the Powerpoint Presentation

Syrian-Iraq Relations: from state
system founding to the Arab
state construction and de-construction and
the MENA states system
Raymond Hinnebsuch
University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Syria-Iraq Relations
 Theme: the evolution over time, in parallel,
 1) kind of state
 2) features of the states system
 3) changes in Syria-Iraq Relations
Founding of the states system: Post WWI settlement
 State Formation:-fragmented states “created to fail”
 arbitrary borders, Syria arbitrarily divided; Iraq
arbitrarily cobbled together, cutting across stronger sub
and supra-state identities
 Regional System: irredentism built in; states highly
permeable to trans-state identity movements
 Relations: borders cut across trade, rivers, identity
groupsinterdependencies creating shared interests
and vulnerabilities usable against the other
Age of Oligarchy: early quasi independence 1940-50
 States: oligarchic regimes destabilized by rise of Middle
 System: weak states dominated by British hegemon
 Relations:
 Struggle for Syria: pro-British Iraq+ Jordan vs EgyptSaudi Arabia.
 Iraq penetrates Syrian politics, using transstate ties to
politicians and army officers
Age of Pan-Arab Revolution 1950-70
States: overthrow of oligarchies by military and radical
parties Praetorian instability in Iraq and Syria
consolidated Nasser’s Egypt, model of populist antiimperialist authoritarianism becomes regional
hegemonhegemony of Pan-Arabism
Bi-polarity allows Nasser to roll back British hegemony
Age of Pan-Arab Revolution, 1950-70
Syria-Iraq Relations
 Dealing with British imperialism: 1954-58: Intensified
struggle for Syria, with Egypt vs Iraq over Baghdad Pact rise of
Syrian Ba’th, Syrian alignment with Egypt against IraqUAR +
Iraqi revolutionend to British hegemony
 Dealing with Unionism/Nasserism: 1963: Ba’th takes
power in Iraq and Syriajoint Pan-Arab leadershi prepares
union, congress in Damascus, Iraqi Ba’ play key roles in Syrian
 Pan-Arab Unity negotiations, as Ba’thist Syria and Iraq try to
balance Nasser, unity failsBath-Nasser split
 In struggle with Nasserism, Ba’th falls in Iraq, survives in Syria
 1966 Syrian coupBa’th splits into Iraq and Syria branches (issue
of unionism or social revolution)
Age of Pan-Arab Revolution, 1950-70
Syria-Iraq Relations
 1968 Bakr & Saddam seize power in Iraq; Asad in
Syriareconciliation turns to rivalry
 Ba’th dissidents in each ruling Ba’th party seek support from the
rival regimemutual transstate subversion via legitimacy wars and
recruitment of allies in the other party/army
 Conclusion: Relations in this period symptomatic of high
state permeability; hegemony of Pan-Arabism
Age of Realism: War and Oil, 1970-90
 States: Consolidation of States authoritarian neo-patrimonial
regimes with enhanced bureaucratic, co-optative and military
capabilitiesstate stabilization
 Vulnerability: reliance on sectarian asabiyya and rent
 States System:
 States become less permeable to trans-statetoward quasi“Westphalian” states system based on territorial sovereignty
 Militarized National security (“War” )states e.g. massive Syrian
and Iraqi armies
 “Realist” balancing non-Arab threats (Israel, Iran) via oil-funded
arms races and alliances states.
Age of Realism: War and Oil, 1970-90
Syria-Iraq Relations
 Alliance formation expresses transition from Arabism to
realsit power balancing
 Iraq and Syria align against Israel (1973 war); against Sadat’s Egypt
(1978); (remnants of Pan-Arab logic)
 Iraq and Syria split over Iran-Iraq war, Syria balances against Iraq with
Iran (conflict of state interests eclipses Pan-Arabism)
 Conflict conducted via exploitation of mutual trans-state
vulnerabilities (not by war, reflective of
 Syria uses Euphrates water and oil pipelines against Iraq; both foster
opposition factions (Iraq backs Muslim Brotherhood 1980s Uprising; Syria
hosts Kurdish and Shia dissidents). Rather than subverting the other
regime by recruiting Ba’thists in the other, rivals foster religious/ethnic
cleavages against by-now fairly cohesive regimes.
