Syria, Lebanon, Iraq,
the uncertain Mashreq
.impact of the “Arab Spring”
mashreq: the eastern bit.lavant refers to syria, lebonan, jordan, israel, palestine excluding egypt
central alqaeda has been seriously damaged by counter terrorism scene. but alqaed name has
been franchised. offshoots of alqaeda. authorized to use the alqaeda name.
you kinda lsn to alqaeda name. AQ branch active in north africa which is the offshoot who
fought the algerian civil war. theres AQAP in arabian peninsula.
AQI (alqaeda in iraq) --> syrian civil war --> AQI branched out in syria but we have seen a split
in that AQ btw jabbat ul nusra and ISIS (islamic state of iraq
or something). shabab --> mall attack in narobi. it has vowed allegiance to AQ. they are affiliates
of AQ. they dont use the AQ name. shabab itself has splits cos
of pressures on it.
aq coming back? regional ones have done very well cos the collapse of former authoritarian
states. shabab is weaker then before. aqim has got more life cos of
weapons coming out of libya and fall of authoritarian regimes. aqap --> overthrow of salah
regime in yemen has meant that theres an ungoverned space which gives them
space to operate. only drone strikes can attack them. syrian civil war --> AQ in iraq was badly
damaged cos of sunni consitituency cos aq was attacking a lot of shia
and backlash came from shia and sunni leaders went to americans for protection against AQ.
AQ was also damaged cos of americans. AQ was badly weaken and since american
have left aq has come back a bit. aq in iraq has been able to play off corruption and shia
dominance in iraqi govt.
jihadist flocking to syria to fight against the alawi govt. syrian civil war shows no sign of dying
down, it can become an incubator for radicals. also the secterian
element of the conflict: plays to a kind of radicalization of secterian which AQ can play as
playing against infidels and SHIAS. the foreignors fighting in syria
are larger than those who fought in afghanistan against the soviets. syria is the major security
challenge since 9/11. its very hard to resolve. add to it the coup against
morsi: signal it sends to radical islamist groups is that democ cant work and this is a bad thing
cos they might become more radical now.
small number of radicals can have a very large impact cos of radical views. rex --> pessimistic
assad is very coilent. the regime has prolly killed more ppl than all the terrorist attacks for years.
problem for radicalization is that theres a thinking that west
is supporting bashar cos it could stop the war if it wanted to it could stop the revolution if it
wanted to but it wont cos it wants to see many dead muslims and
so that is making them more radical. so unlike libyan civil war which generated alot of pro
american libyan but in syria it generated more syrian against west.
same view in iraq cos they think US can do anything. so US wants this bloodshed and civil war
and iraq goin mad with nothing. lebonon: partly free rating by freedom house rating. palestine had been rated partly free when
elections were competitive but aftr 2006 elections and civil war followin
it led to a fall in the rating.
•60% Arab/Shiite, 20% Arab/
Sunni, 20% Kurd (mainly Sunni),
kurdish identify as kurdish and the religion isnt more of a strong identify scene for em. but sunni
shia split in iraq has become more imp. there are other small
minorities are. many of the smaller minorities have fled iraq in violence.
•92% Sunni, 6% Christian
•small Chechen and Circassian
•Palestinian vs East Bank
ethnically arab. its cleavage is jordanians originally from palestine and east bank jordanians.
about half half. civil war 70 71 btw monarchy and palestenian
liberation organization. at times its poli relevant at times it very fuzzy at times its just something
you dont talk about in polite convos
•35% Shiite, 25% Sunni, 5% Druze;
25% Maronite christians, 10% other
•no census since 1932!cos no one then the shias want to know the percentage cos shia
population has gone up since 1932 and others is unclear. releigious secterian
scene is very institutionalised. millet system in ottoman where minority communities were semi
autonomous. no where will u see this more than in lebenon now
where communities governed by personal status laws that are unique to their communities.
marriage, divorce, inheritance laws. parli seats assigned based on sects.
secterian identity is build into the poli and legal system. reinforces secterianism.
no deep secterian scene. historically muslim christian differences werent big. that has changed
a bit with rise of islamist groups like hammas. secterian split is
much weaker and its cos the defining national experience was of occupation and that created
an overall sense of palesteniasm which was quite strong.
