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Syria vs. Israel

Introduction

SyriaIsrael
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 Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005.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.

The State of Israel was declared in 1948, after Britain withdrew from its mandate of Palestine. The UN proposed partitioning the area into Arab and Jewish states, and Arab armies that rejected the UN plan were defeated. Israel was admitted as a member of the UN in 1949 and saw rapid population growth, primarily due to migration from Europe and the Middle East, over the following years. Israel fought wars against its Arab neighbors in 1967 and 1973, followed by peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war, and subsequently administered those territories through military authorities. Israel and Palestinian officials signed a number of interim agreements in the 1990s that created an interim period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. While the most recent formal efforts to negotiate final status issues occurred in 2013-2014, the US continues its efforts to advance peace. Immigration to Israel continues, with 28,600 new immigrants, mostly Jewish, in 2016. The Israeli economy has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last 25 years, led by cutting-edge, high-tech sectors. Offshore gas discoveries in the Mediterranean, most notably in the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, place Israel at the center of a potential regional natural gas market. However, longer-term structural issues such as low labor force participation among minority populations, low workforce productivity, high costs for housing and consumer staples, and a lack of competition, remain a concern for many Israelis and an important consideration for Israeli politicians. Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU has led the Israeli Government since 2009; he formed a center-right coalition following the 2015 elections. Three Knesset elections held in April and September 2019 and March 2020 all failed to form a new government. The political stalemate was finally resolved in April 2020 when NETANYAHU and Blue and White party leader Benny GANTZ signed an agreement to form a coalition government. Under the terms of the agreement, NETANYAHU would remain as prime minister until October 2021 when GANTZ would succeed him. On 15 September 2020, Israel signed a peace agreement, the Abraham Accords – brokered by the US – with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in Washington DC. Israel signed similar peace agreements with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

Geography

SyriaIsrael
Location
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
Geographic coordinates
35 00 N, 38 00 E
31 30 N, 34 45 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: 21,937 sq km
land: 21,497 sq km
water: 440 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly more than 1.5 times the size of Pennsylvania
slightly larger than New Jersey
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: 1,065 km
border countries (6): Egypt 206 km, Gaza Strip 59 km, Jordan 336 km (20 km are within the Dead Sea), Lebanon 107 km, Syria 79 km, West Bank 278 km
Coastline
193 km
273 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
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
temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas
Terrain
primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west
Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
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: 508 m note - does not include elevation data from the Golan Heights
lowest point: Dead Sea -431 m
highest point: Mitspe Shlagim 2,224 m; note - this is the highest named point, the actual highest point is an unnamed dome slightly to the west of Mitspe Shlagim at 2,236 m; both points are on the northeastern border of Israel, along the southern end of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range
Natural resources
petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
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: 23.8% (2011 est.)
arable land: 13.7% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 3.8% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 6.3% (2011 est.)
forest: 7.1% (2011 est.)
other: 69.1% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land
14,280 sq km (2012)
2,250 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

sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
Environment - current issues
deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; depletion of water resources; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water
limited arable land and restricted natural freshwater resources; desertification; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides
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, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
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)
note 1: Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) is an important freshwater source; the Dead Sea is the second saltiest body of water in the world (after Lake Assal in Djibouti)

note 2: the Malham Cave in Mount Sodom is the world's longest salt cave at 10 km (6 mi); its survey is not complete and its length will undoubtedly increase; Mount Sodom is actually a hill some 220 m (722 ft) high that is 80% salt (multiple salt layers covered by a veneer of rock)

note 3: in March 2019, there were 380 Israeli settlements,to include 213 settlements and 132 outposts in the West Bank, and 35 settlements in East Jerusalem; there are no Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, as all were evacuated in 2005 (2019)
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 concentrated in and around Tel-Aviv, as well as around the Sea of Galilee; the south remains sparsely populated with the exception of the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba

Demographics

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

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

8,675,475 (includes populations of the Golan Heights or Golan Sub-District and also East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel after 1967) (July 2020 est.)

note: approximately 22,900 Israeli settlers live in the Golan Heights (2018); approximately 215,900 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem (2017)

