Main Article Content
This paper reconstructs the political history of the Syrian Arab Republic from the time of the country's emergence as an independent state in 1946 to the merger with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic in 1958. Two main sources of documentary evidence are brought to add to this analysis: firstly, declassified British government sources are utilized; secondly, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) database on arms exports to the Middle East is used to back up the descriptive analysis of Western strategic interests in the Middle East during the early Cold War period with some relevant quantitative data.
From the beginning, Syria faced geopolitical challenges, which worked to undermine the country's political stability. Apart from intra-Arab conflicts and the issue of Zionist colonization in Palestine, Syria quickly developed into a focal point of the Cold War between the Western powers and the Soviet Union. This was due to the refusal of the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) governments to support Syria's statehood in economic and military terms. The Western rejection of substantial assistance to Syria, largely motivated by efforts to back up Israel and fully unrelated to the question of whether or not Syria was governed by democratic or authoritarian rulers, explains the country’s shift toward the Soviet Union in the mid-1950s.
Next, UK and US attempts to unseat Syrian governments through covert action (especially in 1949 and 1956-1957) are examined. It is shown that these events pushed Syria’s leaders to opt for merger with Nasser's Egypt and military assistance from the Soviet Union in order to avoid further destabilization. The paper concludes that Western failure to welcome Syria as an independent actor in the Middle East, which was due to the existence of previous strategic alignment with competing states in the region, opened the door for the Soviet Union to emerge as the long-term patron of the Syrian state.International Relations
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).