Statecraft in the Middle East: Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics and Security 9781350988262, 9781786731418

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Statecraft in the Middle East: Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics and Security
 9781350988262, 9781786731418

Table of contents :
Cover
Author Bio
Title
Copyright
Contents
Acknowledgements
1. A Framework for Analysing Statecraft
2. Statecraft in Egypt
3. Statecraft in Israel
4. Statecraft in Syria
5. Statecraft in Turkey
6. Statecraft in Saudi Arabia
7. Statecraft in Iran
8. Concluding Remarks
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

Imad Mansour is Assistant Professor in the Department of International Affairs at Qatar University. He has been a visiting professor at the Campus Moyen-Orient Me´diterrane´e of the Institut d’E´tudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po Paris) and holds a PhD from McGill University where he was also Faculty Lecturer. He previously studied at the American University of Beirut.

‘Imad Mansour’s Statecraft in the Middle East is well written and authoritative and will make a really helpful addition to the literature for general students of international relations as well as regional specialists.’ Professor James Mayall, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University of Cambridge ‘Imad Mansour’s Statecraft in the Middle East successfully combines an innovative theoretical approach with careful empirical analysis and proposes a new and compelling understanding of statecraft in the Middle East. The conceptual depth and empirical richness are certain to make its research questions and findings of interest to a wide audience both inside and outside academia.’ Professor Michael Brecher, R B Angus Professor of Political Science, McGill University

STATECRAFT IN THE MIDDLE EAST Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics and Security

IMAD MANSOUR

to my mother, for everything

Published in 2016 by I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd London • New York www.ibtauris.com Copyright q 2016 Imad Mansour The right of Imad Mansour to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by the author in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. References to websites were correct at the time of writing. Library of International Relations 80 ISBN: 978 1 78453 580 3 eISBN: 978 1 78672 141 9 ePDF: 978 1 78673 141 8 A full CIP record for this book is available from the British Library A full CIP record is available from the Library of Congress Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: available Typeset in Garamond Three by OKS Prepress Services, Chennai, India Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

A Framework for Analysing Statecraft Statecraft in Egypt Statecraft in Israel Statecraft in Syria Statecraft in Turkey Statecraft in Saudi Arabia Statecraft in Iran Concluding Remarks

Notes Bibliography Index

vi 1 24 60 95 128 157 191 228 249 252 279

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Over the years, many people contributed ideas and energies to this book. It is richer for their many insights, and any errors are my own. I was fortunate to enjoy great support from Mark R. Brawley, Michael Brecher, and T.V. Paul at McGill, and Bernard El Ghoul and Mike Fakih at Sciences Po Paris. Justin Miletti, Sophie Mohsen and Nadila Ali provided meticulous research assistance. For critical readings of earlier chapter drafts I would like to thank Eren Eren, Aviad Rubin, Farzan Sabet, and Roozbeh Safshekan. I am grateful to Sarah Acker for thoroughly reading and commenting on a full manuscript, and to Ragheb Abdo and Steve Loleski for exchanging ideas when this project was still germinating. Thinking and writing were enriched both personally and professionally thanks to Helen Wilicka, Pina Giobbi, and Andrew Stoten; Marc Desrochers saved me technologically, and Reda Maamari helped organize outreach. I have been fortunate to have taught remarkably talented students over the years, all of whom made teaching an immensely enjoyable and challenging endeavour. Warm recognition goes to my dear friends and their families: Tracy Beck Fenwick, Nicole Baerg, and Caroline Phaneuf. Johnny Farah, Tarek Fares, Joey Ghaleb, Yousef Majzoub, Salim Shehab, and Fares Zein: may good food and intellectual battles always bind us. Thank you to my editor at I.B.Tauris, Lester Crook, for his faith in this project and his support throughout. I will forever be indebted to my mother, May; my sisters, Maria and Reema; and my brother, Nabil. Giulia, thank you for sharing life and ideas with me, and, of course, the crazy!

CHAPTER 1 A FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSING STATECRAFT

In the twentieth century, Middle Eastern states followed patterns common to other Global South regions with respect to how governments acted on both external and domestic fronts. Domestically, Middle East societies expected their governments to provide at least basic elements of Westphalian statehood: guarding sovereign territoriality, creating laws and institutions, providing welfare services and ensuring the polity’s security and domestic stability. Sometimes societies also demanded the realization of certain religious, ethnic or ideological goals via their state’s structures and policies. In order to successfully design and implement such structures and policies, governments were obliged to acquire and use formidable material, bureaucratic, human and symbolic resources. Most Middle Eastern states inherited some form of domestic structure either from pre-independence entities, such as empires and principalities, or from colonial powers, which they used as a starting point for statebuilding. However, the degree to which these structures were developed after independence varied markedly. In terms of their foreign relations, states in the Middle East, as elsewhere, were historically preoccupied with their immediate environments and their neighbours’ behaviour. The Middle East has been rife with various conflict formations, including protracted international conflicts and civil wars, as well as competitions and strategic rivalries. Though this security situation has certainly been threatening, it also provided crucial opportunities to build local alliances, to conduct trade and to reach out globally.

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Both domestically and externally, the choices made by successive Middle East governments throughout the state-building process were heavily influenced by their understandings of the world and their perceptions of foreign and domestic conditions – in other words, by ideas. Yet thorough investigations of how ideas have influenced policy choices remain uncommon in much of the political science literature on the Middle East particularly in International Relations (IR) and Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA). Political science scholarship on the Middle East has been particularly concerned with understanding what are defined as repeated failures of state-building in the region and explaining why persistent ‘authoritarianism’ has not given way to democratization as seen elsewhere, such as in Latin American and Eastern Europe. The underlying assumption guiding this interest has been that ideas – understood as something other than instrumentally manipulated ideologies – are largely inconsequential, especially in non-democratic settings. In trying to understand policy choices of Middle East states, scholars have therefore most often highlighted the relevance of unequally distributed material capabilities, the effects of major power interventions and the problematic consequences of cults of personality (Heydemann 2007; Walt 1987, Chapter 6). These explanations have privileged the conscious, strategic and instrumental choices governments or individuals make as they navigate international, regional and domestic spheres, over an understanding of how their actions are alternately constrained and enabled by overarching ideational frameworks. This narrowly focused approach has led to an atrophied understanding of decision making in Middle East states. Instead of starting from this widely accepted link between the presence of ‘authoritarianism’ and the limited importance of ideas in decision making, it behoves us to interrogate it and assess both its empirical and theoretical merits. I therefore build on developments in political science scholarship, especially in FPA, which argues that ideas matter and influence action; in particular, I expand on the work of Eric Davis (1991), Michael Barnett (1999), Shibley Telhami and Michael Barnett (2002), and Christopher Browning (2008). In so doing, I depart from entrenched approaches to the study of Middle East politics that exalt decision makers’ strategic, all-knowing and calculated rationality, and their concern for survival above all else (David 1991). My main intervention in this book is that governments have ruled over their

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societies and acted in the world based on ‘dominant societal narratives’ that bring together, in a coherent and stable manner, a constellation of ideas about the state’s history and place in the world. Though there are always a variety of competing narratives about the state, dominant societal narratives have hegemonic effects that make them critical to statecraft, understood as an ongoing set of state-building processes at the local, regional and global levels, which are, at least in part, ideational in nature.1 Importantly, narratives are understood not as idiosyncratic stories, but rather as ideational structures that are an integral component of all states from the ‘authoritarian’ to the ‘democratic’. As such, they provide a range of ‘thinkable’ choices for governments, in this manner creating parameters for acceptable action domestically and externally – parameters that at once constrain and direct (but, crucially, do not determine) the choices governments can and do make. Narratives, therefore, do not cause action; rather, they provide options for action, and make some options more acceptable than others. As structures, such narratives are not the property of governments to be strategically deployed and manipulated at their whim. In fact, governments are beholden to such narratives in meaningful ways that carry real implications for policy. This is for two reasons. First, decision makers, as all individuals, are socialized into a dominant societal narrative. They have therefore often adopted it as their own or, at the very least, have been influenced by it in important ways. Secondly, decision makers may be aware of the presence and influence of a dominant societal narrative, and thus understand the range of policy choices available to them in their specific context. This book therefore asks two central questions: How do dominant societal narratives, as ideational structures, influence governments’ foreign and domestic policies in modern states? How are such domestic and foreign policy choices integrally interdependent and coconstitutive? In addressing these issues, a secondary question arises: What are the connections between policy actions on the foreign and domestic fronts, and what are common instruments of statecraft? In answering these questions, the book argues that dominant societal narratives have crucial implications for two dimensions of statecraft: diplomacy and governance. Diplomacy is defined as the pursuit of a variety of strategies with foreign state and non-state actors through balancing, war, alliances, free trade or preferential trade agreements,

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among other mechanisms.2 Governance is defined as the pursuit of policies to organize politics and the economy domestically through legal, security, economic and other instruments and institutions. The book investigates the ways in which diplomacy and governance are guided by an ‘external narrative’ and a ‘domestic narrative’ respectively, both of which derive from and can in turn influence a dominant societal narrative. Specifically, it traces the influence of the dominant societal narrative via these two statecraft narratives on the state by using a comparative and historical approach to statecraft in six Middle East states from 1950 to 2010: Egypt, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Though these six states have had many important global ties, the book focuses on their Middle East politics. By studying one geographically based system, it seeks to show how in the same ‘objective’ external environment, governments across these states acted and reacted differently. Such differences, I argue, emerge from divergent assessments that are themselves anchored in the varied narratives present in each state. By focusing on dominant societal narratives rather than material capabilities or government members’ personal motivations, this book demonstrates the crucial role played by ideas in state-building and state behaviour. In particular, it empirically demonstrates the analytical purchase of narratives in understanding statecraft. IR and political science scholarship on the Middle East has rarely brought together a comparative study of the domestic and foreign policies of several states using one theoretical approach; the strength of this book thus lies in the fact that it is anchored in a multi-disciplinary approach, which thinks through the explanatory power of ideas. The temporal scope of the book, covering over 60 years, allows for an appreciation of continuity in statecraft across moments of (apparent) rupture. This in turn enables us to understand why there has been such entrenched stability in many Middle East states despite the seeming instability and chaos in the region. There is significant emphasis in much of political science, IR, and FPA on rupture of all types. Such moments of change or transformation have been immensely productive sites for the generation of knowledge and theory on a range of issues. Importantly, ruptures have been the focus of scholarly attention because they bring to light the underlying and often implicit assumptions that undergird political, economic and social systems and allow for an investigation of how changes to these systems occur. However, the

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analytical focus on rupture has rarely been accompanied by an appreciation for the subtleties of the perceived ‘change’, the historical antecedents that create the conditions of possibility for its onset, or its actual effects on policies, narratives and communities; exceptions to this ahistoricism exist, such as the notable work of Samir Amin (2013), but remain uncommon. By historicising the domestic and external behaviours of Middle East governments, this book demonstrates that there are clear and strong continuities across moments of great upheaval that have been largely underappreciated in understandings of Middle East politics. It is in the Arab Spring, one of the most important ongoing set of potentially transformational processes, that continuities in ideas and action have been most starkly noticeable, leading to heated debate over the degree, nature and durability of change. This book argues that it is only by taking a longer historical view of any single state’s development that such continuities can come to light and their role in shaping outcomes appreciated. Despite its historical scope and approach, it is important to note that this is not a book on the history of the contemporary Middle East; rather, it provides a reading of pertinent historical moments that allows us to unearth how ideas and narratives are important in statecraft, both in domestic and external contexts. Moreover, though the book draws on extensive primary and secondary sources from the region, it is not an exhaustive synthesis of these local literatures. I have chosen to bring a select group of works into conversation with broader theoretical ideas in order to think critically about how narratives influence political action. Finally, this book illustrates that understanding narratives has an even greater purpose: it is a fundamental prerequisite for comprehending the process of statecraft irrespective of the outcome.

Theoretical Considerations The discussion of the six cases in this book focuses on the complex relationships between statehood, statecraft and narratives. In so doing, it is in conversation with various literatures that have engaged with the importance and role of ideas in decision making. In particular, I would like to highlight a few keyways in which my discussion of narratives builds on and challenges approaches that argue for the

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importance of political psychology and perceptions in decision making, as well as the constructivist meta-theory of IR.3 Within foreign policy analysis, some theorists have turned to political psychology to understand the importance of particular decision makers’ attitudinal prisms, worldviews and perceptions for political outcomes (Brecher 1972; Jervis 1976; Levy 2013). This approach has therefore focused on the individual level of analysis, buttressing its arguments with thick historical descriptions of individual decision makers’ biographies and decision making processes (see Kaarbo 2015 for an evaluation). By looking to the individual to see how decisions are actually reached, this approach provides rich empirical support for the contention that specific political outcomes can only be fully understood by paying attention to the idiosyncratic ways in which ideas influence and are in turn interpreted by involved decision makers as they act in the world. An important consequence of this approach has been the related interest with what it describes as a central challenge to decision making, namely, ‘misperception’. ‘Misperceptions’ are understood to be the inadvertent errors decision makers make because of the unconscious use of heuristics to understand a highly complex world, and consequently the ‘tendency to selective attention to information, to premature cognitive closure, for people to see what they expect to see based on prior beliefs and worldviews, and consequently to the perseverance of beliefs’ (Levy 2013, 308). The emphasis on ‘misperception’ has led to a focus on moments of crisis and processes of deterrence, when such ‘misperceptions’ can potentially lead to disastrous outcomes. While I draw upon many of the insights of political psychology, most especially its recognition of the role of heuristics, its emphasis on deep historical analysis and its appreciation for the world’s complexity, my work departs from it in two important ways. First, I am less interested in meticulously charting how specific ideas have led to specific moments of decision making, than in understanding how ideas shape decision making options in general. This means that rather than centering my analysis on individual decision makers, I start from narratives as ideational structures that remain relevant to decision making irrespective of who is in power. Secondly, by focusing on narratives rather than individuals, I move away from the concern with ‘misperception’ and moments of crisis. Rather, I am interested in understanding how narratives guide decision

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making and can be altered in response to changing environments across broad temporal eras. Many of the theoretical premises of my book also draw on the constructivist school of IR, particularly the claims that ideas are relational, inter-subjectively defined and do not cause but rather favour certain actions (Barnett 1999). My book contributes to refining the theoretical tools available to this line of inquiry that seeks to understand how ideas are implicated in politics. Specifically, I argue that ideas are not just relational and inter-subjective, but rather come together in historically stable arrangements called narratives. It is precisely the coherence and durability of narratives as ideational structures that helps us explain how particular ideas then influence action. Furthermore, I agree with recent critiques of constructivism that argue it has overemphasized social structure over agency despite its endorsement of co-constitution (Kaarbo 2015, 202). Therefore, though this book is a study of narratives as structures, it also takes seriously the contention that agency cannot be ignored in understanding decision making.

The State and Statecraft This book marks the commencement of statecraft with formal independence, defined as the moment when a group with an independent political consciousness enters the Westphalian system as a sovereign actor, i.e. a state. I understand the state to be comprised of three main components. The first component is a government, which is a group or coalition of groups that controls the highest authoritative decision making bodies (Hagan 1993, 2). A government has the ability to commit or withhold state resources, and holds the monopoly over the use of force domestically, which other actors can only challenge at great cost (Hermann and Hermann 1989, 363).4 Governments ‘not only make choices in response to particular issues or problems facing them but also are intimately involved in the collective production and reproduction of social structures, and [. . .] the latter process has far-reaching consequences – both of a constraining and of an enabling kind – for their subsequent actions’ (Carlsnaes 1994, 284; see also Barnett 1993, 276). The second component of a state is the totality of structures that constitutes the political system including rules, legal regulations and bureaucracy, together with available material capabilities. The final

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component of a state is a dominant societal narrative, which is a coherent and stabilized ideational structure through which governments, societies and individuals understand the world and their place within it. This tripartite definition of the state brings together agents, political systems and ideas, providing a more nuanced understanding of change and stability in states. The three components can and do influence, constrain and enable each other. However, it is also possible for one component to experience changes, while the others remain stable. In such cases, changes in one component might alternately strengthen or weaken a state, without necessarily leading to its demise (or another such extreme outcome) if the other two components remain consolidated. From this perspective, then, a revolution would be defined as a successful rupture to and permanent change across all three components – government, political structures, and narratives – of the state. Failed revolutions would occur when change in one component does not carry over to the others or is reversed by the strength of the other components. This book’s interest lies in exploring the way in which narratives in particular, as one of the three components of states, influence and affect state-building. In order to do so, the next sections will lay out in detail the characteristics and functions of narratives.

Characteristics and Functions of Dominant Societal Narratives Every self-identifying group holds various ideas about itself, its past, present and future, as well as its relationships with other groups, including both state and non-state actors. Such ideas are units that can be organized in various combinations and moulded into a meaningful gestalt, or they can remain separate and unorganized. While narration is a continuous and permanent process within a group, a narrative emerges at a particular threshold when ideas become coherently structured into a plotline (Mcadams 2006, 110– 11). When such a narrative becomes broadly disseminated, legitimated and accepted to the extent that it eclipses other narratives, it becomes the dominant societal narrative. The ideas that make up a narrative include ideas about a particular group’s symbols, experiences and relevant characters, as well as important actions and events. Though some of these events and ideas

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may be in tension with and even contradict each other, a narrative’s plot weaves them together in a meaningful and stable manner, which then allows it to become a shared ideational structure and not just an individual story (Browning 2008, Chapter 3). Agreed-upon historical and current experiences are generally a constitutive part of a narrative, regardless of the accuracy, importance or implications of such experiences (Brecher 1972, Chapter 9). As Hans Morgenthau (1971, 352) notes: ‘Facts have no social meaning in themselves. It is the significance we attribute to certain facts of our sensual experience, in terms of our hopes and fears, our memories, intentions and expectations, that create them as social facts’ (quoted in Molloy 2004, 4–5). Furthermore, a narrative cannot include every single experience or idea; it is therefore necessarily selective, focusing on certain ideas to the exclusion of others. Though narratives may therefore be partial or incomplete, they nevertheless retain their importance in politics because, once established and accepted, they create a sense of obviousness and necessity with respect to certain actions. In so doing, narratives consolidate a group’s sense of collective purpose. This is why we can say that narratives make certain actions more likely without directly causing them – an understanding that most of the IR literature on ideas and narratives concurs with. A narrative is therefore far more than an accepted and shared re-telling of dry facts. A narrative is better thought of as a theory-building activity that provides a normalizing and stabilizing structure through which people (and thus governments) interpret and create links between events, including those that might undermine or contradict a group’ goals and actions. In this sense, narratives provide a crucial function: they make sense of an incredibly complex reality that would be very difficult, if not impossible, for decision makers to act on in the absence of an ideational framework. This means that narratives stabilize the world long enough that it can be acted upon (Roe 1998, Introduction); in this manner, they allow policy decisions to be made, and enable governments to act in governance and diplomacy.

The Ideational Core of Narratives Though narratives certainly change and integrate new ideas, they contain an ‘ideational core’, or a cluster of core ideas that remains constant over long periods of time. The ideational core is what lends narratives their sense of being timeless and is necessary in order for a

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narrative to function as a stabilizing ideational structure: an individual or group needs to assume some propositions as indisputably true in order to act in the world. If not, then ‘the narrative world would be in a state of such radical ontological indeterminacy that it would be impossible to construe a narrative made out of existents, states, and events’ (Ryan 2001, 147). The ideas in the ideational core therefore act as premises or first principles that cannot be changed without undermining the narrative as a whole. These ideas are, unsurprisingly, the most tenacious and influential. A government’s actions are strongly constrained and enabled by the ideational core of a dominant societal narrative. Given this, understanding the significance and contents of a narrative’s ideational core allows for deeper insight into political dynamics and behaviours.

Changes in Narratives It is crucial to note that though narratives change, the nature of the change can qualitatively vary. One form of change is narrative alteration, which refers to a change within a narrative that nevertheless does not alter its essential nature, orientation and symbolism. A second form of change is narrative shift, which is a change to the narrative’s ideational core and thus a rupture to the entire ideational structure. This distinction is important for two reasons. First, the concept of a narrative is only meaningful if theoretical distinctions between continuities and real points of rupture can be recognized; that is, not all changes imply a permanent transformation. Secondly, a narrative can adapt to a certain amount of change and even dissonance and still essentially remain coherent. This ability to sustain narrative alterations without falling apart entirely allows narratives to be flexible and responsive to changing circumstances. In such moments of narrative alteration, the ideational core is what accounts for continuity. Taken together, this ability to adapt combined with a stable core is what lends narratives their durability. A narrative shift, in contrast, would most likely result in a major rupture in any group. That narratives can change means that though people are socialized into a narrative, they nevertheless can generate new interpretations or integrate new events and ideas. Factors that can precipitate narrative changes vary in nature and degree of influence, and include external shocks, such as war, natural disasters, and revolutions in neighbouring

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states, as well as internal shocks, such as youth activism and technological revolutions. Though the specific content of a narrative is context-contingent, my theoretical claim is that narratives as a conceptual category are universal. This means that narratives are an integral and necessary component of any state.

Governments and Dominant Societal Narratives The reason governments are guided by, rely on and pay deference to a dominant societal narrative is neither accidental nor purely instrumental. As described above, narratives create boundaries of acceptable political behaviour, not by ‘caus[ing] action, but rather make[ing] some action legitimate and intelligible and others not so’ (Barnett 1999, 10). Narratives do so both because decision makers are themselves socialized into and act from the ideational framework of a dominant societal narrative, and because they cannot disregard the importance of a dominant societal narrative for their society. While decision makers can therefore certainly try to manipulate ideas in order to achieve specific aims, they can only do so successfully if these ideas are meaningful and legitimate to society in the first place. Moreover, decision makers who are fully vested in a narrative are better understood as serving rather than manipulating a narrative. Arguments focused exclusively on the instrumental functions of narratives are therefore inherently limited, since they do not account for the pervasive influence of narratives both through and on decision makers (Telhami and Barnett 2002, 13). As such, narratives are not only or primarily a constraint to government action; rather they meaningfully shape the contents and direction of diplomacy and governance. Importantly, narratives do more than make some policies attractive and legitimate: they can actually foreclose certain options altogether. Herein lies the difference between options that are implicitly or explicitly on the table despite being unpalatable, and options that never even appear on the table because the narrative generates ‘blind spots’ with respect to them. In this manner, narratives influence governments even where this influence goes unrecognized. Though they are certainly beholden to narratives, governments also recognize the importance of situating and relating policy decisions directly to narratives (Scheff 2005, 374). This means that they retain an important degree of agency. A government’s ability to successfully

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implement its political goals depends in large part on its talent for framing policies within a dominant societal narrative. In fact, governments are seen as a key player in introducing new ideas to narratives (Ryan 2001) because it is ‘extremely unlikely that there will be one recurrent set of policy makers who will handle all problems in the same way’ (Hermann and Hermann 1989, 362). As Goffman (1974) argued, a frame is not a narrative but an intended conscious action undertaken by ruling governments in order to legitimate actions or induce political change (see also Barnett 1999). Framing allows us to appreciate the agency governments have in terms of narratives, while still remaining bound by them. In this respect, it is crucial to remember that, unlike individuals, groups such as governments cannot instinctively react. At the state level, a process of interpretation always comes into play; governments use narratives to interpret their external and domestic environments. As agents, no two governments (or individuals) will have identical assessments, and therefore no two governments will ever have identical reactions to any one situation. What different governments in a state generally share, however, is the ideational core of the dominant societal narrative, and, consequently, a high probability of having similar general interpretations of their domestic and external environments.

Contestation and Dominant Societal Narratives The agency of governments highlights the fact that narratives, while not belonging to anyone (or alternately belonging to everyone), must nevertheless be narrated. In this sense, they are always co-authored and therefore remain open to contestation and challenge. Narration is not exclusive to governments and ‘can be performed by different agents’ (Ryan 2001, 148). However, narratives and narration are also locked into power relations, thereby creating ‘narrative asymmetries’ wherein certain interpretations and ideas dominate while others are silenced and unrecognized (Ochs and Capps 1996). This power dynamic comes from the reality of the multiplicity of groups and ideas within a society and their differential power. For instance, governments retain immense power in spreading and influencing a dominant societal narrative because such a narrative is often propagandized through state institutions, such as schools and television channels. Societal actors, on the other hand, even those

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who are organized and able to mobilize support and resources in pursuit of particular interests, often have a markedly weaker ability to influence the dominant social narrative. Despite this asymmetry, their organizational capacities imply that they can be either considerable allies or foes in relation to each other or to the government – or even to the entire state project (Migdal 2001a, 107, 49 – 50). We can read and observe challenges to the dominant societal narrative in many spaces. Governments are therefore actively and continuously engaged in a process of maintaining old and mainstreaming new ideas into a narrative. Though governments’ control over key resources and institutions provides them with disproportionate influence on a narrative, they nevertheless can never fully own it. A dominant societal narrative remains influential even where a government is comprised of individuals with conflicting interpretations. Factional struggles for power within governments are common and can, but do not necessarily, signify attempts at government overthrow (Hermann and Hermann 1989, 367). The influence a faction has on the policy making process is a function of its ability to mobilize support. Even if individuals are not members of the decision making elite, their ideas might be catered to or rejected (both possibilities that provide opportunities for change). Inclusionary and/ or exclusionary governance policies will determine the degree to which various ideas and interests come to be integrated into a government’s understanding of the dominant societal narrative, its goals and its policies. While a government has the capacity to choose policies that encourage the validity of its narrative interpretation and thereby confirm the adroitness of its ideas and policies, what is most powerful about narratives is that, once emplotted, certain ideas are almost always excluded or included irrespective of manipulation or interpretation. These ideas will therefore consistently affect the range of policy choices available. In other words, narratives themselves encourage certain omissions, inclusions and perspectives, and are implicitly structured asymmetrically. Recall that narratives are not necessarily historically accurate accounts, but collectively accepted understandings of reality. As such, a narrative generates a certain logic that dictates the inclusion or omission of certain perspectives. Therefore, while governments can craft policies in order to confirm their preferred interpretation, policies

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are often chosen because of a pre-existing dominant societal narrative (Kaarbo 2003, 163).

External and Domestic Narratives in Diplomacy and Governance A dominant societal narrative becomes most directly relevant for governments as they engage in two main elements of statecraft, namely, diplomacy and governance, which are guided by two statecraft-specific narratives: an external narrative and a domestic narrative. These two narratives are largely developed within the cluster of ideas and range of possible actions allowed by a dominant societal narrative. However, they have a more specific focus, and thus tend to draw most heavily on a few select core ideas of the dominant societal narrative. Given their more focused nature, domestic and external narratives are more open to agents’ creativity and manipulation. However, precisely because these narratives are anchored in important ways in a dominant societal narrative, and because decision makers are themselves socialized in the dominant societal narrative, agents rarely can or want to purely instrumentalize them. In trying to conceptualize these two narratives, I draw upon the work of Chih-yu Shih (1992) who describes two dimensions – horizontal and vertical – of national roles. The horizontal dimension includes interactions with outsiders, both state and non-state actors; the vertical dimension includes the content of a group’s past and present experiences, as well as future aspirations. Similarly, an external narrative relates a group to other groups, while a domestic narrative relates a group to its past and present experiences, as well as its future aspirations. In this sense, an external narrative emphasizes relational processes, while a domestic narrative emphasizes temporal processes (though both narratives have temporal and relational dimensions). Taken together, then, these narratives simultaneously establish a sense of different groups and temporalities, while also offering a means of relating groups to each other and tying temporalities together at any one moment in time. The narratives do, of course, interact and influence each other, while also remaining open to the integration of new ideas. Crucially, however, because they derive in important ways from a dominant societal narrative, they must integrate new ideas in a manner consistent with this overarching narrative.

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External Narratives An external narrative serves to connect a group to other groups, or to connect a state to other states and to a variety of non-state and suprastate actors. External narratives relate states to the world order and its actors by characterizing the nature of this global environment (hostile, friendly, unknown, etc.) and by identifying allies, enemies, clients, patrons and rivals, among others (Bar-Tal 2007; Browning 2008, 22). External narratives provide governments with possible options for diplomacy strategies by drawing on dominant societal narratives and delineating available and feasible actions with regard to systemic pressures, opportunities and constraints. As is the case in domestic narratives, different societal actors hold divergent interpretations of the world; however, the government’s interpretation is the most pertinent to diplomacy given its ability to mobilize and dedicate resources in pursuit of an objective. A government’s external narrative is complex and nuanced because it is directly related to the actions of ‘outgroups’ that are beyond the bounds of the government’s control (Hudson 2007, 112). However, because it draws on the dominant societal narrative, an external narrative will exhibit certain stable features irrespective of other groups’ actions. A government’s external narrative is revealed through policies, and periodically communicated through speeches and declarations. Diplomacy and External Narratives Diplomacy is the act of attending to a society’s external relations, in the context of both formal and informal structures, including international organizations and material capabilities distributions. A government has various means at its disposal to achieve this, such as political engagement, alliances, trade, coercion, economic sanctions and amicable bargaining. Diplomacy is an action noun, either reactive or proactive in nature, and as such is conducted by an agent to serve a goal, an idea or an interest. While diplomacy is expressed through action and policies, it is greater than the sum of its parts; that is, in any action taken on a certain front or with regard to a particular issue, implications of the action on other fronts or for other issues will be considered. Diplomatic action does not have to engage all actors that exist in a given environment; however, diplomatic actions towards one external actor usually directly or indirectly affect relationships with a large constellation of other

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external actors. Hans Morgenthau argues that ‘it is precisely because the relations of states are accidental, contingent, and unpredictable that foreign policy decisions must be made in the context of socially constructed and thereby constantly changing rules, norms, values, and institutions’ (Bain 2000, 462). In this changing context, narratives allow governments to apprehend their external environment and act in foreign relations. For example, a policy failure might discredit an element of an external narrative, whereas a successful policy might reinforce particular ideas and affirm their place in the narrative. Diplomacy, then, demands a complex and continuous assessment of when and how to take action, and which actions to take, as well as an ordering of priorities and resources by the decision maker. The diplomacy of Global South states, such as those in the Middle East, has faced two main challenges. On the one hand, it has been severely affected by the legacies of colonialism. On the other hand, it has faced pressure from the historically imbalanced relationship with the global core (or north) in economic exchange. In particular, Cold War rivals coerced and lured regional states to pursue specific policies through handsome exogenous rents (financial and military), and supported coups d’e´tat and other forms of military intervention (such as in Iran, Egypt and Hungary). Externally obtained strategic rents and military action did not necessarily advance all Global South states’ interests in world politics, nor did they necessarily contribute to the development of domestic institutions or the improvement of citizens’ welfare. Thus, in addition to nation to state incongruence, lack of unconditional legitimacy, inequality, and ethnic strife, the violent relations that Global South states had with major powers further complicated their conduct of diplomacy. Despite these multiple and important pressures, Global South states need to be understood as retaining an important degree of agency in their diplomatic actions.

Domestic Narratives A domestic narrative seeks to tie a group’s past, present and future experiences and aspirations together and, in so doing, create and sustain a distinct and independent political unit and project. A domestic narrative will draw upon a dominant societal narrative in order to link a group’s pre- and post-statehood experiences and, importantly, in order to anchor itself in shared societal values and ideas. A domestic narrative ties

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together ideas about what the political system should be, and what set of economic rules and structures would best serve the interests of the group. A domestic narrative thus provides the ideational framework for governance and guides it operationally through institutional mechanisms (Peters 2000, 44). Independence and entry into the state system is a crucial moment at which governments are called upon to emplot a compelling domestic narrative, which has the primary purpose of legitimating statehood. If this narrative is successfully communicated and accepted by society, it is stabilized and becomes the defining ideational structure guiding governance. In order to successfully legitimize a domestic narrative, how a government manages state resources, including transport systems, security apparatuses, and taxation and national income distribution, is key (Browning 2008, Chapter 3). Legitimacy, then, ‘involves the capacity of the system to engender and maintain the belief that the existing political institutions are the most appropriate ones for the society’ because ‘groups regard a political system as legitimate or illegitimate according to the way in which its values fit with theirs’ (Lipset 1963, 64). The more effectively a government runs the institutional and organizational system, then, the more legitimate its domestic narrative becomes; in turn, once it is established, an accepted domestic narrative legitimates subsequent government action. This continuous feedback loop contributes to the durability of a domestic narrative. Therefore, to a great extent, a government’s legitimacy is determined by society’s evaluation of its domestic narrative and the effects of the actions that stem from it. Though subsequent governments can, of course, modify and, in some cases, significantly change, a domestic narrative, it is more often the case that a well-established domestic narrative will be maintained across various governments as the repertoire of ideas for proper governance.

Governance and Domestic Narratives In relation to the modern state, governance is the act of deciding and executing action within the domestic sphere. More specifically, governance is ‘the use of institutions and structures of authority to allocate resources and coordinate or control activity in society’ (Bell 2002, 1). Though various actors participate in governance in more or less direct ways, including bureaucrats and even non-governmental

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organizations, the most important actor remains the government. Governing mechanisms and institutions are not completely neutral (or value free) because they are, in part, the product of a domestic narrative. The domestic narrative is usually central in guiding institutional creation and change; in turn, institutional performance either positively or negatively reinforces relevant ideas in the narrative. Regardless of specific adjustments, when domestic consensus exists over institutional change, it tends to be incremental, stable and predictable; when different societal actors disagree with a government’s imposed institutional changes, the probability of unrest increases. In practice, governments govern through policies of inclusion and exclusion.5 Inclusionary governments, or those that govern mostly through inclusionary policies, adjust state institutions to accommodate and achieve diverse goals for a broad segment of societal actors. These governments are willing to share the costs and benefits of governance with society: resources are fairly distributed through budgets, interests are free to organize and institutions recognize and respect diversity. Exclusionary governments, or those that govern mostly through exclusionary policies, manipulate institutions to constrain the freedom of certain, and in some cases most, societal actors. These governments distribute resources in a highly selective fashion: governments share the costs of action with society, but much less so the benefits of action and its returns. Despite a government’s disproportionate control over state institutions, no government can sustain its power, maintain domestic stability and govern indefinitely without a minimal backing from at least some societal actors (Waterbury 1989). The exact impact on the state and society, in addition to the lasting effects and legacies of any combination of governance policies, are contingent on context and history. All governments have to contend with the effects of their predecessors’ decisions: not all actions can be reversed and not all governments may want to reverse previous decisions even where they are able to do so (Peters 2000). Therefore, governance outcomes related to a previous government’s choices might in fact affect a subsequent government’s legitimacy, as well as the legitimacy of the state-building project. Governments therefore generally operate within the historically established boundaries and structures of political and economic institutions and legacies of prior governing policies, as well as previously established domestic narratives. Nevertheless, government

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decisions greatly influence societal support for their narrative interpretations. In essence, even though governments are constrained, the state’s destiny is never predetermined. In the economic realm, governments can derive their money from strategic rents (by virtue of their state’s geopolitical location) or from rentier economies (Chaudhry 1997), or open domestic economic structures and the encouragement of private initiatives, thereby increasing opportunities for taxation, among other sources. More important than the exact manner in which a government expands its coffers, however, is how it distributes or withholds resources from society. Moreover, distribution shapes societal organization (e.g. manipulating productive structures by advancing some over others), and contributes to the willingness of organized interests to support or challenge government goals and policies (Bueno De Mesquita et al. 2003). Long-term planning, especially in terms of improving the state’s capacity to react in a competitive world, is therefore crucial. A government’s control over political institutions is a fundamental element of governance as well. Political institutions vary widely in their ability to transmit societal interests, be they aggregated or individual, into the decision making process. Such institutions take on a variety of forms from the more traditional, such as formal periodic and contested elections, to the less obvious, such as the complex forms of kinship and tribal-based communication. Societally sanctioned, legitimate and efficient institutions of popular representation provide governments with societal feedback on their performance, be this feedback supportive, critical, or dismissive (see Peters 2000). Political feedback mechanisms also provide governments with insights about shifts in societal beliefs, ideas or other symbols that constitute dominant societal narratives. Where governments do not value transparency, other methods are used to discern public opinion, such as informants; in these situations, governments generally understand street dynamics, but are less concerned about societal discontent (Wedeen 1999). Finally, there are a number of crucial governance institutions that are, at least in theory, neither overtly economic nor political, such as the judiciary and bureaucracy. These governing institutions perform important functions including the distribution of property rights, the regulation of economic exchanges, and the measurement of government performance.

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Statecraft at the Diplomacy-Governance Nexus The relationship between diplomacy and governance is an intricate and mutually dependent one. Simultaneously gauging domestic material and human capacity and societal support, as well as external opportunities and constraints, is critical because the assessments on which policies are built can either buttress or undermine the ability of a government to successfully navigate world politics. In governance as in diplomacy, domestic institutional structures, resource availability, domestic friction and conflicts with external actors all matter – as do narratives. Importantly, governments and their citizens might agree upon narratives, the assessment of the external environment, and the specifics of domestic and external policy, but this does not guarantee that actual policy outcomes will align with intended policy outcomes. Briefly, therefore, how can we think of a successful government? What constitutes success for a state in world politics and how, if at all, can it be measured? If a government ‘muddles through’ and barely survives in international or regional systems, can its mere survival be defined as success? Does regional military dominance reflect successful governance and diplomacy strategies? Success in diplomacy, for instance, is dependent on the extent to which stated goals have been reached. It is therefore contingent on domestic support for the foreign policy, and dependent on the necessary resources being made available for goal pursuit – an outcome itself contingent on previous governments’ foreign and domestic policies. There is therefore a deep interconnection between governments, their governance and diplomacy policies and the society they govern. Consequently, a government’s goals and the means it employs to achieve them are contingent on society’s own historical experiences and aspirations for the future. A government must therefore be able to understand the interests of the domestic society and to a certain extent promote society’s own goals. On one level, achieving society’s goals is a function of the divergence or convergence in the interests of the state’s constitutive members, and in the actions (strategies or tactics) they pursue domestically in relations to each other and within the institutional structures which they help build. On another level, success in achieving society’s goals in relation to other actors globally is a function of the wide range of strategies designed and executed in diplomacy.

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Governments must be able to appreciate interstate distribution of material capabilities, external institutional structures that can offer opportunities or place constraints, the state’s resource base and the diverse interests of the domestic society. However, statecraft is also about the ‘ability to reconstruct, synthesize, and even invent symbols that will touch a psychological nerve in the populace at large’ (Davis 1991, 13). Therefore, statecraft requires that governments understand society’s history, share its aspirations, assuage its fears and act to address them with all available resources; hence the importance of narratives. This is why statecraft is an activity which has the ‘form of a craft or an art’, which requires ‘skill, technique, and judgment’ and which can be practised ‘well or poorly’ (Anderson 1977, vii).

Notes on Methodology To highlight continuities and changes in narratives and statecraft, I identify and analyse broad historical patterns rather than particular moments or events (see Hansen 2006, 79). By studying one geographically defined system, this book controls for the context in which the six states navigated world politics, since respective external environments were similar, and sometimes even identical. This allows for a closer investigation into how governments’ assessments and reactions varied; it also helps ascertain the influence of narratives while minimizing interference from factors that might otherwise be problematic in interregional analysis, such as power structures, asymmetries in material capabilities, cultural diversity and differing colonial legacies. Importantly, with the government as the primary decision making unit, emphasis remains on the state level of analysis, and while the state is the central analytical unit, it is understood that narratives are influenced by and influence factors at multiple levels of analysis. Critical to this book is the ability to ‘read’ and accurately interpret narratives. I understand that language is itself one of many forms of power, the use of which is reflected in the constraints and biases of our thinking, which lock us into seemingly ‘natural’ patterns – of metaphor, terminology, interpretations – that replicate many of the things we seek to alter or critique (Neumann 2004). Therefore writing a book about narratives required sensitivity to local cultural, political and ideational landscapes. Consequently, I chose to draw on a wide range of materials in

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English, Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, Turkish and, to a lesser extent, French. In no way do I claim to have read and accessed the entire wealth of information on these societies; rather, I identified key documents that allowed for a holistic understanding of each narrative. These include official documents (governmental or bureaucratic if declassified or published), pertinent memoirs, public discourses and speeches, insights by journalists, intellectuals’ writings, etc. (Walker 1987, Brecher 1972, Holsti 1970, Hansen 2006). I have also endeavoured to use as neutral a writing style as possible, in particular avoiding partisan names for important historical events. For instance, in writing about the 1973 Arab-Israel War, I use neither the term ‘Yom Kippur War’, which references the Israeli perspective nor the terms ‘Ramadan War’ or ‘October War’, which reference the Arab perspective. Politics is a complex process and a phenomenon where chance and unintended outcomes dominate, making it always somewhat opaque and resistant to comprehensive analysis. At the same time, building analysis on too many assumptions, or over-engaging in hypotheticals, encourages confirmation bias. Therefore, my approach in the book is to think through various processes rather than build analysis on simplified, and unrealistically simplifying, assumptions. Similarly, historical events usually have some elements that remain indeterminate, either because of state secrecy, absence of information or disagreements over actual facts. Moreover, and particularly in studies of Middle East states, ‘scholars made assumptions about state interests and motivations rather than treating them as objects of investigation’ (Telhami and Barnett 2002, 2). This is why I opt to focus on how the various narratives viewed and understood events and with what consequences, rather than pontificate on what exactly happened in an effort to pin down the ‘truth’ of events. Finally, I steer away from ‘guessing’ the black box of decision maker intentions or idiosyncratic personal motivations (Rosenau 1969, 170). This book’s focus on narratives consciously tries to avoid the pitfalls of attempting to identify and explain the personal intentions of each decision maker under analysis.

Organization of the Book The chapters that follow illustrate six examples of statecraft. Each chapter analyses a state, and is divided into periods – or what I choose to

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call eras. Within each era, turnover in governments and decision makers may occur, and with that change in narrative interpretations, without, however, overhauling the dominant societal narrative. However, the two general eras do reflect important narrative alterations in some elements of the dominant societal narrative, domestic narrative and external narrative of the states under study. This framing of the cases into two eras did not result from an a priori methodological design or forced parallelism on the cases, but rather emerged from the case analysis itself. Given the book’s interest in understanding how narratives and agency both influence decision making, as well as its comparative nature, the chapters focus on a close examination of key core ideas in external and domestic narratives. In so doing, they provide a brief sketch of the dominant societal narrative, but do not focus on detailing all of its elements. The chapters are also purposefully ordered to economize on space and avoid repetition of pertinent historic events, while explaining how governments in each state assessed the same external environment in divergent ways (i.e. threats for some might have been opportunities for others). Each chapter first discusses the external narrative and environment and then moves to a discussion of the domestic. I begin with the external because it serves to link the cases to each other through their regional interactions. The domestic narrative and environment, on the other hand, are generally more particular to each case. While each chapter provides an in-depth analysis of a single state, taken together the chapters provide readers with an integrated understanding of the broader history of the Middle East in the period from 1950 to 2010. The conclusion highlights the ideational coherence of the six case studies, by discussing the conceptual advantages and theoretical contributions of the book’s analytical framework. Some lessons are sketched pertaining to thinking about statecraft in relation to the rich case histories that provided ample demonstrations of its analytical purchase. The book concludes with ideas, propositions and questions for future research on narratives and on statecraft.

CHAPTER 2 STATECRAFT IN EGYPT

Around three millennia of sustained life as a political, administrative and trade centre has provided ‘a grounded sense of history’ to Egypt’s dominant societal narrative, tying the state to what is seen as a single civilization held together across time by the Nile and, more recently, by religious commitments. This core idea suggests a strong sense of imperviousness to time and at once imbues Egypt’s society with confidence and allays anxiety about the future. Egyptian decision makers, as well as society at large, might disagree over what their history is about, how to live in the present, and what to do exactly about the future, but they have rarely, if ever – and unlike most of their neighbours – suffered from an existential crisis. The ideational core in Egypt’s external narrative draws upon this dominant societal narrative to also emphasize this sense of special place in the world. This external narrative presents Egypt as ‘positioned for leadership’ due to its geo-strategic centrality. Over the decades, governments have favoured one of two interpretations of this core idea, translating it into different policies. The first interpretation favoured a ‘proactive’ Egypt and envisioned a need to supply multiple leadership roles on regional and global levels in order to realize Egypt’s history and potential as a leader. The second interpretation was more ‘reactive’, envisioning leadership as a guaranteed eventuality for Egypt; consequently, it emphasized the need to prioritize Egyptian interests first in order to fulfil its leadership potential. Similarly to the external narrative, the domestic narrative that derives from this dominant societal narrative has crystallized around the idea

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of Egypt having a primary duty to itself and to the pursuit of its own interests; this sense of self-importance was amplified by the fact that Egypt has been around much longer as a unified polity than many of the surrounding states. Given this, the domestic narrative emphasizes the importance of achieving modernity and development.

Statecraft 1950– 70 The fact that Egypt had not had significant success in the various wars it fought with empires and foreign troops since the days of Muhammad Ali, combined with a lacklustre military performance in the 1948 Arab– Israel War, a faltering domestic economy and growing inequality because of the royalty’s largesse, all intersected to legitimate the 1952 Free Officers Coup. Armed with this legitimacy, Free Officers’ governments set the contours of a contemporary political system which endures and which has been presided over mainly by governments of the same military lineage. At its foundational moment, Egypt’s dominant societal narrative, and governments’ external and domestic narratives, were all heavily influenced by Gamal Abdel Nasser (Heikal 1987). His charisma came at a time when Egyptian society overwhelmingly sought regeneration from monarchic rule, and the Free Officers’ narrative of independence spoke to widely shared post-colonial and anti-imperialist ideas. Meanwhile, institutional manipulation elevated the prerogatives and powers of the president not only to govern, but also to shape ideas in the public sphere. The hegemony of the ideas and narratives that Abdel Nasser and the governments’ which he presided over believed in and pursued was cemented in the aftermath of the 1956 Tripartite Invasion. Given the stature of Abdel Nasser, it is important to note here that governments during this era included other important figures such as Muhammad Naguib and Anwar al-Sadat, who shared the narrative interpretations that emerged at the time (Heikal 1986a, 113–35; Naguib 1972; al-Matay’i 1989). The initial years post1952 were dedicated to tarteeb al-bayt min al-dakhel, which literally meant ordering the house’s internal affairs; here we see the emphasis on the need to take care of Egyptian interests first and foremost (Heikal 1986b, 159– 71). An important part of this process was the government distancing itself from the defects of the monarchic order all the while promising deserved remedies (Heikal 1973, 93).

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By 1955, the government had reached consensus on diplomacy and governance narratives and goals – as articulated in an article by President Abdel Nasser in Foreign Affairs. The article discusses diplomacy only in closing, demonstrating the decision making elite’s prioritization of state-building and national policy independence. With respect to the main diplomacy concern, which was the Arab – Israel conflict, Abdel Nasser stated that ‘Egypt do[es] not want to start any conflict. War has no place in the constructive policy which we have designed to improve the lot of our people. We have much to do in Egypt, and the rest of the Arab world has much to do’ (Abdel Nasser 1955, 211). Placing domestic concerns first on the list of priorities came with the ruling elite’s understanding that regional and global politics were important, but that Egypt’s ability to claim its leadership role in its external environment could not be achieved without domestic development. Such development was therefore an imperative despite the fact that Egyptians did share the feeling ‘that a great injustice was committed against the Arabs generally’ by Israel (Abdel Nasser 1955, 211; see Heikal 1973, 93; see Naguib 1972, Chapter 5). Former President Naguib (1972, 93) expressed similar thoughts: ‘Israel is not our primary enemy, our enmity was focused on the [British] military occupation of the [Suez] Canal’ as well as the Sudan. Energies, he added, should therefore be directed towards building a modern sovereign Egypt.

The External Narrative and Goals 1950– 70 The contours of an external narrative that positioned Egypt in leadership roles in multiple systems became clearer by 1956. The Suez Invasion had many outcomes, two of which had significant bearing on Egypt’s external narrative. The first was the retreat of invading states, which included Britain and France, two major colonial powers, and Israel. The second was Egypt gaining sovereignty over the Suez Canal. Both outcomes concretely validated ideas that championed Egypt as a leader of Arab and Global South liberation from colonial legacies and structural oppression. In so doing, they cemented the status of these ideas in governments’ external narrative. Egypt emerged from the 1956 War as an inspiration for revolutionary states, and a model modern state that could liberate itself from global and historic structural shackles (James 2006, 47). Moreover, being able to repel

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such an invasion added popular legitimacy to diplomacy goals espoused by the government (Nasr 1981, 209 – 11). For President Abdel Nasser and his peers, Egypt’s superior material capabilities relative to other Arab states, its central inter-continental location, and its history of ‘achievements’, from the Pyramids to the overthrow of the colonial-affiliated monarchic regime, all signalled that Egypt had a responsibility to lead by example and that it was incumbent upon Egypt to meet these expectations. By 1956, the external narrative positioned Egypt as the pivot for Arab action in the struggle against Israel and on behalf of the Palestinian people’s rightful claims to statehood, as well as in defence of pan-Arab causes (Heikal 1973, 18). The narrative had, therefore, a ‘proactive’ tone. The central goal for Egyptian diplomacy was to regain ‘Arab honour’ lost in 1948 with Arab defeat and Israeli victory. Egypt would lead efforts to erase this humiliation from the ‘Arab narrative’ (which was assumed to be a unified narrative). Simultaneously, it should be emphasized that regional and global politics offered Egypt opportunities to be a ‘revolutionary leader’, especially but not only in the struggle to defend the Palestinian cause; such opportunities overlapped with the government’s ambition to ensure Egypt a prominent place in world politics. Leadership in Arab causes was therefore complemented by a growing interest in global politics. Egypt was interested in non-alignment, an idea premised on empowering Global South societies and encouraging their independence. As a leader, Egypt needed to strategically engage with existing global realities to help boost its capacities and status. Self-determination, anti-imperialism and freedom from colonial control were central to Egypt’s narrative, all dear to the Global South at the time, and common in both superpowers’ discourses (Kerr 1971). Consequently, after 1956, Egyptian diplomacy was geared towards realizing the essence of this external narrative by supplying leadership policies in three systems: the Arab states system, the Arab – Israel conflict system and the Non-Aligned Movement. Strategies included support for enthusiasts of Egyptian politics in the Global South and in Arab societies, and confrontation of detractors who were either reluctant to lose their infant sovereignty to Egyptian leadership, or were themselves competing for leading roles. On the one hand, Egypt’s government pillared its external narrative on the idea of sovereign

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independence, both for itself and others. On the other hand, it built its external narrative around the pan-Arab ideas of regional unity and unwavering support for the Palestinian cause. Egypt’s external narrative brought these contradictory ideas of state sovereignty and regional unity together under the banner of anti-colonial and antiimperial struggle and was therefore coherent despite this dissonance. On a policy level, however, Arab unity implied violations of state sovereignty, hence producing competing demands on Egyptian diplomacy (Barnett 1993). The main goal of Egyptian diplomacy was to demonstrate the validity of its narrative of leadership. It was incumbent upon governments, therefore, to choose diplomacy strategies that catered to such competing ideational demands as much as possible, while minimizing violations of Egyptian sovereignty; this was no easy feat. In some significant instances, Egyptian diplomacy strategies seemed to be seriously challenged or even counter-productive, especially with the collapse of the United Arab Republic (UAR) and during the violent Arab Cold War. The 1967 War dealt a serious blow to the government’s understanding of its leadership, because of the military’s poor performance and the loss of the Sinai to Israel. Egypt’s governments (and society) were thus shocked into an arduous process of ideational reflection and narrative alteration.

