Desktop version

Home arrow History

  • Increase font
  • Decrease font

<<   CONTENTS   >>

Monarchies in crisis

What does a monarchic peace look like in action in an active regional context? We have established in the previous section that monarchies in the Middle East are similar systems (structural similarity) that are often recognized and acknowledged by their leaders and elites (social processes of ingroup identification). But how does this lead to a distinct foreign policy behavior? This section focuses on these effects in a most likely case - that is, during times of a strong common threat that forces monarchies to hang together or to hang apart. If ingroup identification is particularly strong, we should see not just the absence of war but also active intra-monarchic solidarity, a much stronger requirement. This is shown for two periods with particularly strong threats toward monarchies: the Arab Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s and a shorter period following the Arab Spring during 2011— 2015. The rallying together and pronounced solidarity among monarchies during these time periods plausibilizes the theoretical assumptions and illustrates the macro-dynamics conditioned by salience of monarchism as an identifying factor.

When monarchies fight: the Arab Cold War 1952-1970

It is no coincidence that many monarchies broke down from the 1950s to the 1970s. In the aftermath of decolonization, Arab nationalism was widespread. The revolutionary wave against hereditary regimes enhanced the perception of the MENA monarchies as an endangered group that should stick together against any challenges, foreign and domestic. In those days, far from the solid rock of the Arab Spring period, the monarchies seemed close to extinction.

The distinction between conservative monarchies and radical republics turned into the dominant cleavage among the states of the region, thereby propelling monarchism to the highest possible salience, culminating in the depiction of the period by Malcolm Kerr as a bipolar Arab Cold War (Kerr 1971). The threat was directed not only toward individual monarchs or their regimes but also toward monarchies as a group. The two main blocs were revolutionary Arab socialist republics such as Egypt, Syria, and Iraq and "reactionary” traditional monarchies, first and foremost Saudi Arabia and Jordan, because the small Gulf states had not yet achieved their independence.

The challenge of the Six-Day War in 1967 and the humiliating defeat of Nasser's pan-Arabism significantly reduced inter-Arab conflict, but isolated episodes between the two camps continued until the 1970s, e.g. with the Black September clashes in Jordan in 1970.

Common threat from internal opposition and its support

by outgroup members

In the 1950s and 1960s, four monarchies were toppled by coups d'état by socialist-minded and Arab nationalist-minded "Free Officers” - Egypt (1952), Iraq (1958), Yemen (1962), and Libya (1969), before the last monarchy to fall, Iran, was engulfed in a major popular revolution in 1979.

But the survivors also struggled against internal opposition. Attempted coups and assassinations against the kings shook Jordan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. The internal enemies were not isolated; in some cases, they even reached deep into the royal elite itself, like the "Free Princes” faction led by Saudi Prince Talal bin Abd al-Aziz, which supported pan-Arabism and called for constitutional reform in the kingdom (Rogan and Aclimandos 2012, 156-157).

In addition, the domestic opponents were often supported by regional rival republics. Apart from the funding of the existent opposition group, the secret services of the hostile parties employed subversion to destabilize their enemies’ regimes, escalating to a "covert war" (Rathmell 2014).

The threat level was not uniform. There were periods of détente and of increased tensions as when King Hussein ended his rapprochement with Syria and Egypt after dismissing the country’s first democratically elected parliament in 1957 in anticipation of a palace coup (Shlaim 2009, 132). Jordan and Saudi Arabia were the monarchies targeted most intensively. After a failed rapprochement in 1957, there was intense Syrian and Egyptian secret service activity in Jordan (Rathmell 2014, 132-133). US reports spoke of an Egyptian-sponsored plot to assassinate Hussein and of an alleged planting of a bomb in one of King Saud's palaces. Syria and Egypt stepped up their campaign of anti-royalist black propaganda and terrorism aimed at destabilizing Jordan and strengthening the popular opposition. The recruitment of agents who would be willing to bomb government and Western targets was combined with a whispering campaign that King Hussein would bow to popular pressure and reinstate the elected government. Anti-royalist propaganda leaflets were distributed by Egyptians. The Deuxième Bureau, as the Syrian military intelligence was known until 1969, toured Jordan recruiting agents who dropped off bombs in Amman, Hebron, Irbid, and Ramallah. After bombs went off outside the Turkish embassy and the house of the military governor of Amman in September, Jordanian security forces began discovering caches of weapons smuggled in from Syria. Syrian agents were prosecuted and Syrian diplomats expelled from Jordan while Syria set up a Jordanian government-in-exile (Rathmell 2014, 134-135). After a major bombing targeting Jordanian Prime Minister Hazza Majali in August 1959, the two suspects fled to the UAR, which denied extradition requests and whose media portrayed the attack as the laudable work of a Jordanian opposition movement, rebelling against the “oppressive monarchy” (Rathmell 1996).