•90% Arab, 9% Kurds
•70% Sunni, 13% Alawi, 10%
Christian, 3% Druze, 3% Shiite kurds concentrated in north east of the country. kurds in many ditricts in majority. so minority is a
majority in the part of the country (imp: how concentrated
a minority is in a country) so in parts of syria there are areas of kurdish majority. kurds are
spread btw iraq, syria, turkey and iran. they were promised a state
at the end of ww1 but dint get it.
significant other minorities. alawis. in many cases the other minorities are also concentrated.
druze --> south west of the country alawi --> north west
historically been a pattern of disproportionate recruitment in the army of minority groups.
particularly the alawi sect. alawis do it not cos of religion but community
kind of solidarity
north africa has the issue of burbur minority. brubur issue important in algeria and libya. not
really in tunisia where minority is very small. but in moroco its
not really that much cos of integration.
in contrast to this.
mashreq: quite significance ethnic and or religious pluralism. lebonan: no majority group.
significant identity politics in these countires. This division has defined the politics in Iraq. Ethno sectarian politics has been deeply powerful
there. If u go back to the dictatorship period in Iraq (saddam) the line was very fuzzy
particularly in Baghdad where mum was shia and dad was sunni. Iraqi tribes that are both shia
and sunni. Saddams secret police dint bother to record wthr suspects were shia or sunni cos it
wasn’t imp then. So civil war sectarian. Cos if you are not on ur side then they kill you. Bosnia.
East Beirut Christian
West Beirut muslim (shia sunni split within)
Christian community has shrunk You can see how minorities are concentrated.
modern state formation
yes borders are artificial but are not artificial and that by redrawing borders wont work out. Like
we ended up with jewish state of Israel but the arab Israel state dint go away.
• post-WWI League of Nations Mandates:
assigned mandate for Syria(including Lebanon)
Lebanon administered separatelywith Christian (slight) majority
assigned mandates for Iraq,
Palestine (including Transjordan)
Hashemite monarchy established
in Iraq (Faysal)
Hashemite monarchy established
in Transjordan (Abdullah)
Balfour declaration (the Israel one) applied to
Palestine (east of Jordan River)
British gave Iraq and Jordan nominal independence btw ww1 n 2. During ww2 there was a pro
german coup in Iraq and brits went in and took control.
modern state formation
growing nationalist agitation during interwar period
gain effective independence after WWII as presidential/
Iraq and Transjordan gain independence as constitutional
monarchies in interwar period
violence in Palestine grows through interwar period, culminating in
UN partition (1947), Israeli declaration of independence (1948), Arab-
remaining Palestinian territories (West Bank, East Jerusalem,
Gaza) occupied by Israel in 1967
modern state formation
Monarchy (put in place by the brits) overthrown in 1958 coup
series of coups and counter-coups for rest of 1950s and into the 1960s.
Ba’th Party (1940 oriigin. Arab nationalist party. The relevant identity was one of arabs.
Sectarian identity was irrelevant. Arab world has been divided by colonial entry and the arabs
have to come together. They were imp in Iraq and Syria) seizes power in 1963 (briefly) and
1968 actually seizes power.
Saddam Hussein (first VP) then emerges as President (1979), until overthrown by US
intervention in 2003
deeply authoritariena regime. Regime in which parents would publicly praise saddam at the
dinner table cos of the whole kids goin out and talking about it. If they thought u were a regime
opponent u would disappear. Secret police everywhere. repression: Halabja 1988: used chem weapons on its own population.
series of coups through late 1940s and 1950s
1 of the things which sparked coups in Syria was the failure of arabs in the arab Israeli war 1967
as it was in Egypt also a factor. Most coup prone place.
1958-63 joins with Egypt as United Arab Republic
1963 UAR broke up. Coup baath party
Ba’th party seizes power in 1963 coup, but considerable infightingfollows; split between military
vs civilian, Iraqi vs Syrian wings
This internal baath party issues continued till Hafiz al-Asad seizes power in 1970, rules until
death in 2000
It went from being one of the most unstable countries in 1970s to being one of the most stable
powerbase combines Ba`th party, military and state bureaucracy,
Alawi community, other minorities
Very authoritarian. The army, the military the bureaucracy and the loyalty of alawi and other
minority communities with the Baath cos baath said it doesn’t matter if ur a minority cos what
matters is is you are arab.