Diplomacy in the External Environment 1950– 70 Initially, the Free Officers adopted a ‘wait and see’ policy towards two major sources of concern: US-USSR superpower rivalry and Israel. Moreover, Sudan’s independence in 1956 also posed two important challenges: first, it required agreement over the flow of the Nile; and secondly, the withdrawal of Egyptian troops from Sudan was tied to British troop withdrawal from the Suez Canal. The Free Officers stabilized and pacified relations with the Sudan through accommodative diplomacy, in order to focus on the US, Israel and the Suez Canal. This period saw both non-militarized and militarized border infiltrations into Israel from Egyptian-controlled Gaza, which, by most historic accounts, were not coordinated with the Egyptian government, and which were met with heavy-handed Israeli retaliation. The infiltrations and Israel’s use of force both undermined Egyptian sovereign border control (el-Abed 2009, 21). Nevertheless, Egypt could not completely stop border infiltrations for two reasons. First, the Sinai

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desert is vast and sparsely populated; it is thus almost impossible to fully monitor or control. Second, given its position in the Arab state system and on the Palestinian issue specifically, Egypt deemed it inappropriate to crack down on either Palestinian farmers crossing the Gaza-Israel border to tend to their lands, or Arab militants attacking Israeli targets. The policy that emerged was therefore supportive of infiltrations, while also defensive against actions on Israel’s border. By the mid-1950s, the low-intensity border conflict with Israel was escalating, and deep-penetrating Israeli military operations exposed Egypt’s weakness (Morris 1993, 84–92). Countering military threats required reallocating resources originally intended for domestic objectives; the consequent domestic strains on Egypt accentuated its need for external aid to support its overall spending. The Free Officers initially attempted to keep channels open with the USSR, but favoured strong ties with the US (Heikal 1986b, 177 – 86). American global advocacy in favour of self-determination and national independence were welcomed by a de-colonizing Egypt. Egypt vocalized the need for American solidarity and intervention on behalf of independence movements in Africa and Asia. It also appealed to American Cold War interests by explaining that assistance to Egypt was needed in order to fend off Soviet expansion (Heikal 1986a, 84; Naguib 1972, 84 – 9). The prospect of containing the USSR did initially provide strategic rents that Egypt’s government used to expand its resources, and alleviated its domestic tax burden. Though donors were concerned that aid would be used to attack Israel, these concerns were assuaged by Egypt. However, inconsistencies in American policies towards the Middle East, especially by the mid1950s, eventually compromised relations with Egypt. In particular, the 1955 Baghdad Pact – which was promoted by the US and brought together Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and Great Britain in a political, military and economic alliance – was critical in altering the environment for Egyptian diplomacy (Yaqub 2004). Though the Free Officers favoured regional unity, they described the Baghdad Pact as a colonial formation that sought to make regional needs subservient to Western goals by dividing Arab states into competing camps. Moreover, the inclusion of Iraq, a rival for leadership in the Arab states system, further alienated Egypt from the US. Nevertheless, Egyptian – American relations remained important, despite these tensions and

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related delays in American aid (Petran 1972, 108; see Abdel Nasser’s interview in the New York Times, 4 April 1955). Egypt’s ‘wait and see’, posture towards Israel became impossible to maintain following Israel’s 1955 Gaza Raid in which Israel attacked Egyptian military outposts killing 39 soldiers. From an Egyptian narrative perspective, the Gaza Raid directly challenged not only its growing regional and international leadership, but also its domestic development. As Heikal notes: ‘Building hospitals and schools and steel mills was not going to protect Egypt from a ruthless neighbour who was set on ensuring that it should not be allowed to prosper [. . .] Israel was determined to challenge the rising star of Egypt by every means at its disposal, and primarily by force’ (Heikal 1986a, 66 –8). Such pressures on Egypt were not only exposing its material weakness, but were also threatening the vision of achieving independence domestically. Military escalation meant that domestic civilian state-building projects, especially critical ones like the Aswan High Dam, were to be delayed because the state was under fire. Egypt therefore needed to urgently put together a coherent military strategy to retaliate. By then, Moscow was also courting states such as Egypt; Israeli attacks, combined with delayed American financial and technical assistance, pushed Egypt to consider Soviet offers (Heikal 1986b, 340–2). As with the US, Britain also sent inconsistent and confusing commitment signals, despite Egypt’s desire to be an ally; in 1955, Britain’s Defence Minister confirmed Egypt’s continued preferences for western weapons, but which did not come (Love 1969, 186– 99). In that context, the sale of French arms to Israel as well as ‘the British shipment of tanks through France’ exacerbated Egypt’s sense of threat and need for urgent assistance (Riyad 1986, 130). In the aftermath of the 1955 Gaza Raid, Abdel Nasser therefore publicly announced an alliance with the USSR, which led to a substantive reduction of ties with the US (Vatikiotis 1978, 232; James 2006, 47). In this regard, the Soviet Czech arms deal to Egypt in 1955 was a clear message of Soviet influence. As late as December 1955, the US, Britain and the World Bank were still offering to help finance the Aswan Dam project if Egypt refused Soviet aid. The US also offered Egypt a select range of defensive weapons systems, in an attempt to recover relations. Egypt rejected these overtures, and the US eventually withdrew these offers (Newson 2001, 80). In the above context, Egypt’s government interpreted Israel’s 1955

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Gaza Raid as an American punishment for Egypt’s position on the Baghdad Pact. In that light, Soviet aid ‘was to help defend [Egypt] against imperialist belligerent threats and not in order to enable Egypt to make war with Israel’ (Eban 1977, 193; see also Heikal 1986b, 340). Soviet arms reduced the military asymmetry between Egypt and Israel, and thus dampened a major source of external threat; aid also padded the Egyptian coffers and allowed continued domestic spending. Short of severing relations, Washington reacted by significantly reducing and threatening to completely halt funding, particularly for the Aswan High Dam, in the hope of pulling Egypt back into its orbit. American policy backfired when, in response, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956. Egypt achieved two important goals with the Suez Canal nationalization: (1) its control of the canal provided greatly needed funds to finance domestic projects, such as the Aswan Dam; and (2) it reasserted Egypt’s independence by retrieving a symbol of high importance to its dominant societal narrative. Relations between Egypt and the US were also severely strained when Egypt established ambassadorial relations with China in 1956, at a time when the US was engaged in the Korean War (Dawisha 1997, 36). If we analyze the 1956 War from an Egyptian narrative perspective we appreciate how Egypt’s status as an Arab leader was confirmed when it actively countered the 1956 Tripartite Invasion; that aggression that combined the imperial designs of Britain and France with Israel’s expansionist aims, in an attempt to wrest control of the Suez Canal from Egypt following its nationalization. It was in particular its successful defence of the Suez Canal from colonial control that fortified the adroitness of Egypt’s government policy choices. In real military terms, however, the Invasion exposed Egypt’s limited deterrence capabilities. Israel undercut the qualitative and quantitative advantages that Egypt had gained with the Czech arms deal, since the Invasion occurred before the hardware became fully operative and before training was complete. Additionally, Israel demonstrated its ability to launch a massive military operation, which improved its credibility as a threat (Tal 1996). The US –USSR row over Hungary just a few days prior to the Suez Invasion (and where the USSR had to withdraw immediately upon American requests), worked in Egypt’s favour with the US demanding the immediate withdrawal of its allies. Egypt’s government framed the ‘tripartite retreat’ within its external narrative of anti-imperialism and

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resistance to Israel. Meanwhile, the US was under increasing pressures to pull Egypt out of the Soviet orbit (Yaqub 2004, 237). To this end, it placed restrictions on Israeli military operations into the Egyptian interior, a policy deemed necessary to avoid deepening the Soviet role in Egypt (Rubenberg 1986, 77). In effect, American policies brought military de-escalation, hence decreasing threats to Egypt; meanwhile, Soviet military and economic assistance boosted Egyptian confidence, overshadowing the military’s lukewarm performance in 1956. With material resources and a massive stock of symbolic capital, Egyptian diplomacy then expanded along four connected, overarching policy dimensions. The first related to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Already at the 1955 Bandung NAM conference, Egypt had urged the Global South to act as a bloc and with distance from both superpowers. NAM suited an Egypt that did not want to be pro-Western (Sayegh 1964), and an Egypt which ‘cannot be Communist’ for fear of another form of dependence (Heikal 1986b, 189). Egypt therefore advocated that the NAM act to reach nuclear disarmament, and other issues of global concern (Abdel Nasser 1970a, 320–1). NAM’s forums furnished a podium for Egypt to affirm the commitments to anti-colonialism and selfdetermination at the heart of its narrative. This principled diplomacy posture was fortified by the nationalization and defence of the Suez Canal, as well as state-led economic development policies. Since Arab states shared NAM goals, Egypt’s government also saw prime opportunities to realize its idea of leading an Arab advance towards self-determination through its NAM leadership. Nevertheless, Egypt’s commitment to NAM served mainly a rhetorical defence of independence principles; it was still heavily reliant on strategic rents accrued from superpower alliances, which meant that it did not in fact have the option of being non-aligned. The second dimension of Egyptian diplomacy was its leadership in the Arab– Israel conflict system. In practical terms, Egypt’s superior capabilities relative to other Arab states, as well as the government’s ability to deploy them effectively against aggressors (as it did in the 1956 Invasion), placed much of the responsibility and costs of regional defence on Egypt alone. Though until 1967, Egypt predominantly escalated its rhetoric rather than its military action against Israel, it nevertheless built Arab and domestic expectations of its primary military responsibility against Israel. Thus, militarized border altercations on the Syrian and Jordanian fronts in the mid-1960s

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demanded policy reactions from Egypt as leader. In response, Egypt signed defence pacts that effectively shifted the responsibility of immediate retaliation against Israel from the affected states to itself. Egyptian tactical policies, such as the withdrawal of United Nations buffer troops in the Sinai and the closure of navigation in the Suez Canal (which Israel considered a casus bellum in June 1967) reflected the importance of Egyptian leadership of Arab states in the Arab–Israel system to its external narrative (Ro’i 1974, 436– 9).1 The third diplomacy dimension was Egypt’s attempt to lead in setting the political agenda of the Arab states system. To this end, five specific policies were implemented with varying degrees of success. The first was the establishment in 1958 of the UAR joining Egypt and Syria, which was envisioned as an opportunity to ‘support any popular national movement’ (Abdel Nasser 1970b, 228). This policy was guided by the external narrative’s emphasis on the Arab desire for unity and the destruction of the ‘fake’ lines drawn to divide their lands in the SykesPicot Agreement – an idea shared by other Arab states and societies as well. In effect, however, Egypt’s move to subsume Syrian institutions under its control promoted a strong Syrian pushback, which ended the short-lived union in 1961. The second policy pertained to Lebanon. Lebanon’s divided sovereignties among its religious communities precluded it being a stable asset to Egypt. With the establishment of the UAR, pro-Arab unity actors in Lebanon rallied their constituencies to join. This led to clashes with other Lebanese actors sympathetic to the ‘Baghdad Pact’ diplomatic orientation. Months of domestic chaos in Lebanon ended only with the 1958 deployment of US Marines. Egypt also attempted to restore domestic order in Lebanon by intervening politically to rein in pro-UAR forces. In effect, Egyptian and American interests converged, and their respective diplomacy acted to stabilize Lebanon (Yaqub 2004, 250–3). Despite its desire for Arab unity, then, Egypt’s policy on Lebanon actually circumscribed its degree of involvement in regional politics because of Lebanon’s tempestuous domestic environment. The third policy consisted of deploying Egyptian troops in Yemen, framed as part of Egypt’s pan-Arab responsibilities. A critical outcome of this intervention was to raise the ire of Saudi Arabia. Egypt deployed some 60,000 troops to Yemen as relations with Saudi Arabia deteriorated; importantly, on the eve of the 1967 War, there still were some 50,000 Egyptian troops in Yemen (Kemp 1969, 26–7). The fourth policy

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supported efforts to create the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964. Egypt’s government incubated the PLO as the realization of Arabwide sympathies for the Palestinians, which it shared. It was appropriate for Egypt to lead on such a task. Hosting the PLO carried tangible positive consequences, such as polishing Egypt’s image in the wake of the collapse of the UAR and the Yemen war. The fifth and final policy aimed to maintain Egyptian leadership in the midst of inter-Arab rivalries over setting a pan-Arab agenda. In the so-called Arab Cold War, challenges from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, in particular, undermined Egyptian leadership claims, and incrementally drained the political capital it had earned in 1956 (Kerr 1971). Egypt’s fourth diplomacy dimension focused on Sudan, which, as noted, was hugely important to Egypt because the two states shared the Nile (Heikal 1986b, Chapter 4). The challenge for Egypt was reaching a deal with the Sudan, and other African states through which the Nile flows (Hassan and Al Rasheedy 2007). Throughout the 1950s, Sudanese elites demanded a revision of relations with Egypt, including a 1929 agreement over Nile water division. The government in Sudan, ‘which did not have good relations with its Egyptian counterpart, took the opportunity of Egypt’s preoccupation with the Union with Syria in 1958 to conduct elections in the Halayeb Triangle’ – a contested border region (Hilal and Massad 2000, 53). In response, Egypt sought to secure the flow of Nile water to the Aswan High Dam by securitizing its border with Sudan. This experience incentivized Egypt to keep in place a favourable government in Khartoum (Haj Hamad 1980, 382). A main consequence of these multi-front diplomacy engagements and commitments was that they overstretched Egypt’s capabilities. Until 1967, upping the rhetorical ante with Israel did not have massive direct consequences for Egypt, but rather acted to confirm its panArab leadership. Triggers to the 1967 War, however, including the withdrawal of UN troops and closure of the Suez, starkly revealed that Egyptian rhetoric was not matched by military preparedness. Egyptian diplomacy did not fully account for Israel’s own goal of undermining Egypt whenever and wherever possible. The 1967 War resulted in massive losses for Egypt in terms of military capacities, land and military and public morale. With the US preoccupied with China and the Vietnam War, the USSR was eager to help Egypt rebuild capacities lost in 1967, despite

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accusations of lukewarm Soviet support during the fighting (Ro’i and Adamsky 2008, 274). Importantly, Egypt left the 1967 Arab League summit in Khartoum with Soviet arms and Arab financial support. Despite this alliance with the USSR, Egypt was also rebuilding bridges with the US (Farid 1994, 145 and Chapter 10). After replenishing its military capacity with Soviet assistance, Egypt launched the War of Attrition, as a series of militarized operations across the Suez Canal, primarily designed to deny Israel any sense of permanence with regard to its occupation of the Sinai, and to prevent Israeli military advancement. The War of Attrition was designed to be a limited aims war, and the Egyptian government was intent on acting via delicate political diplomacy to prevent an escalation into a major region-wide war. Egypt was able to draw the USSR into the conflict sufficiently to alarm Israel and the US; Soviet interventions in fact compelled Israel to stop its retaliatory deep-penetrating raids (Khalidi 1973). Egypt’s government demonstrated significant diplomatic skill during the War of Attrition, reflected in two important outcomes: (1) it revived superpower interest in the Middle East; and (2) it eventually compelled Israeli acceptance of the American-drafted Rogers’ Plan to bring an end to the War of Attrition (Parker 2001, xvii). By the end of the 1960s, Egyptian diplomacy was advocating for Arab unity via collective solidarity – not dominance or leadership by any one state – as a necessary condition for achieving a peaceful solution in the Arab–Israel conflict (Shlaim 2000, 259). This ‘collectivist’ position had been present in Egyptian diplomacy within the NAM, but was new to its understanding of pan-Arabism. Egyptian diplomacy therefore became more conciliatory: it mended relations with Saudi Arabia, and retreated from Yemen; and even the steadfast ‘Three NO’s’ of the 1967 Khartoum Summit – ‘no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it’ – were accompanied by Egypt’s call for collective deliberation, which in effect meant favouring a conciliatory political path (Parker 2001; Farid 1994, 58; Brown 1988). Simultaneously, and as a result of fatigue from failed unions and intraArab rivalries, sovereignty and strategic calculus were gaining traction in the Arab states system. Meanwhile, new and independent voices, disenchanted with existing Arab political policies, were rising among militant Palestinian elites. In effect, Egypt’s environment had lost its appetite for leadership claimants; however, the environment also made

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many other states reluctant to lead (Barnett 1993). In this context, Egypt began focusing more on the pursuit of sovereign national goals, rather than those attached to pan-Arabism or Arab unity schemes; despite this change, its policies remained consistent with its narrative emphasis on independence.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1950– 70 Full sovereign independence was for Egypt’s post-1952 governments, as well as for the vast majority of society, a coveted idea that needed to be protected and cemented in state-building. It represented a break from colonialist domination and monarchic legacies and, especially, a break from the economic decline that accompanied the ‘surrender’ of national assets and industries to foreign, predominantly colonial, interests. Moreover, in this era, many Global South intellectuals, including in Egypt, identified being modern with revolutionary ideas and movements, and with government taking on a central role in driving economic development. Breaking from the past, therefore, was a central idea in the domestic narrative of Egypt, in the pursuit of its independence. The government expressly framed a ‘modern Egypt’ as one that would surpass decades of decay, and envisioned this idea to be achieved through a ‘three-pronged’ approach. First was the construction of Egypt’s High Dam, which was securitized and framed as a symbol of national pride; second was the development of a multiparty political system; and third was the unequivocal rejection of al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen, also known as the Muslim Brotherhood (Abdel Nasser 1955). Governance in this era was heavily affected by competition between alternate domestic narratives, in which Egyptian governments used available state institutions to advance their narrative (including, for example, by closing down the space for public political freedoms). This competition emerged because of the core place that religion holds in Egypt’s dominant societal narrative, and where religion is important, clerics carry influence in politics through their ability to mobilize citizens behind their own ideas. The second reason for this competition was that Egypt actually had a societal actor in the Muslim Brotherhood that not only advocated for an alternative government, but for an alternative narrative for the modern Egyptian state. The Muslim Brotherhood was established in 1928 by Hasan Al-Banna in the

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aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and with it the end of the Islamic Caliphate. In its search for a worldly successor to the Caliphate, al-Ikhwan adopted a narrative where legitimacy derives not from the temporal authority of the state, but from Islam. The policy implication of such a narrative was that the Westphalian state should be replaced by a political structure that properly conformed to Islamic principles. Al-Ikhwan’s appeal to a large societal cross-section made it a force to be reckoned with, and its ability to organize the street in pursuit of political goals something to be feared. After a brief period of accommodation, and following a failed assassination attempt on Abdel Nasser in 1954, the government branded the Brotherhood as ‘reactionary’, antithetical to Islam and a threat to Egyptian progress and advancement towards modernity. In so doing, it abandoned the policy of accommodation and instead enacted policies to contain the group (Ansari 1986, 84; Naguib 1972, Chapter 5). In order to curb the spread and influence of this alternative dominant societal narrative that al-Ikhwan proposed, the Egyptian government sought to control religious interpretations and institutions, as well as the political space. To this end, the central institution of Al-Azhar, the bastion of Islamic thought and jurisprudence, was firmly attached to the state bureaucracy in an attempt to ‘lend legitimacy to [the] regime and its program of transforming Egyptian society’ (Moustafa 2000, 5). In a telling example of the government’s fear that this alternate narrative might find space to further germinate, it rejected a proposal by the distinguished writer Taha Husayn to transform Al-Azhar into a university-like institution, which would have meant allowing it more freedoms. Government aimed at controlling the ideas that emerged from Al-Azhar, with policies continuing in the 1960s, when the government ‘described itself as literally compelled to force the religious institution into modernization and reform’ (Zeghal 1999, 373). With regard to the economy, the domestic narrative was constituted by ideas favouring government involvement in regulation and expansion of national capacities, such as in agriculture and industry, as a means to sovereign independence. The Free Officers narrated a forward-looking Egypt that would have a productive and sectorally diversified economy, defined by social equality, particularly for the working classes. The independent and liberated Egypt of the Free Officers’ narrative was unshackled by monarchic economic and institutional mismanagement,

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colonial interests and wasteful consumption. As the economy was developed, two important sectors were given attention: cotton cultivation and production, and navigation through the Suez Canal, both of which had been surrendered to British control in one way or another. Egypt was also to be a model state that could lead by example in Arab and Global South circles. Post-1952, Egypt was to distance itself from the conditions of earlier decay, and to that end develop and capitalize on the existing bureaucratic apparatus. These ideas meshed well with the thenwidely popular notion of import substitution industrialization (ISI). The main operational outcome of ISI in governance was a central role for government in fuelling sectoral diversification, leading in nationalization and land redistribution to equalize resources and expanding state bureaucracy to absorb labour (Waterbury 1983). These symbols of sovereign independence fitted well with Egypt’s domestic narrative. Finally, society broadly approved of how the core ideas from the dominant societal narrative were emplotted in the Free Officers’ interpretation of domestic and external narratives. Technically and operationally, formal avenues for political participation in the realization of statecraft were constrained. However, for a great majority in society it did not seem to matter how much direct input they had in making policy and crafting narratives because they shared in the euphoria of the claim that Egypt was to be ‘positioned for leadership’ globally. Similarly, there was broad support for domestic policy programmes. The ability to objectively measure the exact dynamics underlying societal acceptance of government narratives and policies – meaning, how much societal approval was the outcome of exclusionary policies and repression and how much was true and unhindered shared belief – remains debated. What is certain, however, is that a majority of Egyptians supported the Free Officers governments’ domestic and external narratives because these two narratives weaved together a range of ideas, all of which were very popular and which the dominant societal narrative treasured.

Governance 1950– 70 The Free Officers framed their rule as a necessary rupture with the past in order to build a modern state, a process legitimated by the economic dislocations nurtured by the monarchic order and its weak performance in the 1948 War. Ushered in with ideas of forward-looking, modern and egalitarian governance, the new era’s main goal was to recover from debt

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and deterioration. Shifting resources away from the Arab– Israel conflict and prioritizing developmental needs was made possible by British and American messages prior to 1955, which assured Egypt that Israeli escalations would be contained (Love 1969, 84– 5). In this era, governments, especially main figures including Abdel Nasser, Sabri, Heikal and Sidiqi believed that centralized decision making was key in the process of determining domestic priorities and appropriate policy reactions, the main aim of which was to put Egyptian economic sectors on a track towards revival and growth. While agreement over these ideas was not unanimous among the private sector and inside the government, they still received wide societal and elite support. It was particularly after the 1956 War that an economic recovery plan was necessary for the legitimacy of government and its domestic narrative (Owen 1989, 373– 4). Government-led planning and direct interventions in various sectors increasingly became prominent as the agent of economic growth, and less so private initiatives (Ibrahim 1992, 36 –7). The government’s economic hegemony was facilitated by some sectoral interest. By the mid-1950s, export of cotton to Western markets was threatened by American subsidies, but remained a central sector (Love 1969, 24); however, ‘national capitalism’ was more eager to expand commercial investments, not industrial activities (Ibrahim 1992, 104–5). In realizing its domestic narrative of modernity, and with Egypt’s liveable space largely clustered around the Nile, the Aswan High Dam became the government’s developmental flagship to regulate water flow and expand industry and agricultural cultivation (Waterbury 1983, 87). Partly to avoid political demands by private capital, and partly because this capital itself was not sufficient, Egyptian decision makers eventually looked to external sources of funding. The Free Officers were hesitant about Soviet rents, because they were concerned that an increased Soviet presence in Egypt or formal government communications might embolden left-leaning labour groups or other politicized actors (Waterbury 1983, 70). While the US did offer assistance (e.g. in building national security institutions and funding the Aswan High Dam), the USSR slowly replaced the US as the main source of strategic rents (Heikal 1986b, part four). Strategic rents from various sources, including the superpowers, facilitated an expansion of the state’s role as builder and national employer, and proved a politically perceptive move

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that absorbed labour and provided welfare. Bureaucratic expansion and housing sector regulation helped middle and lower income strata, while aiding agriculture served the peripheries; such policies built wide societal support for the government (Ibrahim 1992, 105– 6). Nationalization of the Suez Canal and other sectors increased the Egyptian government’s fiscal independence from its domestic revenue base (Horvath 1970, 624). Moreover, such nationalizations had even greater symbolic value: they confirmed national independence and anti-colonialism on which the government narrative rested (Riyad 1986, 141). Economic control promised significant political control especially over actors like al-Ikhwan who had private income sources. This strategy, however, meant a ‘weakened domestic bourgeoisie and landed elite, bargaining leverage vis-a`-vis foreign interests, and the availability of a tractable populist coalition that can be mobilized on the government’s behalf’, as well as ‘competing pressures from popular sectors, local business, agrarian interests, and foreign investors’ (Heydemann 1999, 21). The government’s answer, limited economic reform notwithstanding, was ultimately to expand the public sector, since status quo-oriented bureaucrats reduced political uncertainty (Rivlin 2001, 11). The Egyptian military, basking in the image of victory crafted in 1956, was rewarded. After the first industrial plan in 1957, an alliance of military officers (noted for its discipline) and state technocrats dominated planning and execution (Waterbury 1983, 9 and 37 – 8; Migdal 1988, 187). A ‘soft state’ was being developed, characterized by the expansion of ISI and the public sector and the exclusion of various independent societal actors (Waterbury 1985). By the time large-scale nationalization set in in the 1960s, the bureaucracy was already a significant employer and economic player (Rivlin 2001; Waterbury 1983, 67 – 72; Hovrath 1970). Nationalization crowded out private enterprises and created a politically conformist ‘state-dependent bourgeoisie’ whose fortunes were tied to government stability (Hinnebusch 1990, 190). Those attempting to organize labour clashed with security forces, and the government responded by absorbing labour in an expanded bureaucracy in order to undermine collective action. Moreover, the government co-opted some of labour’s main decision makers, while others were allowed to run largely noncombative organizations (Posusney 1997, 9 –11 and Chapter 3).

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Where such measures failed harsher ones, including imprisonment, ensured quietism. In addition, land reform broke the power of landed elites. Bureaucrats and the state-dependent bourgeoisie were avid rent-seekers (Harik 1974, 20–1). Moreover, the expansion of the state was accompanied by a wide array of subsidies on consumer goods, transport, energy and social services: ‘Workers came to see their benefits as entitlements’ which the government was expected to deliver (King 2009, 57). Meanwhile, the Arab Socialist Union (ASU) monopolized politics and became the mechanism for upward mobility for a variety of small (but loyal) parties, labour figures and other elites. Dissent ended. Security and military forces subjugated residual disagreement (Al-Awadi 2004, 30–2). Though al-Ikhwan branded the government as anti-religious in a bid to undermine its legitimacy in front of a religious society, this group had already been effectively contained. Moreover, bureaucratizing Al-Azhar facilitated the mainstreaming of Islamic discourse loyal to the state (Zeghal 1999). On the other hand, Egyptian Marxists received ‘a pitch of cruelty never before reached’ (Abdel-Malek 1968, 119). Centralized decision making had a political dimension as well. Constitutional amendments in January 1956 changed Egypt from a parliamentary to a presidential system, endowing the president with exceptional powers (note that this occurred before the Suez War, and aimed at power concentration). After the 1956 War, political activities were monopolized by the ASU (created in 1962) ‘under the guidance, direction and charismatic leadership of President Nasser’ (Masannat 1966, 92). Despite closing down the political space and crowding out private interests, governance gained popular legitimacy: Egypt’s euphoria with the outcome of the 1956 War solidified for the society an image of a government that knew best which governance and diplomacy policies to choose, and cemented commitments to the government’s narratives and legitimacy. The domestic narrative positioned Egypt as a flagship of progress and social equality, and the government constructed landmark infrastructure projects and industrial sectors. Harmony between the government and society, and society’s popular faith in the adroitness of government choices translated into limited upward pressures for revising policies (Heikal 1973, 93). In devising means to realize its domestic narrative, the governments’ policy choices paid little attention to sustainability and related technical

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calculations. In the course of the 1960s, bureaucratic layers were created to administer the Suez Canal, infrastructure projects and the Aswan High Dam, as well as to manage nationalized industries. Initially, results were promising and the Egyptian economy boomed, but it was showing signs of fatigue by the mid-1960s. Soviet strategic rents then became more important. Meanwhile, the government publicly emphasized the perils of what it framed as insatiable, profiteering capitalist greed, including foreign investments that transferred national gains outside of Egypt (Abdel Nasser 1970, 140– 8). Then came the 1967 War. When the dust from the 1967 War settled, Soviet aid helped alleviate domestic economic burdens. However, change in the essence of governance policies was not significant: minimal freedoms were given to al-Ikhwan in particular, and other political actors in general (Abdel-Malek 1968, 119). Such openings were complemented by placing Islamic clerics – especially from Al-Azhar – at the centre of public life, and sermons largely relayed pro-government discourses (alAwadi 2004). The supreme goal of governance, like that of diplomacy, was regaining the Sinai and re-establishing Egypt’s sovereignty and independence (Heydemann 1999, 21; Khalidi 1973). Abdel Nasser’s death in 1970 ushered in changes to the government, as well as substantial narrative alterations, leading to the advent of what I consider as a new era. It was not solely the turnover of individuals that mattered; rather, new ideas and policies were brought into governance and diplomacy.

The External-Domestic Nexus 1950– 70 Government in Egypt reordered goals and policies post-1955: greater energies were allocated to diplomacy, a move primarily driven by mounting pressures from the Arab–Israel conflict and major power politics. American intervention after 1956 diminished Israeli threats, as well as those from imperial designs on Egypt; in such an environment, Egyptian governments pushed forth with diplomacy in multiple global and regional arenas, especially regarding efforts to lead in the Arab states system (Heikal 1986a and 1973). Realizing governance and diplomacy goals after 1956 demanded massive resources and popular support (Nasr 1981, Chapter 5; Abdel-Malek 1968; Dawisha 1997, 34 – 6). By the mid-1960s, state capacities were stretched thin by extended diplomacy commitments and expansive governance projects.

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The most significant shock to Egypt came from the Arab-Israel conflict – one of many systems where Egypt’s government was pursuing its narrative’s sense of leadership. It seemed that Egypt’s government did not equalize external threats. It would have been difficult to imagine Syria or Iraq invading Egypt; however it seemed likely to expect Israel to act to undermine Egypt, especially in reaction to Egypt’s withdrawal of UN forces in 1967 (Fahmy 1983, 19). Egypt’s commitments to lead in Arab and Global South causes, as well as resisting Israel are certainly understandable from a narrative perspective (see Abdel Nasser 1970, Chapter 2). Policy decisions, however, showed two weaknesses. First, Egypt’s government did not properly gauge the implications of its policies with respect to Israel, whose own narrative was based on existential fears, and the consequent actions Israeli governments would have taken against threats. Secondly, governance had not prepared the economy and society for the requirements of such policies in diplomacy. The memory of the 1967 defeat and the occupation of the Suez had a paralysing effect on Egyptian governments, as it did on all involved Arab states. Suing for peace was unthinkable, even if Arabs (and Israelis) wanted it, because a ‘taboo idea’ was infused into their narratives, making ‘direct contacts perilous for any Arab leader’ (Heikal 1996, 155–6). Compounding the pressures on government was a weakening domestic economic productive base at a time when expenditures were not in decline; sustaining domestic spending and pursuing an arms race were therefore burdensome policies to carry out simultaneously. Under the circumstances, the War of Attrition was a viable option given the military gap with regard to Israel, stretched Egyptian capacities in the Arab system, the lack of Arab enthusiasm for another war or for declaring defeat (Kerr 1971; James 2006, Chapter 8). In the War of Attrition, Egypt demonstrated its steadfast opposition to Israeli occupation, which helped its government achieve diplomacy victories and regain some popular faith. Finally, what was required of Egypt as a leader and how these ideas should be realized were shaken in the 1967 War.

Statecraft 1971– 2010 Ideational change post 1971 came about from a cumulative process encompassing the experiences analysed earlier; however, substantive differences crystallized at the end of President Abdel Nasser’s era

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(Farid 1994; Riyad 1986). It should be recalled that it was during Abdel Nasser’s tenure that an ‘Egypt first’ idea was ‘formally’ narrated (Shafir 2006, 6); this idea was consistent with an Egypt that has a primary responsibility to itself. After 1967, ‘Egypt first’ meant placing the return of the Sinai at the centre of the government’s policies; while of strategic and economic significance, the Sinai’s symbolic value was of greater importance to Egyptians, especially because it had been captured in a crushing defeat. In preparing for war in 1973, in peace-making and in mobilizing society, the primary national goal was regaining the Sinai; Egypt needed to achieve this for itself.

External Narratives and Goals For President Sadat and his peers in government, ‘being positioned for leadership’ meant that Egypt’s position in the Arab system was ‘natural’ and could never be taken away; hence there was no need for proactive diplomacy to attain it (Dessouki 2008, 179). Egypt, in this new interpretation of the narrative’s core idea, had a natural disposition to lead with regard to the Arab system, the Arab– Israel conflict and the NAM. As a confirmation of the ‘Egypt first’ idea, as well as its core idea of the domestic narrative, Egypt ‘was not prepared to sacrifice its own national interests for the sake of the other Arabs’ (Quandt 1986, 331). This did not mean Egypt was reneging on its responsibilities as a central actor in multiple systems; rather, Egypt needed to prioritize its own goals in case a collective agreement was not reached (see El-Nawawy 2002, 16). What is important to note here is that the Arab states system had witnessed a similar ideational shift towards valuing cooperation between sovereign states as equals, away from the striving towards dominance that had defined intra-Arab relations in the pre-1967 era (Barnett 1993). This had implications for Egypt in the sense of enabling it to strategize in diplomacy (for war or peace) with governments that had similar understandings of sovereign requirements. Governments under President Sadat were comprised of decision makers that shared similar narrative interpretations. In diplomacy in general, Egypt’s choice of strategies was based on ‘a rational analysis of regional power relations as well as on that of the attitudes of the two superpowers. The interests of the peoples of the area, without exception, and in fact the interests of world peace and stability, required that all responsible and lucid policy makers should eschew irrational reactions

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and misconceptions and reject from their thinking the possibility of war as an alternative’ (Boutros-Ghali 1982, 771– 2). This mode of thinking through policy options and actions was not confined to Egypt’s Middle Eastern relations; it also shaped how it viewed relations with Africa, especially the Sudan and the Nile’s tributaries, as well as its involvement in Global South politics. It is here that Egypt’s ‘grounded sense of history’ helped to anchor decision makers with the confidence in their ability to act to overcome yet another ‘hurdle’ placed by historic circumstance: this core idea facilitated and legitimated Egypt pursuing policies that challenged some ideas domestically and externally. While Egypt’s policies were likely to face detractors, the state would regain its historic status and position over the long term. An important diplomacy act that emanated from these ideas was the decision to launch a limited war against Israel in 1973 (Fahmy 1983, 17). Al-Ubur (the crossing, or a shorthand for what is known as ‘the 1973 great crossing over the Suez’) almost erased the negative baggage associated with the 1967 War, and lent legitimacy and popular appeal to the government’s approach to understanding Egyptian leadership. In the lead up, during and after the Camp David Accords, Egypt’s diplomacy emanated largely from the understanding that its importance as a central regional (and global) actor could not be taken away; rather, Egypt had something to show to the world and it had the ability to tread in unchartered waters. This narrative facilitated peace-making with Israel, especially in the sense that it made viable policy options of political compromises for the sake of national interests. An important demonstration of the successful acceptance of this narrative alteration was President Sadat’s trip to the Israeli Knesset. Not only was the government’s understanding of what Egypt represented and was able to do permissive of this trip as a diplomacy option, but the President’s speech in the Knesset clearly framed the ‘peace option’ from a position of Egyptian strength, and as consistent with Egyptian leadership in peace and in war. From 1981 to 2011, Egypt as a leader remained a central idea in the narrative; however, in real terms, diplomacy had to contend with the legacies of previous policies, in addition to changing global and regional politics. Recall that the post-1970 external narrative saw leadership as assured and thus advocated collaborative efforts in diplomacy to achieve state goals. While Egyptian narratives from 1981 to 2011 were generally

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similar to those produced under the Sadat governments, Egypt’s actual actions in diplomacy did not reflect the goals that had been set by the governments. Discourses of Egyptian media commentators, academics and political figures confirmed (until late 2010 at least) that the idea of being ‘positioned for leadership’ had not weakened; what had weakened was government strategizing and action to realize these ideas. In addition to government policies lacking in strategic vision, they were increasingly popularly contested. It seemed that Egyptian action in the world had ceased to capture the imagination of Egyptians.

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1971– 2010 The primary goal post-1971 was to jolt a change in the status quo with Israel. To this end however, irrationality, as Boutros-Ghali had noted earlier, was to be avoided. Egypt needed planning to end the conflict with Israel, and to capitalize on intra-Arab collaboration (welcomed by a state system now favouring the protection of sovereignty). After the War of Attrition, Egypt reached out to the US to mediate the return of the Sinai, and a possible end to the costly conflict with Israel. With the Rogers Plan diffusing the possibility of a military confrontation, De´tente with the USSR working, and with massive engagement in Asia, the US had little incentive to overhaul the emergent status quo in the Middle East (Brzezinski 1983; see Maoz 2006, Chapter 5). In reaction to Egyptian calls neither Israel (Shafir 2006) nor the US (Parker 2001, 2– 5) changed diplomacy positions towards Egypt. Hence, a limited regional war was planned by Egypt to at least deny Israel a hardening of its position in the Sinai, and to shatter the American disinterest with the Arab– Israel conflict (Khalidi 1973). The Egyptian government marked 1971 as the ‘year of decision’ and signalled an interest for a settlement with Israel (Breslauer 1990, 258); still, no changes occurred. Ideas on how to re-engage with both superpowers were in formation in the early 1970s. According to Ismael Fahmy, later foreign minister, a symposium held in Cairo in May 1972 (its contents later published in Al-Ahram on 19 May 1972) provided government – and especially Sadat – with the idea of shocking existing relations in order to change a debilitating status quo. Sadat’s decision to expel Soviet advisors in fact first gained traction after he read the symposium proceedings in AlAhram (Fahmy 1983, 8). If by May 1972 the Egyptian government had

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not yet formulated a strategy on how superpowers could end the ‘no peace, no war’ situation, by July of that same year it had become clear that the United States (as Israel’s ally) was needed to alter this status quo, and that the alliance with the Soviet Union needed revision. In Egypt’s government assessment, and according to Fahmy (1983, 6), not only was the USSR not able to move diplomacy along without the United States, but its ‘objective was intentionally to limit the Egyptian military option’. However, he added that the USSR ‘miscalculated the effect the policy had in discrediting them’ with an Egypt that ‘could not continue to vacillate in a precarious state of “no peace, no war”’. Egypt’s government finally expelled Soviet advisers on 18 July 1972, and the US replaced the USSR as Egypt’s main patron. With the main goal remaining the return of the Sinai, Egyptian diplomacy in 1972– 3 favoured a limited goals war. Goals were limited in the sense of orchestrating war to reach a breakthrough on the political diplomacy front with a concerted effort to avoid a drawn-out regional war (Cohen 1996; Korany 1984). With respect to the external narrative, Egypt planning for war was a demonstration of leadership; in so doing, however, Egypt did not exert energies to provide leadership, rather its calculations and rational approaches drew actors to it. In diplomacy, planning for war had several components: Egypt coordinated with Syria (itself looking to regain the Golan Heights) to wage a multi-front attack on Israel; orchestrated an oil embargo with Saudi Arabia, with whom it had improved relations after Yemen; and adopted military tactics that – as much as possible – sought to avoid alarming Israel’s existential angst and potentially opening the region to unforeseeable escalation (including the use of nuclear weapons). Egyptian planners assumed that, with active diplomacy on their part, the US would intervene to ensure a quick end to military operations before escalation, and especially before Israeli decision makers perceived that an existential threshold had been crossed and thus justifying use of the Samson Option (see Perlmutter, Handel, and BarJoseph 2003, 16; Cohen 1998). Egyptian calculations proved accurate and reflected a keen understanding of Israeli existential concerns, which Egypt avoided transgressing. After the 1974 multilaterally brokered disengagement agreements, Egypt signalled its readiness to deliver concessions to Israel in return for the Sinai: it was to lead Arab states in a bid for peace, but it was also open to a bilateral deal if a multilateral breakthrough was not achieved – and,

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in particular, if the Palestinian dimension in the talks proved too complicated to resolve (Quandt 1986, 207–8). Intra-Arab coordination in pursuit of a comprehensive peace deal did not materialize; so, Egypt pushed through with its primary goal of retaining the Sinai when faced with a stalling collective Arab effort, and lobbied for the US to back a bilateral track with Israel. Assessing that its main goal would be achieved exclusively with American intervention, Egypt’s government sought to keep the USSR out of the negotiations, even when President Carter was still contemplating a Soviet role in the negotiations (Brzezinski 1983, 109–14). President Sadat reportedly said: ‘We kicked the Russians out of the door and now Mr. Carter is bringing them back in through the window’ (Heikal 1996, 253). Egypt’s government sought to influence the outcome of Israel’s upcoming elections, and was determined to present an offer that no Israeli government or society could refuse: peace with the most powerful Arab state (Evron 1994, 286). From Israel’s position, and as Moshe Dayan noted: ‘If you take one wheel off a car, it won’t drive, if you take Egypt out of the conflict, there will be no more war’ (Quandt 2001, 190). Egyptian decision makers understood the importance of their state in regional politics, and wagered that making political compromises would not undermine its status in the long-term. In peace-making talks with Israel, Egypt’s government needed American political support and economic aid to justify compromises and overcome domestic peace rejectionists (Quandt 2005). The US delivered, especially given Egypt’s importance (alongside Saudi Arabia) on the proAmerican Arab front (see Brzezinski 1983). One importance of Camp David for Egypt’s government was that it ended prospects of war with Israel, and hence allowed for the rearranging of material resources for civilian needs. The relationship with Israel, since Camp David, has been one of strategic competition dotted by moments of cooperation, and where military force was not a necessary option. In reaction to Camp David, on 26 March 1979, Arab states met in Baghdad to punish Egypt’s unilateralism. This led to Saudi Arabia withdrawing its economic aid, thus increasing Egyptian reliance on American rents (Lavy 1984). Suspension of its Arab League membership (as well as membership from other organizations such as the Islamic Conference) was not a trifling matter for Egypt. However, a conviction of its place in the Middle East greatly aided in producing a sombre

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Egyptian reaction from government and society. In fact, soon after its expulsion, the Iran– Iraq War provided an opportunity for Egypt to demonstrate its central importance in the Arab state system; emphasis on Egypt’s status in the post-1970 narrative therefore proved effective. Egypt was important for a variety of reasons, including an ability to be an interlocutor with the US and a medium for American military aid (Rabinovich 1989). Iraq thus paved the way for Egypt’s return to the Arab fold, despite the deal with Israel; in 1989, Egypt attended the Arab League Summit in Casablanca (Karsh 1989). The First Intifada rekindled the Palestinian question that had been somewhat muted since 1967, with the PLO moving further afield, from Jordan, to Lebanon, to Tunisia. The Intifada augmented Arab outrage at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians; Egyptian diplomacy reflected this anger by critiquing Israel, but without active policy involvement. Then, in the 1990s, Egyptian diplomacy played minor roles, such as in the Madrid Process, in efforts to remove Iraq from Kuwait and in USIraq mediations afterwards and in occasional attempts to revive stalling Arab – Israel peace-making processes. We need to appreciate here what Egypt was offered. In Madrid, for example, Egypt could not but play a minor role in facilitating progress on bilateral tracks since only American engagement could offer meaningful intervention acceptable to the parties (Ayalon 1995). Hence, limited Egyptian diplomacy derived from a combination of pursuing limited involvements, and what the receiving contexts offered as options. In real terms, Egypt had neither the material capacity nor the political capital to supply any leadership role, and even if Egypt promoted itself as a leader, the Arab – Israel conflict and Arab states systems both furnished very limited opportunities – certainly not ones of leadership (Barnett 1993). Egyptian diplomacy in the 1990s –2000s was geared to sustaining the posture that would aid it to capture most rents. In the Middle East, Egypt was committed to the peace terms reached under Camp David and, globally, it was committed to ties with the US (including participating in the Gulf War effort in a show of American support). The external environment rewarded Egyptian predictability by offering a wide range of financial incentives. Seeking external financing for domestic spending was not an emergent diplomacy concern, but had been present since 1952. However, roughly since 1974, financing had been mostly needed to sustain state functions and offset the legacies of

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earlier policies. External rents were therefore predominantly directed towards current rather than capital expenditures, or strategicallyplanned developmental projects. Egypt did have a diplomacy: it tried to mediate in the 1998 Syria – Turkey standoff; it supported the Palestinians’ search for settlement with Israel; and it kept its commitment to non-alignment, demonstrated by President Mubarak’s visit to China. However, it seemed that Egypt’s leadership in global politics was mostly a matter of rhetoric. Egyptian diplomacy in the period 2000 to 2010 had three dimensions, the most important of which was maintaining the close alliance with the US, which sustained its strategic rents to Egypt. Secondly, diplomacy focused on observing the peace treaty with Israel. Finally, it pursued a regional status quo. At crisis moments, Egypt engaged in limited ways. For instance, it called for a dialogue among Iraqi parties after 2003, and assisted modestly and indirectly in the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, thereafter provided security monitoring and humanitarian coordination with Gaza. It issued verbal condemnations of Israel’s Lebanon War in 2006, called on Lebanese warring factions to demonstrate self-restraint in 2008, and called for an Arab coordination for peace in the Arab– Israel conflict. Despite this, Egypt’s government did not demonstrate that it had a plan or vision to be proactive as a leader; in this way, it produced its own interpretation of how leadership could be synonymous with status quo.

Domestic Narratives and Goals The domestic narrative maintained its storyline of Egypt needing to look towards being modern and independent; it was not an easy feat, however, for incoming governments to craft goals and policies to manage the legacies of previous governance policies. Incoming governments re-crafted some contents in the domestic narrative and emphasized a modern Egypt as defined by a break from ‘self-sufficiency’ and economic nationalism, and one that encouraged private initiative. Egypt, as a modern state, needed to excel in science, education and technological advancement because its future was predicated on successfully repositioning itself in an increasingly competitive global system (Ibrahim 1993, 110). This was consistent with the ‘Egypt first’ idea. From the 1980s onwards, an idea of security and stability became a pillar of governance, but the government did little to actually emplot it

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into a domestic narrative; this idea achieved dominance in the two decades of the 1990s and first decade of the new millennium. The government often framed its governance policies in security terms as needing to safeguard the domestic realm from disorder, particularly violence brought about by Islamic extremism (exemplified by attacks on tourists). The government relied on fatwas from Al-Azhar to condemn religious extremism and the use of violence against civilians (Moustafa 2000, 7). Pursuit of stability became necessary at a time when Egyptians were witnessing militarized interruptions in their daily lives, and ideas that challenged it were mostly dealt with through the security forces by directing action to contain or destroy groups holding them. However, something seemed to be missing: the government genuflected to the domestic narrative which it maintained from the earlier era (a narrative of modernity and economic diversity), but its policies seemed to indicate that it had little interest in properly administering the state; clear goals pursued via accepted and successful state-building policies were seriously lacking. Government’s legitimacy is tied to the range of services it offers, not only basic security; for many Egyptians who saw their livelihood spiral downwards it was not unclear what the government was offering. Finally, while I present the 1971 –2010 as one era, nuances existed between Sadat and Mubarak. After 1981, the space for political parties was expanded, newspaper freedoms increased and the judiciary became more visible in the public sphere. While such actions represented some expansion of inclusionary policies, they were largely momentary relaxations of existing security measures and remained ineffective as a means to challenge the government in meaningful ways. The President remained the final arbiter in all matters of policy (Abdallah 1997, 133). More problematic, however, was that Egypt since the 1990s had a stagnant ideational landscape: emphasis on stability securitized opposing opinions or ideas and marginalized alternate imaginings of Egypt’s future and place in the world. This is all added to a societal sense of domestic decay.

