidi, Shabak, Kaka'i, Bedouin, Romani, Assyrian, Circassian, Sabaean-Mandaean, Persian)

note: data is a 1987 government estimate; no more recent reliable numbers are available

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
<1000 (2019)
NA
Religions
Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3%, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo)
note:  the Christian population may be considerably smaller as a result of Christians fleeing the country during the ongoing civil war
Muslim (official) 95-98% (Shia 64-69%, Sunni 29-34%), Christian 1% (includes Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Assyrian Church of the East), other 1-4% (2015 est.)

note: while there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, the overall Christian population has decreased at least 50% and perhaps as high as 90% since the fall of the SADDAM Husayn regime in 2003, according to US Embassy estimates, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon

HIV/AIDS - deaths
<100 (2019)
NA
Languages
Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French, English
Arabic (official), Kurdish (official), Turkmen (a Turkish dialect), Syriac (Neo-Aramaic), and Armenian are official in areas where native speakers of these languages constitute a majority of the population
Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.4%
male: 91.7%
female: 81% (2015)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 50.1%
male: 56.2%
female: 44% (2018)
Education expenditures
5.1% of GDP (2009)
NA
Urbanization
urban population: 55.5% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 1.43% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 70.9% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 3.06% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Drinking water source
improved: urban: 99% of population
rural: 99.3% of population
total: 99.4% of population
unimproved: urban: 1% of population
rural: 0.7% of population
total: 0.6% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 98.8% of population
rural: 95% of population
total: 97.9% of population
unimproved: urban: 1.2% of population
rural: 5% of population
total: 2.1% of population (2017 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 99.6% of population
rural: 98.6% of population
total: 99.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 0.4% of population
rural: 1.4% of population
total: 0.9% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 96.7% of population
rural: 89.7% of population
total: 95.2% of population
unimproved: urban: 3.3% of population
rural: 10.3% of population
total: 4.8% of population (2017 est.)
Major cities - population
2.392 million DAMASCUS (capital), 1.917 million Aleppo, 1.336 million Hims (Homs), 922,000 Hamah (2020)
7.144 million BAGHDAD (capital), 1.630 million Mosul, 1.352 million Basra, 1.013 million Kirkuk, 874,000 Najaf, 846,000 Erbil (2020)
Maternal mortality rate
31 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
79 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
5.8% (2009/10)
3.9% (2018)
Physicians density
1.29 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
0.84 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Hospital bed density
1.4 beds/1,000 population (2017)
1.3 beds/1,000 population (2017)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
27.8% (2016)
30.4% (2016)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
52.8% (2018)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 55.4
youth dependency ratio: 47.8
elderly dependency ratio: 7.6
potential support ratio: 13.2 (2020 est.)
total dependency ratio: 69.9
youth dependency ratio: 64.1
elderly dependency ratio: 5.9
potential support ratio: 17.1 (2020 est.)

Government

SyriaIraq
Country name
conventional long form: Syrian Arab Republic
conventional short form: Syria
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah
local short form: Suriyah
former: United Arab Republic (with Egypt)
etymology: name ultimately derived from the ancient Assyrians who dominated northern Mesopotamia, but whose reach also extended westward to the Levant; over time, the name came to be associated more with the western area
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Jumhuriyat al-Iraq/Komar-i Eraq
local short form: Al Iraq/Eraq
former: Mesopotamia, Mandatory Iraq, Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq
etymology: the name probably derives from "Uruk" (Biblical "Erech"), the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian city on the Euphrates River
Government type
presidential republic; highly authoritarian regime
federal parliamentary republic
Capital
name: Damascus
geographic coordinates: 33 30 N, 36 18 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins midnight on the last Friday in March; ends at midnight on the last Friday in October
etymology: Damascus is a very old city; its earliest name, Temeseq, first appears in an Egyptian geographical list of the 15th century B.C., but the meaning is uncertain
name: Baghdad
geographic coordinates: 33 20 N, 44 24 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
although the origin of the name is disputed, it likely has compound Persian roots with "bagh" and "dad" meaning "god" and "given" respectively to create the meaning of "bestowed by God"
Administrative divisions
14 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah (Latakia), Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a, Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq (Damascus), Halab (Aleppo), Hamah, Hims (Homs), Idlib, Rif Dimashq (Damascus Countryside), Tartus
18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah (Arabic); parezgakan, singular - parezga (Kurdish)) and 1 region*; Al Anbar; Al Basrah; Al Muthanna; Al Qadisiyah (Ad Diwaniyah); An Najaf; Arbil (Erbil) (Arabic), Hewler (Kurdish); As Sulaymaniyah (Arabic), Slemani (Kurdish); Babil; Baghdad; Dahuk (Arabic), Dihok (Kurdish); Dhi Qar; Diyala; Karbala'; Kirkuk; Kurdistan Regional Government*; Maysan; Ninawa; Salah ad Din; Wasit
Independence
17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration); note - on 28 June 2004 the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government
National holiday
Independence Day (Evacuation Day), 17 April (1946); note - celebrates the leaving of the last French troops and the proclamation of full independence
Independence Day, 3 October (1932); Republic Day, 14 July (1958)
Constitution
history: several previous; latest issued 15 February 2012, passed by referendum and effective 27 February 2012
amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by one third of the People’s Assembly members; following review by a special Assembly committee, passage requires at least three-quarters majority vote by the Assembly and approval by the president
history: several previous; latest adopted by referendum 15 October 2005
amendments: proposed by the president of the republic and the Council of Minsters collectively, or by one fifth of the Council of Representatives members; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote by the Council of Representatives, approval by referendum, and ratification by the president; passage of amendments to articles on citizen rights and liberties requires two-thirds majority vote of Council of Representatives members after two successive electoral terms, approval in a referendum, and ratification by the president
Legal system
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state: President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17 July 2000); Vice President Najah al-ATTAR (since 23 March 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Hussein ARNOUS (since 30 August 2020); Deputy Prime Minister Ali Abdullah AYOUB (Gen.) (since 30 August 2020)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 7-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 June 2014 (next to be held in June 2021); the president appoints the vice presidents, prime minister, and deputy prime ministers
election results: Bashar al-ASAD elected president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD (Ba'th Party) 88.7%, Hassan al-NOURI (independent) 4.3%, Maher HAJJER (independent) 3.2%, other/invalid 3.8%
chief of state: President Barham SALIH (since 2 October 2018); vice presidents (vacant)
head of government: Prime Minister Mustafa al-KADHIMI (since 7 May 2020)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, approved by Council of Representatives
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Council of Representatives (COR) to serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); COR election last held on 12 May 2018 (next NA)
election results:

COR vote in first round - Barham SALIH (PUK) 165, Fuad HUSAYN (KDP) 90; Barham SALIH elected president in second round - Barham SALIH 219, Fuad HUSAYN 22; note - the COR vote on 1 October 2018 failed due to a lack of quorum, and a new session was held on 2 October

Legislative branch
description: unicameral People's Assembly or Majlis al-Shaab (250 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority preferential vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 19 July 2020 (next to be held in 2024)
election results: percent of vote by party - NPF 80%, other 20%; seats by party - NPF 200, other 50; composition - men 217, women 33, percent of women 13.2%
description: unicameral Council of Representatives or Majlis an-Nuwwab al-Iraqiyy (329 seats; 320 members directly elected in 83 multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 9 seats at the national level reserved for minorities - 5 for Christians, 1 each for Sabaean-Mandaeans, Yazidis, Shabaks, Fayli Kurds; 25% of seats allocated to women; members serve 4-year terms); note - in early November 2020, the president ratified a new electoral law - approved by the Council of Representatives in late October - that eliminates the proportional representation electoral system
elections: last held on 12 May 2018 (next originally scheduled for May 2022, but rescheduled earlier to 6 June 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party/coalition - NA; seats by party/coalition - Sa'irun Alliance 54, Al Fatah Alliance 48, Al Nasr Alliance 42, KDP 25, State of Law Coalition 25, Wataniyah 21, National Wisdom Trend 19, PUK 18, Iraqi Decision Alliance 14, Anbar Our Identity 6, Goran Movement 5, New Generation 4, other 48; composition - men 245, women 84, percent of women 25.5%
Judicial branch
highest courts: Court of Cassation (organized into civil, criminal, religious, and military divisions, each with 3 judges); Supreme Constitutional Court (consists of 7 members)
judge selection and term of office: Court of Cassation judges appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), a judicial management body headed by the minister of justice with 7 members, including the national president; judge tenure NA; Supreme Constitutional Court judges nominated by the president and appointed by the SJC; judges serve 4-year renewable terms
subordinate courts: courts of first instance; magistrates' courts; religious and military courts; Economic Security Court; Counterterrorism Court (established June 2012)
highest courts: Federal Supreme Court or FSC (consists of 9 judges); note - court jurisdiction limited to constitutional issues and disputes between regions or governorates and the central government; Court of Cassation (consists of a court president, 5 vice presidents, and at least 24 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Federal Supreme Court and Court of Cassation judges selected by the president of the republic from nominees selected by the Higher Judicial Council (HJC), a 25-member committee of judicial officials that manages the judiciary and prosecutors; FSC members appointed for life; Court of Cassation judges appointed by the HJC and confirmed by the Council of Representatives to serve until retirement nominally at age 63
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal (governorate level); civil courts, including first instance, personal status, labor, and customs; criminal courts including felony, misdemeanor, investigative, major crimes, juvenile, and traffic courts
Political parties and leaders
legal parties/alliances:
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party [Bashar al-ASAD, regional secretary]
Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party [President Bashar al-ASAD]
Arab Socialist Union of Syria or ASU [Safwan al-QUDSI]
National Progressive Front or NPF [Bashar al-ASAD, Suleiman QADDAH] (alliance includes Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party, Socialist Unionist Democratic Party)
Socialist Unionist Democratic Party [Fadlallah Nasr al-DIN]
Syrian Communist Party (two branches) [Wissal Farha BAKDASH, Yusuf Rashid FAYSAL]
Syrian Social Nationalist Party or SSNP [Ali HAIDAR]
Unionist Socialist Party [Fayez ISMAIL]