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: 26.76% (male 1,187,819/female 1,133,365)
15-24 years: 15.67% (male 694,142/female 665,721)
25-54 years: 37.2% (male 1,648,262/female 1,579,399)
55-64 years: 8.4% (male 363,262/female 365,709)
65 years and over: 11.96% (male 467,980/female 569,816) (2020 est.)
Median age
total: 23.5 years
male: 23 years
female: 24 years (2020 est.)
total: 30.4 years
male: 29.8 years
female: 31 years (2020 est.)
Population growth rate
4.25% NA (2020 est.)
1.46% (2020 est.)
Birth rate
23.8 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
17.6 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Death rate
4.5 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Net migration rate
27.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population NA (2020 est.)
2.1 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: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 101.1 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: 3.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.3 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: 83 years
male: 81.1 years
female: 85 years (2020 est.)
Total fertility rate
2.9 children born/woman (2020 est.)
2.59 children born/woman (2020 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
<.1% (2019)
0.2% (2018)
Nationality
noun: Syrian(s)
adjective: Syrian
noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
Ethnic groups
Arab ~50%, Alawite ~15%, Kurd ~10%, Levantine ~10%, other ~15% (includes Druze, Ismaili, Imami, Nusairi, Assyrian, Turkoman, Armenian)
Jewish 74.4% (of which Israel-born 76.9%, Europe/America/Oceania-born 15.9%, Africa-born 4.6%, Asia-born 2.6%), Arab 20.9%, other 4.7% (2018 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
<1000 (2019)
9,000 (2018)
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
Jewish 74.3%, Muslim 17.8%, Christian 1.9%, Druze 1.6%, other 4.4% (2018 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths
<100 (2019)
<100 (2018)
Languages
Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French, English
Hebrew (official), Arabic (special status under Israeli law), English (most commonly used foreign language)
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: 97.8%
male: 98.7%
female: 96.8% (2011)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 9 years
male: 9 years
female: 9 years (2013)
total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2018)
Education expenditures
5.1% of GDP (2009)
5.8% of GDP (2016)
Urbanization
urban population: 55.5% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 1.43% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 92.6% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 1.64% 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: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved: urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% 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: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved: urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% 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)
4.181 million Tel Aviv-Yafo, 1.147 million Haifa, 932,000 JERUSALEM (capital) (2020)
Maternal mortality rate
31 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
3 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Physicians density
1.29 physicians/1,000 population (2016)
3.48 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Hospital bed density
1.4 beds/1,000 population (2017)
3 beds/1,000 population (2017)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
27.8% (2016)
26.1% (2016)
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: 67.3
youth dependency ratio: 46.6
elderly dependency ratio: 20.8
potential support ratio: 4.8 (2020 est.)

