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Durham e-Theses
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This thesis investigates and analyses the puzzle concerning the constant hostility between ‎Syria and Iraq. Empirical and experimental examinations show that while pan-Arabism played ‎a secondary role in the conflict between Syria and Iraq, the ‎geopolitical realities of the two ‎countries, and resemblance of the belief systems of the two presidents Ḥāfeẓ al-Asad and ‎Ṣaddām Ḥusayn played a determining role in Syro-Iraqi hostile relations.‎
The rivalry between Syria and Iraq was driven by power consolidation and regional ‎leadership, but also in an ideological sense by a romanticised conception of pan-Arabism. When ‎the Baʿth party came to power in both countries, the two regimes became almost identical ‎ideologically (Sluglett, 2000). As a result, they ended up competing over the same tools of ‎regime legitimacy (Eppel, 1999). Therefore, although pan-Arabism has always played a role in ‎Syro-Iraqi tension, its role during this period was secondary. ‎
The geopolitical position of Syria and Iraq determined their foreign policy role. The Persian ‎Gulf was the Iraqi regime’s area of influence, ‎while Lebanon was Syria’s area of influence ‎because of its lack of strategic ‎depth. As a result, geopolitics stretched the two regimes in two ‎opposite directions (Ehteshami, 2015). Thus, the Iraqi regime adopted a dogmatic approach in ‎the Arab-Israel ‎conflict, whereas the Syrian regime took a pragmatic approach in this conflict ‎because of its geographical proximity to Israel. The two main subjects of geopolitics, the ‎Kirkuk-Banias pipeline, and the water of the ‎Euphrates, also played a significant role in ‎feeding the tension between the two countries. ‎
When Presidents Ḥāfeẓ al-Asad and Ṣaddām Ḥusayn – both powerful personalities - came ‎to power (1970 and 1979 respectively), they added a personal element to the dynamics of ‎hostile Syro-Iraqi relations. This thesis argues that because the two presidents dominated the ‎process of decision making in their countries, their belief systems played a determining role in ‎shaping Syro-Iraqi hostility. The experimental research demonstrates that the two presidents ‎had similar belief systems – represented by dogmatism and mistrust of others, risk-taking, and ‎adopting passive cooperation as a strategy in their foreign policy behaviour – which made ‎reconciliation between Syria and Iraq exceedingly unlikely during the period they were in ‎power (1979-2000). ‎

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Middle East Politics, Iraq, Syria, geopolitics, pan-Arasbim, political psychology
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Apr 2017 12:26

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