Syria Relations with other countries
United States: Syria's relationship with the
United States has been changeable, and for long periods
poor; partly during the Cold War when Syria was allied
with the Soviet Union, and partly as a result of Syria's
policy towards Israel and support for further
Palestinian groups. Syria severed diplomatic relations
with the United States following the Six Day War in 1967
and the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. The
connections were restored in 1974.
The situation was weakened during the US intervention
in Lebanon, and when the US warships in 1983 shook
Syrian positions in Lebanon. Syria has largely opposed
US attempts at solutions to the Middle East conflict,
with solutions perceived by Syria to secure Israel's
security needs. During the Madrid process in 1991, when
a comprehensive solution was sought, the United States
supported Syria's demand that Israel return the Golan
Heights. This came after Syria joined the broad
coalition that attacked Iraq in 1990-1991 to liberate
Kuwait in the Second Gulf War. Syrian participation has
radically improved relations with the United States -
for a period of time.
Syria was put on the United States list of countries
that support terrorism in 1979. The relationship was
particularly weakened during the presidency of George W.
Bush, and as a result of September 11, 2001 and the
subsequent global war on terror. Syria was put on a list
of countries where the United States wanted regime
change and where it was appropriate to give in to war.
The conflict intensified when Syria resisted the US-led
attack on Iraq in 2003. The United States imposed
sanctions on Syria in 2004, on the grounds that the
country was a threat to US national security.
The war in Syria after 2011 changed the situation
significantly, as the US gave its political support to
the opposition early, demanding that the Baath regime
and President Assad have to step down. Subsequently, the
United States supported parts of the opposition,
deploying military forces to support the Kurdish forces
in northern Syria. However, the United States did not
support the demand for a military intervention against
the Syrian government. From 2014, the United States took
the lead in a multinational force that launched a
military campaign against jihadists first in Iraq, then
in Syria, through Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).
France: Syria's relations with France are
partly dependent on historical conditions and partly on
the regional interests of both countries. For historical
reasons, Syria has been in close contact with France,
and President Bashar al-Assad urged the country to play
a more active role in the Middle East when he visited
President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris in 2009.
The war in Syria after 2011 has changed the
relationship between the two countries, with France
early criticizing the Syrian government for abuses
against civilians. France has been one of the proponents
of Western military intervention in Syria, in support of
the opposition, and participates in the coalition
Russia: Syria's relationship with Russia
builds on the close connection with the Soviet Union
during the Cold War, when Syria was one of Moscow's
close allies in the Third World. Relations with Russia
were strengthened in the mid-1990s and the naval base of
Tartus was rebuilt. Russia also maintained relations
through arms deliveries to Syria.
The war in Syria after 2011 has significantly
strengthened the relationship between the two countries.
Russia, along with China, remained one of the few
supporters of the Assad regime during the Syrian
uprising. Russia's support for the Syrian regime was
stepped up in 2015, with Russian military participation
in the war. In addition to supplying weapons and
strengthening its bases in the country, Russia has
deployed military forces. In particular, Russian air
forces have participated in attacks against insurgents.
Ground personnel, including air defense, have supported
the air operations. Russia's support has been crucial to
the Syrian government winning the war.
Norway: The relationship between Norway and
Syria has traditionally been part of Norwegian
involvement in the Middle East. In part, this has been
done through peacekeeping operations, in particular the
United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
(UNTSO); partly through the role Norway has played in
the Middle East peace process. Bilateral relations have
When Danish and Norwegian newspapers published
caricature drawings of Prophet Muhammad in 2006, the
countries' embassies in Damascus were attacked by mobs
and set on fire. Norway objected to the incident, which
was regretted by Syrian authorities.
The war in Syria has changed the relationship between
the two countries to some extent, and Norway has spoken
- and participated in the work - to find a political
solution to the conflict. Norway was among the countries
that participated with military observers in the
United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria
(UNSMIS), including its leader, Major General Robert
Mood. Norway participates with soldiers in the
multinational military campaign against the Islamic
State (IS), through Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).
First, Norway declined to participate in the part of the
OIR that was targeted at IS in Syria, limiting its
efforts to Iraq. Then, in May 2016, the government
decided that Norwegian forces should provide training,
counseling and operational support to Syrian groups that
fought IS, based in Jordan. This happened from the
second half of 2016. From 2018, Norwegian participation
in OIR is concentrated in Iraq.