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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

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
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
syrian israeli war
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?
lebanese civil war
Lebanese Civil War
  • Syria and SU supported different sides
    • Syria – Christian right wing faction
    • SU – leftist Palestinian faction
  • History of Lebanon…
history of lebanon
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
history of lebanon6
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
syria s role
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
bargaining power
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
isolation of syria 1978 1982
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!
isolation of syria
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
realist paradigm
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
re emergence of syria
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
american influence
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
  • 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
arab league plan and gorbachev s plan
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
  • 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
search for security
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