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Syria: Chess Match at the Borders cover photo

Syria: Chess Match at the Borders 2008


Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by AMIP
Directed by Amal Hamelin des Essarts
DVD, color, 88 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Middle Eastern Studies, International Relations, Political Science, Syria

Date Entered: 12/02/2009

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

For the past twenty years or so, Iraq and Iran have been the center of attention in the Middle East. But what about Syria? This production gives a broad, though relatively superficial view of Syria vis-à-vis some of its many neighbors – Turkey, Iraq, Israel, and Lebanon (for whatever reason, Jordon is not mentioned.)Various current and former politicians and officials from Syria and the four countries previously noted as well as relatively more common people from Syria give their perspectives on Syria’s place in the Middle East. The views are, for the most part, quite varied and needless to say the Syrian official has a quite different view of Lebanon than the Lebanese. All the Arabs interviewed are in agreement in denouncing Israel and the United States. The invasion of Iraq has brought some four million refugees into Syria. Perceiving that it now has a common border with the United States, Syria has forged ties with Iran and its proxies in waging war against Israel via Lebanon and attacking across the Syrian border against U.S. forces in western Iraq. The whole mix is rather muddled and may lead some to wonder why anyone bothers trying to achieve a peace when waging war is more convenient in achieving political goals.

The picture and sound for this production are very sharp and quite professional. The interviews and other excerpts are in either French or Arabic with English subtitles. The narration is French with English subtitles. This will make a nice addition to college level collections in Middle Eastern studies.