Government

SyriaIsrael
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: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
local short form: Yisra'el
etymology: named after the ancient Kingdom of Israel; according to Biblical tradition, the Jewish patriarch Jacob received the name "Israel" ("He who struggles with God") after he wrestled an entire night with an angel of the Lord; Jacob's 12 sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel, who formed the Kingdom of Israel
Government type
presidential republic; highly authoritarian regime
parliamentary democracy
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: Jerusalem; note - the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 without taking a position on the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty
geographic coordinates: 31 46 N, 35 14 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, Friday before the last Sunday in March; ends the last Sunday in October
etymology: Jerusalem's settlement may date back to 2800 B.C.; it is named Urushalim in Egyptian texts of the 14th century B.C.; "uru-shalim" likely means "foundation of [by] the god Shalim", and derives from Hebrew/Semitic "yry", "to found or lay a cornerstone", and Shalim, the Canaanite god of dusk and the nether world; Shalim was associated with sunset and peace and the name is based on the same S-L-M root from which Semitic words for "peace" are derived (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic and Hebrew); this confluence has thus led to naming interpretations such as "The City of Peace" or "The Abode of Peace"
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
6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv
Independence
17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
14 May 1948 (following League of Nations mandate under British administration)
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, 14 May (1948); note - Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, but the Jewish calendar is lunar and the holiday may occur in April or May
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: no formal constitution; some functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws, and the Law of Return (as amended)
amendments: proposed by Government of Israel ministers or by the Knesset; passage requires a majority vote of Knesset members and subject to Supreme Court judicial review; 11 of the 13 Basic Laws have been amended at least once, latest in 2020
Legal system
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal; 17 years of age for municipal elections
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 Reuben RIVLIN (since 27 July 2014)
head of government: Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the Knesset for a single 7-year term; election last held on 10 June 2014 (next to be held in 2021); following legislative elections, the president, in consultation with party leaders, tasks a Knesset member (usually the member of the largest party) with forming a government
election results: Reuven RIVLIN elected president in second round; Knesset vote - Reuven RIVLIN (Likud) 63, Meir SHEETRIT (The Movement) 53, other/invalid 4; note - on 20 May 2020 – after three national elections, each ending in failed bids by Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU and Blue and White party leader Benny GANTZ to form a coalition government, both signed an agreement on the formation of a national emergency government in which NETANYAHU continues as prime minister for 18 months when GANTZ will replace him
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 Knesset (120 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by closed-list proportional representation vote, with a 3.25% threshold to gain representation; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 2 March 2020 ( next to be held in 2024)
election results: percent by party (preliminary) - Likud 29.2%, Blue and White 26.4%, Joint List 13.1%, Shas 7.7%, United Torah Judaism 6.2%, Yisrael Beiteinu 5.9%, Labor-Gesher-Meretz 5.7%, Yamina 5%, other 0.8%; seats by party (preliminary) - Likud 36, Blue and White 33, Joint List 15, Shas 9, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beiteinu 7, Labor-Gesher Meretz 7, Yamina 6; composition - NA
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: Supreme Court (consists of the president, deputy president, 13 justices, and 2 registrars) and normally sits in panels of 3 justices; in special cases, the panel is expanded with an uneven number of justices
judge selection and term of office: judges selected by the 9-member Judicial Selection Committee, consisting of the Minister of Justice (chair), the president of the Supreme Court, two other Supreme Court justices, 1 other Cabinet minister, 2 Knesset members, and 2 representatives of the Israel Bar Association; judges can serve up to mandatory retirement at age 70
subordinate courts: district and magistrate courts; national and regional labor courts; family and juvenile courts; special and religious 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]

Democratic Union [Nitzan HOROWITZ] (alliance includes Democratic Israel, Meretz, Green Movement)
Joint List [Ayman ODEH] (alliance includes Hadash, Ta’al, United Arab List, Balad)
Kahol Lavan [Benny GANTZ] (alliance includes Israeli Resilience, Yesh Atid, Telem)
Labor-Gesher [Amir PERETZ]
Likud [Binyamin NETANYAHU]
Otzma Yehudit [Itamar BEN-GVIR]
SHAS [Arye DERI]
United Torah Judaism, or UTJ [Yaakov LITZMAN] (alliance includes Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah)
Yamina [Ayelet SHAKED]
Yisrael Beiteinu [Avigdor LIEBERMAN]
Zehut [Moshe FEIGLIN]

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)
BIS, BSEC (observer), CE (observer), CERN, CICA, EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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 Ron DERMER (since 3 December 2013)
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5607
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco
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 David M. FRIEDMAN (since 23 May 2017)
telephone: [972] (2) 630-4000
embassy: David Flusser St.14, Jerusalem, 9378322
FAX: NA

note: on 14 May 2018, the US Embassy relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv; on 4 March 2019, Consulate General Jerusalem merged into US Embassy Jerusalem to form a single diplomatic mission

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

white with a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) known as the Magen David (Star of David or Shield of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag; the basic design resembles a traditional Jewish prayer shawl (tallit), which is white with blue stripes; the hexagram as a Jewish symbol dates back to medieval times

note: the Israeli flag proclamation states that the flag colors are sky blue and white, but the exact shade of blue has never been set and can vary from a light to a dark blue

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: "Hatikvah" (The Hope)
lyrics/music: Naftali Herz IMBER/traditional, arranged by Samuel COHEN

note: adopted 2004, unofficial since 1948; used as the anthem of the Zionist movement since 1897; the 1888 arrangement by Samuel COHEN is thought to be based on the Romanian folk song "Carul cu boi" (The Ox Driven Cart)