repression: Hama 1982
10 20 thousand casualties. After hama who was gonna revolt? Cos regime was very bad.
the dynamics of non-sectarian sectarianization
in Syria a key part of the stability of the regime was the active support it enjoyed from non sunni
minorities. This is not to say that the regime dint have support from many sunnis cos a lot of
state employees. Sunni business man became cosy with regime later too. But the minority was
very close to the regime. Paradox: part of the stability of the regime is based on its support from
the minorities and on the other hand the ideology of the regime is against the notion of
ideologies. Cos they said we are all arabs and that’s what matters. So regime: secular ideology
that is partly based on support from a sectarian community. And this support dint come cos of
religion. Cos like a lot of alawis don’t really know what alawi is. Alawi instead of becoming a
religious ideology became like a community thingy. Like saudia Arabia where religious ideology
is extended by the Saudi. But alawi supported the regime cos they were our guys not cos of
You get the same thing in Iraq. The regime disproportionately drew support from sunni minority.
Senior ranks in the baath party, a lot of sunni ranks. Secret police dint report shia or sunni.
Saddam dint talk in term of sectarian term. Saddam came to power he tended to recruit ppl he
could trust his family, his region (his guys) and they happen to be sunni. So saddam dint have
a sectarian scene in his mind. He was quite secular. modern state formation
- National Pact (1943) established foundations for consociational
political system: IN WHICH POLI POWERS IS ASSINGED TO IDENTITY GROUPS.
o President=Maronite (THE MOST POWERFUL ROLE AT THAT TIME), Prime
Minister=Sunni, Speaker=Shiite. Cabinet portfolios were broken down too.
o 6:5 ratio of Christians : Muslims in parliament, senior appointments
o each religious community has own personal status laws (millet kinda thingy)
o sectarian electoral system (so many sunni shia druze seats etc for MPs)
you just don’t get to vote for your own mp but u get to vote for all. Its an attempt to force
compromise btw different groups to get local alliances even though the system is deeply
It still happens a bit.
- communal and class inequalities
Christian community: economically advantaged. Poors and rich in all sects but avg Christian is
better off. This has changed a lot over time. Its not clear if this is true now too. Christians were
econ and poli better off historically and this was a source of greiviance. Neo patrimonial patron
client system. Poli support exchanged for resources coming from up. Lebonese are against
corruption except for their leader who is not as bad as the others. The only electoral system
where u get to bring ur own ballot. The reason is you can then buy vote. You don’t have a
standard vote. Or u could bring a carbon paper to show that u voted for that person to get
patronage. Very weak social welfare system. Health care and education is private. Deeply
corrupt. Deep patronage. Strong sectarian identities.
- sectarian neopatrimonialism
- impact of regional environment
deeply effected by regional scene.
• Palestinian refugees, PLO (1960-1982)
Came in lebonan. 400 000 palestenians in lebonan today. Growth of plo or gurella groups.
Cross border attack with Israel.
• Israeli attacks and occupation lebonan(1982-2000)
Hizbollah is born which pushes Israelis out of lebonan.
Now lebonan is being deeply effected by the Syrian civil war. Hizbollah has combat units
deployed in Syria fighting on regime side. Refugees are fleeing from Syria into lebonan. Sunnis
in lebonan raise funds for opposition in Syria.
o Arab nationalism Popular in 50s and 60s.
o regional competition
place where other countries and powers compete. Hizbollah gets massive support from iran.
Massive support from saudia for the future largest sunni party. So its still a place where regional
actors. Its also tru the other way around as lebonan can now interfare in some one elses civil
- 1958 civil war (along muslim pro arab nationalist opposition vs conservatice anti arab
nationalist Christian govt)
- 1975-90 civil war
• Syrian intervention (1976- ): managed to stop it but they stopped it by shelling urban areas.
• Taif Agreement (1989) rebalances Lebanese system ended civil war taif did the following:
• powers of President weakened, those of Prime Minister and Speaker
• 1:1 ratio of Christians to Muslims in Parliament
• Hariri assassination (hizbolla certainly), the “Cedar Revolution,” and Syrian
the national pact system tweaked not changed.