Governance 1971 – 2010 Post-1970 governments progressively restricted contestation of governance goals and policies. Constitutional amendments augmenting presidential executive powers between 1952 and 2010 (in 1971 and

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1980, and in 2005 and 2007) were complemented by exceptional security measures to continually restrict the activities of professional associations, media outlets and political parties, as well as to limit transparency in parliamentary procedures and municipal affairs. In Egypt’s statist economy, bureaucrats came to control much of the information necessary for governance. In the face of public outcries, bureaucrats offered stopgap concessions (e.g. agreeing to the shutdown of minor departments) instead of endorsing substantial sectoral trimming or privatization. The government’s need to actually expand services, such as in healthcare and education, increased the bureaucracy’s influence; with the overall space for popular contestation limited, bureaucrats were fairly protected. By the early 1970s there was a convergence of ISI inefficacies, a bloated bureaucracy, a weakened private sector, ubiquitous subsidies and a population ‘in boom’ since the 1950s – all of which needed remedies (Ghneim 2005, 84 – 8; Posusney 1997, 111); reliance on strategic rents to spend domestically increased significantly (Barnett 1992, 217–23). In the first half of the 1970s, promoting the narrative of a modern Egypt defined by a vibrant economy and social equality commenced with purges of ‘old ideas’ (mostly of Nasserites). In this respect, planning for action in diplomacy did also have a domestic dimension: it was ‘a means of awakening the Egyptian people’ (Fahmy 1983, 17); indeed, crossing Israel’s Bar-Lev Line in 1973 added to the government’s requisite political capital to proceed with domestic economic and political restructuring and purging of contested ideas. A mild Infitah policy (liberalization or open door) was resisted by politicians and bureaucrats who refused to end economic populism (Hinnebusch 1981, 456). What mild liberalization allowed for was a temporary convergence between private and public interest to capitalize on the oil boom of the 1970s. It also weakened the position of labour, which took a hit with government policies undermining its bargaining capacity vis-a`-vis private interest. In essence, the reason Infitah never really took root in Egypt was mainly because bureaucrats periodically diffused pressure (such as participating in the selling of designated unsuccessful industries), but never ceded control over the government – a control they had consolidated by being those responsible for actually running state institutions (Ghneim 2005, 86 – 7).

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On the political front, the government dismantled the ASU in late 1976 in order to materialize its reformist ideas, and created the National Democratic Party (NDP). Albeit under different labels and loyalties, the NDP was – like the ASU before it – an umbrella for loyal persons and groups, and served as a platform for a business class loyal to the government (Springborg 1989, 157). Complementing the NDP’s social control function were a powerful security service and the bureaucracy. All reforms were framed as necessary but to be kept within the contours of domestic stability and security. Also in 1976, the government lifted a two-decade restriction on Al-Ikhwan; this was in line with the image of President Sadat as the ‘believer president’, an image that sat well with a generally pious population. Whereas under the previous era, a clerical class was endowed with monopoly over religious interpretation and confined to the state-controlled Al-Azhar, governments under Sadat gave more space to Al-Azhar as well as individual clerics, in line with political liberalization processes. In such a move, politicized clerics exited from under the umbrella of Al-Azhar and from then on became a challenge to contain (Moustafa 2000; Zeghal 1999). Economic reform stagnated in the 1980s, with increased reliance on rents mainly from the US and Saudi Arabia (Hinnebusch 2002, 95). Stagnation and debt both grew in the 1990s. Yet, Egypt’s implementation of Infitah policies was handsomely rewarded by International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans and debt forgiveness, regardless of the policies’ exact outcomes. Many social services were delivered by Al-Ikhwan (e.g. health, education, etc.), which added to the group’s political appeal, unnerving government. However, with its own inability to satisfy an increasing demand for social services, the government accepted Al-Ikhwan’s social role, while simultaneously working to deny it a political role (al-Awadi 2004). Competition between a state-dependent bureaucratic class and private investments continued, in the face of which the government appeared side-lined; as a result, the new millennium started with an economic setback arising from a series of misplaced private investments apparently coerced by the bureaucracy (Kienle 2001, 144– 8). With external aid becoming critical to state coffers, diplomacy stability and predictability towards donors and allies was an imperative. Internal security services on which the government relied to maintain domestic stability received most budgeted expenditures (Soliman 2005, 81 – 95).

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Governance from 1981 to 2011 relied heavily on emergency laws and selective appeasement with favourable legislation and institutional manipulation. Barring few adjustments, structural gaps defined the highly unequal Egyptian political scene and the economy. To appease labour and other potential sources of discontent, external rents became increasingly important and displaced wide-reaching structural changes (Weinbaum 1986, 119). However, this did little to end contestation: protests and strikes were a noticeable feature of the 1990s and 2000s. Periodic parliamentary elections did help introduce new figures and the interests they represented into the political landscape; however, the dominant majority of these either ran under the NDP or had once been loyalists (King 2009, 94 –5 and 105– 7). Resilient opposition actors, which included human rights activists, election monitoring groups, AlArabi al-Nasiri, Marxists, al-Wafd and Al-Tajammu, organized and sought alternative voices for Egyptians (al-Anani 2005; Ibrahim 1992). The opposition shared the government narrative of a modern and independent Egypt, but disagreed on the means to achieve it. The interaction of these opposition groups among themselves and with regard to the government was conditioned by: (1) national parameters set mainly by the government (such as electoral laws, funding regulations, etc.), and (2) the compatibility of the political agendas and ideologies of these groups themselves (some of whom agreed with government approaches). Disunity among heterogeneous societal actors undermined the potential for concerted counter-government action, and two points of contention were particularly noteworthy: the role of Islam in politics, and the need for security (al-Anani 2005, 487). Despite the draconian security laws in place, the government’s emphasis on security permeated even the political agendas of the opposition who were severely critical of such laws. When cooperation did occur, it was ad hoc and temporary because of the power imbalance: Al-Ikhwan had a public following and mobilization capacities that far exceeded the rest. In addition to ideological divisions, then, this imbalance diminished incentives to compromise, hence maintaining the government’s de facto favourable edge (Cavatorta and Elananza 2010; Ghneim 2005, 91). Incrementally from the 1970s onwards, the military establishment came to defend the government-set status quo because of a combination of professionalization and economically induced cooptation (Springborg 1989, 107). By the 1990s, the military had come

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to accept ‘a subordinate role in a presidential system that both safeguards its interests but limits its direct influence in politics’ (Harb 2003, 269). Economic privileges came from spending less on weapons purchases and more on supporting services across ranks. Moreover, the higher ranks consolidated against potential coups (especially from mid-ranking officers). Finally, the military, which viewed itself as Egypt’s guardian, and which had helped establish the necessity to ensure security at all costs, also fully internalized it. Though after its honourable showing in the 1973 War it elected to retreat from the forefront of political life, its actual influence did not end. From the 1990s to 2010, governments relied on institutional entrenchment – especially of security services and the military – rather than on an ideational engagement with society. The problem by 2010 was not only that the government did not appeal to the dominant societal narrative, but that its performance in delivering basic services was extremely poor. Against a backdrop of societal frustration with the government’s social and economic programs, violent confrontations between security services and domestic actors, especially Al-Ikhwan and the Gamaa Islamiyya, peaked in the 1990s and continued into the new millennium. In the midst of these confrontations, the government ruled with executive powers and further limited the political game (Abdallah 1997, 134). The single idea of stability-seeking structured political action. While the ‘stick’ was a frequent means to contain social protest (until 2011), it was not the sole factor. For many Egyptians there really was a pervasive fear propagated by the government’s argument that order would collapse without its brand of heavy-handed security enforcement; many concurred that force was necessary. Events such as the killing of more than 60 people in Luxor in 1997 gave credibility and legitimacy to the government’s argument that its extreme actions in using violence as a main instrument in governance were justified; these violent exchanges continued in such incidents as the Sharm el-Sheikh attacks in 2005, and the Dahab bombings of 2006. On top of these incidents of a ‘terrorist nature’, social unrest underlined by economic dislocations was also on the rise. This included mass demonstrations (e.g. the 2008 Mahalla strike), and country-wide confrontations with security services. Until 2010, violence, the use of force, domineering executive powers, and an unbridled role for the security and military services were central features of governance.

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The period between 2000 and 2010 was characterized by the political activism of various groups, who organized and sought a role via many means, including parliamentary elections. They did so in spite of the security-seeking environment. Nevertheless, weaknesses in organized opposition, incompatible agendas and government interventions continued to impede serious challenges to the one-party dominance. What happened in 2011, then, is best understood not as an anomaly but rather as a moment that shared similar features with earlier demonstrations: it differed only in magnitude and in the sense that a ‘threshold’ was crossed and many participated in the ensuing revolt. This absence of meaningful political and economic inclusion was paralleled by a virtual absence of goals on the part of governments. There was little attempt at capturing society’s imagination or appealing to its sense of history or future aims, and this was compounded by a growing gap between government and the expectations of a wide cross-section of Egyptians. Egypt’s Arab Spring was not only about economics but resulted from a delicate mix of heavy reliance on exclusionary governance policies, and an absence of government goals to orient it in relation to the past in order to act in the present. Though their dominant societal narrative provided them with a strong sense of who they were, Egyptians were uncertain about where they were heading.

Domestic– External Nexus 1971– 2010 The outcome of the 1967 War started to galvanize existing opposition ideas against the Egyptian government, and in many ways legitimated them. The government eased these social tensions by adopting a nationalist rhetoric, and calling for unity and rallying around the flag in order to regain the occupied Sinai; its ability to do so demonstrated that it had not lost all its earned capital. Expansions in economic and political freedoms during this era were cosmetic, and did not alter the essence of governance policies (Ibrahim 1992, 106– 7). The War of Attrition (1968– 70) provided the Egyptian government with an opportunity to evade domestic reform by directing its energies towards defending against and countering Israeli attacks. Government in the Sadat era could not fully reverse or eliminate many inherited legacies, including the bloated bureaucracy, a largely inefficient state-dominated industry, economic decline, and massive current expenditures on social services and commodities subsidies. As in the

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pre-1970 era, funding for these expenditures relied on external aid and rents; however, with the economic dislocations becoming more acute after 1970, dependence on exogenous rents deepened (Waterbury 1983, 403). With growing domestic malaise in the early 1970s, Egypt – government and society – needed to regain its self-confidence and the Sinai; to this end, there were enormous benefits to be gained by ending the conflict with Israel in order to shift resources to domestic civilian demands. By 1972, strikes and demonstrations, organized mainly by students and labourers, were spreading across Egypt (Abd Allah 1985, 191). Given domestic conditions and relative superpower distraction from the Middle East, President Sadat orchestrated the 1973 War: a military attack that sought to achieve limited, and largely political, goals (Brecher 1980, 51– 76). The success of Egypt’s plan hinged on Syrian and Saudi Arabian participation. Subsequently, it was successful in launching a political dialogue, and in showcasing the centrality of Egypt to peace as much as to war. With disengagement and then peace talks, Egyptian government attention shifted inwards. Economic decline was temporarily halted with transfers, especially from Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s government appealed for international assistance to support proposed domestic reforms, and in return international financial institutions demanded economic liberalization; however, entrenched institutional legacies kept the government’s hands tied domestically (Barnett 1992, 137–8). Success in crossing the Suez in 1973, launching a bold overture in front of the Israeli Knesset and eventually retuning the Sinai left lasting impressions on Egypt’s external narrative and policy. It restored Egyptian confidence in its sense of self and history, undermined by a post-1967 decline in morale. These achievements also allowed the government to side-line the Palestinian issue in peace negotiations when they threatened to impede Egyptian interests. Again, these policies were accepted by framing them as necessary to achieve the ‘Egypt first’ idea. Also significant to Sadat’s bargaining strategy was his establishment of a working relationship with Israel as a means to pursue closer ties with Washington (Stein 1993); this demonstrated the flexibility and pragmatism the government had when backed by domestic support for its narrative and diplomacy goals. Achievements in diplomacy empowered the government to attempt changes on the domestic front, especially a purging of Nasserite ideas related to populist statism, and a reorganization of political actors in the

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NDP. The end of Egypt’s military conflict with Israel allowed the government to channel money to civilian sectors. State control was not curtailed, but expanded in personnel and expenditure (especially in the ‘law and order’ sectors, which more than doubled between 1977 and 1980) (Ayubi 1989, 63). Whatever liberalization attempts passed the bureaucratic veto, its main beneficiaries were government supporters, importers, consultants attached to foreign interest and private actors dependent on state contracts (Waterbury 1983, 188). With the Iran –Iraq war at its peak, Saudi Arabia was determined to consolidate an Arab front to balance against Iran and Iraq alike, while Iraq was interested in using the Egyptian –American alliance for its benefit; both realities provided Egypt’s diplomacy with options to act in multiple regional theatres as an important state despite its peace treaty with Israel and subsequent isolation from the Arab states system. The narrative of Egypt having an imposing presence in regional, as well as global politics (given the interests of major powers in the Middle East) was thereby confirmed. However, tying its dependence on external rents forced it to maintain stability in diplomacy thus compromising its independence, which governments argued was necessary to ensure domestic prosperity. Until at least 2010, domestic stability was tied to factors beyond the government’s control, but which were crucial to its survival (Beblawi 1998, 8 –11).

Conclusion The Camp David Accords marked a significant change in Egyptian diplomacy and implied a narrative alteration in its external narrative. Egypt’s behaviour was the first clear break from collective Arab positions on the conflict with Israel. Though specific concessions and tactical moves in the bargaining process were mostly centralized around Sadat, who was the main negotiator, the government’s willingness to accept a treaty in general stemmed from a reorientation of the core idea of Egypt’s preeminent place in the world, from one of leadership for all to one of leadership for itself first and foremost. Therefore, understanding the shared ideas in the external narrative sheds lights on the acceptance of the treaty, while focusing on the tactics and role of the individual would help to better appreciate its terms.2 In subsequent years, prioritizing state interests became the norm rather than the exception.

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Egypt’s external relations must also be understood as practical responses to the very real consequences of war with a strong adversary. External relations, in this sense, are not just about narratives or solidarity (with Arab states or the Palestinians), or regional rivalries (between Arab states, as the Arab Cold War is often invoked to imply). Thus, the peace treaty with Israel not only ended war with Israel, but also diffused the general probability of war with the state that was most likely to go to war with Egypt at the time. Unlike Egypt’s other regional entanglements, its relations with Israel had been defined by war, at a time when warring did not define any other of Egypt’s relations. War was a serious burden on Egypt, not only because it drained its material capacities, but because by entering into wars and not winning them, the core narrative idea of its leadership role was severely called into question. Rather than redeem its poor pre-state military performance, then, such losses only served to undermine the idea of Egypt’s special place in the world. Energies from 1980 to 2010 were dedicated to maintaining domestic stability, and keeping a select group of like-minded political elites in power and with them the status quo. The domestic narrative’s call to ‘protect Egyptian interests first’ was supported by society, indicating that, despite challenges, it struck a chord. Since the 1990s, little evidence exists of serious government attempts to re-organize goals and reformulate policies: external rents subsidized food and other basic commodities; the country’s massive labour power, natural resources (especially unutilized agricultural lands and various minerals and energy sources like gas) were not capitalized on; and various sources of potential domestic investment (especially in tourism) were not significantly developed. A domestic narrative is, to a great degree, temporal, i.e. it highlights the state’s progression through time. A narrative that freezes the state by cutting it off from its past and not giving it a direction for the future is sort of an anti-narrative. It seems that statecraft from 1980 to 2010 was at best ambivalent about Egypt’s past, while also – and more problematically – not charting clear directions for the future. The distance between society and the political decision making class grew, leading to the revolts of 2011.

CHAPTER 3 STATECRAFT IN ISRAEL

The importance of loss and historical dispossession in the history of the Jewish people defines the ideational core of Israel’s dominant societal narrative, and has produced an inescapable sense of insecurity defined as being ‘the fundamental problem of the State of Israel’ (Ben-Gurion 1958, 426). The dominant societal narrative is therefore haunted by existential fear, most clearly represented in the Holocaust, and can be termed a ‘narrative of negatives’. This narrative emphasizes the extent to which Jews have historically been alone in the world, as well as the perils of disunity and fragmentation; it thus fiercely promotes the well-being of the group over the pursuit of individual interests. This led to an external narrative built around the idea of the ‘Iron Wall’ or the idea that the only way in which Israel could survive in a ‘hostile’ Middle East was by establishing itself as a strong military state that would impose an Iron Wall so strong that Arab states attempting to break it would be met by a long string of devastating defeats. Only in defeat, with all hope lost, would the Arabs then be willing to negotiate a permanent peace. Survival, then, was a matter of endurance. Until 1973, and especially following the spectacular Israeli victory in 1967, the sense in Israel was that the time for the Iron Wall to come down had not yet come; so even though this external narrative did not preclude compromise (in fact, it sought it as an ultimate end goal), it also did not privilege its active pursuit. With the 1973 War, the sense of safety that Israel derived from the Iron Wall was shaken. Egypt’s overtures in a context of a dignified rather than humiliating defeat then made negotiation and compromise viable policy options for Israel despite the absence of a total Arab defeat.

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Israel’s domestic narrative was similarly influenced by the existential fear at the heart of the dominant societal narrative, and resulted in a sense of yearning for a reunion and overcoming divisive internal conflict, and a related ‘fear of disunity and fragmentation’. Given this, the domestic narrative privileged state supervision and control in governance in a bid to maintain unity and achieve both stability and development; moreover, the emphasis on unity created strong boundaries that excluded those threatening this unity.

Statecraft 1950– 73 In general, the Jewish narrative has a core idea of it being ‘a history of negatives’ (Reich 2003, 122), rife with memories of expulsion into the Diaspora in Babylon, centuries of ethnic conflict with non-Jews, persecution (especially in Europe) and, most importantly (and with an immediate impact for Israel), the Holocaust. Yet the Jewish narrative also places importance on mythical people and events such as the Maccabees, Masada, the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, the battle of Tel-Chai – all examples from ancient and modern times of Jews who were victimized but resisted and took action against their aggressors (Fayga 2007). In Israel, the modern state which was built to endure, ‘there is a primordial and pre-eminent aspect of the political culture – its Jewishness: this pervades thought, feeling, belief, and behaviour in the political realm’ (Brecher 1972, 229). At the same time, however, the Jewish religious narrative sees the establishment of an earthly state as a violation of divine prohibition; hence, the establishment of the state was one of the schisms that Zionism introduced to the Jewish narrative. Narrating the modern state was therefore a complex manoeuvre, more than simply resorting to a religious framing and motivating people through references to religion and shared history. This was further complicated by the fact that the dominant societal narrative was most influenced by Ashkenazi understandings of Jewish history, especially those of Labour Zionism, which held socialist secular ideals committed ‘to social and economic equality of men and nations, to freedom from class and alien rule, to co-operative enterprise and, in general, to the values of nineteenth-century socialist humanism’ (Brecher 1972, 245). Nevertheless, Jewish-ness held an immigrant society, with its varied ideas

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and traditions, together around a common narrative and, more importantly, goals.

The External Narrative and Goals For most non-Zionist Jewish elites, what was important was the survival of the Jewish people, but not necessarily of the state of Israel. However, for the Zionist vision, as stated in the Basel Program of 1897, survival of the Jewish people was to become the state’s raison d’eˆtre thus linking the fate of the Jewish people globally with that of the Israeli state. It was incumbent upon state decision makers, then, to protect Israel for the sake of Israelis and for Jews worldwide, and to ensure it had a sustainable state project (Bar-Zohar 1977, 219; Brecher 1972, 256). From the perspective of Zionist decision makers in the early twentieth century, the most immediate source of threat facing the state project was the Arab environment, thus influencing the negative emphasis of Israel’s external narrative. These ideas were that: the ‘Arab world is fundamentally hostile towards Israel’; the resources available to the Arab world are enough to threaten the existence of Israel when pooled; ‘the international community is an unreliable ally’; Israel’s geography is a constraint, especially the long borders with hostile neighbours; and an Iron Wall would ensure at least the de facto survival and prospering of Israel and over time its acceptance by the Arabs (Maoz 2006, 7– 12). Around the 1920s, Zeev Jabotinsky and a cohort of Jewish activists formulated the idea of the Iron Wall. The thinking behind the Iron Wall was that Arabs would be inherently hostile to a Jewish state and that they needed to learn to accept it as a permanent reality. To this end, every Arab effort to destroy Israel would face very high and intolerable costs. With the Iron Wall came the idea of ‘cumulative deterrence’, or the need to continually impose a cost through contained fighting (i.e. through controlled escalation) against Arab states, while building a durable domestic economy, a strong military and a society that rallied around government (Tal 2000). Key to this narrative was a felt need for self-reliance in defence of the state. With state formation, ‘the Ben-Gurion crowd was very successful in marketing panic in Israel’, the outcome of which was an aggressive and violent understanding of this emplotted external narrative – an understanding that has since then gained an almost unanimous consensus among Israeli governments (Maoz 2006, 66; Susser 2007).

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The Iron Wall did not expect the Palestinians and Arabs to accept Israel as a just entity, since its creation was a violation of their own justice. Eban once noted with regard to any ‘hypothetical’ Arab recognition: ‘we do not ask any recognition of our right to exist, because our right to exist is independent of any recognition of it’ (Lustick 2008, 33). Yet Israel did expect the Arabs to eventually accept it as a fait accompli. In this sense, the external narrative anticipated the possibility of a negotiated peace, so long as it did not compromise Israeli security. Despite this, following independence there was an active attempt by governments to undermine ideas that favoured some form of dialogue with Arab states, such as those held by Moshe Sharett (Bar-Zohar 1977, Chapter 12; Shlaim 2000, Chapter 3; Sofer 1998, Chapter 18). Consequently, in this era, ‘no effective peace movements positing at least dovish alternatives to bellicose policies sprang up (until the late 1970s) despite the centrality of the conflict with the Arabs in the Israeli experience’ (Levy 1997, 84). Harkabi (1970) posits that Israeli decision makers assessed the immediate environment from the prism of ‘politicide’: that the collective goal of the Arab states was to destroy the state of Israel. For Harkabi (1977, 4 – 5), this derived not only from an ‘affective level’, which accounted for the impulsive Arab hatred of Israel, but also from a ‘cognitive-ideological level’, which was more dangerous for Israel because it came from Arab strategic planning. He continues that the assumptions of some Israelis about the dovishness of the Arabs, especially the Palestinians, are naı¨ve because no Arab or Palestinian wants peace with Israel (Harkabi 1977, 128–33). In government, for example, Menachem Begin tied pan-Arabism with Pan-Slavism and Pan-Germanism in their common desire to destroy Israel and annihilate the Jews (Begin 1963). Over time, the Iron Wall impacted diplomacy in two significant ways. First, survival of the state as a haven for the Jewish people became paramount. This allowed governments to frame events as existential threats and eliminated the need to justify selected policies, especially the use of military force in interacting with the outside world (Reich 2003, 123; Lustick 2008, 49). Secondly, it prioritized the concept of ein breira or the ‘last choice’ (or having no alternative). This was the idea that Israeli governments had tried other (mostly non-violent) avenues, but the actions of its enemies left it no alternative to the use of force. In such a framing, the space for morally based arguments and discourses about

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appropriateness was reduced, and the idea of retaliation becomes central to the external narrative. Consequently, by emphasizing the victimhood of the state vis-a`-vis external threats, a wide range of diplomacy actions were legitimated, especially those reliant on force. What should be noted, however, is that ein breira could also be used in pursuit of peace. A prime example of this followed the 1967 war when ein breira was used to argue that Israel had no other option but peace if it was to eliminate the territorial challenges and danger from Arab states. A ‘narrative of negatives’ in that instance put a positive spin on ein breira, something that has been less common and less acceptable for governments and a societal majority. In this context, several noteworthy diplomacy goals were pursued in order to secure Israel. A key goal was to undermine Egypt, a state with considerable military capabilities and prominent leadership status among Arab societies; Israel acted on this in 1956 and 1967. A related goal was to undermine neighbouring Syria, which was critical for the survival of Israel, since the two states shared water resources needed for Israel’s agricultural projects and settlements (Tal 2000). Tied to the Iron Wall was the Periphery Doctrine, which emphasized the importance of creating a network of relations with non-Arab Middle East states. These included Turkey, Iran and Ethiopia, states that were seen has having ‘shared concerns and mutual interests traced to a single anxiety: the survival chances of non-Arab entities in the face of three simultaneous, worrisome trends – Soviet penetration, disarray in the West and the ascendance of Nasserism with its emphasis on revolution, Arab unity and an expansive Arab nationalism’ (Klieman 1988, 76).

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1950 –73 Prior to May 1948, decision makers of the Zionist movement in Mandate Palestine had two general diplomacy options. First was the pursuit of United Nations Resolution 181 on partition; second was the use of military force to achieve security. Upon declaring Israel’s independence, the Arab invasion confirmed the external narrative’s understanding of Arab hostility and Jewish vulnerability, thereby necessitating the military option; Israel in fact framed its actions in the 1948 War as retaliation to Arab aggression. This interaction set the tone of subsequent Israeli diplomacy towards the Arab environment, which was largely defined by force-based strategies.

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After the 1948 War, relations with the Arab environment included weaponized and non-weaponized border skirmishes, ranging from the border crossings of farmers and separated family members, to fedayeen (guerrillas) attacks (Segev 2007; Morris 1993). Israeli governments understood all such movements to be infiltrations; they were criminalized and securitized, and military force used to impose heavy costs on both civilians and guerrillas, as well as on entire villages from which they came. Israel forced the evacuation of civilians from bordering villages, or alternatively appropriated their land to create buffer zones (Shlaim 1983; Morris 2004, 593). ‘It soon became a policy cornerstone that under no circumstances should the refugees be permitted to return to the Jewish state’ (Tal 1996, 60). Expulsions were complemented by large-scale confiscation of Arab lands and the imposition of military rule on Arab citizens. Israel failed to stop infiltrations because of the difficulty in tracking attackers or identifying their points of departure; in this regard, it partially relied on Arab states to curtail infiltrations, punishing them severely where they failed to do so. Incrementally, Israel increased its use of military force to what Moshe Sharett called a policy of ‘collective punishment’ (Maoz 2006, 279), in which the military was occasionally supported by Jewish settlers.1 After the 1948 War, and despite these infiltrations, Israel nevertheless militarily dominated the Arab – Israel conflict system (Rogan and Shlaim 2007); its capabilities were augmented by arms imports and a growing domestic military industry (Ilan 1996). Israel thus began launching deep-penetrating raids into surrounding Arab states, framing them as retaliation, which was consistent with its external narrative. These raids exposed Egypt’s military weakness and augmented the credibility of Israeli deterrence, with Israel’s use of force reaching a high point in the 1955 Gaza Raid (Heikal 1986, 66 – 8). Of significance on the Syrian front were three water projects that Israel started in the 1950s: the Hula Drainage project, the Benot Ya’aqov project and the Lake Kinneret-Negev project (Bar-Yaacov 1967, 106 – 14). These projects diverted water and forced the evacuation of many residents from the demilitarized zone. In implementing these projects, Israel created ‘facts on the ground’, including removing Arab residents from the demilitarized zone, and altering borders to expand settlements and populating them with agricultural workers. Syrian responses were met with excessive Israeli force (Slater 2002, 88;

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Shalev 1994, 45 – 50). Israel ‘both directly and indirectly, contributed to the intimidation of the Syrian population’, seen as necessary to secure the state (Maoz 1995, 32 – 3). The 1955 Czech Arms Deal with Egypt risked ending Israel’s military superiority when the arms transfer and training were complete, while the entry of the USSR on the Arab states’ side in the conflict created a strategic imbalance (Isacoff 2006, 84; Bar-Joseph 1998). These developments reaffirmed Israel’s sense of vulnerability and its need to defend itself at all costs, since a huge military imbalance in a hostile environment threatened it. Nevertheless, Israel’s government assessment of Egyptian capabilities was a ‘schizophrenic image’: one view feared their imminent threat, while another was dismissive of such capabilities: ‘The latter image was used to explain why a pre-emptive strike against Egypt was necessary, while the former was used to argue that it was militarily feasible’ (Laron 2009, 73). In all this, little pressure was placed on Israel by either superpower to alter its actions (Cooley 1984; Shlaim 2000, 68 – 77 and 228 – 41). A pattern of rather weak superpower pressure on Israel started with independence when the USSR boosted Israeli capabilities (including a March 1948 arms deal through Czechoslovakia); at the time, however, Israel’s preference was for an alliance with the US and the West (Ben-Gurion 1958, 315; Eban 1977, 177). A window of opportunity for Israel to secure itself came from British and French planning for the Suez War; war promised aid and security guarantees, as well as a chance to undermine Egypt (Eban 1977, 218). The 1956 invasion had important outcomes for Israeli diplomacy. On the positive side, the Invasion led to the arrival of UN peacekeepers who buffered Israel’s southern borders, while opening the Aqaba waterway and allowing maritime access (Eban 1977, 225; Tal 1996). However, American intervention to end the Invasion and an explicit Soviet threat of intervention during the crisis/war had lasting impacts on Israel’s strategies and its assessments of global friendships and alliances (Govrin 1998). Importantly, the Invasion’s military success together with the limitations imposed by external powers reaffirmed the idea that Israel should uphold its own security judgements – including developing a domestic arms industry. Israel’s government therefore adopted an offensive-based military posture to allow Israel ‘to launch independently a preventive war without the aid of a foreign policy’

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(Levy 1997, 105). In effect, the use of force was relegated to a default position in Israeli diplomacy. By the late 1950s, a militarily confident Israel sought a Periphery Pact with Turkey, Ethiopia and Iran to organize these states in an alliance that would balance Soviet presence and Arab power, especially that of Egypt (Bar-Zohar 2008, 192; Klieman 1988, Chapter 6; Bar-Zohar 1986, 262). The weakening of the Baghdad Pact, followed by the toppling of the Iraqi monarchy in 1958, presented an opportunity to strengthen Israel –Turkey ties, especially in ‘Israeli assistance to Turkey in industrialization, joint scientific research, and the extension of trade between the two countries’ (Bar-Zohar 1986, 264). The success of the Periphery Pact in building a regional non-Arab block remains a point of contention; certainly, however, Turkey’s reluctance to enter polarizing regional politics, or risk any direct confrontation with the USSR, seems to have greatly undermined the alliance. In this era, the Israeli government’s discussion of a nuclear option was met with an opportunity to actually acquire one. Under the ‘atoms for peace’ programme, states like France and the US were interested in selling nuclear technology (Cohen 1998, 12 & 45 – 53). French – Arab ties were then strained by the Algerian War of Independence, and Israel had demonstrated its strength and was receptive to France. From 1956 – 7 to 1962, Israel developed its atomic energy, particularly in Dimona, with French support (Pinkus 2002). With time, however, relations deteriorated because, unlike France, Israel sought to keep all nuclear plans secret. This posture of opacity on the nuclear issue was never an explicitly stated policy, but evolved in several phases and trials and errors into an enduring posture because it prevented a nuclear arms race among Israel’s Arab neighbours, and provided Israel with a great sense of security that quelled its existential fears (Cohen 1998; Evron 1994, 5 – 11). Israel’s opacity also precluded a clear deterrence policy, but created ‘residual deterrence effects’ i.e. added ‘fear’ in the calculations of Arab states once they suspected it of having acquired a nuclear weapon (Evron 1994; Cohen 1998, Chapter 13). Deteriorating France – Israel relations reached a critical point on the eve of the 1967 War when in early June, and with the crisis fomenting, France declared that ‘whichever state should decide to use military force, wherever this may occur, will not enjoy France’s approval nor any kind of support’ (Brown 2001, 11).

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The Arab Cold War transferred attention away from Israel but did not end militarized border skirmishes (Kerr 1971). With the collapse of the UAR signalling a weakening Arab consensus, the US renewed its interest in drawing Arab states, especially Egypt, away from the USSR. It thus released its post-Sinai Invasion brake on Israel’s use of force regionally in a bid to have Arab states recognize the value of an alliance with the US over the USSR (Shlaim 2000, 240). By the mid-1960s, the use of military force was escalating on the Jordan and Syria fronts, while escalation with Egypt was mostly verbal (Shemesh 2002, 164). Nevertheless, Egypt’s claim to Arab leadership made acting against Israel on behalf of the Arabs its responsibility. Israel, in the meantime, needed American support to counterbalance – or to work to prevent – Soviet intervention on the Arab side in case of war (Troen and Shalom 1999, 198; Quandt 1992). On the eve of the 1967 War, Egypt’s successive moves justified Israel’s reaction, framed as ein breira. Israel’s performance in the 1967 War confirmed its regional supremacy while occupied land buffered its borders, thus augmenting its sense of security. During the War of Attrition, Soviet political and military backing of Egypt had two implications for Israel. First it constrained its policy options, leading to its reserved acceptance of the Rogers Plan (Shafir 2006; Khalidi 1973). Second, it encouraged an Israeli defensive posture. Lacking a political plan, the Bar-Lev Line, a series of defensive fortifications in the Sinai, buffered Israel geographically and bought it time (Heikal 1996, 160). Though Egypt signalled for peace in the early 1970s, and prior to the 1973 War (Shafir 2006), Israel did not respond and was not compelled to do so by either superpower: its defensive posture was strengthened both by the USSR’s decreasing role, and the US’ distraction in Vietnam (Spiegel 1985). Meanwhile, Israel was improving its global ties, especially via the export of aid and expertise in agriculture and military technology to Africa, Asia and Latin America (Ojo 1988).

The Domestic Narrative and Goals In Israel’s dominant societal narrative, emphasis was placed on group well-being above individual interests. In the domestic narrative, this sacrificial element was complemented by an extreme understanding of the state’s duty to protect the individual (Jewish) citizen (right down to the body). These ideas were influenced by a combination of religious

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practice and imagery from the Holocaust that were central to the dominant societal narrative: ‘Importance was given first and foremost to the validation of national symbols in the process of nation-building, not much (if at all) to the experience of individual [Holocaust] survivors that suffered indescribable personal trauma’ (Zuckerman 2007, 152). The Holocaust, which galvanized Jewish awareness of the importance of a state, was an effective method of self-definition for ‘the Jewish nation’, and ‘Israel’, against ‘the world’ and the ‘foreign nations’ (Zuckerman 1993, 51). Israel was a new beginning, and the Holocaust provided immensely powerful emotional and moral justifications for the creation of the state. In this era, the main challenge for decision makers was to develop a domestic narrative that was effective for governance despite drawing from a dominant societal narrative that espoused a negative history of Jewish experience, i.e. one in which Jews were unable to successfully work together and, as such, were ravaged by destruction and divisions in the Diaspora and the Yishuv (Dowty 1998, 62). The focus of the domestic narrative was therefore on the importance of unity and the avoidance of fragmentation. In pursuit of this, the government sought to create an image of a ‘new Jew’ – one that would work against the odds and flourish (Ben-Gurion 1958, 328). Mamlachtiyut, nation and statebuilding, was Ben-Gurion’s vision for a unified domestic narrative; these ideas were to materialize via centralized bureaucracies and an imposing government allocating social and political roles (Kedar 2002). The objective was to unify society, augment government and political structures’ domestic legitimacy, and increase independence in diplomacy (Dowty 1989, 67– 8; Arian 2005; Bar-Zohar 1977, 49). Government efforts succeeded in generating a domestic narrative for the majority of Israelis; nevertheless, important challenges remained with respect to including and speaking to Mizrahi and Sephardi Jewish experiences. The living conditions, inter-communal relations and political organization of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews in Palestine before the Ottoman Empire and the Mandate, as well as in other areas of the Middle East (that became the modern states of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, etc.), are all contested (Oppenheimer 2010; Dahan Kalev 2010; Yiftachel 2000). Of particular contention is how much a fear of disunity and existential threat had actually been experienced by Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews over the course of history. It also remained unclear how the

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Holocaust had influenced them, and how their histories were tied to the dominant (Ashkenazi) societal narrative in the state of Israel.2 The domestic narrative’s emphasis on unity and the fear of fragmentation required policies that consolidated the state and focused citizens on cooperative tasks of state-building and defence. In this sense, the indeterminate place of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews within the dominant societal narrative of the state created tensions that the domestic narrative could not resolve. Israel would bring Jews back to their historic land and engage them in homemaking; settlement was thus a central idea in the domestic narrative. Across the spectrum of Jewish and Israeli decision makers at the time of the creation of the state, ‘[t]here was a broad consensus that promoted [settlement] as a national goal’ (Susskind et al. 2005, 179), to be achieved and guarded collectively (Yishai 1998). In settlement, agriculture and husbandry were not simply forms of employment, but missions in the land of Israel as the historic land of the Jews. ‘Colonizing the land was seen as the key to establishing roots in the ancient Jewish homeland and as a means of promoting Jewish national revival’ and ‘the identification of the entire [Jewish] society [in pre-1948 Palestine] as Yishuv [the Jewish community in pre-Mandate Palestine], that is, “the Settlement,” reflects most clearly the centrality of the process of colonization to Zionist ideology’ (Zerubavel 2000, 210). Settlement and formal institution building contributed to a growing sense of unity and stability; developing agriculture therefore was as important as the Histadrut in Israeli governance. These functions became more central given regional conflict and trade restrictions that made self-sufficiency and productivity important to survival; such external factors also underlined the idea that Jews have historically been alone and therefore need to rely on themselves. Working in agriculture therefore emphasized the ‘functional need for unity’ and was forged under government supervision (Yishai 1998, 150– 1). The domestic narrative almost completely excluded the experiences and roles of Israeli Arabs (or Palestinian citizens of Israel) who had inhabited historic and Mandate Palestine and remained within the borders of the state of Israel after its independence. Until the late 1960s, they had no collective political rights and remained under martial law, with their freedom of movement curtailed; many were also periodically expelled from villages and homes. As these restrictions were eased,

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Israeli Arabs ‘received Israel citizenship and most of the rights and privileges associated with it’, without however being granted any collective rights as a distinct minority (Peled and Waxman 2007, 438). Despite this, Arab municipalities were given ‘a drop in a bucket’ budgets for housing, infrastructure and education services (Peled and Waxman 2007, 444–5). Moreover, the founding elites (many of whom – but not all – took part in government) chose not to adopt a Constitution, which gave government political flexibility and fewer legal obligations. In particular, it allowed them to circumvent a central issue: the (traditional) constitutional requirement of defining all citizens as equal under the law. In other words, formal liberties and rights were undercut by unequal distribution policies, and by legal manoeuvrings that prioritized the need to maintain Jewish hegemony.

Governance 1950– 73 By 1948, important institutions of Israeli statehood had been established, including the ‘defence office’ created in 1946 to safeguard the Jewish population’s safety and security; this goal was aided by the reality of the rudimentary Palestinian institutional structures compared to those of Zionist groups. Israel inherited quasi-governmental institutions that had operated in the Yishuv, especially for social and communal services (Dowty 1998; Migdal 2001b). Simultaneously, militant actors like the Irgun were brought under state control and streamlined into the military, which was named the Israeli Defence Forces; as such, it became an institutional embodiment of the idea that Israel was on the defensive rather than an aggressor. These institutions focused on the needs of the Jewish population, and were vital to materialize the state and unite its citizens, especially newly arriving migrants (Dowty 1998). When the Palestinian population was deported, expelled or left voluntarily, or some combination of these, Israel gained economic infrastructure that had been run by the Yishuv, as well as lands and infrastructure that had belonged to Palestinians (Morris 2008; Pappe 2006). At this time, governance was guided by the idea of mamlachtiyut, a term coined by Ben-Gurion, which roughly translates to mean statism. It translated into government hegemony over state-building, development planning and resource allocation. In this regard, two institutions that helped establish the domestic narrative were Mapai and the

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Histadrut. Mapai was a political party that homogenized political preferences: as a ‘pioneering Zionist-Socialist Party’, it embraced the importance of settlements and the kibbutzim for Israeli society (Medding 1972, 22). Mapai was also the political manifestation of the dominant societal narrative and the platform of most decision makers at the time. With Israel’s single district proportional representation (PR) system, Mapai dominated politically. Strong parties from the Yishuv transferred functions to the state’s effective machinery, and many had their agendas represented even if they were not. Wide public support allowed an exclusion of dissenters, such as right-leaning groups and Arabs. The Histadrut owned most national factories, and it also organized labour; through most of its early history it was controlled by Mapai. Histadrut and Mapai created a tightly knit and largely undifferentiated structure of interest aggregation, bargaining and accountability that effectively translated into top-down governance. With little recourse for those wishing to counter its authority, the government pre-empted challenges by creating societal actors close to its orbit, such as ‘women’s associations, sports clubs, sick funds, and other associations providing welfare and benefits for their membership’ (Yishai 1999, 76). These were also mechanisms for bringing minorities, especially Israeli Arabs and Sephardim immigrants, to identify with the Histadrut and the Mapai, despite their problematic relations to both the dominant societal and domestic narratives. Important ideas at the centre of the narrative were the need ‘to avoid internal dissension’ and ‘to protect the group’, and an important institution that realized both was the Israeli military. After dismantling Yishuv military and security groups, especially the Haganah, government fully appropriated the exclusive monopoly over national security (Peri 2006, 25); the 1948 Altalena Affair, in which the Israeli military confronted and confiscated a shipment of arms to the Irgun, an important paramilitary group, reflected the government resolve in eliminating military dissention. The military establishment has since walked ‘the fine line that separates influence and even domination from a strictly military regime’ (Maoz 2006, 538). In addition, internal rotation undermined any potential for personal loyalties to consolidate within the military (Dowty 1998, 90 –3). Conscription consolidated a powerful bond between the military and society, and served as a national integration mechanism for established and new immigrants (Reich

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1982, 220; Levy 1997, 90). The military’s domestic role is noteworthy since the geo-strategic environment lends itself to having the military be ‘a major factor in determining Israel’s national policy’ (Peri 2006, 47). As state-building proceeded, government policies manipulated society’s physical distribution; population dispersal at state creation ‘was based on Zionist pioneering values, stressing the duty of youth to help make the desert fertile and calling for the promotion of agricultural settlements together with other Zionist organizations’ (Evans 2007, 92). The government aided rural sectors, such as the kibbutzim and the moshavs, and located new immigrants in border settlements – or ‘development towns’ (Yiftachel 2000). These border settlements provided poor living conditions for the inhabitants, but citizens living in such towns were seen as contributing to the collective well-being, because these towns were seen as a necessary first line of defence against external attacks. Therefore, the state needed to protect these peripheries not only populate them (Barnett 1992, 172). Moreover, the government blocked the return of Palestinians after 1948 because ‘the return of the refugees conflicted with some of Israel’s most vital interests: securing an absolute Jewish majority, settling Jewish refugees on the abandoned land, and ensuring the country’s internal security’ (Benvenisti 2000, 151). Moreover, physically locating new immigrants in various areas had direct implications for Israel’s domestic policy regarding the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israeli Arabs inside Israel, as well as its external policies. Excluding Palestinians (from the West Bank and Gaza) and Israeli Arabs from the Israeli labour market and agricultural sector minimized competition with immigrant Jews who were vying for the same unskilled, low-wage jobs (Levy 1997, 34). Moreover, keeping Arab Israelis under martial law meant making them ‘insignificant or even completely irrelevant in determining the public agenda and public policies’ (Peleg and Waxman 2007, 435). Immigrant Jews from pre-1948 waves of Aliya (mainly the Ashkenazim) had by the 1950s moved up into a middle-class status, begun occupying white collar jobs in the private sector and the public bureaucracy and become largely urban. Newly arriving immigrant Jews (mainly the Sephardim) were mostly located by government to settlements that helped sustain agriculture; these settlements were framed as the new frontier and endowed immigrants, who did work like the Jewish pioneers had done and were overwhelmed by the euphoria of

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statehood, with massive pride. Moreover, the desire of Sephardim immigrants not to be identified with Arab Israelis pushed them to embrace the domestic narrative and related governance policies, even when these constrained their upward mobility. Sephardim support further empowered the government’s centralizing momentum. This domestic status quo was maintained as long as the immigrants (mostly non-Ashkenazim) accepted it. The call to collectively build and defend the state temporarily diffused social discontent, especially when all the societal actors and citizens had considerable responsibilities to shoulder. In the first decade after independence, domestic spending was floated with external rents mainly in the form of US assistance, transfers from world Jewry and German war reparations, which while contested as ‘blood money’ were accepted to help in state consolidation (Barnett 1992, 164 – 82). By the mid-1960s, declining strategic rents and a recession exposed inefficiencies in state-led planning (Levy 1997, 118; see also Arian 2005). Moreover, General Zionists (who were middle-class liberals) and neo-classical economists encouraged greater liberal transformations, including rights for the middle class (Rosenzweig 1989). Israel’s governments assessed that it was feasible to expand the role of the private sector, restructure the productive base of the economy and benefit from investments in military technology (Barnett 1992, 196 – 201). The 1967 War helped Israel’s government rally public support behind economic restructuring, and motivated deeper economic reform. By the early 1970s, Israeli society was politically energized, though the economy was underperforming. Israeli citizens born in Israel to Sephardi parents were vocalizing their suffering from economic inequalities and a political glass ceiling; many took to the streets and clashed with security forces, and others struck coalitions with Israeli Arabs also affected by discriminatory exclusionary government policies. To defuse the potential for intra-societal tensions, Arab-Sephardim coalitions and public unrest, the government ‘not only avoided increasing the domestic burden, but it also responded to the social pressures by allocating more funds for social services’ (Barnett 1992, 192), in particular to the Sephardim. In this context, American aid offset Israeli spending. The Israeli government also instituted inclusionary political reforms, and various societal actors emerged to harness the dismay of marginal groups at the time; political parties diverged in their

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interpretations of Israeli narratives, and many found shortcomings in decision making, against which they acted.

The External-Domestic Nexus 1950– 73 Israel’s regional military actions were designed to reinforce mamlachtiyut through a set of strategies that were largely successful in achieving their objective. After 1948, despite ‘few indications that the Arab states were actively planning war in the immediate future’ (Barnett 1992, 189), fedayeen raids and non-militarized border infiltrations reinforced Israel’s perception of threat against the backdrop of the 1948 Arab offensive (Morris 2008, 52 – 68 and 197). Israel pursued the use of force in its external relations; its force-based diplomacy ‘demonstrated to the Israeli public that the government was not completely helpless vis-a`-vis the infiltrations’, and ‘helped develop an ethos of initiative and resourcefulness, thus bolstering the militaristic spirit that the leaders wanted to instil among Israeli youth’ (Maoz 2007, 335). Israeli governments framed the use of force as reprisals, meaning that the source of aggression was the Arab environment. Meanwhile, many Israeli decision makers, such as Moshe Sharett, advocated a policy of military disengagement and political initiatives but had their hands tied by an external narrative that favoured the use of force against Arab states. Arab states’ anti-Israeli postures (especially in rhetoric) added credibility to this narrative and leant further support to Israeli government policies. Israel repeatedly acted on opportunities to realize the Iron Wall; the use of force in the mid-1950s included the Gaza Raid, the Kinneret Operation and the Suez Invasion (Maoz 1995, 52). In the 1960s, diplomacy and governance policies proved their effectiveness in defending the state and ensuring domestic cohesion. Mapai expanded its electoral success under an enhanced domestic security environment; heavy-handed retaliations for infiltrations gave Israelis a sense of enhanced security against threatening Arabs (Bar-Joseph 1987, 39). Moreover, agriculture was expanded through irrigation projects, while forced evacuation of villages brought stability to the borders and enabled the government to expand agriculture and immigrant settlement (Levy 1997, 80–3; Bar-Yaacov 1967, 87). The Arab Cold War, which raged in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, had slowly shifted Arab attention away from Israel, until the few months prior to 1967. The cost of the Israeli government’s inaction to

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mounting Arab threats compounded the costs of internal decline and a sense of malaise, and outweighed the costs of war (Segev 2007; Maoz 2006, 105– 6). Israel’s choice to launch a pre-emptive war in June 1967 was an appropriate reaction to escalating rhetoric and threatening ground moves from beyond the Iron Wall, and was facilitated by the fact that the use of force had become a default strategy (Segev 2007; Maoz 2006, 105– 6). Israel also used this as an opportunity to alter a debilitating domestic economic decline. Israel’s invasion is best not be thought of as simply one of externalization; rather, its external narrative that favoured force as an appropriate reaction to regional threats had come to integrally shape Israel’s overall relational posture. With Arab armies defeated and land occupied in the 1967 War, Israeli governments’ choice of strategies to realize narratives was vindicated as appropriate. In the following years, Israel’s ability to withstand Egypt’s military pressures in the War of Attrition, coupled with the buffer that the occupied territories between them physically added, augmented a belief in the supremacy of the defensive approach. This idea was incrementally built as Israel reacted to Egypt’s military attacks, and was consolidated in the narrative by the time that the Bar-Lev Line was finished in 1970 (Shlaim and Tanter 1978, 516; Quandt 2005, 4). Israel dismissed Egyptian messages calling for a termination of hostilities in exchange for the Sinai as insufficient and falling short of peace. Israel’s government decision not to give up the Sinai was supported by the idea of ‘security borders’ that emerged during the 1967 War, when Eshkol argued for retaining conquered territories in order to buffer Israel from its environment. Hence, it was argued, these ‘security borders’ should not be used for political purposes (Manor 1980, 11). Moreover, keeping the land, and using it for settlement activities was essential to Israel’s national assimilation policy; in the domestic narrative, settlements were tied to the idea of Zionist pioneering (Shafir 2006). Israel was strong enough militarily to wait for a more favourable deal. Though Israeli governments’ disinterest in compromises with Arab states in the early 1970s faced some domestic dissent, there was no unified peace camp with a clear agenda to advance a societally accepted idea of peace (Shlaim 2000, Chapter 7). The defensive posture and the Bar-Lev Line, meanwhile, protected Israel and there still was no urgency to negotiate. Meanwhile, a public mood rejecting concessions with Arab states was on the increase in the years prior to 1973, supported by an

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external narrative built around the idea of the Iron Wall (Shafir 2006, 8). Israel’s disinterest was lent credence by the appeal of increasing settlement in occupied lands that also added strategic buffers (Shlaim 2000, 317– 29). Vying for peace by a strong Israel was therefore not seen as an ein breira situation. By 1973, Israel had achieved a strong sense of stability through the expansion of settlements and its ability to secure them. This expansion also contributed to domestic state-building, and at once consolidated Israel’s external and domestic narratives. Overall, Israel was secure in its defensive posture, which together with its military dominance in the Arab-Israel conflict system coalesced to affect the government’s assessment of Egypt’s posture. The Israeli government’s assessment was that Egypt would not go to extremes (such as war) in order to alter the status quo, and thus Israel was under no pressure to deviate from its Iron Wall and dialogue politically with Arab states or compromise on land (Brecher 1980, 51 – 76). The 1973 multiplefront invasions shocked Israel’s government by exposing its policy weaknesses, and highlighted the shortcomings of a force-based narrative largely devoid of a political dimension that could harness military power. Nevertheless, Israel was able to absorb the initial war outcome; consolidation of the state-building program continued, with expanding inclusionary policies and economic liberalization. Wide societal support backed the government’s peace-making postures in Camp David (Stein 1993).

