The guiding question of the thesis is the following: Why does Syria continue to support the Hezbollah in the face of significant international pressure to desist, and what does this tell us about the forces driving Syrian foreign policy? In other words, why does the regime continue to follow a strategy of balancing against the powers that are arrayed against them at this time, when this option seems to lead the country further down the road to a conflict they presumably cannot win? Of further interest is also the question of whether the rise of Bashar al-Assad following the death of Hafez al-Assad resulted in a change of priorities in the security and foreign policies under evaluation.
The ultimate goal of the Syrian regime is to remain in power. However, there are certain boundaries that the regime cannot cross in pursuit of that end goal. Most salient among these is that it cannot concede the Golan Heights to Israel. The retrieval of the Golan Heights is therefore Syria’s most important national security aim, the attainment of which significantly depends upon the instrumental role of the Hezbollah. In other words; Syrian support for Hezbollah has to be understood within the context of Syria’s conflict with Israel, specifically concerning the Golan Heights.