The sponsoring of a terrorism campaign inside Jordan did not cease in the 1950s. After the ninth coup in 17 years on February 23,1966, Syrian leaders escalated their policy against "reactionary” states. A few weeks before the outbreak of the 1967 war, a car bomb killed 21 Jordanians at the Ramtha border post on May 21. For King Hussein, this was evidence that Syrian enmity toward Jordan was greater than that toward the nominal common foe, Israel, so he subsequently cut diplomatic relations (Shlaim 2012, 104, 121). In 1983, there were attacks against Jordanian embassy personnel in four countries. Bombings and other terrorist tactics "became the primary ones of Syrian foreign policy in this period” and not just against Jordan (Rathmell 1996).

Jordan also feared destabilization by Palestinian activities, particularly by Fed-ayeen from their territory while Syria acted as their protector. After Hussein’s crackdown on Palestinians in what became known as the Black September, when the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) under Yassir Arafat attempted to take over the state and overthrow the monarchy in 1970, Syrian armored column crossed into Jordan and engaged, although Syria claimed that they were Palestine

Liberation Army (PLA) units. Qadhafi also threatened to send his army to Jordan and broke off diplomatic relations. Libya, but also Kuwait, withdrew their aid to the monarchy (Kerr 1971, 149-150).

Saudi Arabia was also vulnerable and was targeted particularly in relation to the proxy war in Yemen. In 1962, the kingdom cut relations with Egypt after it had tried to smuggle weapons into the Hijaz, and Egyptian soldiers allegedly tried to infiltrate the country while dressed as pilgrims (Gause 1990, 60-61). In 1963, nine Saudi pilots sent to fight in Yemen defected to Egypt, and the opposition not only was found among military circles in Saudi Arabia but covered broader societal sections, including bourgeoisie and reformists (Ayubi 1995, 282). The Yemeni Civil War was a large battlefield between royalist and republican supporters, fighting a hot proxy war amid the regional cold war. When Nasser renewed his threats against Saudi bases in Yemen in March 1966, the tentative détente was reversed, so tensions flared up again (Kerr 1971, 109). A series of explosions hit the kingdom between December that year and April 1967, with evidence pointing to Egyptian involvement (Gause 1990, 70).

The tensions of the period go back to the transnational ideology of pan-Arabism at its zenith at that time. The ideology was inextricably tied to republics, especially those with a revolutionary recent history - embodied in Muhammed Hus-sanein Heikal's distinction of Egypt as a state and Egypt as a revolution (Ajami 1978, 356). Pan-Arabism was in its height, promoting Arab unity that was tied to ideas of anticolonialism and revolutionary socialism, both incompatible with the less-ideological monarchies and their system. Pan-Arabism rejected the pro-Western support of the monarchies and called for revolution and ultimately the dismantlement of the "reactionary” conservative monarchies (Kerr 1971, 1-7).6 The pan-Arabist current of Ba'thism explicitly “advocated the destruction of traditional monarchies and the end of Shaikhly rule” (Joyce 1998,131). Promoted by republican pan-Arabist rulers and popular among the populations inside their realism, the ideology further heightened the feeling of vulnerability of the monarchs.

The threat toward Middle Eastern monarchies during the period of the Arab Cold War was immediate and direct, and it targeted not only individual states but rather monarchies as a group. This increased the salience of monarchy as a commonality that could be used for mobilization and alliance.