Statecraft 1974– 2010 In this era, Israeli external narratives of security and domestic narratives of internal unity remained stable and widely socially accepted, and the state witnessed an elevated attachment to land and settlement activities (Maoz 2006, Chapter 11; Reich 2003, 136).

The External Narrative and Goals 1974 –2010 Peace-making with Egypt emerged from Israel’s changed Middle Eastern environment; regional relations demanded concessions on multiple fronts, while creating new opportunities. The overwhelming majority of Israelis remained reluctant to part with the Iron Wall and the new territories the state now held, believing that these were crucial to the

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state’s ability to ensure its own security by itself (Shlaim 2000, 369). Though the idea of the Iron Wall did not preclude the possibility of negotiations with the Arabs, it did not prioritize it; this meant that negotiations should not be actively pursued, but rather accepted only if they largely benefited Israel. In the case of Egypt, the option of negotiation was palatable despite coming in a context of Egyptian strength rather than weakness, because it was framed as a means of removing the threat from Israel’s greatest Arab foe, and thus could be seen as consistent with Israel’s external narrative. It was the capture of the West Bank, or what is called Yehuda and Samaria in Israel, that markedly fuelled the dispute over the active pursuit of negotiations and the exchange of territory for peace. Israel’s policies towards occupied land in the coming decades sought to maximize control and provide safety. It is worth recalling that the dominant societal narrative placed collective well-being above individualism; hence government policies to maintain control over occupied land, especially in Lebanon later on, were deemed necessary for the security of society even when they exacted Israeli casualties. The 1987 Intifada jolted Israel’s society and government into a confrontation with the plight of Palestinians which required recognition. Since then Israeli governments and society have been trying to find an acceptable compromise, which allows them to keep land and achieve security, while not undermining the ideational core of any of Israel’s narratives – something that has proved impossible thus far. The need to maintain control over Jerusalem and the West Bank guided Israeli governments’ calculus while navigating peace-making processes in the 1990s. Final decisions on the return of this land to the Palestinians (how much and under what conditions) remain undecided. Complicating the strategic choices of Israeli governments was the sacredness of many of these places (Inbar 1999, 169). In the early 1990s, however, serious efforts were made to inject new ideas into the Israeli dominant narrative and from that into its domestic and external narratives, most important was the idea that peace, and not just an absence of outright conflict, was not only possible, but actually consistent with core ideas of Israel’s dominant societal narrative. Israel’s dominant societal narrative homogenized the world into two categories, Jews and others, and presented Jews as victims of others. Consequently, it strongly influenced how Arabs, and especially Palestinians, were

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perceived; in fact, as the most immediate ‘other’, Palestinians were the most threatening, despite their limited military capabilities. What was needed, in effect, was not simply a change in domestic politics (e.g. electoral reshuffling of individuals), but an actual narrative alteration (importantly not a narrative shift) that would make territorial concessions in exchange for peace acceptable. The beginnings of such an alteration emerged in the early 1990s, when Prime Minster Rabin argued that ‘territorial compromise with the Palestinians’ was an acceptable policy option for Israelis (Barnett 1999, 6). These ideas fit with the external narrative’s focus on security and the domestic narrative’s emphasis on Jewish hegemony within Israeli-controlled territory. Rabin justified them by arguing that they had the potential of producing long-term peace; importantly, they would do so without requiring an actual narrative shift in Israel’s dominant societal narrative. The 1992 elections did not just bring Rabin to power as Prime Minister, but indicated that the idea of actively pursuing territorial concessions in exchange for peace had become an accepted alternative to the Iron Wall’s endurance and defensive-based approach. Importantly, this narrative alteration occurred in a context where Israelis were already questioning their narratives, and even interrogating the distinctions between Israelis and Palestinians (Barnett 1999). Rabin’s actions, therefore, came in a changing ideational context; his agency, however, was critical in the successful integration of the idea that actively pursuing peace and conceding territory was to the benefit of Israel’s security – an idea that then made the Oslo Accord possible. Another important change in Israel’s external environment facilitated this acceptance of the idea that peace could be actively pursued and territory could be successfully exchanged for peace. This change was the move away from pan-Arabism toward sovereign independence within the Arab states system (Barnett 1993), combined with rampant intraArab rivalries. Together, these two changes resulted in a rupture in Arab unity that reduced the hostility of Israel’s environment. Stating the above is important to conclude that from the perspective of Israel’s external narrative, then, the Iron Wall had generally worked: it protected Israel in moments of Arab intransigence, imposed severe defeats and eventually led to the exit of Egypt from the IsraeliArab conflict system. Israel’s sense of security had therefore markedly improved since 1948 (Maoz 2006, Chapter 13). Policy successes in

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achieving goals lent legitimacy to the ideas, and Israel’s successes in its external relations lent durability to the external narrative.

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1974– 2010 Following the 1973 War, ‘pragmatism was [. . .] evident in official [Arab] policy towards Israel, marked by the change from the rejection of the Khartoum Summit of 1967, with its three noes (no negotiation, no recognition, no peace), to the limited recognition in the PLO’s twostate policy adopted in 1974, to Sadat’s 1977 visit to Jerusalem and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979, to the resolutions of the 1982 Fez Summit that implicitly recognized Israel’ (Pervin 1997, 279). In real terms, political dialogue as an instrument of diplomacy became a viable and accepted option to enhance Israeli security because of a number of factors that diffused the perceived hostility of Israel’s environment: Egypt actively sought a settlement; Syria and Egypt drifted apart; Syria was unable to fight without Egypt; the PLO was under pressure in Lebanon and had extended its ‘olive branch’ as a complement to its military option (Ben-Yehuda and Sandler 2002). It was up to Israel’s government to assess how appropriate and consistent such options were with calculations about security and settlement activities. The Camp David Accords were a milestone for Israel’s diplomacy: its government achieved the long-held diplomacy goal of removing Egypt and its considerable military capabilities from the Arab – Israel conflict. Relative to Egypt that had seen increased domestic pressure to do something about the Sinai as well as the declining economy (and which the ‘year of decision’ did not bring), Israel was under lesser domestic societal economic and political pressure to reach a deal (Stein 1993; Quandt 2005). Israel’s ‘new’ environment saw the increased activism of militant groups, especially Palestinians and others, some of whom were backed by Syria. In Lebanon, the 1969 Cairo Accord had formalized the military presence of the PLO on Lebanese territory, whose strength and political influence in Lebanon grew after its relocation from Jordan in the aftermath of Black September in 1970. In Lebanon’s divided state, private militias with external sponsors flourished; some had pro-Israel sympathies, many held anti-Israel goals and many also had anti-Syrian goals (el-Khazen 2000; Parker 1993, 170–6; Yaniv 1987). Israel and Syria launched multiple operations into Lebanon, since both were concerned with the

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mobility and growth in the influence of actors with anti-Israel or antiSyria agendas. After 1982, Israel and Syria commenced a period of USmediated accommodation which avoided major direct confrontations (Bregmen, 2000, 114). Though Israel’s occupation of Lebanon was costly, it was justified as a diplomacy option as long as it served to increase Israeli collective security. Also in Lebanon, the danger from the Islamic Republic of Iran was most pronounced in its support for Hezbollah when the group was first established in the 1980s (Mansour 2010); yet Israel was pragmatic in its security interests, and was willing to engage in the ‘IranContra Affair’ (Walsh 1997). The same Israeli determination to achieve security had it attack Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981. Such diplomacy actions were also framed as ein breira, or final options. Globally, Israel’s dynamic diplomacy in the 1980s expanded relations with states in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East – especially Turkey, where shared interests presented opportunities for Israel to ‘jump the Arab fence’ (Reich 2003) – in a bid to increase security through non-Arab regional and global alliances. Such relations included joint military training, the sale of Israeli weaponry and cultural and economic exchanges. Yet, Israeli diplomacy continued to be challenged by political condemnation because of its military occupation of the Palestinians; vocal criticism came from Global South states in forums like the UN General Assembly. Moreover, some Western countries, such as France, were also assessed by Israel as being pro-Arab. This broad condemnation of its policies was not a major problem, however, since the US continued to be Israel’s key ally and security provider (Brown 2001; Yaniv 1988, 12). Israel’s global diplomacy markedly increased its security in this period, backed by firm US support. Nevertheless, the constant criticism levelled at Israel for its policy vis-a`-vis the Palestinians in public forums actually had the effect of maintaining the external narrative’s view of a world – and Middle East region – as largely hostile to Jews. In other words, despite its external policy actions that effectively consolidated security through new alliances, particularly with Turkey, the rhetorical attacks on Israel served to undermine this sense of security by reaffirming a sense that, no matter what, the (Arab) external environment was inherently hostile. Moreover, in the early 1980s, there was a sense in Israel that the Palestine question was declining in importance, which added to a sense of perplexity as to why Israel continued to face such hostility.

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It was in this context that the First Intifada began in 1987. This uprising shocked Israelis into recognizing and dealing with the reality of Palestinian occupation, an issue that they had thus far avoided (Alimi 2007). The government’s initial reaction was consistent with the Iron Wall: the use of indiscriminate force. Despite having exchanged territory for peace with Egypt, that negotiation was understood as largely beneficial to Israel; rather than a concession, the return of the Sinai was framed as a peaceful means of achieving military victory over Egypt, where such a victory essentially meant removing Egypt from the equation. This exchange was therefore consistent with the Iron Wall, whereby negotiations are possible, but only after extensive Arab losses and only when overwhelmingly in Israel’s favour. The situation with the Palestinians was qualitatively different. Their ‘threat’ to Israel was not only, or even primarily, military; rather, they threatened the very Jewish essence of the state; negotiations were not possible since they were largely to Israel’s disadvantage. Force, then, was the default response. However, as it dragged on, the Intifada succeeded in bringing the Palestinians’ plight to world attention; even the Jewish Diaspora, which had lent almost unconditional support to the state, started to become critical of Israel’s government policies. Against the backdrop of an active Intifada and growing criticism from a broad range of actors, the 1990 Gulf War broke out following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Saddam Hussein chose to link his withdrawal from Kuwait to Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian Occupied Territories, a move which threatened to link the Palestinian question to broader regional conflicts, and thus to major power politics. Israel, in fact, laboured to ensure that such a link was not made, acutely aware that this might compromise the United States’ ability to favour its choices (Cohen 1998, 255). Through this separation strategy, Israel’s aim was twofold. First, it sought to undermine already weakened pan-Arab connections by emphasizing the importance of state sovereignty rather than regional connections (a process already underway in the Arab states system). Secondly, it hoped to limit regional support for Palestinian decision makers by trying to isolate their conflict from others regionally (Shlaim 2000, 472– 9). American diplomacy was effective in preventing an Israeli retaliation to Iraqi Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War, thereby exposing the fact that US interests would trump Israeli security when necessary. This inability to defend herself because of complex external

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relations accentuated the Israeli sense that the external environment was inherently hostile, a place where even allies can ultimately abandon you. This, in turn, made the idea of achieving security on one’s own – already present in the external narrative – even more urgent. The invitation to the Madrid Conference (and the resultant process underpinned by land-for-peace), presented the Israeli government with the question of how to proceed in direct negotiations: what trade-offs in securing peace and keeping land would be compatible with Israel’s external narrative? While Madrid was an opportunity for direct talks with Arab governments, Israel’s reservations about relinquishing land – especially the West Bank – remained a significant obstacle (Lasensky 1999). It is in this context that Rabin’s intervention was critical for Israeli society. His success in legitimating the land-for-peace idea in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict derived in large part from his personal capital as a military figure dedicated to the well-being of Israel; his credentials and background allowed him to argue that peace with the Palestinians and Israeli security were not incompatible goals. Even when the peace process was stalling, its very existence increased Israel’s ability to expand regional and global relations, thus confirming Rabin’s contention (Hazony 2000). For instance, Morocco, which had hosted secret Israeli –Egyptian talks prior to Sadat’s Knesset trip in 1977, improved bilateral relations with Israel in the 1990s (Quandt 2005), as did Oman (Maddy-Wietzman 1996), and later Qatar. Despite Rabin’s work at altering the external narrative, the extent to which he actually succeeded remains debatable. Overtures from Morocco and some Gulf states notwithstanding, the main preoccupation for Israel remained the bordering states. While the 1990s peace-making processes did provide Israel with opportunities to formalize political relations with Jordan and, to a certain extent, the Palestinians, it nevertheless largely continued to act from the Iron Wall perspective. In the context of peace processes, this meant drawing out negotiations for as long as possible in order to consolidate its territorial gains and to exact as many concessions from the Arabs as possible. This tactic mimicked the military and territorial ‘losses’ that had been imposed on Arabs in the previous era. Importantly, Israel used this time to create ‘facts on the ground’, especially with respect to settlement activity. Where Israel accepted a full-fledged peace deal with Jordan, it did so because – as with Egypt – this removed an important player from the conflict, and

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also because Jordan proved to be an important ‘adversarial partner’. In fact, Israel and Jordan actually achieved agreement on a wide variety of subjects of mutual concern without American mediation (Lustick 1978; Lukacs 1997, 1 –22; Eisenberg and Caplan 2010). In the case of Syria, there was little pressure on either side to achieve a settlement, and Israel therefore bided its time, not willing to offer peace when peace was unnecessary (Pressman 2007; Khashan and Haddad 2000). Though Israel’s occupation of Southern Lebanon and Hezbollah operations resulted in casualties and threats to border towns, they were contained from influencing the general society (Rabinovich 1998). Sacrifices of the Israeli military and of border settlements did not undermine Israel’s policy choices, but rather reconfirmed the hostility of the environment and the need for individuals to work for the collective. The Israeli –Turkish strategic partnership of the 1990s was highly coveted by Israel: ‘Within Israel, there is hardly any opposition to ties with Turkey [. . .] and despite the differences in emphasis, Israel as a whole has tried very much to improve relations with Turkey at all levels’ (Inbar 2005, 597). From an Israeli perspective, Turkey offered a welcome arms market, a partner for military exercises and a passage into Middle East theatres (such as Iran’s), over and above cultural and economic exchanges. Turkey was also receptive to such a rapprochement in the 1990s (Altunisik 2000b, 67). In essence, a partnership with Turkey represented the realization of a variant of the ‘Periphery Pact’ idea, whose tenet was to consolidate Israel’s security via non-Arab regional alliances, encouraged by the external narrative. Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, was framed as a means of achieving security on the northern border. Importantly, though Israel gave up territory, the retreat strengthened its ability to counter Hezbollah. This is because its presence in Lebanon was categorically understood as a violation of international law; this allowed Hezbollah to effectively frame its actions through a resistance narrative. By retreating, Israel undercut the validity of Hezbollah’s claims, both in Lebanon and globally. Israel could now argue that it was no longer violating Lebanon’s sovereignty (the Shebaa Farms dispute notwithstanding). This allowed Israel to relieve pressure on its border and its military without sacrificing its ability to deal with Hezbollah violently when necessary. In fact, interactions with Hezbollah remained consistent, and peaked in the 2006 Lebanon War, when Israel responded with extraordinary force to

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Hezbollah’s cross-border attack. In addition to military action Israel also tied Hezbollah’s militancy to Iran’s nuclear ambition. This facilitated Israel’s securitizing of the latter: framing every Iranian ambition as a source of existential threat allowed Israeli diplomacy a wide range of options to counter it, including what has been reported as targeting facilities (especially cyber-attacks) and assassinations (Mansour 2010). The elimination of all possible sources of nuclear threat was also behind Israel’s claims of a Syrian nuclear programme, and the ‘surgical’ targeting of Syrian facilities. On these fronts, Israeli policies in the new millennium were stable in essence (Barak 2010). The Second Palestinian Intifada rekindled the Palestine question but did not result in dramatic changes to Israel’s policies. The Second Intifada almost completely ended peace-making. An important move precipitated by the Second Intifada was a unilateral decision to retreat from Gaza in 2005. Pushed through by Ariel Sharon despite strong resistance from Israeli settlers, the unilateralist manner in which this retreat was executed, and the subsequent military operations on Gaza, suggest that these were policies still framed within the Iron Wall approach rather than indicative of a meaningful alteration on the question of Palestinians in the Israeli narrative. Israeli policies on Gaza, as well as the general Israeli policy with regard to the Palestinian Authority, stemmed from the unresolved Palestine question for the Israeli narrative (see Shenhav, Sheafer and Gabay 2010). Globally, Israel sought improved relations with Europe, African states, India, Russia, China, Central Asian and Southern Caucuses states, and others. Domestic dynamics in many of these countries facilitated an overture to Israel, particularly their desire for Israeli technology or the assistance of its powerful lobby in the US. What is noteworthy in regard to statecraft was Israel’s ability to reap the benefits of investments in various R&D incubators and technology start-ups; Israeli diplomacy leveraged its advanced military and civilian technologies and industries as points of attraction. Strengthening ties with states in Central Asia and the South Caucuses was noteworthy in the new millennium. These new partnerships were certainly related to energy security, which was an important interest for Israel. However, they also had to do with finding allies among states wary of Iran. Moreover, this push for new allies was also related to a lull in relations with Turkey by the end of the first decade of the new

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millennium as Turkey was rethinking its broader Middle East policy (importantly, this was not an end to their strategic partnership) (Ayturk 2011). Changes in Israel’s immediate environment, then, added to its appreciation of the need for warmer ties with Central Asia. For example, in this context a state like Azerbaijan, which borders Iran, became an intelligence asset (Khalifa-zadeh 2013). Also of importance to Israel was Russian policy there; Georgian – Russian relations, for example, would surely influence Georgian – Israeli relations. In sum, while Israel expanded its global ties, it did not qualitatively alter its approach to a central issue of concern: relations with the Palestinians. In the absence of meaningful change in Israel’s external narrative, it is likely that the use of force would continue to be the most reliable instrument of diplomacy.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1974 –2010 Israel’s domestic narrative continued to focus on internal cohesion and unity. However, the centrality of Labour Zionism as a socio-economic organizing principle, which held the view that unity should be achieved through strong centralized economic policies, was replaced by new ideas favouring liberalization and a more robust role for private initiatives in the pursuit of this goal. Thus, expansion in the science and technology sectors was favoured, since these allowed Israel to fend for herself. Such changes did not result from internal fracture, but were brought about, in part, by new decision makers in state institutions (Breznitz 2007, 44). This liberalization coincided with the military occupation of lands conquered in 1967, and combined this led to heated public debate about the status of these lands; in so doing, the political landscape was diversified. Moreover, this liberalization also generated the space for immigrants, mainly Sephardim and Mizrahim, to contest their secondclass status in the state. Israel’s control of the West Bank in the 1967 War impacted its dominant societal narrative: thanks to the occupation, the importance of settlement activity, which had always been part of the Yishuv and of Israeli narratives, was realizable on larger scales and in religiously meaningful locations (Shafir 2006). Israel’s military occupation increased the importance of ideas in the narrative about the integral connections to Judaea and Samaria (the biblical name for the West Bank); the symbolic importance of these lands to Israelis overshadowed their ‘objective’

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importance from military and security strategic bases (Sandler 1993, Chapter 9). Believing that such lands had a divine significance impacted what the governments could and could not do politically in their regards. Many Israelis believed that ‘[i]f, God forbid, we returned even a foot of land, we would be giving control to the spiritual impurity, that is, to a mystical Jewish concept that symbolizes evil energy in the cosmos’ (Tal 2003, 420). Gush Emunim (The Bloc of the Faithful), an important extra-parliamentary political group established in 1967, espoused messianic beliefs widely held in Israeli Jewish society, and adopted violent strategies to expand settlement activities. These beliefs took on an increasingly important status in the government’s domestic narrative, so much so that it strongly impacted interpretations of the peace-for-land policy option within the external narrative during the 1990s peace-making processes.3 They remained important well after the first decade of the new millennium. Importantly, the messianic element that relates Israelis to land has been critical for the legitimacy of Zionism in Israel, and justified the acquisition and retention of lands that were not within the 1948 recognized borders. The commitment of Israeli government to settlement activity, especially when it could actually keep the land through military force, deepened with time. Governments adopted inflexible policies, including supporting large-scale settlement activities on lands that were to be part of any political settlement with the Palestinians. Divergent interpretations of the domestic and external narratives, and the importance of a ‘land for peace’ formula as an avenue to resolve the Arab–Israel conflict, unfolded in spirited public debates in the 1970s. These debates crucially eroded the power of (what came to be) the Labour Party, and paved the way for the rise of Likud; they did not, however, diminish the wide societal support, and commitment, for settlement activity. Finally, another important outcome of this narrative alteration that introduced a religious element to Israel’s domestic narrative was its policy on the status of Jerusalem. In 1980, the Knesset passed a Basic Law naming Jerusalem as the capital. The symbolism of Jerusalem and the Law are immense: the idea that Jews have finally ‘come back home’ was becoming more real. What I mentioned above on Rabin’s attempt to introduce new ideas about the benefits of a territorial settlement with the Palestinians is relevant here: the more central the symbolism of land to the narrative, the more difficult it is to imagine ideas that would accept

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its partition or loss. This domestic attachment to land, then, had implications for diplomacy.

Governance 1974 – 2010 By the mid-1970s, Israeli governments opted for more inclusionary governance policies in a process that unfolded gradually: ‘First, the more power that was dispersed among the actors in politics of reform, the further the reform initiative progressed. Second, the more power dispersed among the actors in the politics of reform, the more reform was expected to change the future functioning of the system, especially the patterns of power distribution among the various actors’ (Rahat 2008, 270). The government was an agent of change; it ‘encouraged the development of R&D capabilities in the private market, diffused R&D know-how from the university and defence sectors to the civilian industrial sectors, and coordinated and provided public space in which private and public R&D agents could meet in order to enhance the flow of information and ideas’ (Breznitz 2007, 42). The liberalizing momentum transformed Mapai and the Histadrut. The Histadrut remained the national labour union, but its powers were curtailed by Israel’s economy moving towards capitalism. Mapai merged with a variety of smaller parties to form Labour. This political liberalization opened up the space for independent actors. With the 1967 military occupation of land, this space allowed for a vigorous national debate over issues of essence to the state. These included discussion of: Israel’s Jewishness, especially the extent religious practices and laws should be observed; relations with the Israeli Arab population living inside the borders of the state of Israel who until 1969 has been under direct military control; the national status of the West Bank and Gaza (and later the status of Palestinians living there); as well as the ideational-security trade-off acceptable to keeping them. Independent political actors with diverging ideas emerged, but it was the religious right that became particularly empowered, especially once the 1967 expansion was framed as divine will. Also crystallizing after the 1967 War was the formation of many extra-parliamentary groups such as Shalom Achshav (Peace Now – associated with leftist and more ‘pacifist’ ideas) and Gush Emunim. Especially from the 1980s onwards, these groups helped galvanize the national debate on Israel’s identity and the desired nature of governance (see Inbar 1999).

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Moreover, by the 1970s, immigrants – mostly Sephardim and Mizrahim – started to demand a revision of their perceived inferior status in the state. They protested their exploitation, which was used to indirectly subsidize the lifestyles of organized labourers in which ‘the state played a key role in legitimizing exploitation’ (Levy 1997, 33). There were also protests against the mistreatment and inferior living conditions in ‘development towns’ where immigrants had been located. Until the mid-1970s, over 50 per cent of the Mizrahim voted for Labour because they desired to identify with the Ashkenazi elite, and also because of Labour’s virtual domination over economic opportunities and social service provision. It was the Israel-born children of immigrants in particular who critiqued such stratification (Shafir and Peled 2002, 89). Street riots ensued, many initiated by a militant group called the Black Panthers: a group mostly composed of Oriental Jewish immigrants with long-term objectives ‘to erase inequality and impel Israel toward its vision as an egalitarian society’ (Yisha 1998, 153; Cohen 1972, 106). The Likud (under Menachem Begin) first tried to reap these disaffected youths’ electoral votes, until Shas emerged in the 1980s as the party associated with and responsible for forwarding the interests of the Sephardim in Israel. Independent political parties moved in this expanded political space, with positions on social issues increasingly differentiated between Likud, Labour and others. In this context of differentiating interests rose various other agendas. Feminists challenged mainstream societal value regarding women’s rights (especially with respect to childbirth) and demanded what they saw fit for a ‘modern’ state; their activism resulted in friction with government (Yishai 1998). The political space grew, and with it divergence around governance – and the narrative which underpins it. The inclusion of religious ideas in the domestic narrative – though always there implicitly in the sense that Israel was understood to be a Jewish state – became explicit in this era, altering this narrative. Importantly, this alteration made the issue of security, though always present, no longer necessarily primary: Judea and Samaria were to be kept, this narrative suggested, not because they protected Israel (in fact, one could argue the opposite), but because they are divinely linked to Jews. This saw an increase in settlement activity and a growing part of Israeli citizenry living outside of the 1948 borders.

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Discussion also grew around how the exclusionary policies of the Israeli state towards non-Jews were enshrined in laws and legal mechanisms (Rouhana 1997, Chapter 3): the anthem, holidays, celebrations, and right of return and emigration all favour Jews. After parliamentary, political and legal debates in the mid-1980s, Israel was confirmed as an ethnic state for the Jewish people; pertinent, for example, was the speech on the occasion of the Declaration of Principles in November 1994 (Rabin 1994). In the 1990s, in what was termed the Constitutional Revolution, the Supreme Court of Israel gave the Basic Laws a constitutional status, thus forming a quasi-constitution. Basic Laws guide policy on issues of general importance; yet, the absence of a formal Constitution created a fluid political system whose mechanisms of representation are generally accepted (Kaarbo 1996). This fluid system historically opened the way for the judiciary to play a calibrating role, in which ‘its excessive intervention to identify “solutions” to ongoing political problems has transformed the Supreme Court into an active political player’ (Doron and Kook 2004, 18). Thus, Israel’s political system ranks highly on inclusionary procedural components, including ‘free suffrage, formal mechanisms for regulating competition between parties, and elected government bodies’; however, serious shortcomings remain and mainly relate to liberal components such as ‘individual rights, the rule of law, equality, and the values emanating from humanist and liberal tradition’ (Rouhana 1997, 36). Shortcomings pertain most clearly to the status of the Arab citizens of Israel, often seen as on the periphery of society (Shafir and Peled 2002, 129). Israeli Arabs are not full members in Israeli politics, where they have historically been regarded as a fifth column or the enemy from within, and they have themselves at times chosen to remain outside the political game as a confirmation of their Arabness (Al-Haj 2004, 122). Into the new millennium, there was a sharpening societal debate about Israel’s domestic narrative and future. As narratives generally generate boundaries with respect to who belongs and who does not, the strong boundaries inherent in Israel’s dominant societal narrative made the domestic narrative strongly exclusionary of others. This legitimated the government’s continued exclusionary policies towards Arab citizens. It also contributed to increased fragmentation among Jewish citizens around issues of collective concern, such as peace with the Arab states, land exchanges or land return, settlement activity and

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Palestinian statehood, among many others. Perhaps the most significant manifestation of such divides was the rise to prominence of the political party Kadima, triggered primarily by the split over the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. By 2014, the defeat of the Kadima Party in elections and the resurgence of Likud were perhaps good indicators of the polarization in ideas – especially concerning Palestinians.

The External-Domestic Nexus 1974 – 2010 Israel’s occupation of territory in the 1967 War revived the importance of settlement as an activity in state-building. Moreover, it also required the need to guard acquired land as state security was pursued through diplomacy, and it opened a debate on the nature of the state. Intragovernment divisions unfolded on how to reconcile governance and diplomacy’s main goals: unity, modernism and security. Peace-making talks with Egypt fed intra-government divisions on optimal avenues for action; however, Israelis remained united around ‘deep ideological commitments to the integrity of the homeland’ (Shlaim 2000, 383). Domestic inclusion influenced the government’s diplomacy actions, especially when subsequent years brought opportunities to end the Arab– Israel conflict via political dialogue. Political parties in Israel’s various coalition governments, even junior partners committed to their own narrative interpretations, were able to influence diplomacy decisions (Kaarbo 1996, 507). Overall, including such different actors permitted Israeli negotiators to adopt a stronger and less flexible bargaining posture (Stein 1993), as well as consolidating the legitimacy of achieved deals. Changes in the domestic narrative regarding land and the state, however, complicated what government could, and should, do in diplomacy; generally, however, the logic of the Iron Wall worked for Israel and remained central to its external narrative. Aside from placing the Palestinian question at the centre of national debates, the First Intifada, more concretely, proved that the military and security policies that Israel was pursuing were not optimal. The Intifada also showed that Israeli narratives were not clear about acceptable tradeoffs between peace and land concessions, and neither were government decisions; eventually its persistence introduced changes to the Israeli external and domestic narratives. A meaningful, though temporary, change towards Palestinians translated into the election of Prime Minister Rabin. Public opinion polls taken in the two years after the

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Oslo Accords, showed Israeli societal support for Rabin’s understanding of the Israeli ‘narrative of negatives’ and his framing of future security and a concomitant deal with the Palestinians as compatible with the unified and strong state. The openness of Israel in the early 1990s was ‘part of a deliberate attempt [by Rabin] to break away from longstanding negative, cautious and suspicious Israeli and Jewish attitudes reflected in the those two well-known slogans, the whole world is against us and a People that dwelleth alone. Such a negative worldview derives from a sweeping and general Jewish and Israeli alienation from, and sometimes disdain for, all the goyim – the entire gentile (non-Jewish) world’ (Caplan 2010, 1). Diplomacy was impacted by such ideas. In the various sets of peace-making processes after Madrid, Israeli governments often noted that Israeli society would not be able to digest multi-front advancement. The two prominent Prime Ministers who came close to a breakthrough, Itzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, repeatedly noted that they had to choose between the Palestinian and Syrian tracks because working on both simultaneously was simply too much. Bargaining tactics and other environmental factors were surely at play in these negotiations. We should not dismiss, however, the ideational influences discussed above that governments had to attend to, and some of which they had tried to generate. Final peace settlements would have required significant and deep engagement with Israel’s narratives; that the Arab– Israel conflict remains unresolved to this day relays a sense that Israel has postponed such engagements or is unable to confront them – as are its Arab counterparts. Moreover, Israel’s environment in the new millennium contained activities, which justified to Israelis their ideas of encirclement. In addition to the Second Palestinian Intifada, global campaigns like Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) emerged to raise awareness of the plight of the Palestinians and try to hold Israel accountable for its actions towards them. Such movements are often intended to pressure Israel to change its policies, but paradoxically confirm its narrative of being a state under attack in a hostile world. They often harden rather than soften Israel’s position. In fact, the actions of the BDS invited strong reactions from official Israeli circles as well as proIsrael global groupings. The ability of an activist coalition to have the Israeli government securitize it as an existential threat speaks to the

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powerful ways in which narratives guide political action and, specifically, to the history of negatives that is central to the Israeli dominant societal narrative.

Conclusion A persistent diplomacy goal since independence, and emanating from the Iron Wall, was that Israel would need to make itself a reality that Arab states have to accept, even if they do not want to or have reservations about it. In the 1970s, changes occurred in Israeli behaviour in its neighbourhood and globally, but these derived largely from an Arab de facto acceptance of Israel and not from deep change in Israel’s core ideas or goals. Military capability alone, however, cannot help us understand the wide variety of Israeli actions in war and peace. Narratives allowed us to appreciate why military capacity was such a coveted means of achieving goals, what these goals were and where they came from. Identifying Israel with the Jewish people has allowed governments to draw on (yet diverge from) Jewish history to frame the nature of the concerns and threats of the contemporary state. Israel’s history, which is rather brief, was framed as a continuation of millennia of Jewish existence defined by negatives and existential threats. Building a unified citizenry in a strong Israel would ensure survival and thriving in the world, but threats would always remain. Moreover, Israel’s dominant societal narrative is about Jews specifically and not about its citizens generally. Hence, governance and diplomacy have been be geared to serve the interests of this group, even if other groups exist in the state – that is, the non-Jewish Israeli Arabs. An example of how narratives make some actions a must, or at least make not acting upon opportunities impossible, was Israel’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981. For example, from the perspective of Egypt’s external narrative, the attack demonstrated Israeli decision makers’ lack of appreciation of the Arab environment. Israel’s bombing would undermine the potential to have Israel’s image improved in the Arab states system, and especially for the Egyptians whose government had just signed a peace treaty with Israel. However, viewed in terms of Israel’s external narrative, the action holds different meaning and value. Bombing the Iraqi reactor in 1981 was vastly popular with the Israeli

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public, because the Israeli narrative framed it within a ‘post-holocaust’ mindset: that Israeli governments had to do whatever was necessary to keep the children safe (Shlaim 2000, 387– 9). Thus the Israeli public understood this action not as a reckless policy of aggression, but rather as a necessary one in a hostile world. The lost opportunity to improve its image among Arabs and Egyptians, then, paled in importance to Israel’s long-term survival. Moreover, this posture was also justified by the Iron Wall, whereby Arab states were expected to accept Israel, and not necessarily to like it. Similarly, the 1967 War was framed as necessary – in the tradition of ein briera. The 1973 invasion by Arab states confirmed the adroitness of government policies in using force. Moreover, in much of the Israeli reactions to the First and Second Palestinian Intifada, we observe policies framed as ein breira (Segel-Az-K’Ariel 2006). A statement from an Israeli think tank reflects the continuation of similar ideas towards the environment. ‘Until today Israel suffers from isolation in the international arena and from discrimination in United Nations institutions and other international organizations (including the Red Cross). She [Israel] does not benefit from her contributions which benefit nearly all the rest of the world’s countries that are members of different international organizations’ (Yegar 2005, 45; see also Caplan 2010). With the demise of the peace-making process in the new millennium, the Arab Spring brought uncertainties to the domestic politics of many surrounding states – the environment most pertinent to Israeli narratives and actions. In sum, self-reliance remained the guiding principle for Israel’s diplomacy: the idea that as Israelis, and ‘with regards to our security it is upon us to rely first and foremost and only upon ourselves, on our abilities and our forces, not on external forces, even in instances when such force are obliged by international law to stop the destruction’ (Ben-Gurion 1958, 427).

CHAPTER 4 STATECRAFT IN SYRIA

At the heart of Syria’s dominant societal narrative is the core idea of Syria being the beating heart of Arabism (or pan-Arabism) – ‘Qalb al-Uruba al-Nabid’. This idea makes broad inter-state commitments central to the state. In addition, the narrative values Syria’s historically rich religious and ethnic heterogeneity, who’s full potential can only be achieved as a unified part of a broader community (i.e. the Arab ‘world’). Given the dominant societal narrative’s outward orientation, Syria’s external narrative easily drew on the embrace of Arabism to frame Syria as a ‘bastion of resistance’ in the region. Both the dominant societal and external narratives have tended over the decades to unite Syrians. This is in contrast to the domestic narrative that was never fully consolidated. Critically, the domestic narrative is largely built around an appreciation of the country’s diversity and a general sense that it needs to be developed; however, this development is framed in pan-Arab terms, meaning that the state’s development was on behalf of Arabs and their various causes, more so than for its own citizens. This has been problematic for state-building and governance since it does not provide a sense of purpose for state-building. Frailty in the domestic narrative was not corrected or addressed by governments, who found it advantageous to issue policies without an overarching program, so long as they were able to keep society focused on external developments and especially in regards to the Arab–Israel conflict. That Syria’s dominant societal narrative, in a sense, made the state subservient to broader commitments did serve to unite a diverse population. However, it also complicated the tasks of diplomacy and

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governance, especially since it was difficult to disentangle separate external and domestic narratives from a dominant societal narrative that privileged external relations. Syrian diplomacy pre-1970s fluctuated between being erratic, risk-taking and pragmatic; it shifted to being consistent, risk-averse and significantly more pragmatic after 1970. In governance, Baathist dominance post-1970 brought to an end domestic instability and polarizing competition. However, statebuilding did not proceed with clear goals and policies given the domestic narrative’s ambiguity.

Statecraft 1950– 70 The creation of Syria as a state occurred in a context of strongly contested narratives that had a long history, largely tied to its diverse population and to the nature of governance under the Ottoman Empire. Unlike the other cases in this book, that had a more centralizing dominant societal narrative in spite of histories of empire and colonialism, Syria’s narrative solved the challenge of diversity by crystallizing around ideas of Arabism, or of regional solidarity. The idea of being a ‘bastion of resistance’ derived from a convergence of various pre-independence narratives over what Syria’s relations with the world were – narratives that influenced citizens and decision makers after independence. Syria’s transition from Ottoman control to statehood, particularly in the Mandate and colonial period, was a violent one, and was most influential in forming the idea of Syria as both the beating heart of Arabism and its most fervent defender. Although there were competing narratives circulating at the moment of independence, they all agreed that Syria was and should be a centre of resistance against the intrusion of outside forces. Greater Syria was historically the name given to the lands in the Levant that encompassed what came to be the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, as well as parts of Iraq and Turkey. These lands distinguished themselves through particular socio-cultural and political traits which several groups of populations took as their own and were proud of. In these lands of Greater Syria, multiple existing cleavages along socio-economic, religious sectarian and family lines were reinforced by Ottoman and colonial administrations (Imad 1993); these divisions were transferred to the Syrian state at independence

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(Petran 1972; van Dam 1996). The people who lived in the territory of the Syrian state had fashioned themselves as a part of a regionally central entity which breathed intellectual and political life into the emerging ideas of Arabism that were growing in the midst of Ottoman reforms as well as the Islamic revival of the late nineteenth century. Greater Syria’s diversity was cherished by thinkers because it gave them a relatively safe space in which to develop and defend their ideas. The start of the formation of the Syrian state came at a politicized and ideationally active time, when elites and masses were evaluating the potential of a united Arab position in a declining Ottoman Empire, as well as the possibility of a united Arab state that would serve collective interests. Narratives of localized loyalties, especially to the family, were also strong at the time. The emerging state system, then, also helped the potential of expanding the independent turfs of local decision makers, families and tribes (see Bashshur 2003, 31). Many of the local narratives, then, saw the state system as a way of defending themselves against a takeover by larger Arab and Islamic meta-narratives that were also being developed.1 An important meta-narrative was being developed by Islamic modernists, such as Abdulrahman al-Kawakibi, Muhammad Abdou and Rashid Reda, who debated how Muslims should be governed under and after the Ottoman Caliphate. Reflections on Islamic revival, modernity and self-determination gave rise to questions about how to appropriately combine religious narratives and practices, Arabism and secular ‘modernism’ (largely but not exclusively derived from European discourses). This discussion sought to find a unifying vision for the region that resisted colonialism but also ensured its development and prosperity. In addition to an Islamic meta-narrative, local thinkers also helped refine the distinctness of Arabness from dominant Ottoman forms of identification for most of Greater Syria in the early twentieth century. A central idea in the narrative of Arabism was that Arabs were strong and could deter attackers when united. With the creation of the state system, the question then became who was to be united in their resistance and around what principles, symbols or ideas. As a theorist of Arabism, Sati’ Al-Husri underscored the importance of language and common history to mark the ideational foundations at the essence of Arabism. Al-Husri’s project clashed with that of the Islamic revivalists since Islam was not the pillar for Arab unity, though it did not deny the importance of Islam in public life. His ideas were

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later developed by Baathist theorists Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din alBitar. Aflaq agreed with Al-Husri’s propositions, which served as the bases for a political movement to resurrect the Arab community – the Baath Party (baath means ‘to resurrect’) (Aflaq 1963). Despite their differences, what tied the Arab and Islamic narratives was that they both saw in Syria an important anchor for their projects of self-determination and, therefore, a place fit for ideational resistance. A competing narrative about Syria gained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s through the ideas and agency of Antoun Saadeh, founder of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). The SSNP sought to awaken the locals to their true selves and help them resist religious, as well as Arabist narratives in Syria at the time. Saadeh’s narrative was based on neither religion nor language nor ‘Arabness’, but rather on Syria’s ‘natural existence’ in a greater entity called the Fertile Crescent. The claim was that natural borders (mountains to the east and the sea to the west) produced among the local people a unique shared narrative represented through its arts, culture and livelihood, and this narrative is what tied together their past, present and future (Saadeh 1938). Greater Syria is thus Natural Syria in SSNP discourses and includes most of the Levant – or Greater Syria – and Cyprus (the island was claimed by the SSNP narrative to have historically been in the Syrian Sea and thus constituted part of the homeland). The SNNP appealed to a wide swathe of the region’s youth and intelligentsia, particularly among religious and ethnic minorities, who saw a place for themselves in such a transregional narrative which downplayed religious differences and Arabism; however, it did not make strong inroads into the working classes, who tended to be Communist, or the peasantry. The idea of a distinct Syrian homeland was not new; already in the late nineteenth century people like Boutros Al-Bustani had produced various journals that emphasized a Syrian homeland (Deeb 2013, 83 – 6). Saadeh, however, revived these ideas and cast them in a ‘scientific’ view of what the nation is. In this sense, he advocated for what he saw as Syria’s ‘true’ societal narrative and called upon followers to resist those who sought to weaken Syria. SNNP and pan-Arab intellectuals, especially Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din alBitar (founders of the Baath Party), but also Al-Husri, diverged in what they though Syria’s narrative should be. Despite this, at the core of all their narratives was the idea that Syria needed to be strong in order to defend itself against ‘the others’.

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Upon independence in 1945, the Syrian state was detached from Greater Syria, but inherited its questions, cleavages, and competing narratives. In addition to the competing narratives noted above, a growing localization of commitments and attachments, especially familial, was obvious at this time (Imad 1993, 100–1). In Syria, ‘the political identities inherited by the new state focused not on it, but on smaller pre-existing units – city, tribe, sectarian group – or a larger community – the empire, the Islamic umma and, increasingly, the idea of an Arab nation’ (Hinnebusch 2001, 18). At its birth, an intense rivalry ensued over what the dominant societal narrative of the state ought to be (Jabbour 1987, 53–5). The three broader narratives in circulation – Islamism, Arabism and ‘natural Syria’ – all sought to provide a sense of unity for Syria (or the region) despite its diversity. In the post-independence period, the SSNP narrative of a ‘natural Syria’ held together by a locally specific history and culture – separate from both religion and Arabism – was influential, providing both a sense of unity and a generous acceptance of Syria’s diversity. However, the SSNP was not able to overcome its fierce rivalry with both the Syrian Communist Party and the Baath Party, and in 1955, its influence was largely eliminated. Ideational competition was immense in the post-independence period, which saw multiple coups d’e´tat and social unrest. This ideational competition was never fully resolved however, though the growing popularity of Arabism in the region, together with its existing popularity in Syria increasingly made it a core idea of the dominant societal narrative, something that was consolidated under the Baath.

The External Narrative and Goals 1950– 70 Despite ideational competition, after 1945, successive Syrian governments, as well as varied socio-economic societal actors, shared a similar understanding of Syria’s external narrative and what goals diplomacy should promote. The external narrative drew on the one idea that competing pre-independence narratives had agreed upon, namely, that Syria should defend itself against outsiders and be a bastion of resistance. The dominant societal narrative’s focus on Arabism made the causes of Arab unity and Palestine central to Syrian diplomacy. The external narrative also held that Syria should be a model ‘defender’ for others to emulate, but only after it develops the domestic capabilities and institutional structures to allow it such a leading position (Aflaq 1963).

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Given this, in January 1948, Michel Aflaq argued that Syria should take a leading role by engaging in the ‘open’ global system under American leadership: for him, Arabs (including Syrians) would be better off by ‘tak [ing] the side of the Western democracies rather than that of the Eastern [Soviet] dictatorships. They would choose this course because they so well know that freedom has been, is and will remain the very essence of their existence and the best guarantee for the development of their personality’ (Tomeh 1964, 124). However, as the Western (especially American) position on the Palestinian issue became clearer, and as Israel was closely associated with colonialist policies, the external narrative’s emphasis on resisting outsiders pushed Syria away from the US orbit.

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1950 –70 Syria’s main concerns post-independence revolved around the need to act against Israel as the primary source of threat. However, Syrian elites had varied views on how to react which emanated largely from their varied domestic concerns (Mufti 1996): while some believed in the viability of a secular and inclusionary Palestinian–Israeli state, others believed in the necessity of fighting partition (see Aflaq 1963). The former view was not readily expressed, given the difficulty of making such ideas public because ‘our people is still impressionable and reacts nervously’ (Fansa 1982, 129). Syrian diplomacy pre-1948 towards the anti-Zionist Arab coalition was erratic, and its participation in the 1948 War was lukewarm (Landis 2007). Syrian governments were reluctant to join the 1948 War, due mainly to the state’s relative weaknesses, a desire not to fracture an already fragile state apparatus, and apprehension at fighting under Hashemite command. Proposals by Syrian figures to end the conflict with Israel were thwarted on the Syrian side by a series of coups, and on the Israeli side by apprehension over the durability of such proposals given Syrian domestic instability (Shlaim 1986, 68– 77; Barari 2004, 10– 13; Maoz 1995, 20– 30; Rabinovich 1991, 85 –90). After 1948, however, ongoing military pressure from Israel and the War’s disastrous outcome precluded Syrian politicians from floating ‘accommodationist’ ideas. Following 1948, ‘Syria’s external affairs may be summed up as an acute fear of Israel [. . .] where ‘Syrians are obsessed with the danger of Israeli expansion’ (Maoz 1995, 32; al-Mardini 1988). This feeling was aggravated by Israel’s military superiority. In this context, Syria focused

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on countering Israeli threats by increasing its efforts to modernize and organize society around egalitarian principles, hence tying diplomacy and governance. Priority was placed on developing domestic capabilities and potential, on which external action could then successfully draw (Aflaq 1963). Operationally, Syria’s promotion of a pan-Arab united position lacked clarity or policy precision; this ambiguity, together with the rise of other contenders to Arab leadership, fed a growing regional competition. In the early 1950s, an alliance with the Soviet Union promised to provide Syria with the means to pursue its diplomacy goals. This alliance was problematic since the USSR’s ‘atheist ideology’ made it unattractive for some (especially the Syrian Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen), while others saw the USSR as a dictatorship (Tomeh 1964). However, Syrian decision makers were frustrated with the non-responsiveness of Western capitals to which they reached out, thus firmly ending Aflaq’s original goal of aligning with powers like the United States, which at the time had attracted Syrians with its anti-imperial and selfdetermination discourse (al-Azm 1973). External threats and decreasing resources influenced Syrian governments’ decisions: the Minister of National Economy argued that ‘the Arabs would a thousand times prefer to become a Soviet republic rather than become prey to the Jews’ – that is, the state of Israel (Maoz 1995, 31). Syria faced major security challenges in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly with respect to Israel’s military operations on the border to protect Israeli water and agriculture projects. While Syria’s relative weakness muted its field actions, it sustained a steadfastly combative discourse of resistance in defence of its sovereignty. In this context, American Cold War Containment strategies offered security, military and economic assistance (Petran 1972, 96), and even suggested giving Syria a generous aid package in return for settling some Palestinian refugees (Shlaim 1986). Some Syrian decision makers were interested in American offers, as they promised increased military and economic capacities, but aid was not forthcoming (Slater 2002, 87). For the majority of government, however, supporting a Western and especially American position: was looked upon by the Arabs as a means of recognizing the status quo [existence] of Israel and making peace with her. The choice was open to the Arabs: either the formation of a western alliance

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with implicit recognition of Israel, or an increased disengagement from the West, which would gradually lead to and strengthen Arab– Soviet relations. Western policies, with their underlying imperialist tones, seemed to be pushing the Arabs more and more toward this latter course. (Tomeh 1964, 129) While calling for an Arab consensus, by the mid-1950s, Syrian governments had already opened channels with the Soviets and distanced themselves from the Baghdad Pact; the Israeli attack on Lake Tiberius in December 1955 cemented the Soviet-Syrian alliance (Tomeh 1964, 125). The American ambassador to Damascus even commented that Israel’s raid on Lake Tiberius was carried out ‘in full knowledge that Syria would turn to Russia for help. Israel, then [. . .] could justify [Israeli] requests for Western arms as anticommunist rather than anti-Arab’ (Mufti 1996, 75– 6). Subsequently, Syria benefited greatly from Soviet aid, while ‘several hundred Syrians went to Soviet bloc countries for special military training’ or ‘for further study’ (Howard 1974, 140). Soviet military (and other), aid as well as demonstrated political support for Syria, gave it the requisite capabilities to be more assertive in the Arab–Israel conflict and prove it was a ‘beating heart’ of Arab resistance (Petran 1972, 122–3). Despite this Soviet support, Syria’s vulnerabilities burgeoned when its relations with Jordan deteriorated and as tensions rose with Iraq whose diplomacy after the 1958 revolution became more confrontational towards Syria. In this environment, Egypt’s claim for Arab leadership fit with Syria’s claim for Arab unity. The establishment of the United Arab Republic (UAR) in 1958, as a union between two sovereign Arab states, came at a time when Arab unity had great appeal among masses and elites. This willingness to unite both states emerged from, and added credibility to, Syria’s external narrative. Unity would be a conduit to achieving pan-Arab goals, especially aiding the Palestinians. Syrian elites believed in the inherent value of pursuing such pan-Arab goals (see Barnett 1993). The UAR did augment Syria’s military capabilities, and thus the capacity to confront Israel. However, given that the parameters of government’s sovereign control under the union were not negotiated and given the asymmetry in organizational capacities and military capabilities between its two members (including Egypt’s greater stature in Arab politics after the 1956 War), the UAR in effect became a vehicle

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for Egypt’s domination of Syria. The euphoria at the prospect of Arab unity was eventually replaced by realpolitik, mainly Egyptian interests to control the Syrian political system coupled with intra-government rivalries in Syria. In 1961, Syria officially called for an end of the UAR. This change in relations with Egypt might have reflected erratic decision making during threatening times, however it was not irrational or uncalculated. If anything, erraticism was the outcome of domestic competition and contrasting understandings of diplomacy. Elites within and outside government saw in diplomacy an avenue to demonstrate their pan-Arab credentials, which they could then use to their advantage in the domestic political rivalries. Israeli military operations intensified after the UAR dismemberment, and Syria was unable to react in kind (see McInerney 1994, 104–6). Syrian diplomacy at this time benefited from the structure of Arab politics. It was able to reach out to Egypt for material and political support which Egypt, as an Arab leader and despite the UAR collapse, could not deny. Moreover, the USSR moved in to cement Syrian– Egyptian relations, and stepped up its aid to Syria (Golan 2006). As the militarized border conflict with Israel intensified in the 1960s, Syria was to limit its response to rhetorical assaults because the burden of acting against Israel was mostly shouldered by Egypt. The degree of Israeli military performance and territorial advances in the 1967 War starkly exposed Syria’s lack of field preparedness (Parker 1993, Chapter 1). Syria lost the Golan Heights, and its morale and military capacities were seriously compromised. Syria’s losses did not derive solely from relative military weakness; they also stemmed from inadequate government policies to organize resources in a protracted international conflict – highlighting a problem with government agency, not ideas. Syria demanded Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Golan, emphasizing the inadmissibility of the Israeli occupation, and the need for military resistance. Soviet political, military and economic aid helped Syrian diplomacy recuperate and emboldened its subsequent decisions (Hinnebusch 2001, 149). After the 1967 Arab League Khartoum Summit, Syria’s government rejected United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 242 (22 November 1967) and the Rogers Plan, and broke diplomatic ties with the US. Syria decided to fight Israel through militia-led guerrilla tactics (such as al-Saiqa), and avoided engaging its regular armed forces. Syrian actions ‘kept

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the regime off the hook: it could stay out of trouble, without having to eschew its established doctrines of people’s war and Palestinian resistance’ (Kerr 1973, 698). Into the 1970s, Syria supported anti-Israel operations from the occupied Golan and Lebanon (Seale 1990, 156– 7; El-Khazen 2000). During the War of Attrition, as Heikal explained, ‘If the Eastern front [. . .] becomes really strong and effective, this will upset the political and strategic balance in the conflict, and have an influence far greater than could be anticipated at present’ (Khalidi 1973, 72). However, pressures on Israel from the Eastern front were diffuse, as Syria did not coordinate well with Jordan or Egypt (Seale 1990, 155– 6). The War of Attrition provided Syria the chance to improve its deterrence with regard to Israel, but its actions were erratic and lacked tactical organization. Syrian government decisions, in essence, did not actualize the goal of resistance via policies adequate to the time and geographic context. Then with Black September in Jordan (1970) came another demonstration of Syria’s erratic diplomacy stemming mainly from growing divisions over diplomacy policies, despite agreement over the narrative. To support what it assessed as Palestinian ‘independence’ against Jordan’s ‘antiArab’ moves, Syria moved troops towards Jordan; failing to receive support from their own air force, the Syrian army was exposed to Jordan’s air force, and eventually withdrew (Seale 1990, Chapter 11). Syrian diplomacy after September 1970 remained staunchly pan-Arab and resistant to pressures that sought to undermine it; however, its actions in pursuit of these goals changed. In sum, agreement over the external narrative did not translate into coherent policies in diplomacy, mostly because of domestic rivalries that precluded policy agreement. By the early 1960s, the Baath party was incrementally consolidating its control over government. Particularly after the 1970 coup, more coherent goals and policies emerged in Syria’s diplomacy, attesting to Baathist political consolidation (al-Azm 1973, v. 3, 9– 13; Moubayed 2006).