International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICC
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; withdrew acceptance of ICCt jurisdiction in 2002
National symbol(s)
hawk; national colors: red, white, black, green
Star of David (Magen David), menorah (seven-branched lampstand); national colors: blue, white
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 Israel
dual citizenship recognized: yes, but naturalized citizens are not allowed to maintain dual citizenship
residency requirement for naturalization: 3 out of the 5 years preceding the application for naturalization

note: Israeli law (Law of Return, 5 July 1950) provides for the granting of citizenship to any Jew - defined as a person being born to a Jewish mother or having converted to Judaism while renouncing any other religion - who immigrates to and expresses a desire to settle in Israel on the basis of the Right of aliyah; the 1970 amendment of this act extended the right to family members including the spouse of a Jew, any child or grandchild, and the spouses of children and grandchildren

Economy

SyriaIsrael
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.

Israel has a technologically advanced free market economy. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals are among its leading exports. Its major imports include crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are offset by tourism and other service exports, as well as significant foreign investment inflows.

Between 2004 and 2013, growth averaged nearly 5% per year, led by exports. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, but the country entered the crisis with solid fundamentals, following years of prudent fiscal policy and a resilient banking sector. Israel's economy also weathered the 2011 Arab Spring because strong trade ties outside the Middle East insulated the economy from spillover effects.

Slowing domestic and international demand and decreased investment resulting from Israel’s uncertain security situation reduced GDP growth to an average of roughly 2.8% per year during the period 2014-17. Natural gas fields discovered off Israel's coast since 2009 have brightened Israel's energy security outlook. The Tamar and Leviathan fields were some of the world's largest offshore natural gas finds in the last decade. Political and regulatory issues have delayed the development of the massive Leviathan field, but production from Tamar provided a 0.8% boost to Israel's GDP in 2013 and a 0.3% boost in 2014. One of the most carbon intense OECD countries, Israel generates about 57% of its power from coal and only 2.6% from renewable sources.

Income inequality and high housing and commodity prices continue to be a concern for many Israelis. Israel's income inequality and poverty rates are among the highest of OECD countries, and there is a broad perception among the public that a small number of "tycoons" have a cartel-like grip over the major parts of the economy. Government officials have called for reforms to boost the housing supply and to increase competition in the banking sector to address these public grievances. Despite calls for reforms, the restricted housing supply continues to impact younger Israelis seeking to purchase homes. Tariffs and non-tariff barriers, coupled with guaranteed prices and customs tariffs for farmers kept food prices high in 2016. Private consumption is expected to drive growth through 2018, with consumers benefitting from low inflation and a strong currency.

In the long term, Israel faces structural issues including low labor participation rates for its fastest growing social segments - the ultraorthodox and Arab-Israeli communities. Also, Israel's progressive, globally competitive, knowledge-based technology sector employs only about 8% of the workforce, with the rest mostly employed in manufacturing and services - sectors which face downward wage pressures from global competition. Expenditures on educational institutions remain low compared to most other OECD countries with similar GDP per capita.

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
$317.1 billion (2017 est.)
$307 billion (2016 est.)
$295.3 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

3.28% (2019 est.)
3.69% (2018 est.)
3.63% (2017 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$2,900 (2015 est.)
$3,300 (2014 est.)
$2,800 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

$36,400 (2017 est.)
$35,900 (2016 est.)
$35,200 (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: 2.4% (2017 est.)
industry: 26.5% (2017 est.)
services: 69.5% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
82.5% (2014 est.)
22% (2014 est.) (2014 est.)

note: Israel's poverty line is $7.30 per person per day

Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 31.3% (2010)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
28.1% (2017 est.)
47.3% (2016 est.)
0.2% (2017 est.)
-0.5% (2016 est.)
Labor force
3.767 million (2017 est.)
3.893 million (2020 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 17%
industry: 16%
services: 67% (2008 est.)
agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 17.3%
services: 81.6% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate
50% (2017 est.)
50% (2016 est.)
3.81% (2019 est.)
4% (2018 est.)
Budget
revenues: 1.162 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 3.211 billion (2017 est.)

