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Syrian-American relations, 1973 - 1977: a study of security cooperation in regional conflicts

Bowen, Andrew (2013) Syrian-American relations, 1973 - 1977: a study of security cooperation in regional conflicts. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The United States, a great power, and Syria, a small state, have both been at the heart of the politics of the Middle East since the end of World War II. The systemic conditions of the international system and the shifting politics of the region brought these states into contact and, at times, confrontation, but these interactions never produced a sustained period of security cooperation. By the beginning of the 1970s, both states had begun to reconsider and reshape their positions in the region. The period from 1973 to 1977 produced a rare period of cooperation between these two states in the case of two regional conflicts: the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Lebanese Civil War. To understand that shift in relations, this thesis explores the question: What accounts for the security cooperation between Syria and the US during this period? This thesis makes four observations: first, as results of changes in both states’ leaderships, realpolitik, alongside ideational considerations, became more pronounced in both states’ conceptions of their security environment in the Middle East and their relations with one another. Second, while the Cold War was the predominant context for the US’s interactions with Syria at the start of the 1970s, interactions between the US and Syria were also shaped by local conditions that emerged after the October War. Third, both states, distrustful of the other’s intentions, formed temporary alliances based on short-term common interests. Finally, the regional conflicts themselves introduced circumstances that both strengthened and weakened their security cooperation. While their security cooperation achieved limited results, their relations established a framework for these two states’ subsequent relations. The unresolved issues that emerged from this period of their relations served as the main context for their cooperation and conflict in the following decades, even after the death of Hafiz al-Asad in 2000.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Andrew Bowen
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Gerges, Fawaz

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