Domestic Narrative and Goals 1950– 70 Unlike its external narrative, Syria’s domestic narrative was compromised. The appeal to pan-Arabism, rather than the development of a locally grounded dominant societal narrative, meant that the domestic narrative had little to draw upon, beyond the vague notion of embracing

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Syria’s diversity. Under the Ottomans, local families and centres of power were needed to establish security and organize taxation; however, the central Ottoman government could not allow them to grow strong fearing their independence. Thus, local legitimate centres of authority were engaged by the Ottoman authorities according to its emergent needs: they were occasionally supported by Istanbul, other times fought, and many times had their rivalries manipulated to weaken them collectively (Imad 1993, 299– 301). This generated both varied local narratives, as well as generally shared suspicion of authority in many Syrian communities. The modern Syrian state inherited this Ottoman legacy, but did not develop a domestic narrative to give these varied communities a sense of direction in governance. The emphasis on Arabism in the dominant societal narrative, particularly after the purging of the SSNP, meant that Syria as a state was more concerned with the region than with itself. Though Aflaq did argue that domestic development was crucial, its importance was primarily framed in terms of what it would contribute to pan-Arabism and the conflict with Israel, rather than what it would do for Syrians. With this ideational weakness, state-building moved ahead but was mired in conflict. Initially, elites and society agreed on the need for an inclusionary political system but disagreed over methods of achieving it. Some governments, such as under Adib ash-Shishakli (1949 to 1954) governed through fac ade inclusionary policies. With growing political disagreement, inter-communal and inter-class conflicts, feelings of supra- and sub-state group solidarity were reinforced at the expense of national unity (Bashshur 2003, 30 – 1; van Dam 1996, 15 –30). It should be emphasized that societal heterogeneity was not unique to Syria. However, Syria’s dominant societal narrative intimately tied what Syria was with what it represented regionally. This overlap of state and region meant that societal diversity could be either an asset or a liability, in so far as the government was able to control the influence of regional conflicts on internal struggles and vice versa (see Imad 1993, 299– 300). Moreover, the weak Arab performance in the 1948 War against Israel promoted the idea that a Syrian state was not appropriate, since it divided Arab lands and prevented Arab concerted action. The Arab military defeat against Israel also delegitimized the idea that Syria would be a viable sovereign entity if detached from its Arab context, particularly given its weakness in staving imminent threats from the Arab–Israel conflict

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(see al-Mardini 1988, 162–3). In the coming decades, then, Parliament, Cabinet and political parties functioned and represented various interests, but they were brought together not by an ‘idea of Syria’ per se but rather of ‘Syria as a pillar of’ something greater – that of the Arab nation and later on the ‘resistance camp’ against Israel. In the aftermath of the 1948 War, Syria experienced frequent coups and political purges, eroding the capacity of state institutions (see Ilyas 1991, 44). Among other reasons, this instability stemmed from the vagueness of the domestic narrative, which allowed for immense competition among elites who disagreed on which direction and form governance should take. In this environment, the Baath Party pushed itself to political prominence and made its party narrative synonymous with Syria (Kaylani 1972, 3). Baathism rests on pan-Arabism and social egalitarianism, both widely popular ideas in post-independence Syria. Domestically, Baathism promoted the idea that social cleavages could be overcome through the equal provision of services (Kaylani 1972; Aflaq 1963).

Governance 1950– 70 At independence, Syria’s agriculture was thriving, it had a self-sustaining artisan industry and transit trade provided significant revenues (Petran 1972, 84). Land reform under Ottoman and French rule merged land into large holdings, which effectively created and empowered landowning elites and monopolies (Hinnebusch 1990a, Chapter 2). By independence, a growing urban petty bourgeoisie (in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama) had consolidated ties with dominant agrarian landowners (King 2009, 35–7; Mufti 1996, 241). As Syria’s economy was ‘relatively unintegrated into transnational capitalist networks’, domestic private capitalists and the landed elite built robust ties, and gradually worked towards economic modernization (Heydemann 1999, 164 and 27). Domestic industry was eroding in favour of imports; commercialists lobbied against trade barriers and demanded land redistribution (Mufti 1996, 242). Constitutional amendments in 1950 permitted state sponsorship of industries, instituted land reform favouring the peasantry and expanded the bureaucracy (which expanded the middle class). Urban capitalists saw modernizing opportunities in such reforms, and began diluting ties with the landed oligarchy. However, reform was fast-paced and unregulated; importantly, it lacked legal frameworks to

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contain increasingly mobilized labour amid promises of social equality. Capitalists and the agrarian elite regrouped to jointly resist reforms. By the late 1950s, they were seriously concerned with the potential for further, and more aggressive, mobilization of the new rising middle class, labour and the peasants by the Baath and the Syrian Communist Party (al-Azm 1973, v. 3). Governments halted reform and instability spiralled: economic stagnation hit marginal sectors and ‘inflexibility on the part of the landed elite fuelled the radicalization of marginal social groups’ (Heydemann 1999, 15; Vitalis and Heydemann 2000, 130). The economic and social structures described above, which produced the political and economic elites that came to be decision makers after state independence, were built on disparities; thus political elites were perceived as disconnected from society, undermining their legitimacy. It was in this domestic environment that forging a domestic narrative faced difficulties. Disconnect grew after independence, and new rising elites and political parties associated old elites and their ideas with an ancien regime; this branding came at a time when many Arab governments were being toppled (Jabbour 1987, 394; Mo’az, Ginat and Winckler 1999). Class polarization highlighted urban– rural divides, and other forms of entrenched heterogeneities widened diverging views of the legitimacy and finality of the Syrian state, especially with elites adopting increasingly radicalizing rhetoric in their domestic competition (Hinnebusch 1993, 245). Despite this – or perhaps because of it – political and class diversity flourished in the 1950s. Political parties, such as the Baath Party, the Communist Party and Syrian Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen (who shared Hasan al-Banna’s ideas but were not affiliated organizationally with the Egyptian Al-Ikhwan), were increasingly non-conciliatory and mobilized via street protests and strikes (Khoury 1993; Hilal 1980, 415). Despite initial reservations from Aflaq and al-Bitar, the Baath Party in the 1950s was active in politics. It expanded its membership among the military by appealing to pan-Arab sentiments, and it appealed to the marginal and worked with the Communists under banners of state regulation and better social services. In the Communist Party, there were irreconcilable divisions over the issues of the day, and the political projects in Syria: for some Communists, the pan-Arab call for independence and unity was complementary to the struggle for socialist equality, while for other Communists pan-Arabism was a bourgeois

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concern that working classes had no business being involved in (SCP 1972, 12). As the Baath grew, it ended its short-lived alliance with the Communist Party (Bashshur 2003, 435– 49). It also clashed with AlIkhwan (Teitelbaum 2004). The Syrian Al-Ikhwan had started organizing activities in earnest in the late 1950s to counter the Baath. Al-Ikhwan called for improved social services, but shared an interest in free enterprise with the (Sunni) Damascene capitalists. A ‘freer’ economy was ill received by workers, labour unions and the new rising middle class however. Syrians critiqued existing parties as elitist and oriented towards Western liberal constitutionalism. Parliament and the Cabinet were mostly used by political parties as avenues through which to outbid their opposition in an attempt to purge them from the political competition (Jabbour 1987). Governments tried to control the political sphere by prohibiting public servants from joining political parties in a bid to end partisanship in the state and insulate public service from political competition (Zakzak 2006, 180–5; al-Mardini 1988). The weakness of the domestic narrative coupled with political polarization facilitated the adoption of unbridgeable platforms; frequent coups d’e´tat and growing confrontations shook people’s faith in the new Syrian state whose legitimacy was already questioned (al-Azm 1973, v. 3). In this context, Syria’s military tried to impose domestic stability (Bashshur 2003, 70 –3). During the mandate, officers had mostly been recruited from elite urban families. After independence, recruits came from lower income families, the peasantry and religious minorities, and the military became an important avenue for social mobility. By the 1950s, many of the recruits had reached middle ranks and many were politicized and active in various political parties. Class divisions in the military led to ideational clashes between rising officers and the Damascene political elite. Officers were attracted to Baathism because of its pan-Arabism and egalitarian values that bridged officers’ diverse class and communal backgrounds (Hinnebusch 2001). What this meant was that military officers had political preferences, which were not uniform; thus the military establishment’s interventions in the political process via coups were partisan and aggravated divisions (Abd al-Karim 1994, 249– 53; Jabbour 1987, 402–4). Domestically, the clarity of the external narrative and the reality of the ongoing conflict with Israel, gave Syrian governance some reprieve in the sense of allowing governments to rally around the flag when all else

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failed. After Egypt’s 1956 Suez victory (see Chapter 2) and its growing position as Arab leader, Syria looked to it for an answer. Syria, which self-identified as the ‘beating heart of Arabism’, found in Egypt a champion of its external narrative. This overlapping pan-Arab interest made a union an acceptable policy option for Syria, even if it meant being absorbed by Egypt. In fact, a union dissolving the Syrian state was perhaps acceptable and popular precisely because it meant joining a strong, leading pan-Arabist Egypt. Thus Syrian civilian and military elites agreed (or at least did not object, as was the case with President Shukri al-Quwwatli) to the UAR (Riyad 1986). Many hoped this would bring an Egypt-forged Syrian unity (al-Azm 1973, v. 2, 503; and v. 1, 393). For this reason, many initially accepted a stifling of political life in Syria that resulted from the centralization of power in the Egyptian government (Riyad 1986, 210– 15; Uthman 2001, 33– 59; Isber 1973, 140– 3; Zakzak 2006). The union, however, was short-lived; in 1961, a conflict-ridden Syrian government demanded its dissolution. Though elites agreed on Syria’s Arabist orientations and that they no longer wanted to be subject to Egypt, they still had no roadmap for governance (see Riyad 1986, 230). After the UAR break-up, the bourgeoisie and the Syrian Communist Party allied to counter the growing power of the Baath, leading to renewed instability (Mufti 1996, 72–3). Soon after, in 1963, a Baath party military cohort came to power via a coup. It blamed political infighting and economic deterioration on feudal interests and reactionary elites. Backed by societal respect for the military, and armed with the popularity of Baathist pan-Arab egalitarianism and the promise of stability, the coup started with purges to the political elite. The alliance of the Baath and the military brought together the aspirations of many Syrians (for stability, pan-Arabism, etc.) and initially garnered legitimacy. In particular, land divisions and parcelling, as well as cooperatives, were popular moves among Syria’s many peasants, and tied them to the government. Meanwhile, government taxed agriculture to finance industry and a growing bureaucracy, a policy which would compromise agricultural productivity in the coming decade (Hinnebusch 1989, 297). Government incubated syndicates and similar organizations to control workers and ‘businessmen, craftworkers, and shopkeepers’ (Heydemann 1999, 197–9). Intra-government factionalism sharpened: one faction was tied to trade unions ‘particularly in [. . .] working class districts [. . .] and in the poorer agricultural areas’, while another faction

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appeased private sector interests and industrialists, and sought an easing of monetary regulations (Lawson 1996, 23–4). Syrian politics was stabilized by adjustments in economic policies, increased bureaucratization, quelling of labour activism and the forceful elimination of political infighting. Against the backdrop of earlier political instability, many Syrians welcomed the emerging stability; it enhanced government legitimacy and provided a sense of permanence and meaning to the Syrian state. Nevertheless, some societal actors regrouped to counter the government’s many exclusionary policies. By the mid-1960s, Al-Ikhwan, influenced by Sayyid Qutob and Said Hawwa, created al-Tala’i al-Mouqatila (the Fighting Vanguard) as its military arm (Isber 1979; Abd-Allah 1983; Lawson 2010, 144). The Vanguard entered into an anti-government struggle and violently clashed with security forces in Hama, Damascus and Aleppo (Faksh 1984). Another coup d’e´tat occurred in 1966 and was led by an even smaller Baath clique. The new government opened ‘new channels for the mobilization of popular forces, both urban and rural, that rapidly overwhelmed the capacity of a pro-business political coalition to control them’ (Heydemann 1999, 33). Polarization continued and so did street confrontations. Yet, while the Baath had enjoyed greater control over the political and economic domains, and while its external narrative of resistance and championing of pan-Arab causes was clear and meshed well with the dominant societal narrative, government members still did not agree on a domestic narrative and related governance policies. With exclusionary policies significantly increasing, societal resistance and organization against government grew markedly; the political credit of the Baathist military decision makers was eroding. Divisions remained until the 1970 coup.

The Domestic– External Nexus 1950 – 70 In the 1950s, ‘while the successive governments were taking a mild stand in their foreign relations, popular pressure was increasingly mounting for a firm stand and a clear-cut foreign policy’ (Tomeh 1964, 125). Rather than ‘clear cut’ policies, however, domestic conflicts produced erratic behaviours and undermined the state’s reactive powers to external events, even with respect to the threat posed by Israel’s water projects. The ‘beating heart of Arabism’ narrative was widely accepted;

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however, internal disagreement precluded a sustained and stable diplomacy. In particular, governments dreaded entanglement in debilitating regional wars that might jeopardize an already precarious domestic stability (Landis 2007, 176–85; Maoz 1995, 19). Superpower patronage partly compensated for this, by relieving domestic taxation and governance spending, while enabling a military build-up to counter Israel (Perlmutter 1969, 835). When the Soviet Union became Syria’s patron, its support went to Syrian governments, not Communists or left-leaning societal actors; Soviet advisers to the Syrian Communist Party in 1969 recommended a more ‘realistic’ path to erase the effects of Israeli intransigence asking them to be prepared before embarking on any action against Israel – a hint at the need for domestic consolidation (SCP 1972, 143). Syria maintained its support for pan-Arab unity but lacked the material capacity to achieve it. Also, Syria’s calls to organize resistance circles against Israel did not receive a strong reception in Arab circles. While conflicts continued to plague Syrian domestic politics in the 1960s, Soviet bolstering of Syria’s military capabilities emboldened forceful actions against Israel, especially against its water projects. Political parties in Syria sought to take credit for the state’s increased military prowess. With the direct cost on Syria seemingly low in light of Egyptian and Soviet willingness to protect Syria, its government and various other societal actors escalated the rhetoric against Israel (Lawson 1996, 46). Egypt critiqued Syria’s escalation, but as the ‘Arab leader’, it could not deny Syria’s calls for aid against Israel (Bar-Siman-Tov 1983, 131). Acting against Israel was consistent with Syria’s external narrative; but the narrative had other options on the table than the ones Syria’s government chose. In this case, the Syrian choice of a policy of escalation in the confrontation with Israel (and then passing the buck to Egypt) seems arbitrary. Even if escalation served a calculated Syrian goal – such as drawing Egypt into a confrontation with Israel in order to open up a space for a greater Syrian role in the Arab states system – it is difficult to imagine that any Syrian government would have considered the loss of the Golan Heights as acceptable; thus my claim of arbitrariness. After the 1967 War, Egypt (as well as Jordan and Lebanon) reacted coldly to Syria’s arbitrary diplomacy. Incrementally over the following few years, however, Syrian diplomacy itself lost much of its erraticism and became more stable and pragmatic. It balanced Israeli threats with available means to respond; crucially, this change occurred at a time when

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the government was preoccupied with domestic consolidation. Still, intragovernment competition took a toll on diplomacy, as reflected in the Syrian reactions to Jordan’s Black September. Real predictability in Syrian governance and diplomacy came only with the 1970 coup, which brought to power a government whose members agreed on the need to enforce domestic stability and external predictability.

Statecraft 1971– 2010 As the self-appointed caretaker of Syria, the Corrective Movement (so called by the 1970 coup leaders), led by Hafez Al-Asad, ‘aimed’ to craft for society an image of itself as a united people able to overcome the backward and reactionary divisions that had plagued Syria (Khalil 1987, 217– 31). The Baath party narrative permeated and dominated both the external and the domestic narratives: it prioritized Syria-first causes but in a pan-Arab framework of resistance, such as regaining the occupied Golan. Such a framing of national causes meant that they overshadowed narrow Islamic ones, such as those championed by Al-Ikhwan, and overshadowed broader internationalist ones, such as those championed by the Syrian Communist Party (Khalil 1987, 112; see SCP 1972, section four).

The External Narrative and Goals 1971 –2010 Syria as the ‘beating heart of Arabism’ remained the essence of the dominant societal narrative and the guiding idea of the external narrative. A crucial goal in this period was to regain the occupied Golan. Hence a new idea – resistance diplomacy – became central to the external narrative. It allowed Syria to remain at the heart of Arab politics, while pursuing the national imperative of regaining the occupied Golan. Syria thus took on a central role in leading pan-Arab resistance diplomacy to Israeli occupation of Arab states’ lands and in support of the Palestinians. With negotiations commencing on multiple fronts in the 1970s and continuing with various successes in the following decades, resistance came to mean withstanding political pressures to concede on principled positions. Syria’s government delivered a principled rhetoric for itself and for Arab states: that regaining occupied land was a goal around which society should mobilize, and to which all diplomacy energies should be dedicated

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(Wedeen 1999, 43). This external narrative sought to fulfil Syrian interests without undermining collective Arab causes. Moreover, resistance diplomacy was committed to rational and pragmatic policies. In a demonstration of the effects of such ideas, President Al-Asad noted in 1974 that the struggle with Israel had taken on a new shape by ‘moving from the theatre of armed struggle to the theatre of political struggle, and that in reality the two are mixed’ (Qorna 1986, v. 2, 95). His statement injected diplomacy with the requisite ideational flexibility in the pursuit of Syrian interests, and legitimated force as well as political dialogue as acceptable means. For Syria to retrieve the occupied Golan and demonstrate its centrality as an Arab resistance state, it first had to ensure a delicate alliance with the USSR that would not limit Syria’s diplomacy choices vis-a`-vis the United States. Second, it had to ‘“save” Lebanon’ (Wedeen 1999, 43). Syrian interests in stabilizing Lebanon stemmed not only from the reality of shared borders and thus security vulnerabilities, but also from shared historic ties and a similar social fabric. Importantly, Syrian governments saw their role in Lebanon as emerging from a ‘natural’ commitment. Moreover, since Lebanon also shared borders with Israel, the stability and well-being of Lebanon was, for Syria, important to maintaining a secure pan-Arab order – something that Syria, as a central Arab resistance state, was responsible for (Qorna 1986, v. 3, Chapter 2). Syria’s policies in Lebanon reflected the government’s overall pragmatism: it accepted the fact that military differentials with Israel significantly restricted its actions in Lebanon and commenced a period of Syrian accommodation with Israel in the 1980s and 1990s (Hinnebusch 1996). Moreover, the pan-Arab resistance ideas in the narrative meant significant Syrian attention to the Palestinian question, the return of occupied land, as well as the achievement of Palestinian statehood. Syria framed its championing of Palestinians in the rights discourses of United Nations’ declarations and resolutions; this was complemented by its emphasis on the need to retain the option of military resistance (Tlas 1987; Aflaq 1963; Qorna 1986, v. 3, Chapter 3). This pragmatism led to Syria accepting the American-led Peace Process in the 1990s, defining it as ‘an honorable struggle’, where its ‘stance in the battle for peace will not be less courageous than our stances on the battlefield’ (Hinnebusch 1996, 45). Though Syria became increasingly reliant on UN resolutions as the political avenues to

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regaining its right to the occupied Golan in this period, its pragmatism did not mean that it had abandoned the war option altogether. Syria’s external narrative did not witness much change in the new millennium. Despite the 2003 Iraq invasion and the various wars (especially Israel – Gaza and Lebanon–Israel), none of the major powers and regional states contemplated a change in the territorial status quo, all of which helped Syria maintain its pan-Arabist resistance with little direct cost, so long as the government could control the domestic sphere.

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1971– 2010 Syria’s regional environment had changed in important ways after 1967, especially with Israel’s newfound territorial buffers and changed superpower relations (De´tente in the 1970s and then a resumption of tensions in the 1980s), and an overall growing role for the United States in the Middle East overshadowing the Soviets. Important too was the change in the Arab states system favouring sovereignty over polarizing politics. Syrian diplomacy’s reordering of priorities allowed the state to navigate various challenges in this context. In 1972, a pragmatic Syria conditionally accepted the 1967-issued UNSCR 242. The US had surpassed Soviet influence in the Arab–Israel system, therefore accepting the resolution signalled Syria’s desire to engage politically to regain the occupied Golan. Initiating war was not a viable option for a weakened Syria (Qorna 1986, v. 3, 351– 405). In this context, Egypt’s motivation to retrieve the Sinai provided Syria with an opportunity to help alter the regional status quo, while coordination with Egypt and Saudi Arabia catered to Syria’s pan-Arab resistance narrative. While the 1973 War was based on a strategic convergence of Syrian and Egyptian goals, state-level factors pushed the two apart after the start of the war. This exposed a key Syrian vulnerability: it could not continue in the war (or realistically in any militarized strategies against Israel) without Egypt, which in broader terms meant that Syria needed strong allies (Fahmy 1983, 25). Syria thus conditionally accepted UNSCR 338, which ended the militarized conflict related to the 1973 War, and agreed to a military disengagement. The regional political process that followed the 1973 War exposed other Syrian vulnerabilities: Israel was under no pressure to concede to Syria especially given progress in bargaining with Egypt. Then Egypt’s Camp David deal seriously undercut Syria’s bargaining position with Israel. Meanwhile, however,

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strained Egyptian – Soviet relations improved Syria’s leverage with the USSR. This was demonstrated when Syria refused to sign a 15-year treaty of friendship and cooperation, yet received increased Soviet economic aid and support in construction projects, such as the Euphrates Dam. After the Egyptian –Israel Accords, Syrian diplomacy championed a strategy of ‘tactical rejectionism’, meaning that until Syria reached a satisfactory deal with Israel, it would try to prevent other Arab states from signing peace treaties (Hinnebusch 2002, 154– 5). Framing this strategy in the interests of pan-Arab collective bargaining fit with Syria’s understanding of itself as a resistance state and as the central defender of pan-Arab issues, especially towards the Palestinians. In reality, however, it was not clear how valuable or accepted this diplomacy was given Lebanon’s civil war, the PLO’s friction with Arab governments, Jordan’s voluntary retreat and Israel’s disinterest towards Syria. In addition, competition with Iraq over Baathist ideological purity, oil pipeline routes and Euphrates water rights nearly drove the two states to war in 1975 (Marr 2001, 47; Dawn 2001). Iraq’s domestic instability and its war with Iran reduced its immediate threat towards Syria, but Syrian vulnerability vis-a`-vis the stronger Iraq remained. Syria dominated Lebanon since the 1980s. Its presence there allowed it to curtail use of Lebanon as a theatre for anti-Baath groups inside Syria itself, control the PLO and placate US concerns over PLO influence and Israeli security (Tlas 1987, 13; Barout and Kilani 2003, 24 –6). Moreover, Syria continued sponsorship of Palestinian factions (such as al-Saiqa) who were engaged in guerrilla warfare against Israel from Lebanon (see Al-Asad interview with Le Monde in 1984 – quoted in Qorna 1986, v. 3, 291– 3). At the same time, Syria clashed with the PLO, which risked raising tensions with Saudi Arabia and the USSR (Qorna 1986, v. 4, Chapter 1). Yet Syrian diplomacy was rather skilled in controlling the PLO factor in Lebanon by forcing it out in 1982 while avoiding a direct military confrontation with Israel (despite a contained aerial skirmish over Lebanon’s eastern mountains in 1982) (Dawn 2001). Syria benefited from American interests in Lebanon, because the US imposed unwritten rules that served to organize Israel and Syria’s interventions in Lebanon (Rabinovich 1979; Khalidi 1986). Finally, dominating Lebanon gave Syria access to its banking sector, which provided a monetary safe haven and income for Syrian entrepreneurs, who contributed to Syria’s economy. This policy was fruitful because

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doing business via Lebanon allowed the Syrian government to avoid change to its domestic monetary policies. Throughout the 1980s, governments laboured to increase the state’s military capacities, relying heavily on Soviet assistance, given Syria’s underdeveloped industrial sector (Batatu 1999, Chapter 22). Until then, Syria had avoided a formal alliance treaty with the USSR, focusing instead on having relations framed in the context of ‘friendship and cooperation’ (see Hafiz Al-Asad’s note on this issue in Qorna 1986, v. 4, 44– 7). However, balancing Israel’s capacities and reducing Syrian vulnerabilities required a substantial change in Syrian– Soviet ties. In this period, Syria also found a new ally in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran helped Syria’s military stockpiling effort, and over time their relationship developed around how to coordinate their positions in regard to Hezbollah’s actions in Lebanon, as well as towards Iraq. Syria’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon was important, since resistance operations against Israel allowed Syria to confirm its pan-Arab resistance narrative (Goodarzi 2006, 11 – 23 and 292). Despite this new alliance with Iran, Syria’s diplomacy remained largely pragmatic and calculating. At the 1987 Amman Summit Syria endorsed the general Arab consensus to re-establish relations with Egypt, and side with Iraq against Iran in the Iran –Iraq War. Syrian diplomacy balanced its intra-Arab relations while expanding its alliance with Iran – something that Arab states, barring Iraq, accepted. An indication of the Arab reaction was the fact that Syria did not cut ties with Iran and Hezbollah and still received Arab financial assistance (Dawn 2001, 175; Okruhlik 2003, 5– 9). When the USSR collapsed Syria lost an important patron, but its diplomacy adjusted well. Syria looked to the new systemic order for opportunities to strengthen its position and achieve its goal of regaining the occupied Golan. A first opportunity came in 1990, when the US-led Gulf War needed Arab cover. In exchange for its support, Syria won implicit US approval for its expanded dominance over Lebanon (Mansour 2010). Additionally, in the 1990s, Syria strengthened relations with Western Europe; of special importance were economic ties that made Europe an important partner for industrial goods (see the EIU Country Reports from 1996 to 2002). At the 1991 Madrid talks, Syria accepted the idea of entering into public peace-making with Israel, but took a firm and non-compromising position on the occupied Golan. It practised reactive diplomacy in the

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sense that it waited for policy offers and then crafted appropriate responses. Syria stressed the importance of Syrian ‘dignity’, which meant the imperative of retrieving all occupied Syrian land. Syria also favoured ‘multilateral solidarity’, which meant that it sought a collective settlement rather than a bilateral one, in order to increase its bargaining power with Arab support (Rabinovich 1998, 187).2 However, the Palestinians struck their own peace deal with Israel in 1993, which proved problematic for two reasons. First, it reduced Syria’s bargaining power, especially in a context of improved Israel-Arab ties that reduced pressure on Israel. Secondly, by striking their own deal, the Palestinians had taken responsibility for their own fate; in so doing, they called into question Syrian claims of being the champion and ultimate protector of Palestinian rights (Hinnebusch 1996, 49; Lesch 2002, 191). Given these changes, Syria turned to another strategy in order to remain central to regional politics, gain leverage and counter threats, namely, the support of militant actors. Though this strategy was certainly instrumentalist, it was also consistent with Syria’s external narrative of resistance, from which it derived legitimacy and which it, in turn, strengthened. For example, Syria’s support for militant Kurdish groups, especially the Kurdistan Workers Party (Partia Karkaren Kurdistan or the PKK), helped pressure Turkey over Euphrates water sharing, while ties with Hezbollah pressured Israel with no direct cost on the Syrian interior. When PKK military activities intensified, Turkish politicians and the media vocally denounced Syria, and Turkey’s government position oscillated between open threats and political requests to compel a change in Syrian policy (Sayari 1997, 47). In 1998, Turkey moved troops to the Syrian border as an ultimatum – forcing a Syrian retreat. By 2000, then, Syria’s main regional options were in Iran and Lebanon. As such, it set out to neutralize existing tensions with important regional states, including Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, so as ‘to protect the succession from any unpredictable shocks’ (Ziadeh 2013, 41). Syria continued the strategic and mutually beneficial partnership with Iran. Ties with the US, which had developed in 1990s, continued. However, the early 2000s ushered in a very different Middle East. The Second Intifada formally ended a stalled peace-making process. The Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 ended its occupation and consequently increased the costs of military operations against Israel

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from Lebanese territory. The attacks of September 11, 2001, put the US on a war track for which it requested Arab governments’ support. At the same time, America’s ‘with us or against us’ approach rejected complex diplomacy positions, such as those held by Syria, and it opted for more constraints on Syria via an ‘accountability act’. The weakening of Syria’s diplomacy overlapped with the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, which many blamed on Syria, and which eventually led to Syria’s forced retreat from Lebanon. France, which had extended a hand to the Syrian government under Bashar Al-Asad, withdrew it after the alleged Syrian role in Hariri’s assassination. After decades of direct military presence in Lebanon, which had been a strategic asset and hub for its diplomacy vis-a`-vis Israel, Iran, the US and Arab states in general, Syria’s withdrawal led to the increased influence of Hezbollah. While regaining the occupied Golan remained a primary national goal for Syria, it avoided provocations that could have ended the de facto state of peace on the occupied Golan, and did not react to Israeli military strikes on its territory (such as the 2007 attack near Deir ez-Zor). Syrian diplomacy remained afloat because Russia and Iran saw the Syrian state (though not necessarily the government) as a strategic asset. As the 2000–10 decade progressed, Syria’s policy of resisting external pressure via non-state actors was backfiring. For instance, Syria had reportedly supported Islamic militants to counter the US in Iraq, which then sought to expand into Syria, provoking confrontations inside Syria and a strong reaction from the Syrian government (Ziadeh 2013, 154); similar fighting occurred in Lebanon, especially in 2007 (Barout 2012, 190– 204). The forces that Syria’s government thought it could contain and use to drain the US military in the region later spearheaded many of the anti-government protests from 2011 onwards.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1971 –2010 The Baath drew on its party narrative domestically in governance to emphasize the importance of ‘struggle, sacrifice, and achievement’ in state-building (Lawson 2010, 152). The goal of state-building in this period was to complete a ‘socialist-democratic revolution’ that would equalize access to economic opportunities, ensure social justice and have government-created industries and labour unions be the country’s engine of growth (Qorna 1986, v. 2, Chapter 10). Baath discourses

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exalted individual initiatives and collective commitments to the state: they encouraged enterprises in trade, finance and industry, while transforming the economy into a variant of socialist-inspired planning (Sottimano 2009, 12 – 15). Baathist government stabilized the state-building process via two policies. First, it built a personality cult around the paternal figure of President Hafez Al-Asad in an ‘intelligible, scripted dramaturgy that monopolizes public space and is eminently reproducible’ (Wedeen 1999, 42). The image of the father is valued locally for providing, protecting, and guiding the family and that is what the image of Al-Asad was meant to relay with respect to governance. Secondly, it confined the political game to loyal persons and created local branches of the Baath to act as control and mobilization arms (such as in schools and in distant villages), which served to ensure stability: following policies was the goal, not societal acceptance of them (Hafiz Al-Asad in Qorna 1986, v. 2; Wedeen 1999). By stating that the Baath used its narrative in governance, I am not claiming that it established a clear domestic narrative than had existed. Given the conceptual parameters I am using in this book, a domestic narrative must clearly draw on the dominant societal narrative in some way. However, because the dominant societal narrative was largely focused on the region rather than on Syria, it provided little by way of ideas for a domestic narrative. However, the Baathist party narrative did become widely accepted in Syria and it could be argued that it successfully transposed itself on the dominant societal narrative, which is what Baathist discourse often claimed. What is certain, however, is that since 1970, Syrian governments have eliminated with indiscriminate force and violent exclusion any discussion of alternate narratives; rather, what existed in the Syrian public sphere in Syria until 2011 were repetitions – many of them verbatim – of Baath ideas and narratives. This process of enforcing followership might have struck roots and forged a domestic narrative around Baathist ideology, but the events of 2011 clearly showed that such a claim remains contentious.

Governance 1971– 2010 In this era, the Corrective Movement gradually, and in a sustained fashion, eliminated competition to the Baath, which imposed political stability. From its short-lived union with Egypt, Syria had improved

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its expertise regarding social control through the one-party rule and security services (Heydemann 1999; Su’aifan 2003). By 1970, the government framed institutional control and exclusionary policies as necessary to move Syria away from the days of debilitating instability and build a state that would fit with the new Baathist image of Syria (Batatu 1999). In the new political system, the President accumulated supreme executive powers that permitted discretionary interventions to ensure order (Belkan 2005, 74–7). Moreover, despite the Syrian government’s failure to regain the occupied Golan and its coercive policies domestically, it was able to ensure stability because Israel remained the most identifiable threat. With Egypt seen as reneging on its Arab commitments, especially with regards to the Palestinians, Syria’s stable diplomacy enabled its government to frame its governance policies as necessary to counter external hostility and ensure Syrian resolve. Developing the military’s capabilities went in tandem with trying to transfer domestic attention to the external front via an emphasis on the occupied Golan. While the military was seldom deployed en masse, it became better armed and trained, which enhanced its self-perception and historic mission as guardian of the state. Reforms in the military establishment gave officers stakes in the status quo, and periodic internal purges ensured that anti-government individuals were detected and discharged from the military (Rabinovich 1972). Yet, despite its newfound military capabilities, Syria avoided external adventures that would have tested these capabilities against stronger actors. Therefore, though Syria successfully controlled Lebanon through force, it avoided Israel and Turkey. In order to benefit from the post-1970 oil boom in the regional economy, the Syrian government relaxed some economic restrictions and began to promote small private enterprises through mild liberalization policies (Faksh 1984, 147). In so doing, it advantaged politically loyal private sector elites. Moreover, Soviet aid came in the form of financial loans, technical training, and assistance with construction of the Euphrates Dam – a landmark project for Syria’s economy. Soviet aid to Syria’s hydrocarbon sector helped it coin the phrase ‘Arab oil for Arabs’ (Dishon 1973, 41 – 3). State-led industrialization and infrastructure building ‘were facilitated by a considerable inflow of foreign capital, mainly made up of official financial assistance from the Soviet Union, funding by the Gulf

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states after the October war of 1973 and transfer of capital from Syrians working abroad’ (Hopfinger and Boeckler 1996, 185). Government was able ‘to shore up eroding support among the urban salaried middle class, it increased bureaucratic and military salaries and tightened antiinflation price controls’ (Hinnebusch 2001, 99). The public sector was expanded; subsidized economic programmes were implemented nationally, which was important given Syria’s history of social strife that took on class, religious and also regional dimensions. Marginal political parties, religious minorities, the urban poor, small rural agriculture producers and a growing state bourgeoisie became the government’s powerbase. Over the years, Baath-imposed policies were successful in further fragmenting and diluting ties between ‘landed and capitalist elites’ (Heydemann 1999, 175). The Baath incrementally replaced social, political and economic diversity with extended Baathdominated apparatuses. The National Progressive Front (NPF) was created in 1972 as an umbrella political party under Baath control. In so doing, the Baath consolidated its political control and reshaped a stable new socio-economic landscape; doing so via extreme exclusion, however, reduced societal actors’ stakes in state-building (Su’aifan 2003). Domestic resistance against the government’s increasingly exclusionary and violent governance policies became more pronounced in the late-1970s. Political parties with Islamic orientations promised salvation. One such prominent party, the Syrian Al-Ikhwan, was securitized by government as a national threat, and its activism framed as an American and Zionist foreign plot to undermine Syria’s pan-Arab resistance (Qorna 1986, v. 4, Chapter 5); this framing fit with the outward-orientation of narratives, especially against threats to Arabs collectively. Significantly, the 1973 ‘secular’ Constitution was re-crafted to confirm that the president must be a Muslim – a move designed to appease Islamic sensibilities in society (al-Himish 2004, 461–3). Government figures, especially the president, participated in public prayers, which were symbolic gestures to demonstrate their Islamic credentials, especially during confrontations with Al-Ikhwan (Wedeen 1999). In fighting back, societal actors, especially Al-Ikhwan, highlighted a sectarian (Sunni-Alawi) divide in order to undermine government legitimacy. The Syrian government countered by allowing the ‘controlled empowerment’ of some Sunni voices in order to dilute the appeal of Al-Ikhwan. It framed its state-building processes in a modern

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and progressive light by appointing technocrats in government and as public speaking figures, who did not refer to religion. Such measures elevated the non-religious discourse and appealed to the new emerging middle class and professionals. Furthermore, the government gave Sunni figures high profile positions to divert attention from the Alawi-Sunni distinction (Batatu 1999, 271–2). Nevertheless, resistance led by AlIkhwan grew, feeding street confrontations and provoked increasingly violent government reaction (Barout and Kilani 2003, 30 – 1). With the oil bust eroding government largesse, ‘radical leftist groups and the professional middle-class calculated that the weakened regime could be brought down or transformed by rebellion and so formed tactical alliances with the Islamic opposition’ (Hinnebusch 2001, 99). The opposition consisted of two main groups: Al-Ikhwan and Al-Tajammu alWatani al-Dimucrati (the National Democratic Gathering) with the Syrian Communist Party at its centre (al-Himish 2004, 463). A complex picture of alliances and counter-alliances emerges from the above; I do not deny the importance of sectarian cleavages, but these were not the only fissures. Al-Ikhwan’s power and ability to mobilize against the government was not solely a function of unbridgeable divides between the majority Sunni society and the Alawi-dominated government. These cleavages were indeed (and remain) important in Syria. Recall here that ideas can only be manipulated if people find them meaningful. It is important to understand conflict, therefore, as partly an outcome of the instrumental manipulation of societal cleavages by societal actors to achieve political goals. In the mobilizations of the late 1970s, the strategic interests of three groups converged: private sector actors who had witnessed their interests directly (and increasingly) threatened by government policies; pan-Arab Nasserite groups; and Al-Ikhwan (Batatu 1982; Batatu 1999, 266). When confrontations between Al-Ikhwan and non-religious actors and the government intensified in the 1980s, many local labour groups and syndicates objected to government policies. Not all actors took to the street with weapons; some such as the Fighting Vanguard, however, resorted to militancy. A National Alliance – composed of some Baathist factions, Arab socialist movements, Islamic groups and Nasserites – called for economic reforms and more inclusion in political decision making (al-Himish 2004, 464; Lobmeyer 1991). Escalating confrontations culminated in the February 1982 Hama and Homs battles, in which the

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magnitude of force used by the government – including three weeks of siege and shelling, as well as arbitrary mass executions – eliminated the opposition. In the coming decades, only Baath-protected societal actors operated, while the government controlled formal religious institutions. By the late 1980s, external assistance declined for a variety of reasons: the USSR was drained by the renewed arms race; Iran was at war; and Saudi Arabia chose to cut financial support given Syria’s alliance with Iran. Mild liberalization measures were tried, whereby for example incentives were given to exporters in order to help ease statism (in the form of import substitution that had fatigued the economy) and share some of the domestic spending burden; however, industries had over the years lost competitiveness because of import substitution policies in place. Under such struggling conditions, agriculture remained subsidized despite inefficiencies given its importance to rural sectors (Hinnebusch 2009, 14). In general, governments slowed down the economy despite earlier promises of development. It did so mainly through reduced spending and tighter regulations; benefits from such policies included reduced dependence on external aid, and the managing of public expectations. Controlled economic deregulation continued into the 1990s, in the hopes of appeasing the urban bourgeoisie and private capital in particular (Perthes 1995, 59–61). While a wave of optimism generated by the peace-making processes encouraged reform, there was an absence of comprehensive reforms, especially in key sectors, such as the noncompetitive public sector, and especially the ‘archaic state banking sector’ (Kienle 2001, 22; Sukkar 2000, 20–5; Hopfinger and Boeckler 1996, 196–7). What developed in the 1990s and into the new millennium were zones of growth and affluence especially in large urban areas, with a significant portion of the financial wealth generated abroad. Government expanded political and economic spaces to try to defuse popular discontent. For instance, in 1990, non-Baathists were allowed to run for posts in the Syrian Parliament to represent local interests; this ‘calculated political decompression’ allowed the entry of various non-affiliated individuals, which usefully clipped the wings of ambitious government loyalists (Hinnebusch 2001, 110–11; Perthes 1992, 18). Indicative of the challenges facing Syria was an 11 March 1999 speech by Hafez Al-Asad, which was dominated by references to the need for ‘modernizing’ state institutions, economic reform and potential

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inclusionary policies. A significant number of Syrian activists, politicians and interested external observers (such as in Europe and the US) saw the power transfer to Bashar Al-Asad as the step towards this inclusionary politics. Well after 2000, the impetus for change in governance policies was tied to the economic downturn that Syria witnessed because of declining rents and oil prices, as well as the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Bashar Al-Asad’s 2000 inauguration speech set the goals of economic reform and political inclusion as the means to develop Syria. This period came to be known as the Damascus Spring. In Muntada Al-Hiwar Al-Watani (the National Dialogue Forum), activists were galvanized to create various forums, in the hope that these would develop into civic or political actors. The momentum of the Damascus Spring was over by September 2001, by which time most of the activists were either jailed or silenced (Deeb 2013, 726– 7; Barout 2012: Chapter 1). Security services once again had exerted absolute control over society. Institutions for social and political control and indoctrination, such as the NPF, continued to crowd out independent actors. The People’s Assembly did hold elections, but with some of its members jailed for speaking out it was hardly a free and inclusive space. In addition, the Syrian Society for Economic Sciences held public meetings where concerns and ‘pertinent’ issues were discussed, but little could be said about the effects of Bashar Al-Asad’s government on existing methods and processes of governance (Ziadeh 2013, 55 – 64). Government continued its support for the loyal business class (via select privatizations for example where some private interests got preferential treatment and access), which only increased popular resentment about the narrow distribution of state benefits. Wide-reaching economic and business sector reforms were promised, but few effective policies were implemented. Syria did see economic recovery as the decade progressed, owing mainly to oil rents and an influx of Gulf investments and remittances from Syrians abroad; however, such profits were captured by private interests and did not really feed state-building. Rather, selective liberalization lifted subsidies on fuel, which hurt agriculture, already weakened by land fragmentation; rural Syria became increasingly impoverished, and consequently desperate – a situation that worsened due to a severe drought that began in 2006 (Barout 2012, 49– 95). By the end of 2010, the essence of governance remained focused on controlling freedoms, supporting government-loyal private monopolies

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in economic sectors such as telecommunications and financial services, and relying on the security services to enforce stability. No significant attempts were made to reconcile divergent ideas or emplot them. The Arab Spring’s onset was in a revolt-welcoming setting.

The Domestic– External Nexus The 1973 War was an opportunity for decision makers to demonstrate that their work under the Baath was substantively different than their predecessors, and to forge the promised new inclusionary domestic order. Many of the like-minded individuals who were part of the Baath’s 1970 coup (Hafez Al-Asad, Abdel Halim Khaddam and Abdel Raouf el Kasm) had participated in the activism of the 1940s and 1950s, absorbing ideas from leftists, nationalists and Arabists (Seale 1990, Chapter 3). Syrian governments in the 1970s shared the concerns of many over the socio-economic inequality and underdevelopment that plagued Syria. Yet, despite this, they did not narrate a unifying domestic narrative to guide state-building; rather they chose to base governance on cults of personality and worked to contain developmental aspirations. Syria’s resistance stance against Israel gave it the rhetorical moral high ground while it fought the PLO, Al-Ikhwan and others (Yorke 1988, 141 – 3). However, Syrian interventions in Lebanon at times aided anti-‘Arabist’ factions, and these were badly received by Syrians, and eventually fed the revolts inside Syria discussed above (van Dam 1996, 71 – 4). Syria’s governing Baath was undermining one of the few very clear societally accepted ideas: support for a central pan-Arab cause – the Palestinians. Diplomacy actions thus eroded the Baath’s domestic legitimacy among Syrians. In the new millennium, Syrian diplomacy was greatly disengaged (apart from controlling Lebanon), but it was active in some bilateral alliances (with Iran and Russia) and in its support for non-state actors (such as Hezbollah). It seemed, in effect, to be in survival mode. Governance was also moving towards a survival mode. With rising domestic anti-government pressures in the 1980s, the government reacted with force but also by containing its economic projects. By halting expansive state-building projects and minimizing reforms, it was easier to control popular expectations. The historically insulated character of the Syrian economy facilitated this approach, with the old

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landed elites and city capital becoming either government-loyal or supplanted by Baathist-attached actors. This allowed Syria to weather the loss of Soviet patronage; Syria survived this global power shift because of its government’s socio-political engineering throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Forced internal stability did rely on aid from allies and on the role of the moukhabarat (intelligence services), and also reflected the Syrian government’s ‘minimalist’ approach to governance. This was a significant change from the revival that the 1970 coup had promised. With regards to the occupied Golan, the Syrian government framed its sovereign right to retrieve its occupied land in the broader panArab narrative, which could hardly be challenged by any Arab party. Syria’s rights discourse domestically legitimated its calls for support to achieve its goal, including from Arab states and other allies, particularly Iran. The appropriateness of a Syrian – Iranian alliance to retrieve Syrian lands became increasingly legitimate and valued as Iran’s alliance with Hezbollah proved critical in leading a staunch militarized resistance campaign against Israel’s occupation of Lebanese land. In peace-making talks, especially during the Madrid Process, Syria linked its demands for the return of the occupied Golan to its status as the ‘beating heart of Arabism’, and it expressed this in panArab diplomacy postures such as a ‘comprehensive and fair peace’, which fit well with its claims of leading a rightful resistance. While the Syrian government governed with force, it is undeniable that its goal to retrieve the occupied Golan received societal support; it does not necessarily follow, however, that its actual diplomacy choices were generally accepted domestically. Until 2011, diplomacy and governance both remained largely unchanged, and state institutions maintained their standard operating procedures without qualitative movement towards any real inclusion, despite government rhetoric to that effect. On the contrary, the government’s suppression of the Damascus Spring set the stage for Syria’s 2011 revolt in the context of the Arab Spring.

Conclusion The Syrian case reveals some of the consequences of a frail domestic narrative and of a dominant societal narrative that is oriented outward.

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The dominant societal narrative’s emphasis on Syria’s regional role and destiny provided little by way of ideas around which a domestic narrative could emerge. In the absence of this, Syrian governments spoke to general ideas of development and diversity, but largely depended on the conflict with Israel as providing a rallying point for Syrians. Quieting dissention against government policies by force was thus justified in defence of Syria’s stated goal – resistance in the name of pan-Arabism.

