For more than thirty years Hafez al-Asad has ruled Syria with an iron fist. Six U.S. presidents and eight Israeli prime ministers have come and gone, but Asad remains, one of the last of the old generation of Arab leaders. But in the post-Cold War Middle East Asad and his country are faced with an array of bewildering choices. Will they allow greater civil liberties and ecomic liberalization, or assert strong, centralized one-party control of the state? Will they make peace with Israel, and at what price? Will they cement their growing relationship with the United States or return to the hostilities of the past? Eyal Zisser tackles these questions and gets inside the mind of the man President Clinton called the smartest leader in the Middle East. He also examines the peculiar dynamics of the Asad family with its Byzantine power plays and competing factions. He tells the fascinating story of how Asad struggles to appease his relatives and his clan while his son waits in the wings to assume power and his brother plots from abroad to gain control of the nation he regards as rightfully his. Asad's Legacy is the most up-to-date, thorough treatment of Asad's role in the history and politics of the contemporary Middle East. Zisser sheds new light on the story of Asad's rule over his nation and points the way to the future of Syria and the entire region.
Eyal Zisser is Professor of Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.