Although the 1970s offered some brief respite, the next period of confrontation and common threat was ushered in soon by the Islamic Revolution and its accompanying rise of pan-Islamic ideology, which was also directed against "un-Islamic” (in contrast to “un-Arab”) monarchies. Combined with the threat by republican Ba'thist Iraq, the rise of the Islamic Republic led to the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a Gulf monarchy solidarity club (cf. Kostiner 2009, 56).

Ingroup favoritism: solidarity, alliance and institutionalization of community

The vulnerability of MENA monarchies at that time induced a sort of "rally-around-the-crown” effect, leading to an ingroup favoritism that was expressed by

From the Arab Cold War to the Arab Spring 71 mutual diplomatic, financial, and military support and to the formation of formal and informal alliances, including attempts at formalizing these alliances into institutionalized “clubs” among monarchies with exceptionally close ties.

Although Jordan and Saudi Arabia had been bitter rivals up to the 1950s, they buried the hatchet and directed their ire against the republics, bound together by a persistent though unofficial alliance that lasts to this day. Other monarchies also started to join this tacit alliance. Many of the instances of ingroup favoritism were symbolic, consisting of promises and token support by monarchs to each other, but other forms of support and alliance were more tangible.

After the revolution in Iraq, which almost took its Jordanian sister dynasty with it. King Hussein went on a world tour between February and May when he visited the monarchies of Iran, Morocco, and Ethiopia, along with some (mostly African) republics. His visit to Ethiopia was particularly symbolic in that Emperor Haile Selassie - also called the Lion of Judah - gave King Hussein, known as the Lion of Jordan, two lion cubs as a gift and symbol of friendship (Shlaim 2009. 175).

When monarchic alliance patterns grew stronger in 1957, Jordan's ties with Saudi Arabia and the US strengthened, and Jordan could participate in what one UK official termed "the Monarchistic Trade Union” (cf. Shlaim 2009,132). At the beginning of the Yemeni Civil War, Jordan stood by the side of its “sister Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, and King Hussein proclaimed that his country regarded aggression against Saudi Arabia as a direct aggression against Jordan (Rogan and Aclimandos 2012, 157). During the intense subversion campaign aimed at destabilizing the monarchy in the late 1950s, King Hussein asked Iraq and the US for help. King Faisal obliged, dispatching Iraqi troops to Jordan (Moubayed 2000, 173).

Finally, there were increasing attempts at formalized alliance and even institutionalized community, especially among core sets of similar political systems. The Hashemite sister kingdoms of Jordan and Iraq attempted to institutionalize their alliance and relationship. An early attempt was the Treaty of Brotherhood and Alliance signed in March 1947, but the formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR) on February 1, 1958, by Egypt and Syria boosted these efforts. The Hashemite kingdoms, ruled by cousins at that time, formed the Arab Federation (or Arab Union, AFU) as a reaction to the UAR a fortnight later. They also invited Kuwait, which they perceived as sharing their pro-Western and conservative outlook (Khadduri and Ghareeb 2001, 45-54). Despite assertions that these unions were balancing Israel, inter-Arab conflict and especially Nasser’s struggle against the monarchies was of prime importance to both of them (Podeh 1999, 39^48).’

Other attempts to institutionalize an alliance followed. King Faisal's alignment of Muslim states, referred to by himself as an Islamic “conference” and by his foes as an Islamic “pact”, professed to include all Muslim countries but was de facto an alliance of similar conservative states, mostly monarchies. The “conference” was kicked off by Faisal's visit to the shah in 1965, followed by visits to Jordan, Morocco, Libya, and Kuwait. He also visited Turkey, Sudan, Pakistan, and Tunisia and, as Kerr notes, "rather oddly” to Nasser’s allies in Guinea and Mali (Halliday 2011, 115; Kerr 1971, 110-112). This is also how the republican bloc perceived the alliance. Nasser criticized members of the Islamic Alliance, thethree Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iran, of colluding with the enemy and ruled out coordination with them (Laqueur and Rubin 2008, 98).