CHAPTER 5 STATECRAFT IN TURKEY

Parsimoniously captured by Atatu¨rk’s ‘peace at home, peace in the world’, Turkey’s dominant societal narrative sought to breathe unity into a republic built during times of substantial societal transformations (especially the rise of independence movements) and tumultuous relations with aggressive and unforgiving empires. From this, the external narrative has at its core the aim of protecting the state from its ‘sovereign vulnerabilities’. This perception that stronger states are continually seeking to harm or even destroy the Turkish Republic has been termed the Se`vres Syndrome, and has come to represent Turkish apprehension over great power designs for the region. The ideational core of the domestic narrative is the ‘need for homogeneity and coherence’ internally in order to maintain the integrity of the state, and preclude shocks to the Republican system – the importance of which overrode any differences and disagreement over governance policies.

Statecraft 1950– 80 Mustafa Kemal Atatu¨rk was a central figure in narrating a dominant societal narrative for the Turkish Republic drawing on ideas already widely accepted among eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Young Ottomans and Young Turks. These ideas were shared by a wide crosssection of society, as well as by the elites who came to power in the Republic (Mardin 1962; Yavuz 2009). Turkish society therefore rapidly accepted the dominant societal narrative upon independence. Turkish Republicanism had an ideational pedigree steeped in history in which

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the concepts of liberty, equality, and motherland were to provide the basis for equal cooperation by peoples of all religions in an effort to save the empire from collapse. The Young Ottomans wanted to create an Ottoman nation through a synthesis of European political institutions and an Islamic understanding of good government. (Atasoy 2009, 50) Moreover, ‘an Ottoman rebirth did not mean a total rejection of Ottoman– Muslim culture but rather a marriage between ‘East’ and ‘West; Turkey would be poised to capture the best of two worlds’ (Atasoy 2009, 50). The Turkish Republic’s adoption of secularism rested on the assumption that, domestically, this would allow it to accommodate diversity and keep all religions and societal actors in a similar position vis-a`-vis the state, thus ensuring social equality and equality of access, while externally this would distance Turkey from the religion-driven conflicts in its environment (Karal 1981).

The External Narrative and Goals 1950– 80 Turkey’s external narrative emerged from ‘peace at home, peace in the world’ and was consolidated at a time when major powers had used violence to collapse the Ottoman Empire, and were intent on fragmenting the nascent state. To decrease its vulnerabilities, Turkey’s external narrative framed the state as consistently under threat by nefarious forces and thus focused on its vulnerabilities and on the importance of avoiding being drawn into global or regional conflicts, since they risked compromising its territorial integrity. Founders of the Republic had to grapple with the dictates of the 1920 Se`vres Treaty, which had threatened to partition the Ottoman Empire by European powers. Their concerns were compounded by President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which expressed the desire to give autonomy to the Ottoman Empire’s non-Turkish subjects. Most threatening were the propositions of granting independence to the Kurds and the Armenians, which risked ending the dream of a Turkish state. The 1920 Se`vres Treaty was never implemented, but Turkish decision makers had concerns about the possibility of similar proposals arising again (Yavuz 2001, 6). Atatu¨rk’s success in the War of Independence led to the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, which replaced the Treaty

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of Se`vres. In Lausanne, Turkish sovereignty within its new borders was recognized and in exchange Turkey relinquished all claims to other lands formerly within the Ottoman Empire. Despite this triumph and despite the fact that the new Turkish Republic was territorially much larger than what had been granted to the Turks in 1920, the Se`vres Treaty’s political intentions left an indelible mark on the Turkish narrative. Britain’s decision in 1925 to attach Mosul province to Iraq rather than to Turkey, as well as Soviet pressures over navigation rights across the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which continued throughout the Cold War, confirmed Turkey’s concerns (Sander 1998). This history of geopolitical pressures imprinted a generally defensive idea in Turkey’s external narrative: the state needed to steer away from conflicts and alliances that might aggravate relations in surrounding systems and thus risk territorial integrity. These ideas were also confirmed as a consequence of inter-communal conflicts in Palestine under the Ottoman Empire, and later tensions between Turkey and Arab communities themselves searching for statist independence (especially during World War I). Relations between Arab and Turkish independence movements were marred by accusations and counteraccusations of betrayals and deceptions, and only acted to further legitimate the external narrative’s wariness of the ‘outside’ (Karal 1981). Moreover, Arab elites had cooperated with European powers to help end the Ottoman Empire in order to bring about Arab independence; they had fomented and led various local revolts and wars against the Ottoman Caliphate, and many of these Arab elites were either Muslim clerics or made claims to power based on religious belief. Turkish decision makers viewed this Arab behaviour as a betrayal of the Islamic Caliphate, a sentiment that was shared domestically. In its Middle East diplomacy, Turkey did not shy away from strong statements or positions such as in United Nations General Assembly. However, it neither severed relations nor built binding alliances that would force it to partake in polarizing disputes, especially given their prevalence in the Middle East. The validity of this posture was strengthened with the onset of the Arab– Israel protracted conflict, Arab rivalries, as well as crises in the European neighbourhood. The vulnerabilities which left lasting imprints on Turkey’s external narrative were also related to one very specific rivalry, namely, with Russia/USSR. This rivalry centred around disputed claims over access

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to the Mediterranean through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. Russian and later Soviet claims that they have exclusive rights of deciding on their uninterrupted passage aggravated Turkey’s perceptions of threat and its preoccupation with acting to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity (Hale 2000, 110). Turkish diplomacy chose to orient Turkey towards the US and Europe to balance against the USSR. While the Turkish external narrative precluded an alliance with the USSR as an option, Cold War competition presented Turkey with opportunities to leverage its strategic location in relations within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. Its external narrative of ‘sovereign vulnerabilities’ defined the set of goals and policy options for Turkey, especially given that its security was forged within the Western camp. The external narrative also importantly foreclosed some global diplomacy strategies that were popular during the Cold War and which many states in the Global South adopted, especially non-alignment. In Ismet Inonu’s words: ‘Turkey was not “inclined to seek political advantage through non-alignment”’ (Aral 2004, 139).

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1950 –80 Turkey’s superpower relations in this era were affected by residual historic concerns for its sovereignty. The USSR pressured Turkey to alter historic agreements over maritime navigation to give it access to the Mediterranean warm waters. Turkey’s acceptance of the Truman Doctrine required it to help in Soviet containment, which increased tensions in Soviet–Turkish relations, though both worked to keep relations cordial. Throughout the Cold War, Turkey’s diplomacy revolved around strengthening ties with, and demonstrating commitments to, the US, NATO and Western European security, with a staunch determination to join the European Community (Vali 1971). For Turkish governments, NATO’s initial hesitancy to commit to its security was unsettling; nevertheless, Turkey clearly signalled its commitment to NATO. After intense Turkish lobbying and the implementation of more aggressive US diplomacy towards the USSR, Turkish concerns over not being a NATO member and potentially having to face the USSR alone diminished (Athanassopolou 1996, 78). Eventually, Turkey’s persistent demonstration of commitment was rewarded: it was included in the 1947 Truman Doctrine, gained membership to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1948, and was admitted to the

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Council of Europe in 1949. However, Turkey’s application to NATO was rejected in 1950. Determined to earn its place, Turkey elected to send troops to aid the US in the Korean War, and in 1952, it was accepted as a NATO member. Turkey’s determination was also driven by aid prospects through America’s Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan; American loans and grants in fact continued throughout the Cold War (Fidan and Nurdun 2008, 98–9). Despite these alliances, major power competition in the Middle East exposed Turkish security weaknesses and animated its suspicion of their intentions. The prospect, for instance, that something like the Suez Invasion might recur was alarming. In light of Turkey’s concerns over major power machinations and its history of contested maritime navigation rights with the USSR, the idea of major powers invading a state to claim control over navigation rights was a dangerous precedent. Similarly, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the US– USSR negotiation required to diffuse it, rekindled Turkeys’ deep-rooted concerns that no matter how committed NATO might be to its security, it still needed an active and independent diplomacy to ensure its security (Sander 1998). Then in 1963, US – Turkish relations deteriorated after the US removed its Jupiter missiles from Turkey as the quid pro quo for the USSR’s removal of its missiles from Cuba. Though the missiles did not have massive firepower, their close proximity to the USSR did make them a deterrent and for Turkey added an element of comfort which it found in America’s commitment. More problematic than this loss in defence capacity, however, was the fact that Turkey had not been involved in the negotiations for the missiles’ removal; rather, the US finalized its negotiations with the USSR and presented the matter to Turkey as a fait accompli. In so doing, this event paralleled the manner in which the partition of Turkey had been unilaterally negotiated between European powers at Se`vres. It thus augmented Turkey’s uncertainty about its strategic importance to the US and NATO (Kuniholm 1996). The withdrawal of the missiles, however, did have the positive effect of reducing Turkish– Soviet tensions, since a missile-free Turkey diminished its potential as a source of US anti-Soviet operations (Hale 2000, Chapter 5). The Turkish external narrative also valued the ability to access the world without restrictions, and without either relying on or falling hostage to major powers. Turkish interests and goals in Cyprus partly

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derived from this thinking: Turkish control over Cyprus allowed it greater freedom of navigation from its two main ports at Istanbul and Izmir, and thus alleviated its dependence on European states (Aydin 2003, 315–16). In the 1950s, growing Greek-Cypriot demands for unification with Greece provoked unrest in Cyprus and resulted in growing discord between Turkey and the US. Inter-communal strife in Cyprus peaked in 1962– 3 culminating in the collapse of the powersharing government. US –Turkish tensions further increased following this period of crisis, when the US sought to compel Turkey towards political compromise. Since Greece was a strategic US ally, the US pressured Turkey to soften its claims over Cyprus, and in a 1964 letter, US President L.B. Johnson tacitly threatened that the US and NATO might not come to Turkey’s aid in case of USSR aggression (Bolukbasi 1993). America’s threat once again exposed Turkey’s vulnerabilities, and stirred its anxieties over major power designs. The letter incentivized Turkey to improve relations with the USSR, which it was able to accomplish without deviating from its pro-NATO diplomacy. The second Cyprus crisis in 1974, in which Turkey invaded the island, had multifaceted implications for Turkish diplomacy. The US placed an arms embargo on Turkey, and Europe was vocally critical. Superpower De´tente, however, eased systemic tensions; Turkey was encouraged to develop its Soviet relations, and accepted Soviet economic investments, which came at a needed time (Sezer 1993). In the Middle East, Turkey trod carefully. In the 1950s, a series of events opened the door to greater Soviet presence in states bordering Turkey, including: the 1955 Baghdad Pact; the Arab– Israel conflict; the formation of the UAR; the 1958 overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy and the rise of the pro-Soviet Baathist government; and Iraq –Egypt competition. In this environment, Israel’s proposed Periphery Pact (or Phantom Pact) offered Turkey a regional alliance against both Soviet and Arab threats. However, it also risked aggravating already tenuous relations with Arab states who were Soviet allies, and hence risked provoking even greater Soviet intervention (Mughisuddine 1993). Though it joined the Pact, then, Turkey retained strong reservations, which crippled its effectiveness. Turkey also refrained ‘from interfering with the relations between the Arab countries and the West’ (Aykan 1993, 94– 5), and sought to ensure that its relations with NATO did not negatively affect its policy of disengagement in the Middle East.

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Importantly, Turkey did not formally take sides in the Arab – Israel conflict, and sought to balance its policies vis-a`-vis the Arab states and Israel, while considering the implications of its actions for its relations with both the USSR and US. For instance, while Turkey had opposed the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Mandate Palestine (United Nations General Assembly – UNGA Resolution 181), it quickly recognized Israel in 1949 (Aral 2004, 141); Turkey was wary that the socialist Labour Zionism would position Israel as a Soviet ally, which did not happen. However, by the 1960s, decolonization meant that many UNGA states were sympathetic to Arab and Palestinian struggles, and Turkey needed to appease UNGA voters in order to secure their support over Cyprus (Aykan 1993). Therefore, despite its concerns over the USSR, during the 1973 War Turkey refused transit to a US airlift to Israel, while allowing the USSR an access route to Arab allies. Moreover, in 1974, Turkey recognized the PLO and voted for the 1975 UNGA Resolution 3379 describing Zionism as a form of racism, which was a strong condemnation of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians (Aral 2004, 141 – 2). Finally, in the 1970s oil boom, Turkey developed selective ties with Arab states such as with Libya and Saudi Arabia, driven by its desire for favourable terms of trade and investment opportunities (see Sayari 1997). If the above actions in diplomacy are assessed on a case-by-case basis, then we get the impression of a Turkish anti-Israel bias in Middle East politics; however, from a longer-term perspective, Turkey actually managed to sustain good ties with Israel and develop them further in the coming decade much more than those it built with the Arab side.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1950– 80 Turkey’s domestic narrative in this era was influenced by the diverse communal structure it inherited from the Ottoman Empire and the varied tensions as well as richness that it produced (Aydin 1999, 312). The domestic narrative thus emphasized the need to build a strong government able to unite citizens around common ideas and symbols, in order to successfully develop and modernize. Turkey’s domestic narrative envisioned a strong, secular and progressive republic (Keyder 1997), ideas that Ottoman reformers had already espoused as they attempted to emulate the European model and ‘build a state modeled after the nationstate’ (Mardin 1973, 175).

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A key feature of the Republic was its particular brand of secularism, as well as an understanding of the need to accommodate the presence of religion in society (Bugra 2002). The domestic narrative thus outlined a specific configuration of rules and institutions that allowed government to act as the main regulator of religious knowledge production and dissemination. At independence, Islam was made the official state religion, but in 1928, the Constitutional article that mandated this status was removed (Bishku 2006, 181). Despite this move, the domestic narrative did not call for the secularization of society, but rather for religion to be placed under government control, thereby moving it outside of the public and political realm (Atasoy 2009, 32). This meant that religion – as a social force that resonated with many citizens – was not undermined, though it was denied a political role (Poulton 1997, 168– 9). Such an approach helped the transition to statehood by allowing government a powerful medium through which to connect with and gain legitimacy from many societal actors. In practical terms, then, the domestic narrative prohibited the public expression of religion in official spaces, such as the wearing of religious symbols by bureaucrats and the donning of the veil in state universities. Importantly, however, such practices were not prohibited in all public spaces, but rather in those public spaces related to the state. After having witnessed the Communist suppression of Islam in the Balkans and the Caucasus, many prominent Muslim decision makers, such as Said Nursi, supported this ‘state-centric political culture’ and its accommodating approach (Yavuz 1999, 122). In addition to its secularism, the domestic narrative also assumed a homogenous Turkish society. One of most important consequences of this was to undermine Kurdish calls for independence, while simultaneously legitimating government policies designed to safeguard this supposed homogeneity. The Turkey which emerged from this domestic narrative was a state defined by a common cultural inheritance derived from ‘historical affinity [. . .] common morality [. . .] loyalty to a common political entity, a common homeland, common roots and descent, and a common language’ (Heper 2007, 84). Consolidating the diverse social and ideational mosaic that comprised the Ottoman Empire into a unified society was one of Atatu¨rk’s main goals. As a ‘civic state’, Turkey granted all citizens equal rights. This assumption of equality effectively meant that special minority communal rights were

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unnecessary. The idea of equal rights therefore served to delegitimize the political claims of Kurds. Though it did not grant them formal communal recognition, the narrative did see the Kurdish community as distinctive though not separate from the Turkish nation (see Poulton 1997, 128–9). This framing was intended to appeal to those Kurds who would have preferred independence, as well as those who did not identify with Turkey’s secularism (as did many non-Kurds). The exact nature and driving forces behind the domestic narrative’s framing of the Kurds remain contested. Some argue that in the early days of state formation, republican goals were economic and developmental, and did not aim to culturally assimilate the Kurds or suppres their political claims (Heper 2007, introduction). Others disagree, and argue that this domestic narrative served to force the assimilation of Kurds (Dorronsoro 2008; Peleg and Waxman 2007, 432– 3; Yavuz 2001, 3– 4). The debate is likely to continue. However, what is clear is that the domestic narrative placed immense importance on the issue of internal cohesion and political unity.

Governance 1950– 80 Turkey’s domestic narrative envisioned a powerful and modern state that motivated its society with an ethos of hard work, and sought to raise overall national productivity. The role of government was to inspire citizens’ confidence by institutionalizing ‘national sovereignty through a state-led economic developmentalism and secular nationalism known as laiklik’ (Atasoy 2009, 3). This followed Atatu¨rk’s declaration: ‘Our community is completely e´tatist. In fact, it views demanding all types of needs from the state as a right’ (Guran 2011, 27). Serif Mardin (1973) uses an insightful Centre–Periphery framework to trace continuities in governance ideas and practices in the Republic to those in the Ottoman Empire. Mardin contends that the Empire was ruled through a hierarchical dichotomy. On the one hand was the Centre, with its royal court composed of bureaucrats, administrators and notables, who distinguished themselves through education, life style and language (mixing Arabic and Persian). The Centre was also distinguished by its Sunni Hanefi orthodoxy, which it worked to preserve as a distinguishing feature in the midst of eighteenth and nineteenth century reforms. Hanefi judges, for example, were endowed with abilities to oversee and overrule decrees by judges from other Tariqas (religious orders) in the

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Centre and Periphery (Imad 1993, 67 and 151). On the other hand was the Periphery, which included provinces where Sunni Islam dominated over artisanal and agricultural communities of Shiites, Armenians, Christians and Jews. Moreover, there were various well-rooted Tariqas in the Muslim communities of Anatolia, though they did not necessarily ascribe to the Centre’s identification of Islam along the Sunni Hanefi orthodoxy (Ergil 2000, 58). The Centre and the Periphery were linked by loyal servants of the Empire. The Centre enforced a system according to which the Periphery did not contest its Sunni orthodoxy and privileges either in public life or in politics. In exchange, minorities and local religious orders were tolerated in the Periphery, so long as they catered to government political interests and did not challenge orthodoxy. This, of course, did not preclude repression of or revolts by the Periphery; for instance, some pro-republican religious actors in the Periphery joined with the government against ‘reactionary’ Sunni elites that resisted the Republic and favoured the persistence of the Caliphate (see Poulton 1997, 96–9). Mardin contends that in the Republic, this dichotomous structure of power relations remained largely the same. What changed was the ideational nature of the Centre and the Periphery. The Turkish Republic started with the consolidation of Anatolia and peripheral regions. After independence, the Centre was an amalgam of secular civilian and military elites united by their vision for a progressive and modern state. To distance itself from the religious (Sunni) Periphery, the ‘Republican Centre’ opted for secularism as the new orthodoxy, yet never wanted to let go of its privileges and ability to dictate (or at least try to) the lifestyle and main economic, political and social conditions of the Periphery (Mardin 1973, 183). As with the Ottoman Empire before it, this new Centre allowed the Periphery to keep and practise its own religious traditions, so long as it did not challenge the Centre’s authority. A divide was created, and grew with time, between an urban economic and intellectual elite which espoused secularism, and a majority of rural communities that maintained their adherence to Islam. The lack of comprehensive rural development programmes reinforced socio-economic cleavages between the Centre and Periphery. Another continuity related to successful Ottoman reforms and their influence on Republican governance. For instance, the Republic inherited the Empire’s centralized process of policy formulation, as well

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as its technical expertise in bureaucracy. It was also able to build its strong army because of important military restructuring under the Ottomans (Anderson 1997, 4– 5). With respect to the economic dimensions of statecraft, the Republican government gradually instituted an import substitution industrialization model and a central role for the state in planning. Turkey’s vast informal sector was an advantage for the few organized labour actors. Their small numbers meant that they were able to remain united and could more easily bargain for increased rights. Calls to reduce the informal labour market and extend social safety nets to all workers were met by resistance from these organized groups, who saw in this a threat to the privileges they had acquired. Particularly in agriculture, an important economic activity, organized demands grew during the multi-party era, and the government reacted by negotiating pricing mechanisms, subsidizing agrarian producers and co-opting independent actors. In addition, in 1960 the State Planning Organization was created to try to develop the agricultural sector, especially in the south-east which had a Kurdish majority. However, it did not address the problem of poor planning; underdevelopment thus continued to accentuate regional differences and increased a Kurdish sense of distinctiveness (Yavuz 2001). Until the 1980s, however, the domestic narrative maintained the need for a strong state presence in the economy, though it adjusted to the emerging market-oriented ideas. This meant that the government expanded the space for private enterprise without eliminating import substitution (Guran 2011, 24). The domestic narrative favoured a strong central state presence in the political system in order to instil unity and the spirit of republicanism; in the coming years, some interpreted republicanism as the need to guard respect for differencs within the political system, while others securitized ideational contestation as unhealthy. After one-party rule was ended in 1946, a multi-party system flourished under Atatu¨rk’s successor and partisan Ismet Inonu. Political freedoms were expanded in the hopes that competitive elections and voting rights would contain and defuse public discontent with a declining economy and the challenges posed by demobilized soldiers returning and searching for work (Dodd 1992, 19 – 20). The 1950s saw intensified struggles between government and societal actors, particularly in the Periphery, regarding an agenda for social reform;

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confrontations were particularly fierce on university campuses. A military-led coup in 1960 sought to force stability onto Turkish politics. Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was executed on charges of violating the Constitution. The coup was the result of the Centre’s sense of threat from the convergence of populist agendas with Islamic ideals and calls for social equality. Its primary aim was therefore to restore Turkey’s republican foundations: public freedoms and accountability of state officials to the people (see Salt 1995). A new Constitution was adopted in 1961 that contributed to new inclusionary policies. In an attempt to materialize the essence of the dominant societal narrative, the 1961 Constitution made sacred ‘social rights and especially collective rights such as trade union rights, the right of collective bargaining, and the right to strike’ (Sur 2009, 192). Building on these rights, the Turkish Communist Party and others organized in the 1960s and 1970s on an agenda of comprehensive social reform, and gained wide public support. Many were also critical of the government’s reliance on NATO and the US for security. By then, state finances fell short of meeting planned expenditures at a time when import substitution policies, which had formed the backbone of the governance project, were performing poorly. National development had not altered weaknesses in agriculture. The growing use of exclusionary measures, especially the government’s use of the Turkish penal code, restricted political activism. Leftists, nationalist republicans, and security forces clashed; confrontations escalated and drew in many violent fringe groups. In 1971, citing fears of Communist infiltration and the breakdown of domestic order, the military intervened in the political process to end domestic contestation. The main goal of the 1971 military intervention was to curb the rights of political parties that had been guaranteed by the 1961 Constitution. The leaders of the coup considered that these rights had been excessive and the main source of unrest. In a bid to crowd out and discredit leftist ideas associated with the Soviet Union, the government encouraged Islamic practices and discourses. In this period, Islam was viewed as an asset because it was merely a form of religious expression rather than an organized political force, as well as because it appealed to a large segment of the Turkish population. Government also tolerated ultranationalist armed movements, such as the Grey Wolves, who were clashing with the left (Yavuz 2002). Nevertheless, domestic opposition still grew from the left and right of the political spectrum (Bengio 2004, 75).

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Left-leaning parties with anti-colonial discourses pressed for closer ties with Arab states and support for the PLO. With Islamic discourse returning to public and political life, societal actors with Islamic inclinations also supported the cause of the Arabs and the PLO, and opposed Turkey’s official political ties with Israel. Nationalist-rightest parties, meanwhile, advocated for Turkey to distance itself from Europe and its ties with the West; arguing that Turkey had gone soft in its bid to be close to Europe and the US, they demanded aggressive policies to retrieve lost territory (e.g. Mosul), control Cyprus and impose clear and final answers to the Kurdish question (Bengio 2004, 75–8). As the 1961 Constitution resulted in policies that are more inclusionary and an opening of political space, exclusionary policies simultaneously tried but ultimately failed to control societal activism, especially by actors championing republican ideas.

The Domestic– External Nexus 1950 – 80 In this era, governance and diplomacy converged in favouring special ties with the ‘West’. Diplomacy’s commitments to solid relations with NATO, the US and Europe promised much needed benefits, particularly countering Soviet threats. Moreover, these ties provided a critical ideational anchor with which the government and the state-building project identified – secularism. For a variety of different reasons, Islamic actors, leftists and others on the right increasingly resisted deep ties with Europe, the US and NATO. However, in this context of multiple contestations, the government opted to press on with the dominant societal narrative emphasizing secular modernity because it saw in it the best chance of consolidating a strong state. In particular, it hoped to avoid the Turkish exceptionalism promoted by rightist nationalist and the tensions with the Kurdish community this would likely elicit. Moreover, it also hoped to avoid the cultural tensions with Europe and other allies that Islamic claims might bring. Finally, it sought to undermine the growth of Communism in Turkey to prevent outside actors from perceiving it as having fallen into the Soviet camp. Another diplomacy-governance convergence was over Middle Eastern ties. As government was implementing economic reforms in the 1970s, as well as responding to the domestic demands of protesting societal actors, the post-1973 petrodollar boom was an opportunity for Turkey’s government to expand markets for its private investments and labour.

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This motivated a warming of relations with some Arab states including Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and later the United Arab Emirates (Bengio and Ozcan 2001, 60; Aykan 1993, 98 –100). Even in these calculated engagements, however, Turkey still steered away from provocations to the major powers’ high stakes in the region (Bengio 2004, 74).

Statecraft 1981– 2010 While the dominant societal narrative remained rather stable in this era, it did see new ideas integrated that carried significant implications on statecraft. In particular, a ‘Turkish –Islamic synthesis’ aimed at persevering domestic unity and narrative coherence by expanding the place of Islam in politics and the public sphere at large was introduced by Turkish governments after the 1980 coup, and represented an important alteration in the domestic narrative (Poulton, 1997, Chapter 6; Yavuz 1999). Implications of this narrative change were visible in diplomacy and governance from the 1990s onwards. However, the extent to which the Justice and Development Party (AKP - Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi) has managed to actually change the ideational core of Turkey’s dominant narrative remains to be determined; so far, there has been a narrative alteration, not an actual shift. Additionally, new ideas were introduced into the external narrative, mostly from the process noted above, which expanded the range of acceptable diplomacy options. Regions and relationships that Turkey once steered away from became prominent theatres for the pursuit of its alliances and other strategic interests.

The External Narrative and Goals 1981 –2010 In this era, ‘sovereign vulnerabilities’ remained the core of the external narrative, but important changes were also noticeable. Changes to Turkey’s external narrative and diplomacy were initially encouraged by transformations in its regional and global environments, especially Soviet collapse, the rise of new potential allies in Central Asia, the end of the Iran –Iraq War, and Arab– Israel peace-making. In particular, these regional changes led to the idea of ‘strategic depth’ in diplomacy. Additionally, the adoption of the ‘Turkish-Islamic’ synthesis in the dominant societal narrative led to the idea of ‘Neo-Ottomanism’. Together, these two ideas translated into proactive diplomacy, which

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engaged the Middle East and Central Asia via policies designed to service expanded sovereign interests without compromising Turkish sovereignty. As a result of economic reforms in the 1980s, a number of Turkish cities witnessed impressive growth, and they and the entrepreneurs that fuelled this growth came to be part of what was known as the ‘Anatolian Tigers’ (resembling the ‘Asian Tigers’ or ‘Asian Miracle’ phenomenon where a group of states in East Asia witnessed dramatic economic growth in relatively short time spans). This process occurred in the Anatolian Periphery where Islam remained a dominant force, and the economic rise of these cities galvanized new societal actors, who in turn spurned increasing government engagement with Islam (Yavuz 2000). These new actors used their newfound financial influence to bring novel ideas to the dominant societal narrative, which had consequences for the external narrative and diplomacy. In this era, a first generation of Islamsympathetic actors opposed joining the European Community on moral and religious grounds; for instance, the Welfare Party (WP) saw inevitable conflict between Turkish Islamic values and the West (Cinar 2006, 474). With time, more nuanced interpretations of the position of Islam in Turkish diplomacy developed, and a weakening of the WP position ensued. A second generation then became active in the mid1980s, and rose to political prominence in the 1990s. It was later represented by the AKP, which was established in 2001. This generation encouraged Turkey to join Europe not only because of the potential material benefits involved (such as curtailing the influence of the Turkish military in the political process inside Turkey), but also from a belief in the value of European– Turkish relations. These second-generation Islam-sympathetic actors also strove to expand Turkish diplomacy towards Arab and Islamic societies (Hale 2000, 171). It should be noted that in this environment, the 1996 ‘strategic partnership’ with Israel was passed while Islam-sympathetic actors were active in the political system, and they did not renege on it when in government. Generally, until 2010, alterations in the external narrative enabled governments to see the external environment through a new lens, which expanded the scope of acceptable diplomacy options (Yavuz 1998a). Government and elites introduced Islamic ideas that they share with broader Turkish society, and these individuals are ‘more at ease in their dealing with the Middle East’ (Altunisik and Martin 2011, 578).

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Another complementary idea that has influenced the external narrative was Ahmet Davutoglu’s (2001) ‘strategic depth’. He contended that Turkey was centrally positioned at the intersection of immensely important regions, and that the states on its borders represented a ‘natural zone’ in which to exert its influence, due to common Islamic heritage. Importantly, he also argued that such bordering states, whether stable or not, should be thought of as assets that offered Turkey prominent platforms to act in regional politics, and to secure its stability. The intriguing part of such thinking is that its novelty was embedded in important continuities with Atatu¨rk’s ‘peace at home, peace in the world’. Both Atatu¨rk and Davutoglu agreed that the fundamental aim of diplomacy was to secure Turkey’s stability and sovereignty. Furthermore, they agreed that key to achieving this goal was a constant, active and vigilant awareness of Turkey’s surroundings. Where they diverged was with respect to how Turkey was to utilize its regional awareness to achieve stability. Where Atatu¨rk argued that it should be used to keep Turkey disengaged in order to not be trapped in conflicts and relations that could compromise its security, Davutoglu argued that engagement would allow Turkey to capitalize on its strategic location vis-a`-vis these states. In many important ways, the diplomacy dimensions of ‘peace at home, peace in the world’ and strategic depth, together with the central argument in ‘Alternative Paradigms’ (Davutoglu 1994b) that Islam is an alternative to Western forms of domination and hegemony, are compatible. Specifically, they share the common goal of bringing stability and predictability to Turkey, and shielding it from the negative externalities of regional conflicts (Altunisik and Martin 2011, 571). Importantly, the increased influence of ‘strategic depth’ and Islam did not displace Atatu¨rk’s idea, which remained salient. With the gradual decline of the USSR, Turkey’s orientation towards Europe changed, and it strove to achieve inclusion in a modern, developed and strong Europe without sacrificing its Turkish heritage. Relations with Europe, and later with the European Union (EU), were important not principally because of the legal status gained or agreements reached, but because they provided an ideational model for what Turkey aspired to be. For example, even though the 1997 Luxembourg Summit rejected Turkey’s request to join the EU, Turkey reacted by emphasizing its importance to European security, as well as

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recognizing Europe’s concern over Turkey’s Islamic cultural distinctness (Demirel 1999). Second-generation Islam-sympathetic actors were therefore supportive of closer relations with Europe. In addition, for many of these second-generation elites, an association with Europe would serve the purpose of curtailing military intervention in Turkish politics with the help of European regulatory frameworks that seek to confirm the exclusivity of civilian control in politics (Yavuz 2009, 11). In the years since 2010, the AKP, which represented the popular inclination towards Islam in government, has been under attack for perhaps relying too heavily on a common Islamic heritage to build diplomacy ties (see Cinar 2011). This confirms my claim that neither the dominant societal narrative nor the external narrative shifted in their cores, which have been stable since independence. In sum, continuities in Turkey’s external narrative remained around legacies of Se`vres and attention to conflicts threatening state integrity (Kiris¸ci 2001, 104; Ozcan 2001, 23).

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1981– 2010 Threats to Turkey’s territorial integrity were central to how its governments have interacted with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkereˆn Kurdistan – PKK) since the 1980s. Kurdish activism regionally, which concerned Turkey, was particularly violent in the context of the Iran –Iraq rivalry of the 1970s (before the outbreak of war), which was empowering Kurdish militant groups and strengthening their capabilities mostly since Iran was financing Kurdish groups in its territorial struggle with Iraq. During the subsequent Iran –Iraq War of the 1980s which intersected with the 1980 coup in Turkey during which Kurdish groups were targeted, Kurdish militancy grew, pushing Turkey to seek a ‘neutrality’ agreement in the Iran –Iraq War (i.e. that it stays out of that conflagration). Moreover, in early 1990, Turkey signed a deal with Iraq allowing it hot pursuit of Kurdish militants on Iraqi territory (Hale 2000, 171– 3). In addition to its actions against the PKK in Iraq (and inside Turkey), Turkey also pressed some Kurdish parties to abandon militarism in favour of political dialogue as an avenue to secure political rights (Olson 2004, Chapter 1). Soon after, the US need for Turkey in the fight against Iraq during the Gulf War eased Turkish security concerns. Turkish diplomacy’s support for US operations in Iraq proved critical, and once again made it a strategic asset, which in part

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helped restart American strategic rents to Turkey (Sayari 1997). Eventually, however, tensions in US– Turkish relations emerged over divergent preferences regarding the Kurdish issue. Specifically, Turkish governments were unnerved by American relations with Kurdish parties in Iraq. In return for their support of the US campaign against Saddam Hussein, Kurdish groups had demanded territorial and political concessions from the US, which led to some autonomy in Northern Iraq. For Turkey, the US establishment of a no-fly zone in Northern Iraq as part of Operation Provide Comfort (OPC) echoed the Se`vres promise of Kurdish autonomy at the expense of the Turkish state. Nevertheless, Turkey was a crucial player in OPC, which effectively contained Iraqi attacks against Kurdish civilians, and Northern Iraqi Kurds saw its actions in a favourable light. Meanwhile, OPC also helped Turkey counter the PKK, since the US did not object to Turkish cross-border military operations during this period (Uzgel 2006, 262). Finally, by providing ‘safe havens’ for Kurds on Iraqi soil, OPC also crucially prevented a massive refugee flow into Turkey. In addition, Turkey’s sense of security was incrementally adapting to a differentiating relationship between Europe, the US and NATO. The Second Cold War of the 1980s reintroduced and increased the strategic importance of Turkey for the US and NATO, and concurrently Turkey’s need of the American security umbrella. American financial and military transfers and general deterrence posturing against the USSR benefited Turkey’s economy, its relative power in the Middle East and its overall confidence. Meanwhile, Europe’s concern for the renewed US–USSR arms race served to bond it to Turkey, which had similar concerns. The end of the Cold War considerably eased threats on Turkey, though Russian– Turkish relations still inherited historic disputes over waterways. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty marked the beginning of formal European integration and the establishment of a European security architecture, which envisioned a ‘natural’ and central US role (Hartley 1992, 181), but remained ambiguous about Turkey’s place vis-a`-vis Europe. Increasing EU scrutiny of Turkey’s human rights record, the role of its military and the Kurdish question all complicated relations (Duparc 1993). Nonetheless, Turkey remained dedicated to Europe, despite an oscillating relationship and Europe’s rejectionist position (Roper 1999). In this context, Greece became central, in as much as the Turkey – Cyprus rivalry impacted both Greek and Turkish diplomacy towards

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Europe and NATO. Turkey’s conflict with Cyprus in the 1990s fuelled Greece’s lobbying efforts for its exclusion from the EU (Heraclides 2010). However, Greek– Turkish relations actually improved in this period owing to Greece’s participation in humanitarian relief efforts following the devastating 1999 earthquake in Turkey (Loizides 2009, 280). In the following years, both states’ elites succeeded in positively influencing the external narrative of the other through national-level rhetoric and policy statements. In contrast to strict and conservative Kemalist interpretations, the Islamic parties that were becoming part of the governance structure did not perceive Greece as an enemy – a position which facilitated Turkey’s outreach. Moreover, government prioritized access to the EU over the Cyprus conflict because it was important to its domestic calculations, and demonstrated flexibility in conflict resolution that would be acceptable to all parties concerned – especially the EU. Greece eventually publicly expressed its acceptance of Turkey’s EU bid (Loizides 2009). Changing global politics in the 1990s presented new possibilities for Turkey. Not only did the collapse of the USSR decrease immediate pressures, but Turkey’s various neighbourhoods held opportunities for mutual benefit – opportunities that were made possible and clarified by the changing external narrative (Yavuz 1998a). US-sponsored peacemaking instituted a period of tranquillity, and motivated Turkey to pursue its own interests now that the Arabs and Israel were engaged (Hale 2000, 171– 2). One significant diplomacy change was the 1996 Israel– Turkey ‘strategic partnership’, which developed with American support. For Turkey, this partnership promised trade and economic benefits. Furthermore, Turkey benefited from access to Israeli weapons (especially tactical), without demands for accountability on the Kurdish issue, at a time when the EU Parliament was pressuring Turkey on this (Altunisik 2000a). Relations with Israel were not tension free, however, especially when Israel backed an independent Kurdish state as a means of weakening Iraq and crippling aggregate Arab power in the long term (Yavuz 1997). Moreover, Turkey had reservations about Israel’s own diplomacy; for example, ‘when the Israelis warned them of the danger that Iran might acquire nuclear weapons, they replied that they opposed nuclear proliferation in any part of the Middle East – implicitly a criticism of Israel as much as Iran’ (Hale 2000, 299– 300). Nevertheless, Turkey – Israel relations remained solid; even when states like Syria and

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Iraq saw the partnership as ‘having the potential of being offensive’ a divided Arab system precluded any organized reaction (Bengio and Ozcan 2001, 68). The alliance proved particularly useful in the midst of tensions with Syria over Turkey’s water diversion for its Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP), and Syria’s support for PKK fighters in response (Sayari 1997). Turkish governments were adamant in rooting out the PKK, sending Syria stern messages to that effect; tensions peaked in 1998 when Turkey issued Syria with an ultimatum to either completely sever its PKK ties, or risk military action. This was a delicate time for Turkey because it was engaged in serious political talks with Kurdish groups to end military confrontations. Using the weight of its alliance with Israel, Turkey took advantage of Iran’s involvement in Afghanistan, to pressure Syria into complying (Altunisik and Tur 2006). Syria, unable to rely on Iranian support (without certainty that Iran might actually go to war for Syria’s sake), had little choice, and eventually forced Abdullah ¨ calan, the PKK leader who had been based in Syria, to leave. O ¨ calan O was eventually captured a few months later in Kenya. Overall, however, Turkey generally sought improved bilateral relations with Arab states for a variety of reasons, including economics and trade, security collaboration, as well as to bolster its prestige in the region. With regards to prestige, Turkey was interested in playing meaningful roles in mediating the Arab– Israel conflict and providing neutral and friendly grounds, though could do little given the US’ preponderant role. Moreover, in addition to its 1996 partnership with Israel, Turkey proposed the Developing Eight (D-8) grouping, which would include eight Muslim developing states: Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran and Indonesia. The D-8 initially faced challenges because of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which did not however stop interested actors investing in the initiative later (Kiris¸ci 2001, 103). Such orientations towards the Arab and Islamic states systems did not dilute or undermine Turkey’s traditional orientations towards the US, Europe and Israel (Altunisik 2000a). Following the idea of ‘strategic depth’, Turkey was active in neighbouring regions, capitalizing on many of their assets. With newly independent Central Asian states sharing Turkic and Islamic cultural affinities with Turkey, a chance arose for Turkey to expand its network of regional allies, while many of these nations saw in it a model of harmonious coexistence between modernity, secularism and tradition.

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However, despite Turkey’s continued enthusiasm for such engagements, its economy and capabilities did not allow it to play a leading role in helping these newly independent states transform themselves. Moreover, Turkey still had to pay attention to Russia, since this was its backyard (Rashid 1994, 209 – 12). Turkey’s government still steadily developed diplomacy regionally (Hale 2000, 266 – 81). On another front, it helped broker ‘an entente between the Croats and Bosnian Muslims’, one example of several involvements, inducing partaking in peacekeeping operations, to bring stability and peace to the Balkans (Hale 2000, 262 – 3). Between 2000 and 2010, Turkish diplomacy was strongly inspired by ‘Neo-Ottomanism’ and ‘strategic depth’ (see Davutoglu 2001). It fashioned itself as a supplier of regional ‘positive ties’ and a dialogue and order builder, rather than as a source of threat (Davutoglu 1994a). New ideas in its external narrative allowed Turkey to see new opportunities in neighbouring regions and globally. EU membership remained a central diplomacy goal despite European rejections, as the idea of being part of Europe continued to be central to the external narrative. Turkey promoted itself as a reliable mediator especially in the Israel– Palestine and Arab– Israel domains (for instance, in the aftermath of Israel’s 2005 retreat from Gaza), among various Palestinian factions, as well as in several of Lebanon’s domestic crises (Ayturk 2011, 677). Both unilaterally and in cooperation with the US, Turkey did actively try to bring stability to Northern Iraq, seeing how developments there could impact its territorial integrity and risk mobilizing Kurdish factions domestically. Finally, Turkey improved ties with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in this era, a dynamic driven by two main factors. The first was the promise of financial and trade opportunities; and the second was a GCC overture, given its assessment of Turkey as a potential ally in containing Iran. The increasing prominence of Islamic symbols in Turkey’s diplomacy discourse, as well as its assertiveness after the Cold War, helps explain GCC perceptions regarding its potential role in Gulf security. While there were no clear indicators that Turkey had similar strategic goals and interests, i.e. that it would be willing to act based on Islamic attachments if these actions risked its security, other states’ assessments of Turkish diplomacy at this time highlighted the appeal and reach that Turkish diplomacy enjoyed

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(Altunisik and Martin 2011, 576). In the Gulf, Turkey was unclear on the extent of its commitments or what role it might play; while Turkish rhetoric was ambitious, its action remained limited. In sum, Turkish diplomacy in the 2000 – 2010 decade was provocative for many, and pragmatic and security-seeking for others. With volatile backyards, Turkey seemed to have found working solutions with bearable costs to itself.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1981 –2010 In the 1980s, a momentum toward ideational alteration of the domestic narrative slowly developed, instigated by the inclusionary policies implemented after the 1980 coup. Government opened some ‘Republican’ public space to religion, and introduced novel ideas about economic governance. People have complex attachments, and often subscribe or feel committed to more than one narrative. While many Turks were fully committed to the Kemalist narrative, and in particular its ideas on social equality, they still retained other forms of communal commitment, such as to Islam. The domestic narrative itself acknowledged that Islam was an enduring social reality (Ergil 2000). The 1980s was a moment where these differing commitments surfaced, as Islamic discourses selected storylines from the Ottoman past, and romanticized the cultural diversity and harmony among peoples formerly governed by the Empire. The dominant societal narrative consequently experienced alterations. Islam-sympathetic actors sought ‘a prominent role for Islamic ethics and practices in the organization of everyday life’ (Yavuz 2009, 5). This included calls to relax restrictions on dress codes in the public sphere, as well as to expand economic freedoms. It was uncommon for such actors to call for Islamic Sharia to be the main or only source of legislation, or for the end of secular republicanism altogether. On a more practical note, some believed that religion could be an ideal counter-measure to extreme ideas on the Left and Right that had plagued the earlier era, especially in the context of a secular state and under close government control (Ergil 2000). This was the basis of the Tu¨rk-Islam Sentezi, or ‘Turkish-Islamic synthesis’, proposed by Turgut O¨zal. The synthesis: regularized this situation by co-opting fascists and Islamists into the state security services and other parts of the state bureaucracy

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in return for their suspending independent organized activity [. . .] The first civilian government following the 1980 coup became a practical embodiment of the Turkish –Islamist synthesis. (Kurkcu 1996, 5 – 6). Under the influence of the ‘Turkish-Islamic synthesis’, the Ottoman era was praised in history books, and the revival of related musical genres was encouraged by state television. It was thought that infusing images of the Ottoman past would help ‘prevent the rise of nationalist movements’, as well as provide a new (purportedly inclusive and accommodating) dominant societal narrative that would be ‘an eclectic synthesis between traditional forms and Western values important in the contemporary “globalized” world’ (Colak 2006, 593). This was significant on the domestic front since the republican narrative had ‘deemed the Ottoman Empire as a significant Other’ from which the state needed to distance itself, with the ‘other’ having a past associated with debilitating religious dogma and ‘backwardness’, whereas the Turkish state represented modernity, strength and unity (Colak 2006, 589). Many in government, as well as various political elites, resisted the entrance of Islamic ideas as threatening to the homogenous composition of the civic state (Peleg and Waxman 2007). In this era, Kurdish groups had limited space to organize; many had organized earlier with Islamic and leftist forces in the rally for social justice. Recall that social homogeneity and cohesion were central to the domestic narrative of the Republic, and the Kurds had a historic claim to independence in the Middle East. Many Kurds were devout Muslims; infusing the dominant societal narrative with ‘moderate’ Islamic ideas (in the sense of emphasizing cooperation and peace) aimed at convincing the Kurds to accept the Turkish state as a homeland. These ideas promoted diversity, secularism, Islam and inclusionary governance in a bid to create a bond between the Turkish Kurdish community and Turkey. In tandem, however, the Constitution, approved by referendum, formally suppressed the Kurds’ ability for ‘independent’ cultural production, especially the use of language. It was not until 2009 that government initiated the ‘Kurdish opening’ to reform the Constitution in a move that opened up space for Kurds in Turkish politics and society (Bengio 2011, 621–3).

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Governance 1981 – 2010 The 1980 military coup was a reaction to the rampant violence of the 1970s, a stagnant import substitution programme and economic dislocations, and activism mobilizing for social justice (which had attracted Kurdish activism). A central solution that conformed to the dominant societal narrative and the domestic narrative was the ‘Turkish– Islamist synthesis’. Moreover, from a governance perspective, threats from the spread of Communist ideas (and their potential to disrupt diplomacy with NATO) overrode any potential threats from Islamic actors. This approach was built on the fact that Islam had not yet developed via political organization, and the assumption was that government would be able to control such an eventuality. By 1980, the appeal of a state-controlled economy alongside import substitution was fading, and the economy was weakening. Demands grew for a more open economy. Reforms in the 1980s weakened the regulatory role of the state in managing the economy, creating an ‘anarchic liberalism’. It ‘dismantled traditions, freed individuals, legitimized hedonistic dreams, undermined juridical constraints, heightened aspirations, opened up new markets, and destroyed all obstacles in its way [. . .] Actors championing Islamic ideas as bases of governance framed their agendas as a contrasting ‘just and moral order based on religion, one that ensured integrity, inspired honesty, and induced frugal behavior’ (Gole 1996, 33). In sum, the 1980 coup started a process of structural changes by curtailing the state’s role: liberalization did help in restructuring and achieved growth, but generally failed to achieve the goal of social justice, and did nothing to end income inequalities and regional underdevelopment (Guran 2011). Moreover, the government sought to expand social services in order to appropriate the leftist-promoted social justice discourse. In tandem, governance expanded political freedoms. This process had many ramifications; two are noteworthy, since they are related to the domestic narrative: a change in the politics of the Kurds, and an increased place for Islam. Kurds predominantly lived in the agriculture-dependent southeast, and had historically not been united politically. Nevertheless, communal elites, shaykhs or aghas, had influence (McDowall 2004, 399). At independence, governments sought to control the Kurdish population mainly by co-opting individual elites with economic and political rewards, as well as tolerance of Islamic sensibilities – a tactic

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that appeased a significant number of shaykhs. Kurdish decision makers were divided in their assessment of Atatu¨rk’s reforms and their relationship with the emerging state. These divisions facilitated subsequent governments’ attempts to fragment Kurdish demands. In terms of livelihood, the south-east suffered from underdevelopment, weak state planning and neglect, all of which steadily pushed Kurds to the cities. Urbanized Kurds were mobilized in the 1960s by a growing leftist movement advocating for social justice, yet maintained their sense of distinctness irrespective of such political alliances (Yavuz 2001, 4). Government failed to develop pertinent institutions that would evade ‘the politicization and radicalization of Kurdish nationalism’ (Yavuz 1998b, 11; Kiris¸ci 2004, 279). It then tried to argue that the Kurdish issue was a Western fabrication ‘to weaken and divide the country’ (Peleg and Waxman 2007, 446), and the Se`vres legacy facilitated a securitization of Kurdish demands. When confrontations with paramilitary Kurdish groups increased in the 1970s, and gained support from urban students and labourers, the government explained their demands as deriving from socio-economic underdevelopment and feelings of relative deprivation because of economic neglect. The remedy, then, was economic reform. Kurdish mobilization, however, was not exclusively about remedying socio-economic grievances. The PKK provided a sense of belonging in a context where the dominant societal narrative failed to do so; its military activism was triggered by the government’s dedication to curtailing ideas of Kurdish separatism after the 1980s coup (Yavuz 2001, 11– 12). The PKK attracted support from urban and rural sectors, and tried to consolidate its authority over multiple Kurdish factions with mixed results. For example, the Turkish Hezbollah, founded by Sunni Kurds, was strongly opposed to the leftist and Marxist origins of the PKK [. . .] [and was] operating in key cities (Nusaybin, Batman, Diyarbakır, Van) in the southeast and was ‘responsible for a large number of assassinations of PKK members and sympathizers’ (Barkey and Fuller 1998, 73). In the coming years, the lack of a unified Kurdish voice enabled governments to play on divisions to dampen Kurdish militancy. The arrest of PKK leader Abdullah ¨ calan in 1999 ushered in a move away from militarism. In the new O millennium, as the number of Kurdish voices which demanded greater inclusion in the non-violent political process grew, government reciprocated by implementing policies of accommodation.