Couple of attacks on Egyptian troops: number of soldiers dead. Egyptian politics: demonstration
and suppression suggests that military backed regimes enjoy a lot of support but there are also
their muslim brotherhood supporters. Muslim brother hood can continue to have demonstrations
shows that its still there. The attacks on the security force: in south Sinai. That along with the
attack in ismalia. It strengthens the govt stance that they are against terrorism and they are
trying to clear it. So when there are attacks against the army, that feeds into that narrative. That
it’s a battle against Islamic terrorism. So these attacks don’t weaken the govt. stance but
strengthens it. We again saw ppl calling for general cici to run for elections. He keeps saying he
doesn’t wanna run but that’s not convincing.
Protests in sudan: initially sparked by prices. Great deal of force being used to suppress it. It
has only kept the protests going. Some split in the ruling party, president bashirs ruling party
about how to deal with the the protests. So far the demonstrations haven’t ignited the country
(specific to some social groups) but its very hard to tell how they will go on and will become a
full national scne or not. One thing that weakens the regime, eversince the end of civil war, that
civil war cant be use an excuse to avoid other issues. So it’s a vulnerable period for the regime
cos they cant blame stuff on civil war anymore and the population is expecting better stuff.
Critical stuff: open splits in the ruling party. Open splits in the military units. (mutiny). Rapid
escalation of the protests in the country?
So far demonstrations haven’t been that big. So far no splits seen so obviously in the country.
So like someone from regime can come out and go like oh the pres is this and that so other ppl
may join in OR if nothing happens and protests go on then the pres might be worried that
security forces may think the pres is prob and we have to get rid of him (like in Egypt) Us operation against shabab leader in Somalia (dint go well. They were fired upon and had to
Operation against alqaeda leader in Tripoli (went better and now the guy captured is
somewhere on a ship on middle east) the raid isn’t popular in Libya. The Libyan govt may have
known or may not have known. The possibilities: they weren’t told in advance or they were or
they were told just 15 mins bfre it. The reason is cos they are afraid of the operation being
leaked out. The poli consequences: it wont be popular in Libya. It may strengthern islamist
forces. Destabilize the govt which is alrdy under so much issues. How much was the operation
done by Libyans and by americans?
Syrian chems: mixing machines destroyed. Production equipment destruction. It makes it
difficult to produce more and fill ammunitins. Us is clearly very pleased with the degree od
cooperations from Syrians and the Russians. Things are moving ahead faster. Syrian have been
cooperative too by moving the stock pile to center locations to destroy. They can adulterate the
agents to make them less lethal. And then u destroy the less lethal stuff cos it might be easier to
destroy them like that. Intl law thingy about how if chem weapons are taken out to Jordan. Prob
is Syria signed on to chem weapons convention that prohibits export and import of chem
weapons. So you cant send them to Jordan. You can adulterate the chem weapons make them
less lethal. Then argue they are not chem weapons. And then ship em out of the country. Part
chemistry part intl lawyering. The issue is border with Jordan is not secure. Much of the Syrian
opposition is not happy with this cos they would want us to bomb Syria to help them but US are
quite happy with their cooperation with Russia on this. (functional cooperation) which can then
be build upon to geta civil war end. The US policy wants a negotiated end to the war. And so the
cooperation with Russia will help this.
Agreement in tunisa there will be a technocratic govt in Tunisia governing until the next
elections occur. Those negotiations are alrdy under way. They still have to have finalise the
constitution but then crisis occurred.
• King Abdullah (French wanted Syria. Brits dint want allies to fight. They stopped faysal
marching to Syria by saying oh we will give u both: countries brit made Abdullah king) with a lot
of brit influence in bureacry brit general of the army
• annexes West Bank (1950) at end of arab asraeli war.
• assassinated (1951)
• abdullahs son King Talal (1951-1952) brought major reforms
• removed on mental health grounds
• son King Hussein (1952-99) rules during often tumultuous era (made modern Jordan) very
unstable in 50s 60s and early 70s
• rise of Arab nationalism (not frndly with monarchs and were seen as pro western), coup
attempts against him by nationalist army officers. Secret contacts with Israelis.
Arab isralei war 1967 Israeli tells him to stay out but he says he cant cos if I do ill be
overthrown event though he knew he will lose. He lost.