Age of Post-Populism, US hegemony
 States: economic crisis from overdevelopment of war
states (war and arms races) +rent declinespostpopulist or upgraded authoritarianismstate social base
changes to crony capitalists, foreign investors + mass
exclusionsocial bases shrinkrise of Islamist
opposition + legitimacy deficits
 States System:
 Hegemony of neo-liberalism, spread of economic
dependency on West
 End of bi-polarity US hegemonymost states
bandwagon with US
Age of Post-Populism, US hegemony
Syria-Iraq relations
 Divergence of Syria and Iraqi responses to global
systemic changes in 1990s:
 Iraq’s solution to economic vulnerability + decline
of USSRinvasion of Kuwait, bid for Gulf/Pan-arab
hegemony Iraq war defeat, Iraq under sanctions,
continues to defy US
 Syria’s solution joins anti-Iraq coaltion+ 1990s
peace processbandwagons with the US; moves
toward integration into world capitalist market
 Both solutions fail
Age of Post-Populism, US hegemony
Syria-Iraq relations
 Convergence of Syria-Iraq Responses to US
 Iraq and Syria remain enemies until Bashar al-Asad replaces
Hafizrelations transformed
 sanction-busting oil pipeline deal drives their alignmentSyria
opposes sanctions, US drive to war on Iraq;
 Syria sponsors Islamists’ transit to Iraq to fight occupation, gives
refuge to fleeing Iraqi Ba’this and others, notably Iraqi Christians
targeted by Islamists.
 Driving factor: how the weakened Syrian and Iraqi states adapt
to (exploit or resist) US/Western penetration of region (from
divergence to convergence)
Age of State Deconstruction:
1990+ in Iraq, 2011+in Syria
Precipitants of State Deconstruction
 US Invasion of Iraq deconstructs Iraqi
statesectarian civil warunleashing of regionwide Sunni-Shia discourse wars, and alliances (e.g.
Iran led resistance axis vs. Sunni moderate proWestern axis in 2000s)
 Syrian Uprisingsectarianization and militarization
of the struggleSyria becomes epicenter of
regional power struggle framed in sectarian terms
Age of State Deconstruction: Symptoms of State
 Syrian conflict spills into Iraq, symptomatic of trans-state
identities(Sunni, Shia) shared by the two states. Western Sunnimajority provinces of Iraq and cross-border tribes back the Syrian uprising,
with fighters and arms supply route from Saudi Arabia. Shia militias have
joined the fighting for the Asad government-
sectarian alliances across state boundaries, i.e. Sunni
Islamists opponents against Shia/Alawi dominated
state loss of sovereignty, territorial control, identity
Risk of boundary redrawing, undoing of Versailles settlement
Age of State Deconstruction
 Syria-Iraqi relations: dealing with the consequences
of state deconstruction in the other
 Syrian and Iraq governments intervene in the power struggle
in the other state, largely on security ground (to weaken or prevent a
hostile regime, but they change partners owing to increased sectarian
framing of threat.
 Asad went from opposing the US-backed Iraqi regime and supporting
insurgency to accommodation with it and striking alliances with ruling
Iraqi factions; e.g in 2010 elections, it allowed Allawi to campaign
among Iraqi refugees, but later opted to support Maliki
 Maliki went from considering Syria responsible for Ba’thist/Sunni Islamist
de-stabilization of Iraq to seeing the Asad regime as a bulwark against
Sunni Islamists whose victory in Syria would empower his Sunni rivals in
Conclusion: Rise and Fall of state
1. Weak oligarchic regimes overthrow by Pan-Arab
revolutionspraetorianismtrans-state Ba’thist politics(alliance and rivalries crossing regimes)
2. Consolidation of similar Ba’thist regimesend to trans-state
permeabilityrivalry and power balancing against each
3. Decline of “overdeveloped” war states amidst US
hegemonyopposite adaptations (war or peace) both fail
4. State deconstruction under combinations of eternal war and
internal rebellion
5. Iraq-Syria epicentres of sectarianizaton of regional
system?sectarian reconfiguration of polities?
From state construction to deconstruction:
the structure-agency puzzle
 States set up to fail in “Peace to end all peace” (Fromkin)
 Flawed state building formulas seek to fill the vacuum
liberal oligarchies—>too upper class, imperialist
Ba’thist populist authoritarianismtoo rent, asabiyya and
Pan-Arab dependent-->wars
Role of Agency: tragic actors or dyfunctional choices?
had Nasser and the Ba’thist shared power in super Pan-Arab state?
had Saddam not invaded Kuwait?
had Bashar al-Asad not used violence against protestors?

similar documents