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Government patronage of private interests continued, and meant that ‘the private sector’s dynamism continued to be heavily dependent not only on its own initiatives, but also on its ability to achieve access to state resources and incentives’ (Onis 1997, 752). Yet, what was important about the liberalization momentum was that it empowered business elites from central Turkish cities that came known as the ‘Anatolian Tigers’. These were entrepreneurs favouring a liberal economic order and sympathetic to Islam as a social organizing principle. The Anatolian Tigers formed the backbone of the Association of Independent Industrialists and Businessmen (MUSIAD), an economic lobby group that developed a political agenda to weaken the entrenched power of TUSIAD, the staunchly pro-republicanism, secular organization lobbying on behalf of industrialists. The ‘private sector in Anatolia managed to use political processes to create an independent economic base from which to play a role in politics’ (Yavuz 1998a, 31). The momentum which incubated the Anatolian Tigers fostered the creation of the AKP: it was not the only party built on Islamic principles, but it was the most effective in rallying social support to gain a share in the Centre, and thus help formulate action in governance and diplomacy. Islam-sympathetic actors combined allegiance to common value systems and the East Asian ‘developmental framework’; in so doing, they advocated that the role of organized labour and individualism be reduced in favour of a ‘collectivist’ approach that would give individuals a sense of achievement in a community. Their popularity increased as they struggled for social equality using the ‘language of social disadvantage’, a goal earlier espoused by the Left (Bugra 2002, 189). Yavuz (1998) argues that such a mode of production eroded the economic base of secularism, mainly by successfully using religious communal solidarity as a means to alleviate the difficult livelihoods of a wide cross-section of Turkish society. The discussions of the domestic and external narratives above highlighted the ability of these actors to successfully introduce their ideas into the dominant societal narrative. This achievement attested to the organizational efforts of these political actors, as well as to the wide societal acceptance their understanding of Turkey’s narrative enjoyed. A stark example of this was how reforms pursued by Islam-sympathetic actors in government appealed to TUSIAD. Divergences over religion did not prevent a convergence of interests on policies that favoured domestic economic

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stabilization and coordination with international financial agencies (Onis 2006, 221). In sum, political and economic reforms opened space for new ideas and actors, while governance meshed inclusionary and exclusionary policies where: civil society has some latitude but no real strength; the parliament contains oppositional forces but has no real authority; the judiciary operates with some independence at times but is by and large politically controlled [. . .] The ability of civilians to control the military is weak, but the polity is not a military regime. (Cizre-Sakallioglu and Yeldan 2000, 497– 8) It would be appropriate to think about governance in the new millennium as an outcome of a co-constitutive process of ideational alterations and inclusionary governance. This process did not eliminate tensions in Turkish politics. However, a general agreement on core ideas in the domestic and external narratives has to a significant degree, and thus far, stabilized the process.

The Domestic –External Nexus 1981– 2010 Atatu¨rk’s ‘peace at home, peace in the world’ has been a resolute idea through which Turkish governments acted in governance and diplomacy (Loizides 2009, 284). However, it was governments’ successes in averting many external and internal threats, and safeguarding the integrity of the state, while also incrementally expanding inclusionary space that added legitimacy and durability to Atatu¨rk’s adage. The ‘Islamic– Turkish synthesis’ was a unique case of governmentinduced alteration in a society’s ideational framework in the service of diplomacy and governance goals. The greater role for Islam-sympathetic ideas in governance and diplomacy did not generate a full break with past policies, and this had a calming effect on various societal actors who added their support to the new expanded government. This, of course, did not eliminate contestation. An important moment of such domestic contestation was the so-called ‘February 28 process’ in 1997, where a group in the military establishment intervened in the political process to curtail the influence of Islamic parties. At that time, military elites manoeuvred around the sitting government to impose an adjustment to

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a wide range of governance policies (e.g. for bureaucrats, in school curricula and public prayer) in an attempt to reverse the influence of Islam (Cizre and Cinar 2003, 311–12). In this context, the first Islamist party, the WP, was forcefully ended, and the AKP was born in 2001. While the AKP traces its roots to the WP, it has since held more nuanced external and domestic narratives (Cinar 2006).

Conclusion Since 1980, Islamic parties developed a narrative of a ‘secular Islam’, which was not antithetical to the established dominant societal narrative (Yavuz 2009, 3– 5). The changed direction of the political system and governance policies since the introduction of Islam into the public sphere is ongoing, and promises future confrontations. In this regard, the relationship between the AKP and its own constituency will be critical in determining the direction of this process. The AKP might be an Islamic party, but its constituency are nevertheless attached to republicanism and power-sharing. One interesting set of ideas on how Islam fits with the Republican narrative can be gleaned from Davutoglu’s ‘Alternative Paradigms’ (1994b), whose tenets have been apparently accepted by important political figures and societal actors. Davutoglu grounds his argument in the premise that Islam and ‘the West’ are categorically different; as such, borrowing from the historic, institutional and ideational experiences of the latter to try and ‘reform’ or ‘modernize’ the former is a fallacy. It is wrong in principle, and will not work in practice. It is uncertain how a person or group with such philosophical and historic understandings will influence Turkey’s dominant societal narrative, and in what direction. The Davutoglu experience tells us that an ‘indigenous’ approach to governance is possible, and that state building does not have to adopt models based on modern Western political history. Moreover, this approach carries the potential to provide an alternative – also indigenous – in diplomacy; Islam, in this sense, can be the common denominator uniting ‘similar’ groups of people and societies. Perhaps, in such a formulation, Turkey can be (or was meant to be) the node to a process of reordering world politics, employing tactics in which it is culturally (naturally?) competent in order to move towards dialogue and peace. At the same time, however, what these ideas mean for the modernizing and

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Westernizing programme of Kemalism has yet to be answered. The interesting question that remains, and which unnerves many, is exactly how these goals will be achieved. If Islamic commitments are the final goal, then what would that mean for the overall foundational project – and narrative – of the Republic?

CHAPTER 6 STATECRAFT IN SAUDI ARABIA

The dominant societal narrative of the Kingdom is built around its importance as the birthplace of Islam and home to its holy symbols and sites; these religious and historic significances are embedded in a tribal history that values hierarchy. This narrative emphasizes upholding Islamic principles, and downplays the importance of – hence less appropriate to pursue – narrower localized (tribal, familial or personal) commitments, as well as (potentially) competing metanarratives such as Arabism, Communism, Nasserism, or Baathism. At the same time, however, Saudi Arabian society is built on a tribal structure: ‘Islam may form the ideological basis of the state, but without tribal ethos and familialism it could not remain intact’ (Fandy 1999, 232).1 The Kingdom’s dominant societal narrative, then, has three main core ideas that stem from this: the absolute authority of Wahhabi Islam as an organizing social principle that has to be accepted and practiced; the absolute authority of the leader or guardian (Wali Al-Amr); and an obligation to spread these ideas outside the state. These core ideas derive mainly from Mohammad bin Abdel Wahhab’s religious principles, as well as shared principles in Sunni Islam. The last idea regarding the need to spread belief has been central to the external narrative, and can be understood within the field of Da’wa; the first two ideas regarding belief and practice, and the authority of the ruler have been crucial to the domestic narrative.

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Statecraft 1950– 73 In the Saudi Arabian dominant societal narrative, the period before alSaud’s state-building efforts is described as al-Jahiliyya al-Thaniyya (Second al-Jahiliyya). Al-Jahiliyya was a time of ‘ignorance and backwardness’ in Arabia prior to Islam; upon revelation, the Prophet forged alliances and unity among diverse and warring tribes, which helped Islam spread in Arabia. This narrative frames efforts of tribes (and large families) as central to forging Saudi Arabia through invasions and coalitions which culminated in sovereign independence of the ‘third state’ in 1932; these efforts, however, remained subordinate to the efforts of al-Saud as the ruling family, especially those of the King. Significantly, official documents quote sayings from the King, and ‘in a society where “sayings” are usually attributed to the Prophet Muhammad in the Hadith tradition, the documentation of Ibn Saud’s words bestows on him a sense of sacredness’ (Al-Rasheed 2010, 204). This sacredness combines with reverence for hierarchy to endow government with the legitimacy to act in diplomacy and in governance.

The External Narrative and Goals 1950– 73 The external narrative was anchored in Da’wa, which is the study of the means and contexts through which to spread the word of Islam that is upheld in Saudi Arabia, and which frames Saudi Arabia as a force of good and moderation in the world. This narrative ties Saudi Arabia to the Arabian Peninsula, as well as to global politics in pursuit of sacred and religiously mandated objectives. In pursuit of such objectives, a crucial means has been what could termed ‘financial aid diplomacy’. With the understanding that oil is ‘a gift from God’ (explained further below), Saudi Arabia’s investments of oil rents in diplomacy to aid other Muslims were deemed necessary. Through a discourse of obligation but also of benevolence, the Kingdom built mosques and religious schools globally, funded allies’ national projects and alleviating certain financial burdens on friendly governments (Rashid 1994, 49). At the same time, interpretations of meta-narratives (such as Arabism) that challenged Saudi Arabia were either actively suppressed, or excluded by branding their contents as immoral or un-Islamic. For example, in the 1960s, Saudi Arabia saw Egypt’s ‘militant Arab Nationalism’ as threatening and countered it through Friday religious sermons; framed in contrast to

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Saudi Arabian values, Arab Nationalism was denigrated for its secular ideas, and attacked as a foreign invention serving outside forces (Braibanti and Al-Farsy 1977, 18). The external narrative emphasized that the consolidation of Wahhabi Islam in the Arabian Peninsula occurred under a political-religious alliance led by the Al-Saud family (and especially the first monarch Abdul Aziz), and was supported by regional tribes and families (AlUthaymeen 1997; Ke´chichian 2008). It is not the case that all Gulf tribes reacted positively to the politics of Al-Saud or to those of Saudi Arabia, but nevertheless, the narrative frames Saudi Arabian diplomacy in the Gulf (and beyond) as emanating from a position of being an amiable ‘caretaker’, similar to its support of worthy and Islam-compliant causes. Tribal customs of benevolence, as well as the responsibility of authority (sulta) are therefore important (see al-Bishr 2013, 200). In the narrative, the Peninsula is at the centre of attention, and the Kingdom does not have to act outside this immediate environment to prove its credentials. However, the Kingdom does maintain a network of global allies for its protection and, importantly, in order to guard Islamic principles. Two important ideas need elaboration here, namely, how the external narrative frames its relations with other Gulf states on the one hand, and its global relations with allies and other actors on the other. Relations with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are central to Saudi Arabian diplomacy and are built on relational rules of tribal politics. Tribal decision makers strive to balance interests (and competing narratives) inside each tribe as well as among tribes. The GCC served to formalize this sense of common history, lineage and religion. Competition, in complement to cooperation, is a central feature of tribal – hence intra-GCC – politics; however, in the face of common threats collaboration takes precedence over competition. Leadership is critical to diplomacy, especially in the face of external threat. The GCC mirrors tribal structures in that it centralizes control in order to better pool resources for collective action. Crucially, however, this is underpinned by strong elements of internal consultation to ensure collective interests and concerns of states and tribes are served. In this regard, however, it is important to note that tribes take pride in their historic existence on the Peninsula and compete in tracing their lineage. Pedigree endows tribes with social status regionally as it does inside states. What this means is that tribes (and families) are not equals; while

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status does not directly translate into political influence, it is recognized (Al-Naqeeb 1998). It is within the GCC that Saudi Arabia’s idea of being a caretaker played out, even if not unanimously accepted by GCC members. In its global relations, Saudi Arabia has generally been dedicated to expanding its oil production and safeguarding ties with the United States, which has long been the Kingdom’s primary security provider. The alliance with the US has always posed challenges to the Saudi Arabian narrative, since its fit with Da’wa was difficult, yet the Kingdom’s security rested on American support. Based on oral histories, Al-Rasheed (2010, 87 – 8) claims that in 1933 – the year the first oil concession was given to the American company that later became ARAMCO, the Saudi Arabian King recited a Qur’anic verse during a Friday sermon that would allow cooperation with ‘infidels’ as long as they kept religion to themselves and kept the transaction professional. Separating religion from services that were in the Kingdom’s interests ‘remained the background against which Sa’udis perceived the flux of “infidels” into the “land of Islam”’ (ibid., 93; Munif 1984, 86 – 9). This framing has endowed government with religiously enshrined authority to decide on appropriate policies to achieve state goals, beyond its ties with the US. For example, it legitimated diplomacy with various states and actors with the aim of regulating global markets via forums such as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The critical point to highlight is this separation of diplomacy goals into those that relate to religion and those that relate to material aspects of state wellbeing, especially the maintenance of stability in the global oil market. It allows the Kingdom to explain why it needs to act to safeguard oil rents even when these have no direct bearing on Da’wa: these rents will then be used to achieve goals deriving from and consistent with Da’wa (Piscatori 1983). Such goals include financing Wahhabi schools, medical centres, or other forms of charity that are consistent with Wahhabi ideas.

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1950 –73 Saudi Arabia’s security was achieved mainly through its diplomacy with major powers. A close Saudi Arabian–American alliance was born and consolidated prior to the Cold War; the alliance expanded, however,

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when American interests supplanted the British presence in Saudi Arabia’s oil sector, and with improving relations between the USSR and many Arab governments. An alliance with the US supported Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities build-up and overall security, but it also meant that Saudi Arabian security was at the mercy of US regional policies. From an external narrative perspective, a diplomacy relationship with the US was possible because it helped develop and grow Saudi Arabian capacities and did not come with religious claims. In the second half of the twentieth century, this American support proved critical for Saudi Arabia. An important example was when in 1968 Britain announced its decision to leave the Gulf by 1971, mainly because of economic burdens facing Britain’s ability to keep its bases extended globally, and calls by Gulf decision makers for autonomy (Smith 2004, 3– 5 and Chapter 1). The British had helped maintain regional stability by keeping Iran and Iraq in check given Iran’s territorial claims on the Trucial States (later the United Arab Emirates, UAE) and Bahrain, as well as Iraq’s territorial claims on Kuwait. Saudi Arabia itself had some lingering territorial claims but had seen them as less threatening to the integrity and sovereignty of these smaller states. Allegedly surprised by the British announcement, the US was worried about its lack of experience in the Gulf, and an already stretched involvement in Vietnam (Smith 2004, Chapter 6). Nevertheless, the US intervened to support a concerned Saudi Arabia by connecting it with Iran via the 1969 Twin Pillar Doctrine: the essence of it was to have Saudi Arabian money and Iranian muscle to keep Iraq and the USSR in check in the Gulf (MacDonald 1984, 99). In Saudi Arabia’s calculations, the Iran– UAE competition over the Three Islands (the Two Tunbs and Abu Musa) became secondary, especially since Iran did not show hostility towards Saudi Arabia, and had no claims over championing Islamic causes. Iran and Saudi Arabia thus collaborated on Gulf security, avoided provocations, and even had symbolic exchanges such as Iran’s Shah performing the Hajj pilgrimage in November 1968, in which was an implicit recognition of Saudi Arabia’s Islamic status (see Vassiliev 1998, 382– 3). Finally, it should be noted that what helped consolidate an alliance with the US was that Saudi Arabia’s options in the Cold War were clear: its dominant societal narrative as well as its external narrative precluded an alliance with the Soviet Union because of the atheism associated with Communism. Though the USSR was the first to

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recognize the independent Saudi Arabian state, their relations did not progress, though neither were they confrontational. However, Saudi Arabia kept its political distance, and trade relations were not very significant (Baldry 1984). Saudi Arabia’s backyard was critical to its sense of security. After its independence in 1932, Saudi Arabia laid sovereign claim to land in the Arabian Peninsula suspected of having oil reserves, claims that were backed by American oil companies. Then in the early 1950s, Saudi Arabia competed with local Gulf rulers in areas that would eventually become Oman, Bahrain and the UAE over land rights and territorial demarcation; one important dispute centred on the Al-Buraimi Oasis, which was on the border of present-day Oman and the UAE. Saudi Arabia engaged in these rivalries by supporting some leaders over others and by sending small contingents of fighters to back its allies. In addition were local competitions between communal (sub-state) leaders themselves. These local competitions which were a common feature of Arabian politics concerned Saudi Arabia not only because of its claims to oil; importantly, these disputes drew in (or had the potential to draw in) extra-regional actors like the USSR, the League of Arab states, Egypt and Iraq, some of whom – especially Iraq and Egypt – had ‘revolutionary’ narratives, and thus the potential to appeal to some inside Saudi Arabia (Al-Naqeeb 1989, Chapter 6). On Saudi Arabia’s southern border, Yemen became a security concern when, in the late 1950s, Egypt increased its physical presence there, at a time of deteriorating Saudi Arabia –Egypt relations. Particularly worrisome for Saudi Arabia was the fact that Egypt used its position in Yemen to highlight the evils of despotic monarchies and their complacency and collusion with imperialist powers, even calling for revolution. Yemen became the fighting ground between Saudi Arabia and Egypt: not only did Egypt send troops to Saudi Arabia’s backyard, but also it paraded Saudi Arabian fighter pilots who had publicly defected in protest at their government’s policies (Hajlawi 2003, 111– 21). To quell its concerns over Yemen, the US moved forces to Saudi Arabia in a demonstration of resolve against the Egyptian troops. However, the US also recognized the Yemeni Republic in 1962, which signalled the need for Saudi Arabia to come to terms with the complexities of major power alignments (Gause 1990, 60). Relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt remained markedly hostile, and

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attempts to end Yemen’s war failed because both their engagements in Yemen were part of larger unresolved competitions in the Arab states system (Gause 1990, 68 –71). Hence, Saudi Arabia chose to securitize and militarize its borders with Yemen, especially as rivalry with Egypt and Iraq grew. The competition with Egypt posed an immediate threat in 1957 when the Jordanian Prime Minister, rumoured to have had ties with Egypt, attempted a coup against King Hussein of Jordan. Jordan’s Hashemites, originally from Saudi Arabia’s Hijaz, were competitors with Al-Saud over Islamic symbolic authority and political power; however Saudi Arabia’s government had ended the historic rivalry during the 1948 War. In the 1957 attempted coup, Saudi Arabia sent troops to support Hussein. Though this assistance has been framed as based on regime type affinities and tribal loyalties, it is best understood in the revolutionary context of the time. What was of primary importance was not the fact that Jordan was a monarchy or even that it had historic ties to Arabia, but that it was a non-revolutionary state that posed little threat. Potential Egyptian advances into Jordan could change this, particularly given the large Palestinian community in Jordan. With the 1958 Baathist coup in Iraq, Saudi Arabia found itself under combined Egyptian and Iraqi rhetorical assaults. The Iraq government tied Saudi Arabian diplomacy to imperialism, and appealed to Saudi Arabian Baathists to rise up through radio broadcasts transmitted to Saudi Arabia (Vassiliev 1998, 384– 5). In light of this, Saudi Arabia countered by highlighting Egypt and Iraq’s alliance with the USSR, and argued that its alliance with America was an alliance with Ahl al-Kitab (literally people of the book, or monotheists), which was more acceptable than an alliance with atheist Communists. We see an interesting intersection of Saudi Arabia’s security interests and its narrative imperatives in the Arab–Israel conflict system. In that conflict, Saudi Arabia sought to remain relatively unengaged and to balance its support for the Palestinians with the demands of its US alliance. Saudi Arabia’s other concerns regarded Israel’s military superiority and, by the late 1960s, its nuclear capability. This was especially problematic given Israeli objections to Saudi Arabia acquiring sophisticated weapon systems from the US. In general, and even prior to 1948, Saudi Arabia had little interest in expanding its diplomacy towards the Levant, and was content with British assistance to the

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Hashemites. However, the religious focus of Saudi Arabia’s external narrative required that it implements its obligations to Jerusalem, site of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Some Arab governments accused Saudi Arabia of being too soft on Israel, and in the process questioned the Saudi Arabian King’s role as champion of Islamic causes. It is worth recalling that a narrative which frames issues in righteous and exclusive categories is vulnerable to such criticism. Saudi Arabia demonstrated its obligations to Jerusalem by ending its rivalry with the Hashemites and endorsing their rule over Islamic properties in Jerusalem (Al-Rasheed 2007). Moreover, Saudi Arabia advocated its own interpretation of panArabism, which essentially reframed it in Islamic values of peace and dialogue, whereby countering Israel, supporting the Palestinians and calling for Arab unity were Islamic goals. When political dialogue became the privileged means of finding solutions to the Arab-Israel conflict after the 1967 War, Saudi Arabian diplomacy emphasized the correctness of its own interpretation. Relations with Egypt resumed, Saudi Arabia supported dialogue to reach Palestinian and Arab rights and served as an Arab–American liaison (Vassiliev 1998, 384–5; Al-Zaidi 2004, Chapter 10). In this perspective, Saudi Arabia’s decision to join the 1973 War makes sense: the war was envisaged by the Arab states to be a limited war to shock the status quo and engage politically in search of a peace settlement. This aim fit with Saudi Arabia’s interpretation of pan-Arabism, and so it participated in the war effort via a policy of incremental cuts in oil exports to American allies, in order to compel American political intervention in the conflict, and in particular to pressure Israel. Saudi Arabia used the leverage it gained from its involvement, however, to its benefit as much as to promote peace. In an interview with Newsweek in September 1973, Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal explained that it would use its oil to pressure the US only if the latter continued its support for Israel at the expense of Arab rights. He presented two objectives that had to be met in order for Saudi Arabia to meet American and Western oil needs: first, that the US assists Saudi Arabia to develop alternative energy sources and expand its industrial base; and second, that the US take action to curb Israel’s aggression (Al-Sowayyegh, 1980, 208). In sum, Saudi Arabian diplomacy in this period generally focused on the Peninsula. Oil rents gave Saudi Arabia important instruments to act ‘from a distance’; rents did increase significantly in the coming

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era, which meant more money was available for the Kingdom to act from a distance.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1950– 73 The entire Saudi Arabian state project, including its various institutional bodies and individuals in official positions, derives its legitimacy from protecting and keeping the Kaaba (and its affiliated sites). The Qur’an is the Constitution and, in addition to the Hadiths, forms the anchor of the political and justice systems. From these sources, clerics (with a very specific Wahhabi version of Islam) interpret the appropriate and legitimate structures and functions of governance. Wahhabi Islam is one version of Salafi (fundamentalist – from fundamental: or what clerics see as the original legitimate understandings, not in the sense of fanatic) interpretations of the Sunnah in Islam. It traces its ideational lineage to Ahmad bin Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyya, though its propagation in Arabia is credited to Muhammad bin Abdel Wahhab. Wahhabi Islam aims to be as puritanical as possible both in religious practice and in modes of living. Moreover, it is dedicated to spreading the word of Islam and sees the world in exclusive categories (of wrong and right, good and bad) where the righteous should not submit, even to other Muslims where these are judged to have erred. The Saudi Arabian domestic narrative draws on two ideas of the dominant societal narrative, namely, the absolute and indivisible authority of Wahhabi Islam and the absolute authority of the ruler. At the time of independence, the government framed this loyalty to the religion and ruler in order to affirm that cohesion was crucial if the Kingdom was to withstand external and internal challenges, be they military or ideational in nature. By drawing on these absolutist principles, the domestic narrative favours categorical exclusivity in thinking about action; this means that the state expects the best out of people, but also means that (in principle) people expect the best out of governance. The model for the idea of the absolute ruler was taken from tribal systems. The tribe (and its various segments) was and remains the organizing social principle in Saudi Arabia (al-Bishr 2013, Chapter 6). In the increasingly sedentary life of the twentieth century, belonging to a tribe (for example by carrying its name) remained a source of pride.

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This identification influenced political loyalties, especially when it could protect members by making them part of a collectivity, and allow for resources to be pooled. Importantly, tribal identification also allowed tribal leaders to forge unity around common interests without much need for ‘objective’ explanation. In fact, such an explicit public explanation is often indicative of tensions or dissension within tribal structure. Given their organizational strength, tribal identification is confirmed in public rituals, such as poetry recitals or meetings designed to resolve conflict outside of a state’s formal legal system. Such moments are opportunities to rally members and for tribal leaders to define themselves (through speeches at these events, for example) against outsiders (tribes or others). Finally, tribal hierarches and the logic of internal relations overshadow economic class distinctions and override individual political interest. Thus, interests that do not gain the approval of tribal leaders and wide followership are rooted out either through self-selection (e.g. they give up), collective exclusion (e.g. they get shamed or shunned by peers), or active opposition countered by tribal leaders. In Saudi Arabia, tribes’ symbolic and public functions to demonstrate commitment and loyalty were officially recognized and encouraged by government – for example through the attendance of an official representing the state (e.g. a minister) of a tribal function. Moreover, in Saudi Arabia, the state was not in conflict with such structures, but actually worked through them, in order to share the national wealth or to solicit participation in institutions like the military or bureaucracy (Al-Naqeeb 1989). Internally, tribes have ranks and unequal power structures; this has meant that resources allocated by governments through the tribe are filtered through its internal structures and its decision makers’ choices, rather than according to members’ individual needs. Political alliances at independence in 1932 influenced the ideational composition of the domestic narrative. This meant that the idea of the absolute authority of the ruler was attached to one specific family – Al-Saud – and allied tribes from Najd. Home to Wahhabi Islam, Najd is the Saudi Arabian interior and had been considerably insulated from interactions with travellers or changing regional trends, much more so than the Hijaz in the west (considered a trade and transit hub), or the east. In Najd, local tribes held – and preserved – conservative

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religious beliefs and social practices. Given the role of the Al-Saud in establishing the state, the domestic narrative accommodated specific Najdi ideas over others, from which were derived policies regulating family affairs, personal status and the role of women in society (AlRasheed 2010, 6). The domestic narrative’s appeal to the absolute authority of Wahhabi Islam endows it with divine legitimacy. The Saudi Arabian political system is based on the Islamic principle of Shura or consultation, which allows for input into the policy making process, but leaves final decisions to the King. However, the domestic narrative placed the King at the centre of the political system, and around him the royal Al-Saud family (Al-Uthaymeen 1997). The domestic narrative frequently references wisdom that the King (especially Abdul Aziz) in his majlis (court) bestowed upon local tribes and learned men, as well as on the Arabian Peninsula (Bin Khamis 1982). The revered status of the King is not only related to political matters, i.e. the state’s establishment. Rather, the King, as well as the entire governance system (including goals and policies), are placed in the shadow of the Prophet and the Qur’an, thus bestowing upon them a divine mission and divine righteousness in deciding affairs of state (Kelidar 1978). The domestic narrative’s framing of such principled and righteous positions, exposed related policies to criticism where these did not abide by these puritanically stringent requirements. An important (but not exclusive) source of livelihood for the postindependence state was the sale of hydrocarbons. The presence of such vast oil resources was explained as ‘ni’ma, a God-sent gift with the underlying assumption that it was a reward for efforts sanctioned by a divine authority and administered by a pious leadership’ (Al-Rasheed 2010, 190; Munif 1984, 87). The domestic narrative highlighted the Kingdom’s uniqueness in spending its resources for the well-being of Saudi Arabian society, while observing Islamic laws; note that these ideas were also part of the external narrative and the Da’wa functions it endorsed. Governance policies were continually framed as emerging from this domestic narrative, and the goal was for society to ‘perceive, accept, and integrate technologies and manpower necessary for the development of their country without losing their enormous pride in their truly distinct Islamic social order, if that order is to be maintained’ (Braibanti and

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Al-Farsy 1977, 18). Importantly, given the oil sector’s dependence on foreign labour, the narrative emphasized how the values of Saudi Arabian society were particularly distinct from the values of such labourers, who needed to be kept separate from local society. For example, state representatives would work to protect local customs and values in local areas where foreign labourer lived and (Munif 1984, 89). This ideational insulation was also important in other areas such as education where governments accentuated Saudi Arabia’s sense of inherent distinctness and its diligence in observing the purity of Islamic practices (Piscatori 1983; Sharara 1981, 202–11; Braibanti and Al-Farsy 1977, 18– 23).

Governance 1950– 73 Prior to Saudi Arabia’s independence, tribes raided and traded as a means of redistributing wealth and expanding turf. The state’s security apparatuses, however, eliminated raiding. Therefore, tribes became dependent on the government for needed resources, but governments also became increasingly reliant on tribes for political support. State largesse existed in tandem with state genuflection to tribal values and norms, particularly via their inclusion in the domestic narrative. This mutual support and dependence consolidated the legitimacy of the state and its government. Operationally, the extended royal family and its allied tribes and families operated as transmission belts between government and society, particularly with respect to rent distribution. Through marriage or business-driven alliances, ruling family princes acted as liaisons representing the state at sub-state regional levels (i.e. outside Riyadh) in bureaucracies, legal courts or military offices. Such networks helped gauge societal demands, and pre-empted the formation of organized opposition (Fandy 1999, 35). However, Saudi Arabian society was not devoid of other forms of social organization that generated independent narratives with features distinct from the dominant societal narrative. Labour unions, secretive and not-sosecretive clubs in schools and universities, and others have, over time, produced elites and alternate narratives of Saudi Arabian and Gulf histories (Al-Zaidi 2004, 272). Governance policies strove to maintain internal security, build institutions and guard the ideational cohesion of the domestic narrative. To service its Islamic ideals, the government relied on the support of the Al-Shaykh, descendants of Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab, the forefather

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of the Wahhabi doctrine, and strict adherents to his tenets. The AlShaykh were given a special role in dictating socio-religious issues such dress code, prayer, jurisprudence, and family law. In effect, the AlShaykh were granted religious authority, while the Al-Saud retained political authority, though in the Saudi Arabian context this was a very fine line indeed. In 1971, Saudi Arabia’s established the Council of Higher ‘Ulama in order to institutionalize Islamic schools and mosques as part of the public administration. This added legitimacy to the state and the political system (Fandy 1999, 36). As public employees, these ‘ulama were overseen by government offices; however, in matters of jurisprudence, the Al-Shaykh retained relative independence. Maintaining majority society support served to balance against Saudi Arabian Shiites’ alternative narrative and potential for political organization. As a religious minority, Shiites predominantly live in the oil-rich Eastern Province (al-Mintaqa al-Sharqiyya), and take pride in their history of organized sedentary life. By the 1960s, when the Saudi Arabian government was expanding state institutional structures, Shiites already had community-level institutions mainly for wealth redistribution and social services (Al-Rasheed 1998). Not only were their skills not fully capitalized on in state-building, but they were socio-economically marginalized, especially with respect to healthcare and education, and their Shiite narratives of Islamic history were not duly recognized as foundational to the state. Governance policies in general aggravated Shiite alienation (Hertog 2010, Chapter 4). Prior to 1973, Saudi Arabia had a sectorally diverse economy. Trade had historically been a central activity in the Arabian Peninsula and, particularly in the Hijaz: there were many merchant towns in coastal areas, while local industries and artisanship grew and were reliant on commodity production, exchange and transit. Trade also generated coalitions among tribes living near central interior cities, which allowed them to sell protection in exchange for safe transit. By independence, people, cities and economic sectors were governed by complex politicallegal and socio-economic rules and structures that had developed over a long period of time, and that served in part as institutions for wealth allocation and the provision of necessary services (Al-Naqeeb 1989, 29). From independence roughly through the early 1970s, a Hijazi merchant class held political influence, since they provided revenues needed for state-building; in return, they expected that the government secure

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trade routes from raiders, and move tax collection from local subcontractors to centralized regulated bodies (Chaudhry 1997, 89); and this largely was the case. Greater physical security ensured that merchants could move without risking attack by bandits or raiders, while legal frameworks were important for regulation and adjudication, and thus expansion. Merchants also asked the government to reduce the guilds’ influence so they could take over revenues for regional operations (Al-Naqeeb 1989, Chapter 2; Vassiliev 1998, Chapter 19). Guilds were formally eliminated in 1964, and ‘guild masters were turned into civil servants to perform specific tasks for a salary’ while newly formed national institutions ‘took over administrative and coordinating functions that had been the exclusive province of the guilds’ (Chaudhry 1997, 90). Hijazi merchants largely shared what came to be the dominant societal narrative, which facilitated their political and economic integration into the state. However, as state-building progressed, the merchant class bargained its political powers in exchange for elaborate security arrangements and trade legislation. The logic of state took over. By the 1950s, state institutions were being established in earnest with predominantly expatriate expertise. However, strategic planning at the state level was lacking until the first five-year development plan was set in 1970 (Al-Yousef 2004). No formal institutions of political representation existed outside of tribal structures; these, however, operated on a traditional consultative basis, with a central role reserved for the King’s personal decisions, which were published as Royal Decrees (Braibanti and Al-Farsy 1977, 27). The oil sector followed the government’s political interests and favoured American companies. Oil companies employed Saudi Arabians, but much of the skilled labour was imported, and was poorly organized and at the mercy of oil companies (Hertog 2010, Chapter 3; Vassiliev 1998, Chapter 19). The government terminated labour activism after two significant strikes in 1953 and 1956 that had been inspired by Arab nationalist fervour – especially Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal; as punishment, most labourers were deported. The challenge for governments in the subsequent decades was to control the ideas and actions of Saudi Arabian workers influenced by the pan-Arab discourse of the time, much of which was transmitted via Egypt’s Sawt al-Arab (‘voice of the Arabs’) and shared by the large number of Arab expatriates (Hajlawi 2003, 127– 9). Moreover, labour’s

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‘disgruntled mood’ was complicated by the fact that the population of the Eastern Province had shown the strongest tendencies to protest and was where most of the oil sector was located; the government’s predominant reaction was therefore to jail political dissidents in order to ensure that the oil sector’s operations remained uninterrupted (Sharara 1981, 186; Fandy 1999, 44). Since the 1950s, domestic control has been bolstered by the National Guard, a tribal-based force loyal to the ruling elites, especially the ruling Al-Saud, staffed mostly with Najdis. The National Guard received separate training, arming and budgeting from the military, and was under the direct command of the King; in fact, the National Guard oversaw the establishment of the military (Hameed 1986, 132–4). Finally, by the early 1970s, bureaucratized national institutions had been set up, such as fiscal structures for tax levying and distribution. Money came from commerce, Hajj taxes, some agriculture projects and zakat (a religious tax). Given that Islam mandates zakat, it has persisted; however, after the oil boom its value became largely symbolic as its actual material contributions were reduced (Chaudhry 1997, 141). The expanded bureaucracy was staffed particularly from allied families, mostly from Najd (Okruhlik 1999, 298).

The Domestic– External Nexus 1950 – 73 Saudi Arabia’s external narrative framed diplomacy actions as emerging from Islamic principles, which was important in competitions over panArab goals and the question of Palestine – both of which were also of interest to Muslims. Saudi Arabia’s diplomacy nevertheless retained flexibility so long as its Wahhabi doctrine was neither resisted nor attacked (Hajlawi 2003, 84 –5). For example, Saudi Arabia’s challenge to the Egypt-championed pan-Arab narrative was not about a Saudi Arabian claim to Arab leadership, but a reaction to revolutionary discourses that had the potential of empowering Arabist-sympathetic actors within the state (Al-Zaidi 2004, Chapter 10). Religious institutions and the ideas they spread, such as during Friday sermons, were closely monitored by the government, in order to ensure the absolute control of Wahhabi ideas (Bin Sunaytan 2004, 116– 19; Ke´chichian 2008, 131). Moreover, the Kingdom proceeded slowly in building up its economic capacities, relying on foreign labour and US technical expertise. In addition, the US guaranteed Saudi Arabia’s

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security. Relieved of having to ensure its external security, the task of government and its domestic allies was therefore to ensure that alternate narratives about the Kingdom or Islam did not strike domestic roots and cause internal instability (al-Zaidi 2004, 301–3).

Statecraft 1974– 2010 By 1974, Saudi Arabian statecraft witnessed a new era because of a massive influx of hydrocarbon rents that had important implications for governance and diplomacy. In diplomacy, substantial hydrocarbon rents allowed the Kingdom to expand the range of projects that could assist in spreading Wahhabi Islam to a great number of areas, including building schools and providing weapons, or pursue goals that were deemed necessary and related to spreading such ideas, including support of allied governments and their state-building projects. Domestically, rents allowed for a boom in spending and expanded state-building projects, while freeing the government from needing other sources of income. The concern remained to ensure that governance policies adhered to the puritanical tenets of Wahhabi Islam. Despite this massive expansion in its revenue, Saudi Arabia’s narratives remained rather stable. For Saudi Arabia, an important factor that helps explain its particular narrative stability in the midst of significant material changes has to do with the religious contents of these narratives that are difficult to alter without provoking societal upheaval.

The External Narrative and Goals 1974 –2010 The essence of the idea of Da’wa in the Saudi Arabian external narrative is adopting policies to protect and spread Islamic values through available means. In terms of diplomacy, the influx of hydrocarbon rents since 1973 allowed Saudi Arabia to defend itself against attacks on Wahhabi ideas, whether such attacks were ideational, such as Iran’s attempt to export its Islamic revolution, or military, such as the perceived Iranian threat in its war with Iraq. Additionally, Saudi Arabia also provided support to a wide range of actors that shared its Wahhabi narrative. Finally, it funded proselytising initiatives that would advance its interpretation of Islam, such as opening religious schools in neighbouring Yemen, and promoting initiatives that called for peace, such as in the Arab–Israel conflict.

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Moreover, Saudi Arabia also used its financial resources to pursue a set of ideas that had always have been present, but that became clearer and more (not fully) developed since the 1980s, namely, that the GCC states constitute a Moujtama’ Khaleeji (Gulf Society), which distinguishes them and ties them together in ways not shared by the non-GCC societies.2 This Gulf Society formed a unique combination of Islam, an Arabism anchored in Islamic values rather than secular and revolutionary ideas, and shared cultural values, including tribal and family structures and practices. A Khaleeji meta-narrative therefore emerged, and was integrated into the external narratives of GCC states. This narrative held that Gulf Society operates according to central Islamic principles such as Shura (consultation), and on practices of tribal politics, such as balancing interests and ensuring cohesion against outsiders. In regards to Islamic values, members share commitments to Islamic orthodoxy, even if not Wahhabi interpretations, and share more similarities than differences. Finally, as in tribal politics, Gulf society is characterized by an accommodation of divergent interests, as well as by subordination of these interests to those of the collective. While there may be competition or disagreement among and within Gulf society, it occurs within an overall framework that does not break ranks. While discord is expected then, it should not make Gulf society vulnerable and should be put aside in the face of external threats. Since narratives are necessarily exclusionary, this Khaleeji narrative served to identify diplomacy parameters in the Gulf, allowing GCC states to know the extent of discord and accord. Iran, Iraq and Yemen were the clearest generally agreed upon ‘out group’. The main external threat, however, was Iran; its threat increased as Iran’s network of allies proliferated across the Gulf and Levant. Moreover, Iran as a Shiite society poses a principled threat, which did not require explanation.

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1974 –2010 In general, this era saw little resistance to the idea of Da’wa, central to the external narrative. In fact, increased funds from oil rent allowed Saudi Arabia to expand its Da’wa activities by not only building religious institutions and schools, but by funding and even helping incubate Islamic groups. In addition, diplomacy had three other main

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concerns: the global oil market, the United States and its regional politics, and the Gulf and GCC countries. Oil rents were critical in allowing Saudi Arabia to successfully implement its goal of spreading Wahhabi Islam by giving it the means to establish the necessary network of actors and institutions this required. Religious schools and clerical training were funded across the Middle East, the Asian subcontinent and Central Asia. The idea was to spread Wahhabi Islam in diverse societies, not only because of the requirements of Da’wa, but also to support long-term Saudi Arabian interests. For instance, during the Cold War, the promotion of Wahhabi Islam was considered crucial to creating an ideational bulwark against Communism and other ideational threats (Rashid 1994, 45, 79, 132, 221). Using Islam to counter Communism was also pursued by the US, and so Saudi Arabia’s activities were largely supported until the end of the Cold War (ibid., 245). As its financial aid diplomacy expanded, Saudi Arabia needed more money; hence, it acted to balance global oil supply and demand, price stability and general market predictability. On multiple occasions, other oil exporters did not share its interests and resisted its policies. For example, Iran’s urgent need for immediate revenues during the war with Iraq contrasted with a Saudi Arabia that was under no immediate domestic or external pressure to slump the oil market. Incompatible preferences in the oil market fed already intense religious conflict with Iran post-1979. When Saudi Arabia rose to prominence as a market stabilizer in the 1980s, its political and economic influence expanded globally, and it has since retained that position. However, since investment markets were located mostly in OECD states, the Kingdom did not achieve financial independence (Al-Yousef 2004). Therefore, despite its massive and strategic oil reserves, the Kingdom remained disadvantaged in its relationship with the global economy (Vassiliev 1998, 456; Hertog 2010, Chapter 7). The external narrative allowed Saudi Arabia to accept dealing with the global capitalist economy despite its tenets not being Sharia-compliant (such as around profitability and requesting financial interests). It did so by drawing on the distinction discussed above between policies regarding religion and those regarding Saudi Arabian wellbeing. Given that Saudi Arabia needed its oil rents to support its Da’wa activities, interaction with the global economy was legitimized, and the focus was placed on the

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recipients of Saudi Arabian financial aid. Providing such financial support to allies was consistently framed as a necessary outcome of Da’wa, with the King and the government responsible for managing the logistics. Though it is hard to discern the extent to which Saudi Arabia’s financial aid translated into actual influence over other actors’ decisions, the moral capital Saudi Arabia gained from its financial assistance far exceeded the cost to the Kingdom (Piscatori 1983, 46–9). Saudi Arabia aided the PLO at certain junctures, provided support to Lebanon, funded ‘Islamic causes’ through the Organization of the Islamic Conference and civic organizations (schools and mosques), and supported projects in nonIslamic States, such as dialogue centres in the US, that could introduce Wahhabi Islam without active proselytising. Narratives are not causal in determining policy, but rather set parameters and favour some options over others, from which decision makers must then choose. One policy through which the Saudi Arabian government translated its external narrative commitments to Arab and Islamic causes was by emphasizing political dialogue. An important theatre for that was the Arab – Israel conflict, where after the 1973 War Saudi Arabia presented an Arab agenda for a comprehensive peace which met with both Arab and Israel rejections. It then revived the idea after the failure of bilateral tracks in the post-Madrid process and presented a similar peace plan in 2001 (Kostiner 2009, 419; Eisenberg and Caplan 2010, Chapter 6). Moreover, Saudi Arabian diplomacy consistently underscored that while it supported Islamic causes, it did not do so indiscriminately; rather, it favoured ‘moderate’ actors who shared its narrative or those whose political programs it approved of. For example, Saudi Arabia recognized and financially assisted the PLO only in 1974, ten years after the PLO’s creation and only after it accepted political dialogue as an avenue for resistance. Moreover, Saudi Arabian aid to the PLO went specifically to Fatah, which was deemed a ‘moderate’ faction – that is, on good terms with the Kingdom (Vassiliev 1998, Chapter 18). The Kingdom also led a revival of organizations, like the World Muslim Congress, and empowered them to champion Islamic or Arab causes, such as Palestinian statehood, through non-violent means (Cordesman 2003, 277 – 84). Islamic and Arab commitments, however, did not trump national security. After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, for instance, Saudi Arabia deported many expatriate workers, especially Palestinians, suspected of posing a

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threat. Similarly, Saudi Arabia, feeling betrayed by the Yemeni government’s position in favour of the Iraqi invasion, changed the residency rules for hundreds of thousands of Yemenis working in the Kingdom, leaving them with no option but to return to Yemen. In regards to relations with the United States, Saudi Arabia remained reliant on it for its security and military capabilities. Cementing this alliance became more urgent in light of the Kingdom’s use of oil to compel US action in the 1973 War, as was the need to guarantee a favourable position for American oil companies after nationalization was complete in 1980. Saudi Arabia’s need for the American military umbrella was especially acute during the Iran – Iraq War and then in the wake of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. As such, it sought to reach out to other global powers through a strategy of Managed Multi-Dependence, which hedged systemic options through relations with Europe, China, Japan and Russia, who were eager energy consumers, investors and potential sources of military exchanges (Nonneman 2005, 3). Reliance on the American military umbrella, however, remained critical. The Kingdom was concerned with preventing growing American-Israeli ties from impacting its own interests, which it achieved (Ke´chichian 2008, 197 – 200). The USSR dimension was not prominent in Saudi Arabian calculations vis-a`-vis the US in this period, mainly because it had established stable cordial relations with the USSR, which continued with Russia in subsequent decades (see Baldry 1984, 75 – 6). Gulf politics were also of concern to Saudi Arabia, and in this arena too, the US played a critical security role. Initially, America’s ‘twin pillar’ security architecture tied Saudi Arabia with Iran, and kept relations with Iraq stable, because Iraq served Saudi Arabia’s calculated diplomacy as a potential balancer against Iran. The Saudi Arabian government sought to end territorial rivalries with Gulf leaders, especially since many had only recently gained independence, and in light of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to be a guardian of sorts to these states (a position that had always received mixed reactions from other Gulf decision makers). Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia focused on political dialogue to dampen tense relations between Iran and the UAE over the three contested islands (Ke´chichian 2008, 150–71). Gulf security and political landscapes changed markedly with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian Revolution and then the Iran– Iraq War.

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Saudi Arabia faced ideational challenges, as well as destructive military machines. In this environment, the GCC was an important diplomacy instrument for Saudi Arabia to bring the majority of Gulf governments together, and cement their sovereign control against Iran and Iraq, both of which had histories of rivalries with GCC members. Through the GCC, states shared intelligence and monitored individuals and groups (Cooper 2003/4). However, with the indigenous military production capacities and personnel in the Gulf States insufficient for internal balancing strategies, the best option was a deeper alliance with the US (Braun 1988, 260). Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia was also committed to the GCC as a regional security enhancing mechanism; to this end, the Kingdom invested in expanding the Gulf Shield Rapid Deployment Forces, which largely operated under Saudi Arabian command, and included mostly its troops. In the Gulf, Saudi Arabia –Iran relations oscillated, ranging from confrontation in the 1980s, to accommodation in the 1990s, and defined by tensions since 2004. The Saudi Arabian lack of enthusiasm for potential conflicts with Iran over the UAE’s Three Islands, for example, so long as Iran chose not to stir up controversy and the UAE did not push hard either, derived from this overall accommodation. This significant thawing of tensions may have been related to Iran actively extending a hand to dialogue with the diplomacy of President Khatami which intersected with Saudi Arabian perceptions that this was a good moment to dialogue. In 1999, Crown Prince Abdullah noted that relations with Iran could improve, and that there was no need to single Iran out as a specific threat: Iran has every right to develop its defense capabilities for its security without harming others; we also do the same. Why is only Iran singled out without mentioning others? Why don’t you ask about the Israeli armament and its unlimited weapons development strategy? (Bahgat 2000, 112) Finally, working with GCC members remained a priority for Saudi Arabia. One immense benefit was the consolidation of the Gulf society meta-narrative which provided GCC-wide consensus and helped discredit a whole spectrum of ‘imported and alien ideas’, including,

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among others, ‘democratization’, human rights, traditional Nasseritestyle pan-Arabism, Iran’s Revolution, Iraq’s Republicanism, and demands for constitutional monarchic systems. Intra-GCC rivalries notwithstanding, ranks were never broken and a consensus over broad policy issues remains. Since 2000, Saudi Arabian diplomacy has faced a range of shocking regional developments that are still unfolding. In response to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq – a considerable immediate change to its backyard – the Kingdom did not engage in active diplomacy. This may have been because it did not consider the threat significant enough or more likely because it trusted the US to ensure security and prevent spill overs. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia did register its disapproval of US policy by not supporting pro-US Iraqi governments, and refused American fighter planes active in the war on Iraq from accessing its soil (the US then moved the centre of its regional military activities to Qatar). It also increasingly referenced the plight of Iraqi Sunnis, largely marginalized in the post-2003 political processes, and called for their inclusion. Reports surfaced later in the decade that money was being sent to Iraqi Sunni groups; the Saudi Arabian government often acknowledged this support as provided by private citizens and not the state. The other critical change in the Saudi Arabian environment was Iran’s renewed push for a nuclear programme. Saudi Arabian – Iranian relations remained largely reliant on America’s Gulf politics, so even though the Kingdom tried to diversify its weapons purchases, it remained under the American security umbrella. How the US would deal with the Gulf and especially Iran, and how these might influence Iran – Saudi Arabia relations, remained a major Saudi Arabian diplomacy concern.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1974 –2010 The absolute authority of Wahhabi Islam and the ruler remained at the core of the domestic narrative in this era. However, two sets of domestic changes were having altering effects on the domestic narrative: first was a set of ideational alternations in the dominant societal narrative and the second were state-building and governance outcomes. Those two sets were not mutually exclusive, and sometimes had additive effects. Ideational challenges came from a variety of sources. On a broad level, the social structure had been changing with the influx of expatriate labour

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brining new ideas and customs, intersecting with urbanism, and increased levels of high school and tertiary education (among both men and women). Moreover, the communications revolution, including satellites, the internet, and social media, exposed the domestic population to a world of alternate ideas. To maintain the cohesion of the dominant societal narrative and domestic narrative in the face of these changes, the government instituted processes of ideational control over issues of marriage, inheritance and personal status, as well as women’s rights. Controlling rules and practices in these important social institutions was largely successful, because the government effectively pre-empted discontent by itself introducing some new ideas and practices to satisfy Saudi Arabians’ changing expectations; these included, among others: local elected political bodies, programs of higher education inside the country, study abroad programs, as well as a very incremental change in women’s labour rights. Through this process of controlled ideational alteration, the government sought to strengthen and even sacralise the fundamental ideas in its dominant societal narrative, particularly the idea that a ruler’s authority can never be challenged. The term ‘sacred’ is intentionally used; given the divine nature of Saudi Arabia’s narrative, the violation of these ideas could then be construed as a violation of the Kingdom itself (see Okruhlik 2002, 22 – 3). Another source of ideational change was a consequence of violence in the domestic context. Organized resistance to the domestic narrative peaked with a series of confrontations led by clerics in 1979 –80. The use of force by these opposition groups in sacred places, especially at the Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, not only legitimated the government’s use of force, which would have been expected in any sovereign context, but more importantly discredited their ideas and calls for reform. Since 1980, several voices had been critical of the domestic narrative and their significance could not be ignored, since they were generally Wahhabi clerics who had been trained; these included a group called Al-Sahwa (awakening), which proved particularly challenging for the government to contain. Over time, the tone and content of these critical voices changed, and not all were violent. Saudi Arabian fighters returning from Afghanistan into the 1990s brought with them demands for political reform and sharp criticisms of domestic distributive policies, as well as diplomacy alliances, especially with the United States. Such individuals

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argued for an uncompromising adherence to Saudi Arabia’s dominant societal narrative that did not separate religious goals from material ones (Okruhlik 2002, 23). Many of these actors used force and other forms of violence. Consequently, religious institutions and sermons were monitored by government for critical content. Moreover, the government chose to securitize many such contesting discourses as a threat to the Kingdom, a move that facilitated targeting and undermining the religious authority of militants and non-militants alike. Recall that the Kingdom had just emerged from a clear threat from Iraq in the early 1990s; hence an environment of public fear added to the legitimacy of the government’s securitization. Finally, to varying degrees, the government engaged with some non-militant discourses that were critical of governance policies, but that shied away from critiquing either the legitimacy of the dominant societal narrative or the government’s adherence to it. The second set of changes in this era emerged from the expansion of state-building policies. The dominant societal narrative had positioned Al-Saud and especially the King at the top of the decision making hierarchy. In the first era, Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth was seen as a Godgiven gift that would help move society and the state decidedly away from a Jahaliyya-like environment and, in particular, bring tribes together in a cohesive way under the banner of the state. In this second era, however, this framing of the domestic narrative provided little direction for what the overall goals of state-buildings – now that the state was firmly established – should actually be. This led to criticism of how money was being spent, though such criticisms did not challenge the actual idea of monarchical authority in governance. In the 1970s, while state-building policies were being consolidated, King Faisal ‘adopted the discourse of modernization within an Islamic framework. In Sa’udi media, he began to be represented as the authentic Muslim King’ (Al-Rasheed 2010, 119). This practice continued, and policies were often devised not only under the King’s oversight, but in the shadow of Islam’s egalitarian principles. Neither the King nor religion, however, could be held accountable for shortcomings in projects or outcomes, which were consequently often blamed on technical or personnel problems. In subsequent decades, shortcomings in governance exposed significant planning weaknesses, and negatively impacted societal

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acceptance of government policies; periods of ‘expected’ economic decline (when there was a drop in hydrocarbon rents) tended to amplify such shortcomings. Those critical of the government noted that not only had it not delivered on its promises of national development within Islam-inspired egalitarianism, but that in failing to do so, it had violated the domestic narrative whereby it was the trusted guardian of God-given resources that were to be used for the Kingdom’s advancement, and not for the financing of personal wealth and status. In sum, internal and external challenges necessitated policies aimed at maintaining ideational cohesion and societal acceptance. Consequently, governments since the 1970s formulated and enacted policies to emphasize the distinctness of the Saudi Arabian domestic narrative, as well as to define the insiders and outsiders within the Kingdom (Ibrahim 2006). Who is or is not part of the ‘in group’ has changed over time and with threats targeting the stability of government; while the Shiites at some point represented outsiders, at other times outsiders were militants like Al-Qaeda. Hence, similar to dynamics in the realm of the external narrative, defining society’s members became important, yet who was inside or outside remained a very contentious issue, despite the ‘formal borders’ of the state.