Major Kurdish parties
 
Kurdish Democratic Union Party or PYD [Shahoz HASAN and Aysha HISSO]
Kurdish National Council [Sa'ud MALA]
 
other: Syrian Democratic Party [Mustafa QALAAJI]

Al Fatah Alliance [Hadi al-AMIRI]
Al Nasr Alliance [Haydar al-ABADI]
Al Sadiqun Bloc [Adnan al-DULAYMI]
Al Sa'irun Alliance [Muqtda al-SADR]
Badr Organization [Hadi al-AMIRI]
Da`wa Party [Nuri al-MALIKI]
Fadilah Party [Muhammad al-YAQUBI]
Goran Movement [Omar SAYYID ALI]
Iraqi Communist Party [Hamid Majid MUSA]
Iraq Decision Alliance [Khamis al-KHANJAR, Usama al-NUJAYFI]
Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI [Humam HAMMUDI]
Kurdistan Democratic Party or KDP [Masoud BARZANI]
National Wisdom Trend [Ammar al-HAKIM]
New Generation Movement [SHASWAR Abd al-Wahid Qadir]
Our Identity [Muhammad al-HALBUSI]
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK [KOSRAT Rasul Ali, acting]
State of Law Coalition [Nuri al MALIKI
Wataniyah coalition [Ayad ALLAWI]
numerous smaller religious, local, tribal, and minority parties
International organization participation
ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, ICSID, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WBG, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, CICA, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US
Ambassador (vacant)
chancery: 2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6313
FAX: [1] (202) 234-9548

note: Embassy ceased operations and closed on 18 March 2014

Ambassador Farid YASIN (since 18 January 2017)
chancery: 3421 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 742-1600
FAX: [1] (202) 333-1129
consulate(s) general: Detroit, Los Angeles
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); note - on 6 February 2012, the US closed its embassy in Damascus; Czechia serves as a protecting power for US interests in Syria
telephone: [963] (11) 3391-4444
embassy: Abou Roumaneh, 2 Al Mansour Street, Damascus
mailing address: P. O. Box 29, Damascus
FAX: [963] (11) 3391-3999
chief of mission: Ambassador Matthew TUELLER (since 9 June 2019)
telephone: 0760-030-3000
embassy: Al-Kindi Street, International Zone, Baghdad; note - consulate in Al Basrah closed as of 28 September 2018
mailing address: APO AE 09316
FAX: NA
Flag description
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; two small, green, five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the band colors derive from the Arab Liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white); identical to the former flag of the United Arab Republic (1958-1961) where the two stars represented the constituent states of Syria and Egypt; the current design dates to 1980

note: similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band, Iraq, which has an Arabic inscription centered in the white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great") in green Arabic script is centered in the white band; the band colors derive from the Arab Liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white); the Council of Representatives approved this flag in 2008 as a compromise replacement for the Ba'thist SADDAM-era flag

note: similar to the flag of Syria, which has two stars but no script; Yemen, which has a plain white band; and that of Egypt, which has a golden Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band

National anthem
name: "Humat ad-Diyar" (Guardians of the Homeland)
lyrics/music: Khalil Mardam BEY/Mohammad Salim FLAYFEL and Ahmad Salim FLAYFEL

note: adopted 1936, restored 1961; between 1958 and 1961, while Syria was a member of the United Arab Republic with Egypt, the country had a different anthem

name: "Mawtini" (My Homeland)
lyrics/music: Ibrahim TOUQAN/Mohammad FLAYFEL

note: adopted 2004; following the ouster of SADDAM Husayn, Iraq adopted "Mawtini," a popular folk song throughout the Arab world; also serves as an unofficial anthem of the Palestinian people

International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICC
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
National symbol(s)
hawk; national colors: red, white, black, green
golden eagle; national colors: red, white, black
Citizenship
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Syria; if the father is unknown or stateless, the mother must be a citizen of Syria
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Iraq
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Economy

SyriaIraq
Economy - overview

Syria's economy has deeply deteriorated amid the ongoing conflict that began in 2011, declining by more than 70% from 2010 to 2017. The government has struggled to fully address the effects of international sanctions, widespread infrastructure damage, diminished domestic consumption and production, reduced subsidies, and high inflation, which have caused dwindling foreign exchange reserves, rising budget and trade deficits, a decreasing value of the Syrian pound, and falling household purchasing power. In 2017, some economic indicators began to stabilize, including the exchange rate and inflation, but economic activity remains depressed and GDP almost certainly fell.