Although the frontlines between the two clearly delineated blocs sometimes blur and republics could at times be found in the monarchic camp,8 the monarchies clung together, even across ethnic lines. While pan-Arabist ideology was a threat to the monarchies, all Arab leaders at least at times paid lip service to its ideals. Nevertheless, the monarchic bond prevailed over Arabist goals. Iran is an unlikely monarchic ally, due to its non-Arab identity and long-standing territorial conflicts with Gulf monarchies - especially Iran's occupation of Abu Musa and the two Tunb islands of the UAE on the eve of the independence of the UAE, which received a remarkably restrained response from its Arab monarchic neighbors (see also in Chapter p.2 of the Iran-UAE case study). Yet the Arab monarchs’ relations with the Persian shah were closer and friendlier than those with most Arab republics. King Hussein even saw the shah as a mentor and often visited for consultation or vacation at Iranian royal retreats on the Caspian Sea or on Kish Island in the Gulf (Goode 2014, 449).

Even while the shah's position was weakened by massive domestic protests and a surging Iraq, the ties to Arab monarchies, especially Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, intensified instead of weakening, as would be expected if they were a mere ad hoc cooperation based on common interests. The archrivals of today, Saudi Arabia and Iran, cooperated intensely before the revolution, especially between 1972 and 1978, to counter Iraq's support of various radical movements in the Gulf (Cordesman 1984, 419). Even amid the revolutionary turmoil and mass protests in 1978 and 1979, Saudi Arabia issued official statements in favor of the shah, and King Khalid continued to proclaim that "the Shah's regime is legitimate and Saudi Arabia supports it” even after the shah announced his intention to leave in January 1979 (cited in: Alkim 1989, 126) and at the same time accused Ayatollah Khomeini of advocating "wrong subversive ideologies” (Korany 1984, 252). The victory of the Islamic Revolution then prompted the founding of the GCC (cf. Boghardt 2006, 53). Even in the Arab-Israeli conflict, monarchic solidarity prevailed in that the Gulf monarchies chose to finance only those "Islamic” fighters (fidayiri) against Israel which did not attack Jordan (Kerr 1971, 139).

Of course, the level of solidarity differed strongly. While the cooperation and mutual support were most pronounced between Hashemite sister monarchies Jordan and Iraq and noticeable with and between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the monarchies on the periphery - Morocco, Libya, Yemen, and Oman - were somewhat less involved. This is explained in part by their geographical distance and in some cases their relatively recent introduction into the Middle East regional system (Morocco and Libya became independent only in 1956 and 1951, respectively). Despite these complications, there was extensive cooperation between the Moroccan and especially Jordanian monarchy, particularly during the long reigns of Hassan II (1961-1999) in Morocco and Hussein in Jordan (1952-1999), who even got matching nicknames as the Plucky Little King (Hussein) for his courage and the Cocky Little King because of his "superb self-assurance in adversity and his angry reactions to criticism” (S. O. Hughes 2001, 5). The shah and the kings of

Saudi Arabia had also been "close friends" of King Hassan as well, despite “enormous differences” (S. O. Hughes 2001, 5; cf. Pahlavi and Waugh 1980,145). Even the cooperation with the peripheral (and idiosyncratic) monarchies of Yemen and Oman was strong, and both were supported in their civil wars by other monarchs.

Monarchies fighting republics: military’ action,

subversion, and delegitimization

In this period, ingroup favoritism was not the only outcome of the consolidation of a “monarchic club”. In the presence of a common threat perceived “as a serious societal danger” (Gibler, Hutchison, and Miller 2012, 1659), outgroup hostility can be catalyzed (cf. Gibler, Hutchison, and Miller 2012, 1657), which is exactly what happened in this period. It shows that monarchies are not inherently peaceful. having had no qualms to oppose and destabilize republics.

Outgroup hostility during the Arab Cold War took the form mainly of subversion, but it also resulted in proxy wars. The latter are also indicative of monarchic solidarity given that the monarchies supported “similar” local monarchic allies, while the republics did the same for republicans.

