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The Middle East

The Middle East. Syria – an example of finagling From Dale Tatum, Who Influenced Whom? Lessons from the Cold War (Maryland: University Press of America, 2002), pp.15-37. Finagling with the SU. SU attempted exploit position as Syria’s main arms supplier 1956

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The Middle East

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  1. The Middle East Syria – an example of finagling From Dale Tatum, Who Influenced Whom? Lessons from the Cold War (Maryland: University Press of America, 2002), pp.15-37

  2. Finagling with the SU • SU attempted exploit position as Syria’s main arms supplier 1956 • Counterbalance growth Western influence in Middle East • Formation Baghdad Pact seen as expansionist and threat to sovereignty • Anti-Baghdad coalition – SU arms to Syria and Egypt

  3. Syrian-Israeli War • After Arab-Israeli War 1973 • SU wanted Syria attend Middle East peace conference Geneva • Hafed al-Assad refused comply – would only serve Israel’s interest (Golan Heights) • New war of attrition – military supplies from SU: why?

  4. Lebanese Civil War • Syria and SU supported different sides • Syria – Christian right wing faction • SU – leftist Palestinian faction • History of Lebanon…

  5. History of Lebanon… • Country divided by sectarianism • Prior WWI part Syria • Post-WWI French mandate over “the Lebanon” • Originally Christian, French expanded borders • 1943 Lebanon gained independence • National Pact divided power between Christians and Muslims, but favoured Christian community • President of the Republic: Maronite Christian • Prime Minister: Sunni Muslim • President to the National Assembly: Shiite Muslim

  6. History of Lebanon… • Christian community majority seats Parliament, and major cabinet posts • Lebanon developed capitalist economy and ties with the West • By 1975 Muslims majority, desired share political and economic power • Complicated by Palestinians – settled southern province when Israel created, launched attacks from here • Competition between different factions = political system collapsed

  7. Syria’s role • Assad became patron Palestinian forces • Attempted peace between Christians and Muslims • Syrian security threatened – partition along sectarian lines raised possibility war with Israel: PLO in south, with support from Iraq, would attack Israel and lead to Israeli war with Syria • 1976 Assad wanted negotiated settlement • SU supported Palestinian state, agreed

  8. Bargaining power • Assad wanted balance, but Muslim forces appeared strongest • SU cautious – Pravda reported Syrian troops helping ease tensions • Victory of Christian community seemed imminent, Pravda stated Syria should withdraw troops – otherwise supply arms halted • SU desire? Palestine to be separate state • Assad refused use of ports, SU resumed arms supply

  9. Isolation of Syria 1978-1982 • SU dominating role – Syria failed obtain arms from SU, complied with demands • Syria unwilling or unable to restrain PLO attacks • Response = Israel launched Operation Latani (Stone of Wisdom) in southern Lebanon to counter PLO attacks • Threat to Syria’s position in Lebanon • Protecting Syria impt. to SU, but protecting influence in Lebanon not – avoiding entanglement in Middle Eastern politics!

  10. Isolation of Syria • Syria lacked means to stop Israeli forces in Lebanon • 1973 Egypt and Syria powerful against Israel – 2 fronts • 1978 Egypt constrained by Camp David Accords • Syria appealed to superpowers and UN to force Israeli withdrawal • Assad allowed enemy, Iraq, to ship arms across Syria, opened border to Arabs wanting to fight in Lebanon against Israel

  11. Realist Paradigm • Syria forced to back down • Signed Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with SU 1980 • 1981 Syrian helicopters shot down over Syrian airspace by Israeli pilots • Response = surface-to-air missiles moved into Lebanon without SU support • Resolved by American negotiator • When Israel invaded Lebanon 1982, Syria unable acquire arms from SU

  12. Re-emergence of Syria • 1983 impt. changes: • Ability Assad mobilise Lebanese factions • Change SU leadership • Assad formed coalition within Lebanon to mount armed resistance against Israel and Lebanese govt. • Yuri Andropov more responsive to Assad’s requests – Reagan Plan concerning, verge acceptance Hussein and Arafat

  13. American influence • American influence in region seen as potentially disastrous • Israel informed 52,000 Soviet troops could be airlifted to Syria if attacked • SAM-5 missiles sent to Syria • 1985 Assad expelled 2000 Soviet advisors, gained control weapons • SU relationship with Assad strategic – port access to Mediterranean Sea • Syria needed arms – reciprocal relationship

  14. Goals • Not shared • SU – global view: US activities threat to peace in the region • Syria – narrower and regional view: Israel main threat to peace. Middle Eastern policy to maintain intricate links with various factions as guard against Israeli encroachment

  15. Arab League Plan and Gorbachev’s Plan • Similarities • Called for Israeli withdrawal Arab occupied territory • Palestinian self-determination • Palestinian state • Return East Jerusalem to Arabs • Freedom worship all religions • End state of war between Israel and Arabs • International peace conference hosted by P5

  16. Aims • Syria ambiguous about creation Palestinian homeland - key motive: wanted move Palestinians from Lebanon • SU wanted Palestinian state to avoid “pro-West” Jordanian link • Tatum: “During periods of high international tension, the bargaining position of a weak country is often enhanced because it is in a position to deny the leaders of a more powerful country something they want.”p.29

  17. Search for security • After SU collapse, Syria’s bargaining power reduced • New relationship with China, but different – they not require strategic ports, just cash • 1988 broadened ties with Jordan • 1989 improved relations with Egypt, allowed readmittance to membership of Pan-Arab Organisation for Organisation and Development

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