During 2017, the ongoing conflict and continued unrest and economic decline worsened the humanitarian crisis, necessitating high levels of international assistance, as more than 13 million people remain in need inside Syria, and the number of registered Syrian refugees increased from 4.8 million in 2016 to more than 5.4 million.

Prior to the turmoil, Damascus had begun liberalizing economic policies, including cutting lending interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating multiple exchange rates, raising prices on some subsidized items, and establishing the Damascus Stock Exchange, but the economy remains highly regulated. Long-run economic constraints include foreign trade barriers, declining oil production, high unemployment, rising budget deficits, increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, industrial contaction, water pollution, and widespread infrastructure damage.

Iraq's GDP growth slowed to 1.1% in 2017, a marked decline compared to the previous two years as domestic consumption and investment fell because of civil violence and a sluggish oil market. The Iraqi Government received its third tranche of funding from its 2016 Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF in August 2017, which is intended to stabilize its finances by encouraging improved fiscal management, needed economic reform, and expenditure reduction. Additionally, in late 2017 Iraq received more than $1.4 billion in financing from international lenders, part of which was generated by issuing a $1 billion bond for reconstruction and rehabilitation in areas liberated from ISIL. Investment and key sector diversification are crucial components to Iraq’s long-term economic development and require a strengthened business climate with enhanced legal and regulatory oversight to bolster private-sector engagement. The overall standard of living depends on global oil prices, the central government passage of major policy reforms, a stable security environment post-ISIS, and the resolution of civil discord with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

Iraq's largely state-run economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides roughly 85% of government revenue and 80% of foreign exchange earnings, and is a major determinant of the economy's fortunes. Iraq's contracts with major oil companies have the potential to further expand oil exports and revenues, but Iraq will need to make significant upgrades to its oil processing, pipeline, and export infrastructure to enable these deals to reach their economic potential.

In 2017, Iraqi oil exports from northern fields were disrupted following a KRG referendum that resulted in the Iraqi Government reasserting federal control over disputed oil fields and energy infrastructure in Kirkuk. The Iraqi government and the KRG dispute the role of federal and regional authorities in the development and export of natural resources. In 2007, the KRG passed an oil law to develop IKR oil and gas reserves independent of the federal government. The KRG has signed about 50 contracts with foreign energy companies to develop its reserves, some of which lie in territories taken by Baghdad in October 2017. The KRG is able to unilaterally export oil from the fields it retains control of through its own pipeline to Turkey, which Baghdad claims is illegal. In the absence of a national hydrocarbons law, the two sides have entered into five provisional oil- and revenue-sharing deals since 2009, all of which collapsed.

Iraq is making slow progress enacting laws and developing the institutions needed to implement economic policy, and political reforms are still needed to assuage investors' concerns regarding the uncertain business climate. The Government of Iraq is eager to attract additional foreign direct investment, but it faces a number of obstacles, including a tenuous political system and concerns about security and societal stability. Rampant corruption, outdated infrastructure, insufficient essential services, skilled labor shortages, and antiquated commercial laws stifle investment and continue to constrain growth of private, nonoil sectors. Under the Iraqi constitution, some competencies relevant to the overall investment climate are either shared by the federal government and the regions or are devolved entirely to local governments. Investment in the IKR operates within the framework of the Kurdistan Region Investment Law (Law 4 of 2006) and the Kurdistan Board of Investment, which is designed to provide incentives to help economic development in areas under the authority of the KRG.

Inflation has remained under control since 2006. However, Iraqi leaders remain hard-pressed to translate macroeconomic gains into an improved standard of living for the Iraqi populace. Unemployment remains a problem throughout the country despite a bloated public sector. Overregulation has made it difficult for Iraqi citizens and foreign investors to start new businesses. Corruption and lack of economic reforms - such as restructuring banks and developing the private sector – have inhibited the growth of the private sector.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$50.28 billion (2015 est.)
$55.8 billion (2014 est.)
$61.9 billion (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2015 US dollars
the war-driven deterioration of the economy resulted in a disappearance of quality national level statistics in the 2012-13 period
$649.3 billion (2017 est.)
$662.9 billion (2016 est.)
$586.3 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
-36.5% (2014 est.)
-30.9% (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 dollars

-2.1% (2017 est.)
13.1% (2016 est.)
2.5% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$2,900 (2015 est.)
$3,300 (2014 est.)
$2,800 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