The covert war described earlier was not a one-sided republican subversion of monarchies; it was a highly symmetric affair. Especially in the 1950s, Jordanian and Syrian intelligence sought to carry out terrorist operations against one another. In July 1957, Jordanian intelligence sent a Muslim Brotherhood agent, Adib ad-Dessuki, to Syria to assassinate leftist leaders and kidnap Jordanian exiles. There also were reports of Jordanian arms provision to the Druze and Alawites in Syria, who were challenging the central government (Rathmell 2014, 134). Saudi Arabia also used subversive tactics and even initiated an ill-conceived assassination attempt against Nasser in 1958 (Rathmell 2014,148). King Saud was also accused of bankrolling Syrian rebels who plotted secession from UAR during 1961, to which Egypt responded with calls for the overthrow of the monarchy (Rogan and Aclimandos 2012, 156). A renewal of tensions in the feud between Syria and Jordan was launched with (Saudi-encouraged) Jordanian broadcast calls for the overthrow of the Syrian and Egyptian rulers by their people in 1960. Anti-republican attacks grew increasingly direct. In May 1960, Amman Radio admonished "small dictators” and "Pharaonic rulers”. On June 26. King Hussein directly attacked Nasser and prophesied his collapse (Rathmell 1996).

The tension built up into an imminent military confrontation. By September 12, 1959, Jordan had mobilized troops and was "ready for a military move against Syria” (Rathmell 1996). It took a good measure of British attempts at convincing and restraining to step back from this threat. Instead, Jordan decided to pay back in kind and started recruiting and training agents who conducted bombings in Damascus and on UAR targets. The covert war ended with Nasser's acceptance of King Hussein’s truce offer in March 1961 (Rathmell 1996).

The tensions had a history before Nasser, as Hashemite efforts to extend their influence had already led King Hussein's grandfather. King Abdallah, to support "monarchist movements” to realize "Greater Syria”. In fact, most coup plot warnings in 1947 were linked to this movement, and Syrian officers then reported that a majority of the military would support such a coup or were already allied with Abdallah. The main recruiting source were ethnic and religious minorities such as the Dnize, who had once asked Abdallah to annex their territory to Jordan (Landis 2001, 178, 181-183). This was then already perceived as a conflict between monarchies and republics. Syrian Prime Minister Jamil Mardam blamed the monarchs for not intervening in Palestine before the first Arab-Israeli War of 1948: “So long as the position of the Kings and Amirs is one of caution and plots, this [i.e. the formation of a volunteer army instead of direct military intervention] is the only sound policy” (cited in: Landis 2001, 192).

Under Nasser, Egypt was a main target of monarchic destabilization attempts due to his leader’s role in fostering revolutionary ideologies. Jordan withdrew its ambassador to Cairo when Nasser called Hussein “a debauched king, the adulterer of Jordan”, in February 1967 (Shlaim 2012, 117). Jordanian propaganda against Egypt was escalated in the period of 1966—1967 in the period before the Six-Day War (Shlaim 2012, 105). The level of distrust in this period is starkly illustrated by Nasser’s rejection and ignoring of King Hussein’s warnings of an impending Israeli military strike. On the eve of the war, Nasser disregarded the king's message twice because, as he later admitted, he did not believe him. Nasser’s failure to take countermeasures led to the disastrous defeat of the Egyptian air force, securing Israeli victory (Shlaim 2012, 111-112).

The most striking embodiment of the bipolar regional system were the proxy wars, most notably in Yemen from 1962 to 1967. Yemen served as a battleground for an indirect war of the two camps of the Arab Cold War similar to the Angolan and Greek civil wars during the "global” Cold War.

The coup in Yemen formed an opportunity to showcase Nasser's allegiance to pan-Arabism. Five thousand Egyptian troops arrived in Sana'a mere days after the overthrow of Yemen’s Imam Muhammad al-Badr, to later grow into a force of 50,000, of which 26,000 were killed in the five years ofwar (Pollack 2002,48,51, 56). Egypt supported republican revolutionists and the "Free Officers”, inspired by and named after the same movement that brought Gamal Abdel Nasser and his allies to power (Badib 1986; Kerr 1971). Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon recognized the revolutionaries, while Saudi Arabia and Jordan supported the royalists “out of dynastic solidarity”, as Kerr states (Kerr 1971, 40-141).

Imam Ahmad's son and successor, Muhammad al-Badr, had initially been sympathetic to Nasserism but also proved an incompatible ally with Nasser's shift to Arab socialism in 1961. He then "found himself lumped together with conservative monarchs as a bastion of Arab reaction” (Rogan and Aclimandos 2012, 151-152), a triumph of ingroup perception over potential interest convergence. Identity and ideological bonds were apparently more dominant and durable than interest-based ones.