note: government projections for FY2016

revenues: 93.11 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 100.2 billion (2017 est.)
Industries
petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, automobile assembly
high-technology products (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, pharmaceuticals, construction, metal products, chemical products, plastics, cut diamonds, textiles, footwear
Industrial production growth rate
4.3% (2017 est.)
3.5% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk
citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
Exports
$1.85 billion (2017 est.)
$1.705 billion (2016 est.)
$58.67 billion (2017 est.)
$56.17 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
Exports - partners
Lebanon 31.5%, Iraq 10.3%, Jordan 8.8%, China 7.8%, Turkey 7.5%, Spain 7.3% (2017)
US 28.8%, UK 8.2%, Hong Kong 7%, China 5.4%, Belgium 4.5% (2017)
Imports
$6.279 billion (2017 est.)
$5.496 billion (2016 est.)
$68.61 billion (2017 est.)
$63.9 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
raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
Imports - partners
Russia 32.4%, Turkey 16.7%, China 9.5% (2017)
US 11.7%, China 9.5%, Switzerland 8%, Germany 6.8%, UK 6.2%, Belgium 5.9%, Netherlands 4.2%, Turkey 4.2%, Italy 4% (2017)
Debt - external
$4.989 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.085 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$88.66 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$87.96 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.)
new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -
3.606 (2017 est.)
3.8406 (2016 est.)
3.8406 (2015 est.)
3.8869 (2014 est.)
3.5779 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
calendar year
Public debt
94.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
91.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
60.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
62.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$407.3 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$504.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$113 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$95.45 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$2.123 billion (2017 est.)
-$2.077 billion (2016 est.)
$13.411 billion (2019 est.)
$7.888 billion (2018 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$24.6 billion (2014 est.)
$350.7 billion (2017 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares

NA

$243.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$200.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$203.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Central bank discount rate
0.75% (31 December 2017)
5% (31 December 2016)
0.1% (15 December 2015)
0.25% (31 December 2014)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
14% (31 December 2017 est.)
22% (31 December 2016 est.)
3.5% (31 December 2017 est.)
3.42% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$9.161 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.786 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$290.7 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$257.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$7.272 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$4.333 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$100.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$79.58 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$7.272 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$4.333 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$100.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$79.58 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
4.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
26.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-8.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 35.8%
male: 26.6%
female: 71.1% (2011 est.)
total: 7.2%
male: 6.9%
female: 7.4% (2018 est.)
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: 55.1% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 22.8% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 20.1% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.7% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 28.9% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -27.5% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving
17% of GDP (2017 est.)
15.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
16.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
23.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
24.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
25% of GDP (2015 est.)

Energy

SyriaIsrael
Electricity - production
17.07 billion kWh (2016 est.)
63.09 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption
14.16 billion kWh (2016 est.)
55 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports
262 million kWh (2015 est.)
5.2 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2016 est.)
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production
25,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)
390 bbl/day (2018 est.)
Oil - imports
87,660 bbl/day (2015 est.)
231,600 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Oil - exports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Oil - proved reserves
2.5 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
12.73 million bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves
240.7 billion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
176 billion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - production
3.738 billion cu m (2017 est.)
9.826 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption
3.738 billion cu m (2017 est.)
9.995 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.)
509.7 million cu m (2017 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity
9.058 million kW (2016 est.)
17.59 million kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels
83% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
95% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants
17% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% 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.)
5% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production
111,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)
294,300 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption
134,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
242,200 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports
12,520 bbl/day (2015 est.)
111,700 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports
38,080 bbl/day (2015 est.)
98,860 bbl/day (2017 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy
27.51 million Mt (2017 est.)
73.82 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

