Joshua M. Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma and writer of the a daily newsletter blog Syria Comment on Syrian politics answered ORSAM’s questions on Syrian foreign policy, regional politics, peace process and relations of Syria with Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.

ORSAM: To start with Syrian foreign policy in general, it is usually analyzed with neo-realist considerations, omnibalancing approach rests on regime survival concerns, historical sociology pays attention to the levels of state formation or political economy. What do you think are the main determinants of Syrian foreign policy?
Joshua M. Landis: All regimes and countries defend themselves. This is not shocking and shouldn’t be a revelation in explaining the behavior of Syria’s leadership.
For example, Tony Blair has revealed in his recently published memoirs that Vice President Cheney was deadly serious in his ambition to bring down the Syrian state following Washington’s successful destruction of the Iraqi state. It is in this light that we can understand Syria’s determination to assist the emergence of an Iraqi resistance that could frustrate Washington’s further designs of regime destruction in the region.