The Cold War rhetoric died down after the Six-Day War of 1967, in which both sides were implicated and failed miserably. As the ideological fervor of pan-Arabism abated and Hussein was severely weakened by the war, a renewed and more persistent rapprochement became a reality, especially after the evaporation of the Yemen threat to Saudi Arabia because of Egypt’s withdrawal in November. King Hussein cut his affiliation with the Islamic Alliance in the hope of Egyptian Patronage, and Saudi Arabia recognized the Republic of North Yemen in 1970 (cf. Kerr 1971, 128-130).

This did not imply the elimination of the old fault lines. The Arab-Israeli conflict remained a sore spot and a source of trouble; the ideological conflict between the systems lingered on. In an unguarded moment during a meeting with King Hussein in 1969, Nasser delighted at the news that another Arab king had been overthrown in Libya. Hussein took it personally and confided to a friend that “[t]hat scene will be forever engraved in my memory” (Kerr 1971, 148; Rouleau 1970).

The Yemen War was not the only proxy war in the region; a less known one was conducted in neighboring Oman, where a royalist axis consisting of Britain, Jordan, and Iran allied against challengers to the Sultan’s rule and their external backers, revolutionist South Yemen (G. Hughes 2015; Jones 2011). Although the longest period of Oman's Dhofar rebellion, 1965-1975, is set after the main period of the Arab Cold War, it is a telling example of monarchic alliances. Not only did the Jordanian Air Force and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) help the Sultan to retain power, one “can hardly overemphasize the role Iran played in wining [sic] the war in Dhofar” (Al-Khalili 2009,77). The Persian shah had supported the Omani sultan with military aid since 1973 and sent troops (4000 at the height of the conflict), while Jordan came to Oman’s side despite the popular pressure against siding with Iranians against fellow Arabs (Al-Klialili 2009, 78).

The old sultan. Said bin Taimur, was unpopular among his neighbors and isolated his country, in a similar way to Imam Ahmad in Yemen - one reason why both remained at the periphery of the “royal club”. His son Qaboos, who took power in a coup in 1970 with British support, was at first an unknown entity, but he quickly won the support of his fellow monarchs, who were the prime targets of his quests for support. After waiting three months after the coup, the shah invited the sultan to the celebrations of 2500 years of Iranian monarchy at Perse-polis in October 1971. Diplomatic relations were established soon after. At the celebrations, he met other monarchs and royals for the first time, which in the case of King Hussein, resulted in a material offer of support. Jordan sent several senior police officers for training Omanis and later a special forces battalion. King Hussein's role was especially important for the success of the fight against the insurgency because he also mediated between the shah and Arab monarchs, notably Shaikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi, president of the UAE at their inception in December 1971. Hussein sent Jordan’s head of military intelligence, General Amr Ammash, to Zayed to convince him to normalize relations with Iran. Jordan also actively fostered the stability of the UAE and Qatar in the early 1970s (Goode 2014, 447-449).

The first contacts with Saudi Arabia were also made at the Persepolis festivities when Qaboos met Saudi Prince Nawaf bin Abd al-Aziz, a brother of the king (Takriti 2016, 226). Although the kingdom was also slow to extend recognition to the new Omani ruler, diplomatic relations were established after the sultan's visit to Riyadh iu late 1971. While they supported Oman against the Dhofar rebels, their material assistance was minimal, and they refused to extend military support (Goode 2014, 456-458). Even this reservation stood in sharp difference to the Arab republican reaction: while Arab Gulf monarchies issued reserved criticism of the Iranian involvement, Libya threatened to "turn the region into a second ’southeast Asia’” if British. Iranian, and Jordanian involvement were not immediately withdrawn (cited in: Goode 2014, 460).

Meanwhile, the Persepolis festivities symbolize how monarchism shapes common bonds. An occasion of royal celebrations led to the personalization of the relations between monarchies, ultimately leading to cooperation even across ethnic and linguistic lines. Monarchic solidarity trumped ethnic identity and pan-Arabism.

The divisive ideology' that kept the republics from

uniting to fight monarchies

The monarchies were not alone in forming blocs and alliances; the republics also often coalesced, most often around some incarnation of Arab unity like the UAR, which united Syria and Egypt for three years from 1958 to 1961. After the fall of the Libyan monarchy, the Libyan junta joined with UAR. Sudan, and Syria in a plan for an eventual union in 1970 (Kerr 1971, 130).