SyriaIsrael
Telephones - main lines in use
total subscriptions: 3,097,164
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16.66 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 3,050,693
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 35.68 (2019 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular
total subscriptions: 21.115 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 113.58 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 10,839,024
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 126.77 (2019 est.)
Internet country code
.sy
.il
Internet users
total: 6,077,510
percent of population: 34.25% (July 2018 est.)
total: 6,873,037
percent of population: 81.58% (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: one of the most highly developed system in the Middle East; mobile broadband 100% population penetration; consumers enjoy inexpensive 3G and 4G cellular service; fixed broadband available to 99% of all households; 6 mobile operators in fierce competition; in 2019 govt. began process of 5G licensing (2020)
domestic: good system of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay; all systems are digital; competition among both fixed-line and mobile cellular providers results in good coverage countrywide; fixed-line 36 per 100 and 127 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions (2019)
international: country code - 972; landing points for the MedNautilus Submarine System, Tameres North, Jonah and Lev Submarine System, submarine cables that provide links to Europe, Cyprus, and parts of the Middle East; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) (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: 2.41 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 29 (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 Israel Broadcasting Corporation (est 2015) broadcasts on 3 channels, two in Hebrew and the other in Arabic; multi-channel satellite and cable TV packages provide access to foreign channels; the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts on 8 radio networks with multiple repeaters and Israel Defense Forces Radio broadcasts over multiple stations; about 15 privately owned radio stations; overall more than 100 stations and repeater stations (2019)

Transportation

SyriaIsrael
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: 1,384 km (2014)
standard gauge: 1,384 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
Roadways
total: 69,873 km (2010)
paved: 63,060 km (2010)
unpaved: 6,813 km (2010)
total: 19,555 km (2017)
paved: 19,555 km (includes 449 km of expressways) (2017)
Pipelines
3170 km gas, 2029 km oil (2013)
763 km gas, 442 km oil, 261 km refined products (2013)
Ports and terminals
major seaport(s): Baniyas, Latakia, Tartus
major seaport(s): Ashdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa
container port(s) (TEUs): Ashdod (1,443,000) (2016)
Merchant marine
total: 25
by type: bulk carrier 1, general cargo 10, other 14 (2019)
total: 40
by type: bulk carrier 5, general cargo 3, oil tanker 3, other 29 (2019)
Airports
total: 90 (2013)
total: 42 (2020)
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: 33 (2019)
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 8
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: 9 (2020)
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 6
Heliports
6 (2013)
3 (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: 6 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 64
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 7,404,373 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 994.54 million mt-km (2018)
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix
YK (2016)
4X (2016)

Military

SyriaIsrael
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
Israel Defense Forces (IDF): Ground Forces, Israel Naval Force (IN, includes commandos), Israel Air Force (IAF, includes air defense); Ministry of Public Security: Border Police (2019)
note: the Border Police is a unit within the Israel Police with its own organizational and command structure; it works both independently as well as in cooperation with or in support of the Israel Police and Israel Defense Force
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 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druze) military service; 17 years of age for voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are obligated to military service; conscript service obligation - 32 months for enlisted men and about 24 months for enlisted women (varies based on military occupation), 48 months for officers; pilots commit to 9-year service; reserve obligation to age 41-51 (men), age 24 (women) (2015)
Military - note
the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has operated in the Golan between Israel and Syria since 1974 to monitor the ceasefire following the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and supervise the areas of separation between the two countries; as of October 2019, UNDOF consisted of about 1,140 personnel
the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has operated in the Golan between Israel and Syria since 1974 to monitor the ceasefire following the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and supervise the areas of separation between the two countries; as of March 2020, UNDOF consisted of about 1,000 personnel (2020)

Transnational Issues

SyriaIsrael
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

West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel withdrew its settlers and military from the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the West Bank in August 2005; Golan Heights is Israeli-controlled (Lebanon claims the Shab'a Farms area of Golan Heights); since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization headquartered in Jerusalem monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region

Illicit drugs
a transit point for opiates, hashish, and cocaine bound for regional and Western markets; weak anti-money-laundering controls and bank privatization may leave it vulnerable to money laundering
increasingly concerned about ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin abuse; drugs arrive in country from Lebanon and, increasingly, from Jordan; money-laundering center
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): 12,181 (Eritrea), 5,061 (Ukraine) (2019)
stateless persons: 42 (2019)

Terrorism

SyriaIsrael
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)
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)
Kahane Chai (Kach): aim(s): expel Arabs from Israel's biblical lands and, ultimately, restore the biblical state of Israel
area(s) of operation: Israel and West Bank settlements
note: considered to be operationally inactive in recent years ( 2018)

Source: CIA Factbook