$16,700 (2017 est.)
$17,500 (2016 est.)
$15,900 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 20% (2017 est.)
industry: 19.5% (2017 est.)
services: 60.8% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 3.3% (2017 est.)
industry: 51% (2017 est.)
services: 45.8% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
82.5% (2014 est.)
23% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
lowest 10%: 3.6%
highest 10%: 25.7% (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
28.1% (2017 est.)
47.3% (2016 est.)
0.1% (2017 est.)
0.5% (2016 est.)
Labor force
3.767 million (2017 est.)
8.9 million (2010 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 17%
industry: 16%
services: 67% (2008 est.)
agriculture: 21.6%
industry: 18.7%
services: 59.8% (2008 est.)
Unemployment rate
50% (2017 est.)
50% (2016 est.)
16% (2012 est.)
15% (2010 est.)
Budget
revenues: 1.162 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 3.211 billion (2017 est.)

note: government projections for FY2016

revenues: 68.71 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 76.82 billion (2017 est.)
Industries
petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, automobile assembly
petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing
Industrial production growth rate
4.3% (2017 est.)
0.7% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk
wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep, poultry
Exports
$1.85 billion (2017 est.)
$1.705 billion (2016 est.)
$61.4 billion (2017 est.)
$41.72 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
crude oil 99%, crude materials excluding fuels, food, live animals
Exports - partners
Lebanon 31.5%, Iraq 10.3%, Jordan 8.8%, China 7.8%, Turkey 7.5%, Spain 7.3% (2017)
India 21.2%, China 20.2%, US 15.8%, South Korea 9.4%, Greece 5.3%, Netherlands 4.8%, Italy 4.7% (2017)
Imports
$6.279 billion (2017 est.)
$5.496 billion (2016 est.)
$39.47 billion (2017 est.)
$19.57 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
food, medicine, manufactures
Imports - partners
Russia 32.4%, Turkey 16.7%, China 9.5% (2017)
Turkey 27.8%, China 25.7%, South Korea 4.7%, Russia 4.3% (2017)
Debt - external
$4.989 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.085 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$73.02 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$64.16 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
Syrian pounds (SYP) per US dollar -
514.6 (2017 est.)
459.2 (2016 est.)
459.2 (2015 est.)
236.41 (2014 est.)
153.695 (2013 est.)
Iraqi dinars (IQD) per US dollar -
1,184 (2017 est.)
1,182 (2016 est.)
1,182 (2015 est.)
1,167.63 (2014 est.)
1,213.72 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
calendar year
Public debt
94.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
91.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
59.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
66% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$407.3 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$504.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$48.88 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$45.36 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$2.123 billion (2017 est.)
-$2.077 billion (2016 est.)
$4.344 billion (2017 est.)
-$13.38 billion (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$24.6 billion (2014 est.)
$192.4 billion (2017 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares

NA

$4 billion (9 December 2011)
$2.6 billion (31 July 2010)
$2 billion (31 July 2009 est.)
Central bank discount rate
0.75% (31 December 2017)
5% (31 December 2016)
6% (2016)
6% (2015)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
14% (31 December 2017 est.)
22% (31 December 2016 est.)
12.7% (31 December 2017 est.)
12.7% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$9.161 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.786 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$34.61 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$31.93 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$7.272 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$4.333 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$60.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$59.84 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$7.272 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$4.333 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$60.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$59.84 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
4.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
35.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-8.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-4.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 35.8%
male: 26.6%
female: 71.1% (2011 est.)
total: 25.6%
male: 22%
female: 63.3% (2017)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 73.1% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 26% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 18.6% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 12.3% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 16.1% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -46.1% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 50.4% (2013 est.)
government consumption: 22.9% (2016 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 20.6% (2016 est.)
investment in inventories: 0% (2016 est.)
exports of goods and services: 32.5% (2016 est.)
imports of goods and services: -40.9% (2016 est.)
Gross national saving
17% of GDP (2017 est.)
15.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
16.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
19% of GDP (2017 est.)
13.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
18.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

Energy

SyriaIraq
Electricity - production
17.07 billion kWh (2016 est.)
75.45 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption
14.16 billion kWh (2016 est.)
38.46 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports
262 million kWh (2015 est.)
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2016 est.)
11.97 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production
25,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)
4.613 million bbl/day (2018 est.)
Oil - imports
87,660 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - exports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
3.092 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - proved reserves
2.5 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
148.8 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves
240.7 billion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
3.82 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - production
3.738 billion cu m (2017 est.)
1.274 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption
3.738 billion cu m (2017 est.)
2.633 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
1.359 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity
9.058 million kW (2016 est.)
27.09 million kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels
83% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
91% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants
17% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
9% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production
111,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)
398,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption
134,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
826,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports
12,520 bbl/day (2015 est.)
8,284 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports
38,080 bbl/day (2015 est.)
255,100 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy
27.51 million Mt (2017 est.)
117.9 million Mt (2017 est.)
Electricity access
population without electricity: 1 million (2017)
electrification - total population: 92% (2017)
electrification - urban areas: 100% (2017)
electrification - rural areas: 84% (2017)
electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Telecommunications

