Synopses & Reviews
A key player and an unrelenting obstacle in the Middle East peace process, Syria has long been a thorn in Washington's side when it comes to forging strategic alliances with powers in the region. But only after the events of 9/11 and Damascus's staunch opposition to the War in Iraq did the U.S. government begin a campaign to pressure President Bashar al-Asad's regime to change its policies and bring Syria into the Western political orbit.
Author Andrew Tabler was both a witness to and participant in the events of this covert conflict. No other Western journalists or academics were based in Damascus during this entire period, and as co-founder of what was then Syria's only English-language publication, Tabler was not only watched and censored, but courted by the Syrian government in an attempt to influence his stories to the international community. He gained unique access to the upper echelons of power like no other journalist before him, even accompanying the Syrian president on a state visit to China.
In the Lion's Den provides a rare glimpse into the machinations of one of the world's most baffling political systems. The book vividly captures Tabler's behind-the-scenes experiences as well as the story of Syria itself post-9/11 and Washington's attempts to craft a "New Middle East." Tabler's astute political analysis of the goings-on around him is seamlessly interwoven with a devastating critique of U.S. foreign policy. He examines the effects of the the Bush adminstration's strategy, asking what went wrong, what went right, and where Washington needs to go from here to deal with this volatile Middle Eastern country.
"Tabler, a fellow in the Arab politics program at the Washington Institute, offers a firsthand account of U.S. relations with Syria during the Bush administration in this timely and objective memoir. A journalist and fluent Arabist, the author resided in Damascus from 2001 to 2008, where he cofounded with the support and encouragement of Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad Syria Today, a quarterly magazine on Syrian affairs. From his unique perch, the author watched as U.S.-Syrian relations that historically 'oscillated between isolation and engagement' took a decided turn for the worse, with the U.S. imposing sanctions on Syria in 2004. The ensuing cold war between Washington and Damascus was exacerbated by Syria's implication in the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, the spreading Iranian influence in Syria, and revelations about Syria's secret nuclear aspirations. Despite his language skills, long residency in Syria, and insider connections, Tabler has limited success penetrating the opaque Syrian regime and remains a frustrated witness to the end, able to eloquently describe what happened, but unable to explain why with any confidence. But with the Assad dictatorship now facing widespread internal protests and reliable information scarce, Tabler's frontline report offers readers a chilling glimpse of an enigmatic regime. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Tabler's unique position as an American working to promote Syrian culture allowed him a keen perch from which to observe unfolding events...A singular, critical look inside this compelling Arab nation." —Kirkus
"Tabler's frontline report offers readers a chilling glimpse of an enigmatic region."—Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating odyssey through the maze of modern Syria. Full of wisdom, optimism, and caution.” —Jon Alterman, Director of the Middle East Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
“It is difficult to think of a more timely book and of an author better suited to write it. Andrew Tabler worked around the inner sanctum of Bashar al-Assad [and] offers unique insights into the inner workings of the regime and of Syrias ruling elites. Mandatory reading.” —Itamar Rabinovich, Israels former chief negotiator with Syria and ambassador to the United States
“Riveting . . . a compelling insiders account of life under the Assad regime.” —Steven Heydemann, United States Institute of Peace
A key player in the Middle East and the site of violent protests in 2011, Syria has long been a thorn in Washington's side when it comes to forging peace or rolling back the influence of the Islamic republic of Iran. But only after the events of 9/11 and Damascus's staunch opposition to the war in Iraq did the U.S. government begin an unannounced campaign to pressure President Bashar al-Assad's regime to revamp its regional and domestic policies. The book vividly captures Tabler's behind-the-scenes experiences and provides a firsthand look at 21st-century Syria and Washington's attempts to craft a "New Middle East." Examining the effects of the neoconservatives' strategy and asking what went wrong and how Washington can achieve a new relationship with this pivotal Middle Eastern nation, this investigation provides a rare glimpse into U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
About the Author
Andrew Tabler is the Next Generation Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a former fellow of the Washington-based Institute of Current World Affairs, and a former consultant for the International Crisis Group. In 2003 he moved to Syria from Washington and cofounded the country’s first private-sector English-language magazine, Syria Today. His articles have appeared in the Internatinal Herald Tribune, New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs. He lives in Washington, DC.