Beyond the political typology it embodies, Syria also provides the best case study of what has happened in the Arab world, and thus in the Middle East, during the last half-century. When it gained independence, Syria was a democratic country with a seemingly bright future. Blessed with fertile land and ample resources, Syria boasted good relations with the West as well as an energetic, entrepreneurial middle class. Yet a combination of radical intellectuals, militant ideologies, and ambitiously politicized military officers pushed Syria down a different path which has led to turmoil and disaster.
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