SyriaIraq
Telephones - main lines in use
total subscriptions: 3,097,164
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16.66 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 2,678,046
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7.04 (2019 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular
total subscriptions: 21.115 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 113.58 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 36,092,758
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 94.88 (2019 est.)
Internet country code
.sy
.iq
Internet users
total: 6,077,510
percent of population: 34.25% (July 2018 est.)
total: 18,364,390
percent of population: 49.36% (July 2018 est.)
Telecommunication systems
general assessment: the armed insurgency that began in 2011 has led to major disruptions to the network and has caused telephone and Internet outages throughout the country; 2018 saw some stabilizing; telecoms have become decentralized; fairly high mobile penetration of 98%; potential for growth given that subscription numbers are low; remote areas rely on expensive satellite communications; mobile broadband infrastructure is predominantly 3G for about 85% of the population; LTE launched in 2017; Syria has two mobile telephone operators (2020)
domestic: the number of fixed-line connections increased markedly prior to the civil war in 2011 and now stands at 17 per 100; mobile-cellular service stands at about 114 per 100 persons (2019)
international: country code - 963; landing points for the Aletar, BERYTAR and UGART submarine cable connections to Egypt, Lebanon, and Cyprus; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; participant in Medarabtel (2019)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
general assessment: the 2003 liberation of Iraq severely disrupted telecommunications throughout Iraq; widespread government efforts to rebuild domestic and international communications have slowed due to political unrest; 2018 showed signs of stability and installations of new fiber-optic cables and growth in mobile broadband subscribers; the most popular plans are pre-paid; 3 major operators in mobile sector preparing 4G and even 5G technologies; operators focused on fixing and replacing networks damaged during civil war (2020)
domestic: the mobile cellular market continues to expand; 3G services offered by three major mobile operators; 4G offered by one operator in Iraqi; conflict has destroyed infrastructure in areas; 7 per 100 for fixed-line and 95 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions (2019)
international: country code - 964; landing points for FALCON, and GBICS/MENA submarine cables providing connections to the Middle East, Africa and India; satellite earth stations - 4 (2 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean, 1 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region, and 1 Arabsat (inoperative)); local microwave radio relay connects border regions to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey (2019)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
Broadband - fixed subscriptions
total: 1,328,688
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (2018 est.)
total: 4,492,328
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2018 est.)
Broadcast media
state-run TV and radio broadcast networks; state operates 2 TV networks and 5 satellite channels; roughly two-thirds of Syrian homes have a satellite dish providing access to foreign TV broadcasts; 3 state-run radio channels; first private radio station launched in 2005; private radio broadcasters prohibited from transmitting news or political content (2018)
the number of private radio and TV stations has increased rapidly since 2003; government-owned TV and radio stations are operated by the publicly funded Iraqi Media Network; private broadcast media are mostly linked to political, ethnic, or religious groups; satellite TV is available to an estimated 70% of viewers and many of the broadcasters are based abroad; transmissions of multiple international radio broadcasters are accessible (2019)

Transportation

SyriaIraq
Railways
total: 2,052 km (2014)
standard gauge: 1,801 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
narrow gauge: 251 km 1.050-m gauge (2014)
total: 2,272 km (2014)
standard gauge: 2,272 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
Roadways
total: 69,873 km (2010)
paved: 63,060 km (2010)
unpaved: 6,813 km (2010)
total: 59,623 km (2012)
paved: 59,623 km (includes Kurdistan region) (2012)
Waterways
900 km (navigable but not economically significant) (2011)
5,279 km (the Euphrates River (2,815 km), Tigris River (1,899 km), and Third River (565 km) are the principal waterways) (2012)
Pipelines
3170 km gas, 2029 km oil (2013)
2455 km gas, 913 km liquid petroleum gas, 5432 km oil, 1637 km refined products (2013)
Ports and terminals
major seaport(s): Baniyas, Latakia, Tartus
river port(s): Al Basrah (Shatt al Arab); Khawr az Zubayr, Umm Qasr (Khawr az Zubayr waterway)
Merchant marine
total: 25
by type: bulk carrier 1, general cargo 10, other 14 (2019)
total: 73
by type: general cargo 1, oil tanker 6, other 66 (2019)
Airports
total: 90 (2013)
total: 102 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways
total: 29 (2013)
over 3,047 m: 5 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 16 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2013)
under 914 m: 5 (2013)
total: 72 (2017)
over 3,047 m: 20 (2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 34 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2017)
under 914 m: 7 (2017)
Airports - with unpaved runways
total: 61 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 12 (2013)
under 914 m: 48 (2013)
total: 30 (2013)
over 3,047 m: 3 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 13 (2013)
under 914 m: 6 (2013)
Heliports
6 (2013)
16 (2013)
National air transport system
number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 17,896 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 30,000 mt-km (2018)
number of registered air carriers: 4 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 34
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,075,065 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 16.2 million mt-km (2018)
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix
YK (2016)
YI (2016)