• Israeli occupation of West Bank (1967)
• rise of PLO, he fought Jordanian civil war (1970-71) to expel PLO from jordan
• Parliamentary politics was important in Jordan till 1950s were the parliaments would even
criticizes the king but then king limiting and suspension of parliamentary politics (late 1950s-
1980s) cos he claims the west bank (occupied by Israel) and since its under Israeli occupation
he cant have it cos u cant hold elections there • disengagement from West Bank (1988) (gives up his claim when it becomes crystal clear that
they don’t want to be with him)
• begins political liberalization (1989-) reallowing competitive multi party elections.
Jordan is the case where the elections are more or less free and fair but the way politics is
conducted tilts the balance of power in favor of the palace.
King Hussein died
• King Abdullah II (1999- )
modern (non)state formation
Imp for Palestine, Palestine diaspora, Jordan and
• establishment of PLO (1964) under the auspises of the arab leage. 1948 forced displacement
from Israel, annexation of the WB by Jordan left the palestenian political leadership fractured.
The rise of arab nationalism in 50s left the old poli leadership discreditied. So palestenians
looked towards pan Arabism to liberate them. They kinda hoped that arab victory over Israel will
come around in their liberation. The plo of 1964 was an effort by arab regimes to harness the
palestenian issues. The plo wasn’t really independent and popular amongst palestenians. That
changed aftr 1967 cos after the defeat of arab forces dealt a fatal blow that arab nationalism will
get them liberation. So cos of that very small gurella palestenian organizations (established in
1950s) those organistaion began to gain greater credibility that we have to do it khud and take
control of our own national destiny.
• Fateh-led takeover of PLO (1968- ), Yasser Arafat emerges as PLO
Leader (fatah - largest palestenian gurella group overtook plo from within) Arafat emerged as
the new leader. Genuinely palestenian nationalist organization. This battle in carame in 68.
These gurella thingys were attractive to palestenians aftr the failed Israeli attack on gurella
groups and loads of palestenians came forward to join them.
• changing Fateh/PLO goals: original goal was the establishment of a non sectarian state in all
of Palestine but that was also in essense the elimination of the state of Israel. This goal was till
1970s. plo led by fatah shifted away from that goal in 1974 to a 2 state solution cos it became
clear that Israel isn’t going anywhere.
• from “a non-sectarian state in all of Palestine” to a two state solution,
• hastened by Lebanese civil war(75 – 89) one of the factors that casued this
transformation in plo goals. Cos plo was largely involved in that civil war, 1982 israeli invasion
made this transformation possible too, 1987-90 intifada making wb and gaza more imp in the
1990-91 Gulf war (expulsion of a lot palestenians from the gulf)
most palestenians don’t live in Palestine any more. They were driven out of now what Israel is
today. The notion that wb and gaza are the centre is not accepted very easily. It was hard to
focus on ppl just to focus on a 2 state solution to just wb and gaza.
• emergence of Hamas as a (non-PLO) Islamist alternative in late 1980s, and main political
competitor to PLO and fatah ( offshoot from palestenian muslim brotherhood which has argued
that it should focus on islam from roots and not get involved in military scene or politics) First palestenian occurs lots of muslim brother hood ppl say no no we should be fighting
Hammas emerged as major rival to fatah
They are about tied for popularity
The popularity changes from time to time. Hammas is not plo. There have been negotiations to
join but they cant agree on proportion of representation they will get in the exec. Palestine
Peace negotiations btw israel and palestine begun in 1992 (end of first world war). Palestenians
weren’t recognized by Israel and palestenians had to negotiate by showing themselves as
Jordanians and these secret negotiation led to oslo accord.
• Oslo Accord establishes interim
Palestinian Authority with limited
powers over some areas, pending
permanent status negotiations
under oslo the territories were chopped in areas a b and c in the west bank. Area a
(palestenians had civil and security scene) b( civil only had poli control) area c (nothing
controlled by palestenians) something similar happened in gaza too
• Arafat elected President (1996)
• permanent status talks fail
(2000-01) as second intifada erupts
• Arafat dies (2004), succeeded by
• Israel withdraws from Gaza (2005) in large part cos it wanted to remove the gazans from the
equation and wanted to focus on the west bank, the areas where it wanted to hold on too. So
after that there are no more Israeli settlers left in gaza but there are many in the isreali occupies
• Abbas wins presidential election,
but Hamas wins PLC elections (parli elections)
(2006) intl community not happy with this win. They try to isolate hamas and us wanted fatah
to move against hamas.
fatah partly lost cos it dint know how to use its political system. (too many fatah candidates for
the same seat)
• Fateh-Hamas conflict (2007-) short civil war in gaza. Hammas took control of gaza.
regime dynamics: Iraq
west bank still looks like that area a b c thingy. But plo is running civil affairs for much of
population which is controlled by fatah and suppresses hammas.
