1. Regime Security, Alliances, and Inter-Arab Politics
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1 Regime Security, Alliances, and Inter-Arab Politics 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 dynamics more prevalent, and more confusing, than in inter-Arab politics. Despite the high ideological premium put on pan-Arab unity in the rhetoric of Arab leaders, there are numerous alignments within inter-Arab politics at any given time. These alignments tend to be highly fluid, sometimes shifting in radical directions. Allies become enemies, and enemies allies, often with great frequency. What is perhaps most compelling about these regional dynamics, however, is the apparent contradiction between ideals of Pan-Arab unity and the reality of numerous different inter-Arab alignments or blocs. For example, two of the most dramatic episodes of crisis and regional realignment occurred after the 1977–1979 Sadat peace initiative towards Israel and after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.1 In both cases, few observers were able to predict the direction of realignment for key Arab states. Following Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem and the 1978 Camp David Accords, Arab allies of the United States, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, not only opposed the U.S.-backed Egyptian-Israeli peace process, but also broke off diplomatic relations with Cairo and—along with Iraq—formed a key alignment against Egypt. During the 1990–1991 Gulf crisis and war, traditionally moderate and pro-Western Jordan maintained its alignment with Iraq, jeopardizing its long-standing relationship with the United States and the Arab Gulf states. Syria, which had long been the main regional client of the Soviet Union, not only supported Western intervention but also deployed thousands of troops to defend Saudi Arabia.2 Events such as these have only added to the general mystique surrounding the machinations of inter-Arab politics, but the fact remains that—as in the two examples above—the align- 4 / Chapter 1 ment choices made by Arab states can have critical impacts on the prospects for either war or peace in the Middle East. These fluid alignment dynamics, however, are not restricted to regionwide crises alone. Indeed, we can see similar patterns in bilateral relationships as well, where Arab alignments have not only tended to oscillate, but also have done so with great volatility. Consider, for example, how the Jordanian-Syrian relationship illustrates this tendency. In September 1970, the Syrian army invaded Jordan ostensibly to assist the Palestine Liberation Organization in its battles with the Hashimite regime. Yet in 1973, Jordanian troops were sent to the Golan Heights to support the Syrian military in the war with Israel. By 1974, recriminations and diplomatic hostility again marked relations between Damascus and Amman, while one year later efforts were underway to bring about political and economic integration between Jordan and Syria. But as early as 1980 the alignment had reversed once again, marked by Syrian-sponsored bombings in Jordan’s capital and by allegedly Jordanian-backed opposition attacks against Ba’thist officials in Syria.3 Jordanian-Syrian bilateral relations thus show the fluidity and volatility that can characterize inter-Arab politics. But why are inter-Arab alignments so fluid? How can we explain why Arab states realign with such frequency? And most importantly, what explains the specific choice of alignment partners? This study provides theoretical and empirical answers to these questions, first, by examining the dynamics of inter-Arab politics and of shifting Arab alliances in particular, and second, by focusing specifically on how these dynamics have played themselves out in the case of one pivotal country: the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan. Thus, while the first part of the book examines inter-Arab political dynamics at the regional level, the second and third parts examine the Jordanian experience in particular, from 1970 to 2007. This study therefore explores one of the least developed areas of research in the international relations of the Middle East. Although numerous studies have examined the Arab-Israeli conflict, United States foreign policy toward the Middle East, OPEC and the political economy of oil, and the political development of individual states, there remain few systematic or theoretically-informed studies on inter-Arab politics. Given the dominance of the Arab-Israeli conflict in regional politics and of oil in the world economy , it is perhaps not surprising that the shifting alignments of inter-Arab relations have received so little attention. But the...