Military

SyriaIraq
Military branches
Syrian Armed Forces: Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Naval Forces, Syrian Air Forces, Syrian Air Defense Forces, National Defense Forces (pro-government militia and auxiliary forces) (2019)
note: the Syrian government is working to demobilize militias or integrate them into its regular forces
Ministry of Defense: Iraqi Army, Army Aviation Command, Iraqi Navy, Iraqi Air Force, Iraqi Air Defense Command, Special Forces Command; National-Level Security Forces: Iraqi Counterterrorism Service (CTS; a Special Forces Division aka the "Golden Division"), Prime Minister's Special Forces Division, Presidential Brigades; Ministry of Interior: Federal Police Forces Command, Border Guard Forces Command, Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency, Emergency Response Division, Facilities Protection Directorate, and Energy Police Directorate; Popular Mobilization Commission and Affiliated Forces (PMF); Ministry of Pershmerga (Kurdistan Regional Government) (2020)
note: the PMF is a collection of approximately 50 paramilitary militias of different sizes and with varying political interests
Military service age and obligation
18-42 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation is 18 months; women are not conscripted but may volunteer to serve (2019)
18-40 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2019)

Transnational Issues

SyriaIraq
Disputes - international

Golan Heights is Israeli-controlled with an almost 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force patrolling a buffer zone since 1964; lacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are unclear with several sections in dispute; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms in the Golan Heights; 2004 Agreement and pending demarcation would settle border dispute with Jordan

Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Turkey has expressed concern over the autonomous status of Kurds in Iraq

Refugees and internally displaced persons
refugees (country of origin): 13,311 (Iraq) (2019); 562,312 (Palestinian Refugees) (2020)
IDPs: 6.1 million (ongoing civil war since 2011) (2020)
stateless persons: 160,000 (2019); note - Syria's stateless population consists of Kurds and Palestinians; stateless persons are prevented from voting, owning land, holding certain jobs, receiving food subsidies or public healthcare, enrolling in public schools, or being legally married to Syrian citizens; in 1962, some 120,000 Syrian Kurds were stripped of their Syrian citizenship, rendering them and their descendants stateless; in 2011, the Syrian Government granted citizenship to thousands of Syrian Kurds as a means of appeasement; however, resolving the question of statelessness is not a priority given Syria's ongoing civil war

note: the ongoing civil war has resulted in more than 5.5 million registered Syrian refugees - dispersed in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey - as of November 2020

refugees (country of origin): 15,167 (Turkey), 7,858 (West Bank and Gaza Strip), 5,041 (Iran) (2018); 241,738 (Syria) (2020)
IDPs: 1,389,540 (displacement in central and northern Iraq since January 2014) (2020)
stateless persons: 47,253 (2019); note - in the 1970s and 1980s under SADDAM Husayn's regime, thousands of Iraq's Faili Kurds, followers of Shia Islam, were stripped of their Iraqi citizenship, had their property seized by the government, and many were deported; some Faili Kurds had their citizenship reinstated under the 2,006 Iraqi Nationality Law, but others lack the documentation to prove their Iraqi origins; some Palestinian refugees persecuted by the SADDAM regime remain stateless

note: estimate revised to reflect the reduction of statelessness in line with Law 26 of 2006, which allows stateless persons to apply for nationality in certain circumstances; more accurate studies of statelessness in Iraq are pending (2015)

Terrorism

SyriaIraq
Terrorist groups - foreign based
Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB): aim(s): disrupt and attack Shia Muslim and Western interests in Syria
area(s) of operation: remains operational; conducts attacks against primarily Shia Muslim organizations and individuals, including Hizballah members, and Westerners and their interests (2018)
al-Qa'ida (AQ): aim(s): overthrow President Bashar al-ASAD's regime; establish a regional Islamic caliphate and conduct attacks outside of Syria
area(s) of operation: operational primarily in Idlib Governorate and southern Syria, where it has established networks and operates paramilitary training camps (2018)
Ansar al-Islam (AAI): aim(s): remove Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD from power and establish a government operating according to sharia
area(s) of operation: operationally active in Syria since 2011; launches attacks on Syrian Government security forces and pro-Syrian Government militias; some AAI factions combat ISIS, while others are aligned with ISIS (2018)
Hizballah: aim(s): preserve Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime
area(s) of operation: operational activity throughout the country since 2012; centered on providing paramilitary support to President Bashar al-ASAD's regime against armed insurgents (2018)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- Qods Force (IRGC-QF):

aim(s): assist government forces in suppressing opposition forces and Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) forces; train Syrian Government troops; conduct strikes against Israel; funnel arms and money onward to Lebanese Hizballah
area(s) of operations: throughout Syria

