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Inter-Arab Alliances

Regime Security and Jordanian Foreign Policy

Curtis R. Ryan

Publication Year: 2009

There is a method to the apparent madness of Arab politics. In a region where friends can become enemies and enemies become friends seemingly at the drop of the hat, Curtis Ryan argues that there is logic to be found. Through fourteen years of field research and interviews with key policy makers, Ryan examines the remarkably stable Jordan as a microcosm of the region’s politics. He traces the last four decades of Jordanian foreign policy in an attempt to better understand what seems like chaos.

What Ryan finds is an approach that is fundamentally different from alliances made in the West, in both how and why they are made. With governmental change and upheaval occurring on a seemingly regular basis, Arab nations approach diplomacy with much different means and potential ends. The impact of this diplomacy is arguably the most immediate in the world today, as conflict with words and conflict with weapons are sometimes separated by mere days.

The topic of international relations in the Arab world is as complex as it is important. Ryan gives the reader the theoretical background, and shows its direct applicability through the foreign policy of Jordan.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Series: Governance and International Relations in the Middle East

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

This book is based on almost sixteen years of research, and I therefore owe thanks to many people and to many organizations that made all the field research possible. Some of the earliest interviews for this project were conducted in 1992 and 1993...

Part I: Dynamics of Alliances and Inter-Arab Politics

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pp. 1

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1. Regime Security, Alliances, and Inter-Arab Politics

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pp. 3-22

International crises in the Middle East have often led to shake-ups in existing patterns of regional alliances and alignments. Even in times of relative calm, regional alignments have long been characterized by fluidity and frequent change. Nowhere are these...

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2. Security Dilemmas in Arab Politics

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pp. 23-42

A major theme in the literature on state behavior in international relations is that of the “security dilemma,” in which states find that their attempts at ensuring national security through military build-ups can in fact lead to greater insecurity. The “classic” security dilemma refers to an external dynamic of arms racing and spiraling...

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3. Ideology and Political Economy in Inter-Arab Alliances

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pp. 43-60

Too often pundits and casual political observers of the Middle East attribute the many realignments in the region to the heavy weight of ideology in the politics of the Arab world. Perhaps one reason for this attribution is that, during almost every Middle...

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4. The Case Studies and Jordanian Policy in Context

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pp. 61-68

The first three chapters of this book examined the issues of security, political economy, and ideology in inter-Arab politics, while also presenting a regime security approach to understanding inter-Arab alliance dynamics. In this chapter, I provide...

Part II: Arab Alliances and Jordanian Foreign Policy under King Hussein

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pp. 69

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5. Jordan and the October War Coalition

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pp. 71-83

Despite surviving the 1970–1971 civil war, Jordanian policy makers were left with little breathing room, as the region plunged once again into war in 1973. The seeds for the 1973 war had been sown in the June 1967 conflict, just six years earlier, when Israeli land and air forces had inflicted a devastating defeat on the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian...

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6. The Jordanian Alliance with Syria

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pp. 84-97

In the aftermath of the October War, Jordan sought to capitalize on its (albeit limited) participation in the conflict as a means to re-enter the mainstream of Arab regional politics. One of the countries most receptive to Jordan’s attempt at inter-Arab reconciliation...

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7. The Jordanian Alliance with Iraq

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pp. 98-112

This chapter examines why Jordan realigned toward Iraq, and why this alignment would last throughout the 1980s. The emergence of the new alignment was quite striking given the history of Iraqi-Jordanian relations, which had tended to oscillate between...

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8. Jordan and the Arab Cooperation Council

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pp. 113-126

On February 16, 1989, the heads of state of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and North Yemen met in Baghdad to announce the formation of the Arab Cooperation Council (Majlis al-Ta'awun al-'Arabi).1 This chapter examines the Jordanian role in creating this new multilateral alignment and explains why the ...

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9. Jordan and the First U.S.-Iraq War

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pp. 127-144

With the onset of the Persian Gulf Crisis of 1990–1991, Jordan’s main Arab alliance, the Arab Cooperation Council, became instantly deadlocked as its two most powerful members—Iraq and Egypt—shifted overnight from alignment partners to military adversaries. Notwithstanding the numerous Hashimite attempts at...

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10. Beyond Arab Alliances?: Jordan’s Peace with Israel

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pp. 145-164

As the smoke cleared from the 1991 Gulf war, the U.S. administration of President George Bush Sr. turned its attention to reviving the Arab-Israeli peace process.1 As the peace process began, Jordan remained essentially isolated in inter-Arab and even global politics. Iraq lay largely in ruins, facing yet another post-war reconstruction...

Part III: Arab Alliances and Jordanian Foreign Policy under King Abdullah II

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pp. 165

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11. Ending the Jordanian-Syrian Cold War

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pp. 167-183

Throughout their histories as independent states, Jordan and Syria have had at best a tenuous relationship, marked by temporary military alliances during wars with Israel, but more often by varying degrees of mutual hostility....

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12. Jordan and the Second U.S.-Iraq War

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pp. 184-203

The years after the Hashimite succession from Hussein to Abdullah were an especially tumultuous and violent period, even in the context of Middle East politics. The early years of the new century saw the collapse of the peace process, an increase in Jihadist terrorism, and U.S. wars against both...

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13. Regime Security and Shifting Arab Alliances

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pp. 204-210

The international relations of the Middle East have often baffled casual observers and led to assumptions that, of all the world’s regions, this one must be an exception to the norms of global politics. And within Middle East...


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pp. 211-238


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pp. 239-258


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pp. 259-264

About the Author

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pp. 265

E-ISBN-13: 9780813039961
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813033075
Print-ISBN-10: 0813033071

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Governance and International Relations in the Middle East