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Book Review: Unraveling Syria's struggles

Diana Darke paints a broad picture of Syria, past and present, identifying the nation’s complex character and its remarkable endurance capacity

On 15 June 1974, The New York Times reported the arrival of President Richard Nixon in Damascus. He was given a "large, friendly welcome, and for the first time since the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, the American flag flew in this ancient capital of Syria." The visit took place during a rare era of rapprochement between Syria and the West. The door was even opened to international oil companies—including US firms—following the discovery of the Karatchok oilfield and the completion of a pipeline linking it to the Homs refinery. But President Hafez al-Assad's flirtation with the West was brief. It came to an abrupt end after Egyptian President Sadat's ground-breaking visit to Jerusalem in 1977

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