After the death of Syria's President Hafiz al-Asad in mid-2000, hopes were high that his son and successor, Bashar, might succeed in reforming a system that had become a byword for economic stagnation and the pitiless repression of dissent. For six months, and for the first time in decades, Syrians were able to speak freely, without fear of the hated secret police. Political discussion groups mushroomed. The press started carrying articles openly demanding democracy, and petitions were circulated insisting that democracy was essential not only for its own sake but as a condition for desperately needed investment and economic expansion. Based on the testimony of key players, Syria: Neither Bread Nor Freedom recounts the drama of the 'Damascus Spring' and its repression, and reveals what happens in a state like Syria to the institutions that occupy the political space between government and governed. From political parties to parliament, from the media to the judicial system and universities, this book lifts the veil of rhetoric and propaganda to reveal a system so demoralized and corrupt that power is wielded for no purpose but power itself. This is Bashar al-Asad's legacy and the system which, given time, he hopes to reform.