(2019)
Kata'ib Hizballah (KH): aim(s): preserve Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime
area(s) of operation: deploys combatants to Syria to fight alongside Syrian Government and Lebanese Hizballah forces (2018)
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK): aim(s): advance Kurdish autonomy, political, and cultural rights in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran
area(s) of operation: operational in the north and east; majority of members inside Syria are Syrian Kurds, along with Kurds from Iran, Iraq, and Turkey (2018)
Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC): aim(s): destroy the state of Israel; enhance its networks in Syria
area(s) of operation: maintains limited networks for operational planning against Israel (2018)
Palestine Liberation Front (PLF): aim(s): enhances its networks and, ultimately, destroy the state of Israel and establish a secular, Marxist Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital
area(s) of operation: maintains a recruitment and training presence in many refugee camps (2018)
PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC): aim(s): preserve Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime
area(s) of operation: maintains a political base in Damascus; fights with President al-ASAD's forces and Hizballah in areas where anti-regime paramilitary groups are active (2018)
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP): aim(s): enhance its recruitment networks in Syria
area(s) of operation: maintains a recruitment and limited training presence in several refugee camps (2018)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- Qods Force (IRGC-QF):

aim(s): back Iraq’s pro-government Shia militias by supplying two battalions of IRGC forces to jointly engage in combat against ISIS; provide weapons and munitions to Shia militants targeting US forces
area(s) of operations: Baghdad, Basrah, Karbala, Mosul, Samarra, Tikrit  

(2019)
Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS): aim(s): replace the world order with a global Islamic state based in Iraq and Syria; expand its branches and networks in other countries; rule according to ISIS's strict interpretation of Islamic law
area(s) of operation:
operational in the rural and desert areas of central and northern Iraq, primarily within and near Sunni populations, with some presence in major population areas (2018)
Terrorist groups - home based
al-Nusrah Front: aim(s): overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime, absorb like-minded Syrian rebel groups, and ultimately, establish a regional Islamic caliphate
area(s) of operation: headquartered in the northwestern Idlib Governorate, with a minor presence in Halab Governorate; operational primarily in northern, western, and southern Syria; installs Sharia in areas under its control; targets primarily Syrian regime and pro-regime forces, some minorities, other Syrian insurgent groups, and occasionally Western interests (2018)
Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS): aim(s): an alias of the al-Nusrah Front; overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime, absorb like-minded Syrian rebel groups, and, ultimately, establish a regional Islamic caliphate
area(s) of operation: Northwest Syria (2018)
Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS): aim(s): replace the world order with a global Islamic state based in Iraq and Syria; expand its branches and networks in other countries; rule according to ISIS's strict interpretation of Islamic law
area(s) of operation: ISIS has lost most of the territory it once controlled and now its overt territorial control is limited to pockets of land along the Syria-Iraq border and in southern Syria (2018)
Ansar al-Islam (AAI): aim(s): expel western interests from Iraq and, ultimately, establish an independent Iraqi state operating according to its interpretation of sharia
area(s) of operation: headquartered in northern Iraq with its largest presence in Kirkuk, Tikrit, and Mosul; active in the western and central regions of the country
note: majority of members are Iraqi Kurds or Iraqi Arabs who are Sunni Muslim (2018)
Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN): aim(s): end external influence in Iraq and, ultimately, overthrow the Government of Iraq to install a secular Ba'athist state within the internationally recognized borders of Iraq
area(s) of operation: attacks separatist Kurdish groups, Iraqi Government military and security forces and facilities, and foreign military personnel (2018)
Kata'ib Hizballah (KH): aim(s): counter US influence and, ultimately, overthrow the Iraqi Government to install a government based on Shia Muslim laws and precepts
area(s) of operation: headquartered in the Shia Muslim areas of Baghdad, with fighters active in Ninawa, Al Anbar, and Babil governorates (2018)
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK): aim(s): advance Kurdish autonomy and security goals in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria
area(s) of operation: operational in the north and east, with its stronghold in the Qandil Mountains; majority of members inside Iraq are Iraqi, Turkish, and Iranian Kurds, along with Kurds from Syria (2018)
Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH): aim(s): maintain a Shiite-controlled government in Iraq; promote Iran's political and religious influence in Iraq; expel the remaining US military and diplomatic presence in the country
area(s) of operation: Iraq
note(s): the group is largely funded by Iran and receives training from the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (2020)

Source: CIA Factbook