Syria: Issues for the 112th Congress and Background on U.S. Sanctions [March 28, 2011] [open pdf - 351KB]
"This report analyzes bilateral issues between the United States and Syria. With unrest spreading in Syria, this report will be updated to reflect recent developments. Despite its weak military and lackluster economy, Syria remains relevant in Middle Eastern geopolitics. Syria plays a key role in the Middle East peace process, acting at times as a 'spoiler' by sponsoring Palestinian militants and facilitating the rearmament of Hezbollah. At other times, it has participated in substantive negotiations with Israel. Syria's long-standing relationship with the Iranian clerical regime is of great concern to U.S. strategists. As Syria grew more estranged from the United States over the last ten years, Syrian-Iranian relations improved, and some analysts have called on U.S. policymakers to woo Syrian leaders away from Iran. Others believe that the Administration should go even further in pressuring the Syrian government and consider implementing harsher economic sanctions against it."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33487