However, the bipolar strucnire could not veil the fragmentation inside the republican camp, especially when juxtaposed with monarchic solidarity. The "revolutionary front” was far from united or cohesive. Factional struggles between Ba'thists and Nasserists as well as intra-Ba'th struggles (Kerr 1971, 118-119) defined this period, expressed in particular in Iraq and Syria with multiple coups and coup attempts and a "kind of domestic cold war” in Syria (Seale 1965).

Republics were also faced with a common monarchic threat and directly attacked and subverted by monarchies, as shown in the previous section, which were often just as concerned with destabilizing and overcoming the enemy as the revolutionary republics were. They also were similar systems in that they had similar institutions, had a similar trajectory from revolution to state- and regimeconsolidation, and shared the core tenets of pan-Arabism. The asymmetry of ingroup cohesion among monarchies and among republics nevertheless shows that monarchic solidarity is not reducible to a shared threat per se but that it took an identification with "similar” states.

In the social constructivist reading of this book, common threat is only one of three factors that governs monarchic relations with each other by conditioning the salience of the common trait (here monarchy) - the others being the overall share in the regional system and the absence of a divisive ideology. Although republics were also faced with a common threat, their numbers were growing and soon formed a majority in the regional system. Most importantly, their ideology was as much a unifying as a divisive factor, leading to a struggle for dominance and leadership and feuds over the correct interpretation of the doctrine and the identification of heretics. The republican camp was therefore more fragmented

From the Arab Cold War to the Arab Spring 77 and not inclined to solidarity but to fewer obstacles to military aggression toward members of the same camp.

Although the Syrian Ba'th was at times more ideological than Nasser's Egypt, before 1958 it also used to collaborate with the "reactionaries” while struggling with ideological opponents in its own camp. After the revolution in Iraq, the inter-republican relations were tested again with the emergence of Qasim as a new ideological rival to Nasser’s leadership role, forcing Nasser into rapprochement with the monarchies - Jordanian-UAR diplomatic relations were restored in August 1959; two weeks later. King Saud officially visited Egypt. The diplomatic thaw was not to last: Nasser later broke off relations again and denounced the reactionary monarchs, but this was not followed by a stronger cohesion inside the republican camp. Until then, the Kuwait crisis further wedged the socialist bloc apart, pitting the anti-imperialists and anti-monarchists against the anti-Qasimists. The disappearance of the Iraqi monarchy also called the UAR into question, which ultimately broke apart in 1961 (Kerr 1971, 9, 17-20).

Apart from ideological squabbles, there were military clashes among the republics, but none among the monarchies. In the period between the Egyptian Revolution and the beginning of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the high tide of the Arab Cold War, there were 16 MEDs among Middle East republics, many including actual use of force (some with but most without monarchic intervention), while there were only two inter-monarchic MIDs in the same period (Iraq vs. Iran in 1953 and a Saudi-Jordanian altercation in 1956) without actual use of force (Ghosn, Palmer, and Bremer 2004). This is a highly disproportionate distribution, given that monarchies accounted for the majority of states until 1962. Clearly, the nonviolence norm was not as established among republics as among monarchies.

These confrontations continued well into the 1970s. In 1976, "Sadat was determined to march on Tripoli to oust Qadhafi. Thus, it seems that he was only prevented from attacking by the unpreparedness of his army” (Pollack 2002, 133). In the Egyptian-Libyan dispute of 1977, about 500 were killed (400 Libyans and 100 Egyptians), and both sides accused the other of attempts to overthrow the other's regime (Pollack 2002, 137, 363).

The political struggles between the Arab nationalist republics with their highly ideological factionalism spoke volumes about the lack of unity or alliance inside the republican camp: whether it was qawmiyya (pan-Arab nationalism) and qutriyya (local nationalism) and wataniyya (country-specific nationalism) or the infisali (secessionist) Syrians or the shu’ubi (defamatory of Arabism) Iraqis (Kerr 1971, 29-33), the ideology led to more division instead of (Arab) unity.

<<   CONTENTS   >>

Related topics