We have better polling data for Palestine then any other middle east country even then turkey.
Also Israelis say if they negotiate with plo and abbas but what if hammas doesn’t agree to it cos
hammas controls gaza and plo rules wb. That is deeply problametic.
Hammas has been saying that if plo signs a deal which is endorsed by a referendum they will
accept. And hammas has signaled that they will be ok with a 2 state solution. But it sint clear
how much of the Israel occupied land will be returned to the 2 state thingy or is it just the 2 state
solution with the areas how they alrdy are divided. Will refugees return to Israel or what?
Hammas itself is internally divided. Some hammas members believe in the 2 state solution.
They just don’t believe Israel will do that and so go for the use of force. There are those
hammas members who want to liberate the whole of Palestine from Israel. Hammas isn’t clearly
telling their position except just vaguely signaling that they will be ok with a negotiated solution
of this sort cos they are hoping plo fails in the peace talk and everything will fall in their lap. So
they don’t need to keep up with a very detailed position right now and show what they are
thinking to others.
Hammas a year ago was really please cos there were no peacetalks and cos the govt helped
them. But now the new Egypt govt is anti hammas. They also had a falling around with iran cos hammas doesn’t support assad in Syria. They are relatively quiet in the peace negotiations and
they are waiting for the peace process to break down.
Hammas was a party for struggle against Israel but now it has an effective cease fire with Israel.
Plus its an islmist party which hasn’t really tried to islamisize the gaza strip. You don’t have to
wear hijab. Ppl lsn to music. Very lil imposition of Islamic conservative values. Prob that
hammas has it’s a islamist liberation group which isn’t engaged in Islamism or liberation fighting
and so it has to worry that it sort of angry’s radical young members (jihadist) saying that
hammas isn’t doing anything and ill just go join some jihadist group. Hammas hates jihadist
groups and rocketed them and what not. They have to talk to a couple of jihadist groups cos of
issues and tolerate them but hammas doesn’t like jihadist groups. Hammas has a problem that
its insufficiently islamist and militant and so it has a problem with its radical flank.
• overthrow of Saddam followed by insurgency against US
and internal civil war 2003
civil war followed. Which was partly an insurgency against American occupation and partly also
a civil war btw Iraqi groups.
• 100,000+ dead (mainly in insurgent attacks and sectarian
a lot of ppl die when occupation begans. Then the violence goes down but then goes up from
2004 – 2006 and then decline till 2008
• security situation begins to stabilize following US surge, “Anbar
awakening,” partly cos US puts in more troops but also cos a lot of anti American sunni groups
ended up becoming anti alqaeda who were bombing em and what not and so they joined the us
who armed them and equipped them and alqaeda in Iraq which has engaged in a lot of violence
against shia without shias responding until they bombed a shia mosque tha al aksari mosque
which led a to shia response where shia were attacking sunnis and what not and sunni leaders
too ran to americans for protection so you literally had the insurgent leaders asking for
ceasefires and help (sunnis did this) but violence continues ONLU SUNNI RAN TO
AMERICANS COS OF SHIAAND ALQAEDA. But kheir the violence declined steadily. Us troop
withdrew in 2011 although the Iraqi govt and the US both wanted US to stay in some number
but there was no way they could get that deal throught the Iraqi parli and so they withdrew.
• US troops withdraw (2011)
regime dynamics: Iraq
.new Iraqi constitution (2005)
.parliamentary system with weak, indirectly-chosen president
chosen by 2/3rds parliamentary majority PM has a more imp role in Iraq.
.open-list PR electoral system (2010) by governate. Open list means you vote for individual list.
If you get 12 seats the 12 candidates will be in parli. In closed list the pr system the party
decides who get the seats instead of the electorate cos it lists its ppl.
.Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) enjoys local autonomy
In the first election the elections weren’t through the governate (had used the pr system) but
what happened was sunnis tended to not vote