Governance 1974 – 2010 Even before the advent of the economic boom of the 1970s, Saudi Arabian state institutions set up for the purpose of extracting and distributing revenue as well as for security had already developed. While oil rents had been an important source of government income in that period, they were complemented by other important sources, including income from the Hajj, from zakat, as well as from some agriculture exports and trade. Importantly, such indigenous institutions permitted societal actors, such as Hijazi traders, to garner political and social influence. The first post-1973 oil boom altered this socio-economic structure. The massive increase in oil rents made these other revenue sources expendable and greatly reduced the government’s dependence on them. As these traditional sources of income became less central to governance, related societal actors lost bargaining influence for political rights. During the boom, ‘institutional changes occurred largely within the organizations of the state itself without social conflict’ (Chaudhry 1997, 141). Zakat remained at around 2.5 per cent annually of estimated income

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(Al-Rasheed 2010, 121–2). Government spending was mostly by royal decree and the King’s discretion, and tended to have short-term perspectives (Al-Qahtani 1988), and the distribution of oil rents continued through the royal family and tribal decision makers. An expanded bureaucracy absorbed Saudi Arabian labour (Yamani 2000, 31; Sharara 1981, 179–94). The consequence of this almost complete reliance on oil rents was that by the late 1970s: the regulatory and extractive capabilities of the Saudi Arabian state had all but vanished. Taxing and regulating agencies, so painstakingly constructed in the previous five decades, had been replaced by a larger but functionally narrower distributive bureaucracy that governed the economy solely through the domestic deployment of oil revenues. (Chaudhry 1997, 140– 1) Two main challenges to governance therefore emerged in this era: one was directed against political-religious practices, and the other against economic governance. Importantly, these two dynamics have been co-constitutive. With respect to political-religious practices, oil rents widened existing fissures in interpretations of what constituted religiously conformist policies. Some Salafi clerics publicly criticized the manners in which oil rents were distributed, the influx of foreign labour, the general lifestyle many saw as deviating from Islamic teachings, as well as the concentration of power and excess (Abd Ullah 2004, 134– 5). The point here is not to argue that there is a causal link between how oil rents were spent and political protests, but to highlight that inequality in oil rents distribution became a key complaint among protestors. The dominant societal narrative emphasized Wahhabi puritanical ideas as its organizing social principles; governance, however, and particularly the goal of modernization introduced by King Faisal, required pragmatism and flexibility that made such strict ideas impracticable. Over time, some societal actors began arguing for more stringent adherence to puritanism in governance. In November 1979, members of a Salafi group occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks, declaring the illegitimacy of Al-Saud and demanded that the government reform its ‘un-Islamic practices’, and adopt more

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conservative legislation. The seizure of the Grand Mosque was an overt and violent challenge to the dominant societal (and thus the domestic) narrative that made authority to the ruler absolute, as well as to specific governance policies that were seen as deviant. The political significance of the event has meant that understandings of what motivated it have varied. For some, its occurrence just a few months after the Islamic revolution in Iran hinted at an Iranian subversive role. Others have emphasized that it was simply a manifestation of the regional Islamic political activism of the time. Yet others have noted that the attackers chose the first day of the year 1400 according to the Hijri (Islamic) calendar, which was supposed to mark the beginning of a period of Islamic rejuvenation and renewal, particularly in Shiite interpretations. Finally, some have hinted at inter-tribal conflict motivating the occupation (Ibrahim 2006, Chapter 3; Al-Rasheed 2010, 142–3). What is certain, however, is that the event exposed deep-rooted ideational divisions among Salafi clerics, especially over the nature of governance. Another event came when Saudi Arabian Shiites in the Eastern Province staged a series of intermittent demonstrations for close to a year. The government deployed National Guard soldiers, which resulted in many deaths and injuries. These demonstrations came to be known as the Eastern Province Revolt (Intifadat Al-Mintaqa Al-Sharqiyya) ‘a symbol of the repression which the community had historically been subjected to’ (Al-Rasheed 1998, 124). These acts were often tied to Iranian machinations (see Jones 2006). However, underlying sources of Shiite discontent were real, and included political exclusion as well as neglect of the Eastern Province’s socio-economic developmental needs, in spite of the fact that the majority of the Kingdom’s oil was extracted from the Province (Abd Ullah 2004). Following the uprising, the government set up developmental projects in the Eastern Province (see Fandy 2001; Karawan 1992), yet sentiments of relative deprivation among Shiites remained. From the position of Shiite community decision makers, government socio-economic projects did not address the absence of real political inclusion. The more complex problem, then, was how the domestic narrative effectively marginalized the role of Shiites in the Kingdom. Decision makers in the Shiite community throughout the 1980s therefore sought to reduce this marginalization by emphasizing their non-violence in an attempt to dispel their depiction in official and popular discourse as Iranian agents. In so doing, they also

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emphasized Shiites’ historic presence in Saudi Arabia and in the Arabian Peninsula in order to emphasize their authentic indigenous roots. An opportunity for rapprochement arose when Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia’s oil fields in the Eastern Province; the Saudi Arabian government and Shiite community decision makers used that event to present a new shared discourse of moderation and national unity (Ibrahim 2006, 156–7). In another demonstration of challenges to the domestic narrative and thus to governance, the 1980s saw the emergence of Mashayekh AlSahwa or Al-Sawha al-Islamiyya or simply Al-Sahwa (often referred to as The Awakening). They owed their ideational history to the presence, since the 1950s, of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood ideas in Saudi Arabian education institutions (along with Wahhabi Islam). Al-Sahwa came to identify with the Muslim Brotherhood’s broader pan-Islamic political project, and emphasized their understandings of a puritanical way of life built on Salafi ideas. Al-Sahwa critiqued the Saudi Arabian state as in need of reform specifically with regards to the ideas concerning the absolute authority of Wahhabi Islam and the ruler. Like the attackers of the Grand Mosque, they challenged both the domestic and the dominant societal narrative. Tensions grew between Al-Sahwa figures and the government, especially when the former started gaining societal sympathies. A high confrontation point came in the 1990s, sparked by the Saudi Arabian government’s invitation of foreign troops to protect the Kingdom during the Gulf War. The government’s reactions have since included close observance of the religious discourse in mosques and education institutions, and screening applicants to religious programmes. Such policies, however, fed religious rivalries (Bin Sunaytan 2004, 119). Situating these political events in their changing social and economic context helps understand government reactions. By the 1980s, urbanization boomed, oil money expanded the bureaucracy, expatriates were necessary in technical and administrative positions, many Saudi Arabians were unemployed and women were confined to the house (Moghadam 2003, Chapter 1). With time, income inequality and preferential access to state resources based on political loyalties were becoming more visible (Al-Fawzan 2012). Government reactions varied: in addition to expanding public sector jobs, a policy of Saudization around the mid-1980s mandated a replacement of foreign workers with Saudi

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Arabians in the private sector (Al-Dosary 2005). Social services, including schools and healthcare, were expanded to try to meet demand. Some complained, however, that schooling was not preparing people for job requirements. Moreover, the government also chose to greatly expand religious influence in governance, empower clerics further and roll back some of its earlier inclusionary policies in a bid to undercut the legitimacy of those who challenged its Wahhabi credentials; cinemas were shut down, school curriculums changed to include more hours of religious study and gender segregation was extended to all public spaces. In this changing environment, puritanical religious ideas spread, underpinned by demands for equality and empowerment. ‘Islamic preachers calling for a denunciation of the West, materialism, corruption, and consumerism’ also flourished (Al-Rasheed 2010, 149). The end of the Cold War and expansion in global markets for Saudi Arabian oil brought in more spending money, and helped government dissipate some social pressures. However, this reprieve had little to do with real changes in governance or in the structure of the economy (e.g. towards sectoral diversification), but rather was a consequence of global consumerism (Al-Yousef 2004). The 1990 Kuwait invasion provoked another round of domestic criticism. There was shock at the frailty of the country’s defences, and the inefficiency and corruption this exposed, given that prior decades saw up to forty per cent of the total budget going to defence (Hertog 2010, 87). Government concerns grew that the conservative religious-social ideas which legitimated its governance were potentially threatened by these emboldened voices. When in the same year a group of women drove cars in Riyadh, the government fired them from their jobs, and publicly announced their names in order to shame them and their families; securitizing driving by women indicated the degree to which the government was willing to go to ensure adherence to social institutions and legal frameworks (Doumato 1991). The government further expanded the bureaucracy to absorb labour, and in 1992, announced a King-appointed Majlis Ash-Shura (Consultative Council) that would serve as a meeting place for tribal and family decision makers. To quiet popular anger over the presence of Western troops in the Kingdom, the government framed its decision as necessary to the Kingdom’s protection, and argued that Americans were monotheists who shared the Saudi Arabian Islamic message of toleration. Moreover, the US –Saudi Arabian relationship was emphasized as collegial and

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importantly one of equals, not one of Saudi Arabian subordination. Requests for reform, however, continued. A 1993 Memorandum of Advice, published in London and distributed in Saudi Arabia was directed to the King and represented the sense of malaise inside the Kingdom (Al-Rasheed 2010, 166). It objected to the deployment of foreign troops, questioned the effectiveness of the Kingdom’s military spending, called for freedom of expression and of the media, underscored economic inequalities and disparities in access to social services and critiqued the display of non-Islamic objects and attitudes inspired by Western values (Okruhlik 2002, 26). By the 1990s, the proliferation of religious schools as well as a security force dedicated to enforcing observance of religious practices (mutawa’) created fertile ground for discourses emphasizing religious puritanism. The government was effectively trapped by its own policies. Having expanded the role of religion in governance in order to shore up its own legitimacy, it simultaneously increased the legitimacy of religious discourse in general. This environment empowered Al-Sahwa, who challenged the centrality of the Al-Saud to the Kingdom from within a Salafi Islamic discourse. Al-Sahwa’s vocal political criticism invited strong government reactions, including imprisonment and detention; government containment and surveillance policies have since continued, even extending to diplomacy through information sharing with GCC states. Not everyone, however, critiqued the role of Al-Saud. Some ‘assume[d] from the start that the Saudi monarchy is legitimate and reflective of the social and political reality and history of Saudi society’ (al-Dakhil 2003) and instead critiqued specific policies, as well as non-governmental religious discourses that were circulating in the Kingdom. There was a proliferation of fatwas (religious edicts) in the 1980s, mostly by Al-Sahwa not the government which condemned secular and Western-educated Saudi Arabian citizens as espousing ideas that are degrading to Saudi Arabian values; being a liberal, for example, carried negative connotations of ‘loose’ morality for some. In other words, tensions did not only run between government and societal actors, but also amongst societal actors themselves. A schism emerged around the types of religious and cultural practices that should be coded into policies; as well as the types of practices and ideas that should socially not be allowed. Much of this debate was often framed as occurring between conservatives or fundamentals-promoting clerics on

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the one hand, and ‘reformists/liberals’ who were seen as being less dogmatic and less committed on the other (see al-Qusaibi 1991). In this context, the government became increasingly reliant on Grand Mufti Abdel Aziz Bin Baz, a prominent Wahhabi cleric who had been appointed to this position by the government in 1993. The position of Grand Mufti had historically been reserved for the Al-Shaykh, and the government’s choice to break with that tradition was largely due to Bin Baz’s ability to rally the population behind what were controversial policies, and his deep religious erudition that gave him the authority and prestige to control clerical voices (Abd Ullah 2004, 448–62). He successfully led a public campaign to justify the government’s request for Western troops to protect the Kingdom. Bin Baz did so through references to a precedent set by the Prophet in which he sought the assistance of non-Muslims in order to help Muslim armies achieve victory (Champion 2003, 219). Bin Baz was crucial in legitimating governance and limiting dissent to the Al-Saud. These efforts were especially needed given the return of Mujahedeen fighters from Afghanistan, who not only held Salafi beliefs, but were trained and networked. One of these was Osama bin Laden, who relentlessly attacked the government and framed his governance alternatives in puritanical terms. Unlike many other Mujahedeen, Bin Laden was ‘willing to use force’ (Fandy 1999, 233). Despite Bin Baz’s efforts, contestation continued. Not all voices had a religious-based agenda; some championed calls for social justice, improvement of socioeconomic conditions and other forms of social equality. Saudi Arabia’s government drew lessons from Iran’s 1979 Revolution about the ‘inevitable counter-reaction of an Islamic society if subjected to rapid and insensitive modernization on the Western model’ (Chubin and Tripp 1996, 10). Consequently, government in the 1990s sought to strengthen ties with tribal and family decision makers. Also, the Majlis ash-Shura, initially established with 60 appointed members, was expanded to 90 members in 1996. In 2008, the Council was further expanded to 150 members. Despite its ostensibly inclusive purpose, the Shura held little real political power. In the first era (1950– 73), economic development had generally resulted from royal declarations on the targets of state spending, rather than from comprehensive plans. Decades later and into the new millennium, government responsibilities and societal demands had

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grown, but a clear state-building process or structured agenda was still lacking (Niblock and Malik 2007, 59 – 142). From 1970 onwards, fiveyear development plans were drafted and were aimed, in part, at sectoral and economic diversification. Nevertheless, oil rents remained the economic driver. This does not mean that governance remained static, but rather that the magnitude of needed adjustment for a more diverse economy – which the government itself had said it wanted to achieve – had not been met (Ramady 2010). It is telling that the economic recovery from the mid-1990s to 2010 was driven not by improved planning and execution, but rather by increased global demands for oil and an altered international market. This allowed the state to subsidize Saudization, despite disagreement over the actual success in professionalizing the domestic workforce (Al-Yousef 2004; Looney 2004). Nevertheless, ‘handpicked technocratic clients of the Al Saud have built up lean and well-managed “islands of efficiency” in the Saudi Arabian state apparatus, with separate recruitment and incentive systems and, in some cases, explicit mandates to bypass the rest of the bureaucracy’ (Hertog 2010, 5). Socio-economic dislocations, however, persisted, with reports of some 20 per cent of Saudis in some regions living below the poverty line in 2008 (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat 12 May 2008). In response, three noteworthy policy changes were adopted: (1) municipal elections, which allocated some local decision making authority to cater to regional realities; (2) more space for women in public service and the private sector; and (3) reform of Saudization (see Looney 2004). Warnings about the impending perils of non-strategized spending, however, continued circulating (al-Dakhil 2003). Finally, higher education remained a source of debate, especially its contribution to building national human capital; universities in particular were critiqued for lacking clear goals and the decision making independence to formulate them (Al-Issa 2010). In order to address this education gap, an external scholarship programme, Ibti’ath, was established in 2005 by royal decree. Upon finishing their studies, students are required to return and work in Saudi Arabia. Though the US is generally the first choice, students have also opted to study in Arab and other non-Arab settings. This increased contact with a variety of different places and educational systems will likely have ideational implications for Saudi Arabia, and how effectively the government manages these will be critical to the Kingdom’s long-term stability.

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The Domestic –External Nexus 1974– 2010 Saudi Arabia relied for its military security on the United States, and relied for its financial security on the international oil market; it also extended itself to allies and Islamic sympathizers over the decades since its independence. Some of the external dimensions became points of contention when societal contestation increased its tone and took on militant as well as non-violent forms. That fact that the Kingdom was subject to a domestically agreed upon source of threat, such as Iraq or Iran, did not eliminate domestic questions as to why the Kingdom’s massive military spending did not make it able to protect itself. From these contestations emerged other demands for inclusion. It was not only Saudi Arabian Shiites who demanded changes in governance, but they were easy to control with wide societal acceptance; the intra-Salafi rivalry had also been sustained. Simultaneous domestic and regional changes were stressing Saudi Arabia’s government’s capacities, and the change in US– Iranian ties will, surely, greatly impact Saudi Arabia’s sense of security. Saudi Arabia’s asymmetric reliance on the international oil market has grown markedly, especially as the Kingdom increasingly used oil revenues as a diplomacy instrument and as a tool of domestic control (Hilal and Massad 2000, 55– 60). Oil revenue will thus continue to be necessary for domestic spending and in diplomacy.

Conclusion While a narrative which emphasizes ties to ideals of Islam’s Prophet and puritanical practices endows the Saudi Arabian state with legitimacy, it also places high expectations on government to maintain the well-being and distinctness of Saudi Arabian society. Since the Saudi Arabian dominant societal narrative inherently frames the world in ideal and highly principled – and thus necessary – terms, it ‘produced a vocabulary that can be deployed to criticize the ruling elite and call for a change in the direction of government policy’ (Yamani 2000, 45). This vocabulary was indeed deployed against perceived material excesses and indulgence. Moreover, a narrative that integrated Islam and tribal loyalties had successfully managed dissent and disagreement, organized people’s commitments to one another and created societally accepted channels for redress and grievances. However, this narrative also allowed for tensions as it tried to reconcile the transnationalism of Islam with the

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locality of the tribe. Finally, the entrenchment of Islam and tribalism at the core of the dominant societal narrative means that the state can neither easily accommodate other religious or (non)tribal groups or approaches, nor be easily changed. For example, tribal power relations are highly asymmetric and carry strict rules of obedience; thus, even though Islam allows for contestation and imposes Shura (consultation), tribal organization helps diffuse it (Al-Naqeeb 1989, 151). In this structure, then, emphasizing the ideas of an influential tribal majority allows the government to contain dissent (see Lipset 1963, 65–7). Moreover, in such a communalist social structure, individual narratives are overridden by collective dominant (superior) ones. This empowers government over society, and entrenches the power of tribes over the individual. Finally, Saudi Arabia offers a lesson in statecraft: it suggests that inclusion can take on non-‘democratic’ forms, such as tribal consultations or the control of governance by particular families, which are seen as representative by those who accept the dominant societal narrative. In trying to explain why ‘authoritarianism’ persists in some states, then, it is critical to understand how inclusion can take on a variety of forms, thus granting broad legitimacy to governing structures in spite of obvious contestation and repression. In Saudi Arabia, the dominant societal narrative was reinforced over the years through government efforts to maintain the Wahhabi doctrine and select tribal values. It did so, for instance, by maintaining and promoting particular forms of family and personal status laws, and by attending to its global Islamic duties, such as expanding Hajj facilities (see Al-Rasheed 2010, 183–4; Yamani 2000, 30–3). This narrative and the policies that stem from it seem to have largely been accepted. The Al-Saud achieved this not only through coercive means, but importantly through various locally legitimate inclusionary systems that then allowed them to justify the exclusion of individuals from ‘direct’ participatory functions in decision making. It is because the Saudi Arabian government derives support from a wide crosssection of society, then, that despite consistent contestation by various groups, it has been effective in excluding and controlling those who continue to challenge its authority and legitimacy.

CHAPTER 7 STATECRAFT IN IRAN

Despite momentous changes to government, state institutions, and the domestic and external narratives which were showcased in the 1979 Revolution, continuities can be identified in the ideational core of Iran’s dominant societal narrative. Both before and after 1979, Iran’s dominant societal narrative has been built around the core idea that ‘Iran has a global role to play against all odds’. This idea is related to a sense of long and unified history in the land of Iran, represented through a distinct art and culture, language and religion especially, but not exclusive to, Shiite Islam. This dominant societal narrative resulted in an external narrative that had a ‘sense of historic mission’ in the world. Different governments under the monarchy and later in the Islamic Republic all agreed that Iran had a global role and special mission in the world. They disagreed, however, as to why Iran has such a position and how Iran should act in the world, thus producing two different eras: while the monarchy saw Iran as a rightful claimant to major power status (as defined by the post-World War II rules), the Islamic Republic saw in Iran a principled and resilient leader against oppressors. The core idea in the domestic narrative has been complementary to that in the external narrative, and can be defined as a ‘commitment to empowerment and independence’. Iran’s narrative has a sense of grandness to it in which its rightful global role should be pursued irrespective of whether external powers accept or resist it.

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Statecraft 1950– 79 In this era, we observe two understandings of Iran’s place in the world. The first was espoused by Shah Mohammad Reza, the monarch, and the second by the Prime Minister, Mohamad Mossadeq, who was forced out of office, but nevertheless retained a followership who shared his ideas after he was deposed.

The External Narrative and Goals 1950– 79 In government from 1951 to 1953, Prime Minister Mossadeq presented a strategy of Negative Equilibrium as the means for Iran to establish itself and grow strong. From this, two main policies were proposed: (1) that Iran reclaim control over its resources, especially oil; and (2) that Iran exit from under the control of major powers and stay out of Cold War competition by being non-aligned. In contrast to Mossadeq’s vision, the Shah argued that for Iran to capture its global role it needed to work with global systemic rules, and thus build necessary alliances with major powers as an important means for Iran to achieve a distinct status in regional and global politics. The policy goals, which Negative Equilibrium proposed – and indeed pursued – included ending debilitating oil concessions that had been obtained by international companies from previous Iranian governments, where these companies had been supported by major powers. Additionally, in diplomacy, it sought to secure Iranian independence by maintaining a similar distance from the superpowers, especially given their active rivalry. Coming after the occupation of Iran by major powers during World War II, which was critical in the destruction of the Iranian army, as well as the abdication of Reza Shah and the creation of a short-lived separatist Azerbaijani government, the idea of Negative Equilibrium and the policies it proposed received wide popular support as they confirmed Iranian independence. This popular support for a new understanding of Iran’s global role was confirmed when Mossadeq won a majority in the elected Parliament, and was nominated to lead as Prime Minister with both popular and elite support (Kiastevan 1978). The enthusiasm of major powers in ousting Mossadeq (and with him his ideas and policies) was a shocking reminder to the Iranian people – and hence to the narrative – that global political rules and power politics can play harshly against Iran.

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After ousting the Prime Minister, the monarchy reframed the external narrative on the same core idea of a globally significant Iran with a historic mission in order to align Iran with major powers. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi saw Iran as having a rightful claim to a place among major powers because of its glorious imperial past and the hard work of its citizens in the present. This external narrative gave Iran’s diplomacy a sense of perceived historic rights whereby: ‘Iranian hegemony over the Middle East during the Achaemenides’ “world state” turned the Persian Gulf into a “Persian Sea”; this is an Iranian belief, rightly or wrongly, down to the present time’ (Ramazani 1972, 16). The monarchic order built on Iranians’ widely shared pride and confidence in their history as a distinct polity, as demonstrated by its arts, religious diversity and language. This polity identified strongly with Shiite Islam, but its symbols, practices and myths extended significantly beyond it. The Pahlavis even demanded that the name of the modern state be Iran, which was the historic name Iranians used for their place and culture, in contradistinction to Persia, which was the common European name at the time. This external narrative drew on the dominant societal narrative, which was anchored in several coexisting traditions on which the modern empire was to be built; this breadth in the narrative allowed the monarchic order a wide range of policy options in diplomacy and governance.1 A telling demonstration of the dominant societal narrative, and especially this external narrative of historic mission, was the majestic 1971 celebrations in Persepolis to commemorate 2,500 years since the founding of the Empire by Cyrus the Great. Celebrations sought to showcase Iran’s greatness and historic depth as a model for statebuilding, but also one that should be improved upon to take into account modern-day realities. For example, the Shah introduced contemporary Iran as a maritime power with a sizeable naval fleet (to complement its military might). The idea of Iran as a maritime power was warranted given its massive coastline, which was its connection to the world through trade in oil and goods, and which thus could potentially be a stepping-stone to more political engagement. The Shah’s agency in narrating a new external narrative for Iran was important because in the history of ‘old’ Iran there had been a general lack of enthusiasm for the development of maritime power (Qarqash 1996, 194–5). Territorial ambitions were an integral dimension of Iran’s monarchic external narrative, and constituted an important means of expanding Iran’s influence, especially via control of geo-strategically central Gulf

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theatres – hence the importance of maritime power. The opportunity to realize the goal of establishing dominance in the Gulf region came with the British announcement in 1968 of their intent to withdraw from their Gulf bases by 1971. Iran capitalized on this by extending its control over the Shatt al-Arab waterway through military deployment on three islands claimed by the United Arab Emirates, and which became independent after the British left in 1971. Achieving these ideas demanded immense material capabilities and careful strategic planning. The Shah’s understandings and interpretation of the external narrative and ways to achieve it framed the United States and Iran as peers and allies. As allies, the US would advance Iranian goals by supplying military systems and weapons necessary to expand Iran’s capabilities, in addition to technical assistance to develop the oil sector. As a peer, Iran was integral in advancing the American strategic goals of containment and Gulf stability. Oil became a necessary instrument to fund Iran’s narrative of historic greatness and ambitions (Parsi 2007, 37). Government under the Shah mobilized state resources to realize Iran’s greatness and place among major powers.

The External Environment and Diplomacy 1950 –79 Iran’s geo-strategic location and its oil reserves were a challenge to its governments’ search for independence in the twentieth century mainly due to major power competition, as well as the rising importance of oil as a strategic commodity. Particularly where the Soviet Union was concerned, Iran’s vulnerabilities’ were augmented, since it was largely encircled and its diplomacy frustrated despite growing military capacities. Iran–Soviet relations inherited conflicts and tensions from the Russian Empire, such as those lingering from the Tsarist occupation of land as well as the Russian (and British) intervention in the Gilan Movement and to these were added Soviet demands for Iranian oil concessions and strategic mobility on the Caspian Sea (Fain 2008, 19–40). At the same time, and in addition to its intervention alongside Russia to counter local political independence movements, Britain was determined to maintain its favourable oil concessions that it obtained from Iranian governments over the years especially given how oil was the lifeblood of the British navy (Fatemi 1980, 15). English and Soviet occupation of Iran in 1941 drove the Shah to abdicate in favour of his son. Subsequently, Soviet reluctance to plan its withdrawal from Northern Iran and its support for the (short-lived)

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Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan and suggestions of Soviet support for Iranian Communists all increased Iran’s vulnerability in the face of major powers, especially the USSR (Herzig 1995, 1–2; Rezun 1981, II–III). In this context, the implementation of Mossadeq’s Negative Equilibrium policy reflected an Iranian preoccupation with systemic competition and major power interventions in Iran; its policy of distance from major powers signalled that Iran’s government wanted to avoid such competition. The ousting of Mossadeq helped confirm an alternate understanding (espoused by the Shah) of what these major power challenges meant for Iran, namely, that Iran ‘needed’ a policy of partisan alignment to maintain independence. After 1953, the United States became a viable ally for Iran as it staved off threats from Britain and the USSR. American oil companies were expanding with substantial concessions from across the Gulf, which worked well for Iran since with them grew American political interest in regional politics. The appeal of the US, from an Iranian perspective and especially in light of the external narrative, was that the US was ‘sufficiently distant so as not to endanger Iran’s political independence’ (Fatemi 1980, 14). From Iran’s perspective, then, an alliance with the US served its goal of independence in global politics mainly by containing the USSR, while not infringing on Iranian independence (Kiastevan 1978). From an American perspective, the pro-western Iran that emerged after Operation Ajax (discussed below) buffered Soviet allies, especially Saudi Arabia and Turkey. American access to Iranian oil concessions and economic investments was reciprocated by the US helping develop Iran’s oil sector and its military capacities. In the midto late 1950s, Iran joined the Baghdad Pact (1955), endorsed the Eisenhower Doctrine (1957), and signed a defence agreement with the United States (1959) (Osmanczyk 2003, v. 4). In the American-designed Northern Tier security structure, Iran improved relations with Turkey and Pakistan (Cook and Roshandel 2009, 19). Iran also developed ties with Israel, especially in the military and security sectors (Parsi 2007, 30). Related to this, Iran showed little interest in becoming actively involved in conflicts across the Middle East (Ramazani 1975, 1048) – at least until the 1970s. In the 1970s, Soviet threats resurfaced. In particular, the India– Pakistan conflict, especially in 1971, alarmed Iran, mainly because of its effects on furthering Soviet reach with the Soviet– Indian treaty in 1971.

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In addition was the 1972 USSR – Iraq alliance. Potential Soviet threats from Afghanistan were dampened by American commitments, while Iran aided anti-Soviet factions in Afghanistan (Jalali 2000, 140 – 1). Despite this range of threats, Iran remained nonconfrontational with the USSR; its confidence increased because it had made itself more central to American strategies, and because of its considerable arms build-up. By the 1970s, the Gulf presented Iran with a theatre in which to project its military might, driven by increased confidence due mainly to its alliance with the US. Iran’s external narrative guided a policy of domination in Iran’s north-west (Iraq) and south-west (the range of states across the Gulf) bordering regions, which were the theatres in which it could realistically extend its influence via military capacities since these were relatively weaker states (Qarqash 1996, 194). Moreover, freedom of navigation was paramount along Iran’s 1,500 mile Gulf coastline. This area was not only important in terms of helping Iran establish itself as a global power, but also because it was the region in which most of its refineries operated and oil exported via tankers. Iran’s opportunity to expand its influence in the Gulf arose when Britain ended its Gulf military presence in 1971. However, the drawback of the British withdrawal was an increased potential of threat from Iraqi territory; while it was true that Britain had stifled Iran, it had also given it a measure of security against Soviet presence in Iraq (Fain 2008, 149; Hiro 1989, 14 – 16). Despite this, with continuous American military support, Iranian confidence drew on the Twin Pillar strategy through which the United States confirmed super power commitments to regional allies. The US position operationally meant that: ‘Iran became the military pillar and assumed a policing role. Saudi Arabia became the financial pillar and assumed a stabilizing role through the use of financial incentives’ (MacDonald 1984, 99). In effect, Iran’s military surge, America’s commitments and the British exit changed Gulf dynamics, setting the stage for Iran to play out its ambitions. Backed by a narrative of historic greatness and place in the world, Iran’s government decided to take on a confrontational path with its immediate neighbours. There had historically been political competition and territorially based tensions with Iraq and other Gulf states, as well as a series of unsettled border disputes. Narratives, it should be recalled, are not causal; thus, the Iranian government’s choice of military

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confrontation and demonstration of status via shows of force must also be understood as having been influenced by accumulated historic tensions with surrounding actors that provided the opportune setting for it to fulfil the general goals of its external narrative. Iran had a historic and ongoing conflict with Iraq over the Shatt alArab waterway, Iraq’s only access to the Gulf. In 1969, Iran claimed Iraq was impeding the proper functioning of its refineries and tankers’ navigation, and declared null and void a bilateral settlement on the waterway reached with Iraq in 1937 (Ramazani 1972, 25). Concurrently, ‘Iranian newspapers claimed Iran’s right to sovereignty over the Kurdish-inhabited territories of Iraq. The newspaper Tolu, published in Tehran (December 20, 1959), claimed that the Kurds were “Iranians”, and “Aryans racially”’ (Ismael 1982, 18). These claims materialized when Iran supported Kurdish militants in Iraq, and engaged Iraq in sporadic border clashes. Iraq countered by mobilizing groups in Khuzestan, a majority-Arab province of Iran, against the Iranian government. An attrition-fatigued Iraq conceded in the 1975 Algiers Agreement. Iranian disputes with what came to be the UAE over three Gulf islands – Bigger Tunb, the Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa – had been settled via British mediation prior to 1971. In addition to Bahrain, Iran considered these islands: (1) part and parcel of its rightful regional space that Britain had forcibly taken away; (2) navigation enablers; and (3) advanced territorial posts from which to claim oil resources and navigation rights (al-Issa 1997, 444; Amirahmadi 1996). In 1971, Iran recognized Bahrain’s sovereignty and Qatar’s independence, and also held talks with Sharjah’s ruler over territorial and security arrangements (Amirahmadi 1996, 10). In addition to these conciliatory policies, Iran also occupied the three disputed islands claimed by Abu Dhabi (Ismael 1982, 20). In response, Iran was vilified for its treatment of its ethnic Arab minority, in addition to the occupation of what the UAE considered its islands – hence also Arab lands (Chubin and Zabih 1974, 195). Importantly, however, and despite these manoeuvrings, Iran did not provoke Saudi Arabia. This task was facilitated by the fact that Iran’s external narrative made no claim to Islam-related politics that could possibly challenge Saudi Arabia, and had no audiences in pan-Arab causes (El Fadl 2005, 70). To the contrary, Iran and Saudi Arabia had close relations via their American alliance; moreover, Iran supported

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pro-Saudi Arabian Yemeni royalists, and helped the Sultan of Oman quell an internal rebellion (Vaezi 2001). By the mid to late 1970s, domestic change inside Iran carried important implications for its regional diplomacy. Its increased necessity for oil revenues spurred the Iranian government to ‘press forward its prewar cultivation of friendship among the Middle East Arab states’ (Ramazani 1975, 1058). Even tense relations, such as those with Iraq, witnessed a few glimpses of constructive coordination. In the post-1973 boom, ‘Cooperation among Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia in the negotiations with the international oil companies in the early 1970s underscored the fact that they shared at least some common interests’ (Gause 2009, 33). In another demonstration of how the external narrative guided diplomacy, nuclear power held the promise that Iran could guard against infringements on its sovereignty and independence, while also marking its transition to major power status, since nuclear weapons at the time were an important marker of this status. Iran, like other nuclear states, would then be an actor to be reckoned with, and would have far-reaching influence in world politics. Moreover, ‘by the mid1970s, Iran had a well-educated and motivated corps of nuclear scientists who, backed by substantial financial resources from the government, undertook research into all aspects of the new technology, including its military applications’ (Ardeshir Zahedi, Wall Street Journal, 25 June 2004). In the 1970s, Iran began investing in its nuclear programme with US assistance. By 1979 Iran’s actualization of a narrative of global status and independence was clearly dependent on major power support. This meant effectively that major powers could both help realize Iranian ambitions, or alternately seriously undermine them. Little seemed to have changed, then, from the pre-1950s period in terms of Iran’s dependence on external patrons, despite the external narrative’s claim to independence in the world. At the same time, the US-Saudi Arabia alliance solidified, and the Soviets were deep into Afghanistan. At some point in the late 1970s a recalibration of American policy towards Iran was ongoing, and then came out publicly. The US, which had invested in Iran’s military build-up, reversed its position: ‘The shah’s grandiose plans for regional power proved challenging to the United States, as well as to other actors that resented Iran’s rising military strength, such as

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Saudi Arabia’ (Yetiv 2008, 36). Citing human rights violations, the US government reversed its unequivocal support for the Shah’s governments and started to withdraw its support, as did the governments of France, Great Britain and Germany – reaching a tipping point by 1978 (Carter 1982, 438–45). This loss of support highlighted that, despite its narrative and efforts, Iran had not achieved the global status it coveted.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1950– 79 The main elements of the domestic narrative under Mohammad Pahlavi were initially brought together by his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi, who had replaced the Qajar monarchy with the Pahlavi monarchy in a coup. The narrative of Reza Shah was not set in written literature or public speeches, but a great part of it was realized in policy. Reza Shah’s domestic narrative envisioned strong and independent state institutions that would allow government to realize its idea of a modern and independent Iran. Moreover, a strong Iran would be able to withstand external threats, similar to those it faced in the 1920s or during World War II for example. In regards to society and its values, Reza Pahlavi sought to emulate Western-styled modernism, a central feature of which was secularism. This attempt was to displace ‘traditional’ and Islamic practices from the public sphere and replace them with western modes. Despite this changing domestic policy, Reza Shah simultaneously denied Western powers access to Iranian territory during World War II and decided on a policy of neutrality, which was the main reason behind the British pressure which led to his abdication (Abrahamian 1982, Chapter 3). Mohammad Reza Shah took the general contours of his father’s vision of a strong and independent Iran and placed them in a clearer domestic narrative. To do so, he drew on the dominant societal narrative, and governments under him emphasized a modern Iran with historic multiethnic and religiously diverse cultural roots, notwithstanding the central place of Shiite Islam (Abrahamian 1982, 135–40). This meant that the domestic narrative acknowledged the significance of Iran’s religious past, and the centrality of religion in society. While religion was not renounced as a social institution, policies were enacted to try to control the internal workings of clerical establishments, and included the appointment of high-level clerics. The Shah’s governments saw religion as an artefact of the ‘east’ that should be slowly removed from politics

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and the public sphere in order for Iran to achieve independence. In the public sphere, there were attempts to purge some Islamic practices, such as the headscarf for women or the public religious commemoration of Imam Hussein’s execution/martyrdom; this was seen as necessary to remove antiquated ideas that did not belong to the new Iran (Abrahamian 1982, 143). Tensions grew against such policies, and the modernity that emerged did not appeal to all the Iranians. The government’s domestic narrative and associated policies precipitated clashes with clerics of the Twelver Shiite Ulama body, which had been an important social and moral point of reference for society since the conversion to Shiism under the Safavids around the sixteenth century CE .2 Government efforts to impose these policies were violent and provoked strong and widespread resistance. It is crucial to note in this regard that what most undermined the Shah’s governments and state institutions was the degree of violence with which he ruled domestically, and not his domestic narrative of a strong and diverse Iran (despite its secular rhetoric). Different actors coalesced against the Shah with defiant positions, two of which are noteworthy because they were the bearers of important ideas embedded in the dominant societal narrative. The first was the Bazaar, which was a locale populated and operated by merchants and businesspeople, where economic transactions were conducted that contributed to state revenues. The Bazaar also acted as a lobby group in relations with government. The Bazaar did not monopolize private interests (i.e. many merchants operated independently), and had a hierarchic internal structure where wealth determined social status and roles within the institution. Bazaar funds also supported a variety of social services and a social safety net for its members and their families, making it an effective tool of social mobilization for various political agendas (Ashraf 1988, 540). Moreover, Bazaars have historically been religiously and culturally diverse, allowing space for rich ideational exchanges. The second actor was the Shiite clerical establishment or Ulama. Shiism had been the dominant form of practiced Islam in Iran since the Safavid conversion. Religion held significant meaning for society, and became more central because of the presence of eminent Shiite seminaries in the Iranian city of Qom, which are of importance to Shiites worldwide. The global stature of these institutions and their contribution to Shiite learning were a source of

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collective pride and elevated their symbolic importance in the dominant societal narrative. Moreover, the Qajar dynasty (roughly from 1800 to 1925), which ruled through a tribal system and an absent centralized authority, allowed Shiite clerics to organize society around durable institutions (e.g. in education, and legal systems at local levels), which granted them respect and influence. In the eighteenth century, clerics drew their revenues from khums and zakat (religiously mandated donations for the purpose of economic redistribution to advantage the needy). However, the Qajar-era transformation of Shiism into a political programme after the 1908 Constitutional Revolution resulted in an alliance between Ulama and Bazaaris. An intricate relationship emerged, where the Ulama received Bazaar money to finance organizations, such as schools and seminaries, and ‘the ‘ulama often reinterpret[ed] Islam to conform with the interest of the Bazaaris’ (Mozaffari 1991, 381). Despite their potential use in mobilizing societal support on behalf of the monarchy, the partnership between the Bazaar and Ulama made them a potentially dangerous opposition to Mohammad Reza Shah’s realization of a domestic narrative of modernity. In fact, the Ulama and Bazaar had a history of collaboration in pursuit of common goals, such as in the Tobacco Revolt (1890–1), the Constitutional Revolution (1908) and oil nationalization (1951) (Ashraf 1988, 542– 5). In the Shah’s domestic narrative, in order to return Iran to its former glory, select aspects of Western modernity were needed, particularly secularism, education and industrialization. The Bazaaris and Ulama resisted government attempts to move religion from the public sphere, in addition to rejecting governments’ exclusionary political governance policies and the growing socio-economic malaise. From the government’s perspective, goals for Iran in the twentieth century were framed in the shadow of Iran’s historic status as a Great Civilization with which Iranians did identify. Muhammad Reza Shah, the descendant of Cyrus the Great, was the ‘icon’ and the central figure of this past, and it was his responsibility to oversee these transformations. True to the narrative interpretations he held, Mohammad Reza Shah rejected his coronation until Iran moved towards modernity; he accepted his coronation as the Shahenshah (or King of Kings) only in 1967 after having explained that Iran’s government had by then achieved marked progress towards realizing these grand ideas. A few years later, street demonstrations reflected strong societal disapproval of the government’s domestic

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narrative, prompting the Shah to become more reliant on force to end societal contestation. The era ended with mass revolts.

Governance 1950– 79 The Anglo-Soviet occupation during World War II unhinged the Iranian state’s sense of sovereignty and political independence. Economically, Allied troops’ spending in Iran vitalized the economy, but the absence of government regulation after the War flooded the market with cheap western goods ‘causing bankruptcies among artisans and bazaar shopkeepers’ (Parsa 1989, 39). Politically, stability after Reza Shah’s abdication was achieved by empowering Mohammad Reza Shah’s authority, thus undermining – but not eliminating – the constitutional monarchic system in place. Prime Minister Mossadeq initially stabilized the political process and launched economic reforms, including nationalization, which won him popular support. Actors welcoming reforms included the Tudeh (communist party), labour groups and the National Front – which rallied nationalists, liberals and conservatives (Parsa 1989, 39 – 40). While nationalization was welcome, reforms and a general retreat in the economy drove many interests to drop their support. Dissenting coalitions organized, including between Bazaaris, Ulama and military officers. Confrontations deepened divisions and ended with a coup against Mossadeq, which was primarily organized domestically and aided by British and American interventions (Dareini 1999, 82). In effect, important societal actors as well as many in government did not agree with how governance policies implemented the domestic narrative’s ideas of independence and modernity. The 1953 coup purged many state institutions of people and ideas, allowing governance under the Shah to proceed with policies that could achieve an empowered, developed and modern Iran. After the coup, traditional landownership was associated with feudalism and backwardness, so land reforms were planned to transition Iran to a modern capitalist economy. These reforms undercut the power of a landed aristocracy from which many Ulama descended and which had historically financed clerical programmes (Parsa 1989, 48). Furthermore, government spending on schools, universities, industrial development and social services not only aimed to develop Iran, but also to politically undercut the support base of threatening or reactionary actors and their

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financing, especially the Ulama, segments of the Bazaar, the Tudeh Party and the National Front (Abrahamian 1982, Chapter 6). By the late 1950s, a middle class of urban bureaucrats, professionals, and industrialists (sectors associated with modernity) was growing, and urbanization increased demands on services. The government expanded spending using oil rents, and monitored emerging labour unions associated with these sectors (Ramazani 1975). Iran’s economy was sectorally diverse and continued to be so. However, increased income from oil rents was an attractive option, especially since it allowed the government to suppress the tax burden and manage popular expectations. This dependence on oil rents led to an atrophy of some economic sectors and hindered industrial expansion. This began a keen Iranian interest in the international oil market, something over which it rivalled with Saudi Arabia. Government reforms continued to intensify. In the 1963 White Revolution, reforms granted women voting rights, expanded national literacy campaigns, reformed land and privatized public enterprises (Pahlavi 1966). These reforms also empowered university students, a segment of which supported secular Marxist groups like the Fedayan-e Khalq (Organization of Iranian People’s Majority), the intelligentsia and women’s groups. These actors generally did not identify with the political and social programmes of the Ulama and Bazaaris, and were thus seen as a potential source of government support. However, despite their differences with the Ulama and Bazaaris, their interests would eventually converge around rejections of governance policies. Importantly, in this period government transferred capital to modern sectors (industry) and locations (cities) from taxation on agriculture, thus shifting ‘the basis of the state from [the landed upper class] to the industrial bourgeoisie’ (Parsa 1989, 48). This led to a division of land into smaller parcels, which meant a loss in economies of scale. The government failed to subsidize the remaining few owners who were financially unable to develop mechanized or large-scale agricultural production: ‘Agriculture remained the least developed of the economic sectors, even though it employs the largest part of the economically active population’ (Alaolmolki 1991, 45). Rural sectors therefore joined with labour, that had lost much of its power due to privatization and the rise in informality, in resisting government politics (see Hashim 2001, 36– 7). Attacks on the government did not only stem from its economic

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reforms. Discontent was also fuelled by a controversial government decision to legislate a violation of sovereignty: it had granted extraterritorial rights to American citizens in Iran not to be tried in Iran but in American courts for acts committed in Iran (Ansari 2006, 45). Additionally, the US developed and trained the SAVAK to be the security arm of the Iranian government and ‘a modern, effective intelligence agency’ (Gasiorowski 1991, 117). From the mid-1960s to late 1970s, national politics did see periodic elections and active parties, but there were also politically motivated assassinations, riots, government use of force, as well as individual and mass arrests. Initially focused on countering leftist forces and, to a lesser extent, religious actors, the government increased restrictions on public freedoms, relying on the SAVAK to violently subdue opposition, a policy that undermined the government’s role as a modernizer and developer. However, by the mid-1970s, the government’s violent tactics proved incapable of destroying resilient organizations despite the closure of publishing houses and the arrest of clerics. The government defended its actions as necessary to fend off Communist threats, and the US continued to assist in SAVAK activities (Gasiorowski 1991, 93 –7). By the second half of the 1970s, the government’s widespread use of execution and imprisonment had weakened most societal actors and activists, which increased the relative power of the Bazaar and Ulama. By then, and ‘in the absence of labor unions, political parties, professional societies, and neighborhood associations, the bazaar-mosque alliance [. . .] proved to be the main vehicle for social protest’ (Ashraf 1988, 564). In the midst of growing societal contestation, the opposition understood the importance of oil for the government’s agenda, and pushed oil sector workers to protest. When the Shah announced that foreign workers would supplant striking Iranian workers, Imam Khomeini, who was the leader of the opposition and its main moral authority, issued a religious edict ( fatwa) that legitimated acting against foreign workers (Ibrahim Yazedi, al-Sharq al-Awsat, 10 February 2009). Not only was the government losing in the material security realm, but it was also losing the war of ideas as street protests demanded political inclusion, not just economic reform (Amirahmadi 1986). The government’s attempt to hold onto power overshadowed its grand plans for modernity and development, and its policies became largely

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reactive and a short-term. The government remained defiant in the face of growing domestic contestation, a high degree of societal malaise, wide-spread societal determination to resist the SAVAK and the cohesion of the broad-based opposing coalition. Many decision makers, especially the Shah, believed that uprisings were being organized by the Soviets or Americans. In his memoirs written in exile, the Shah admitted that indigenous opposition had the greater role in the lead up to the 1979 Revolution, but still maintained that foreign powers were ultimately responsible for it (Pahlavi 1980). Scholarly work on these revolts remains undecided. The traditional narrative on the role of the Bazaar in the Islamic Revolution, for instance, is countered by some who argue that it is unclear that the Bazaar in general was dissatisfied with the Shah’s economic and modernization policies (Zibakalam 1996). Some of these policies that derived from the domestic narrative’s focus on modernity and development did indeed bear fruit. For instance, levels of education increased, as did industrialization and urbanization. Paradoxically, it was precisely the success of such modernizing policies that was problematic; with increased education and urbanization, for instance, came a concomitant increase in people’s expectations and political demands. The government’s response to the growing demands of its citizens was to further political exclusion and increase the use of violence, which provoked resistance rather than acceptance. The domestic narrative of this period had been built on the idea of re-establishing Iran’s historical independence and strength. Many societal actors agreed with this narrative but felt that governance was a confining not empowering force. A population boom in this era also increased the numbers of critics demanding political freedoms and jobs; urbanization facilitated communication and organization, and expanded the geographic spread of counter-government coalitions. In 1979 came the revolution.

The Domestic– External Nexus 1950 – 79 Prior to the 1970s oil boom, Iran had grown its economic and military capacities, but wealth maldistribution impeded economic development (Pesaran 1982). Policies to modernize society were instituted in the following decade. Though the oil boom hindered industrial diversification, atrophied traditional sectors and undermined actors, especially Bazaaris, oil rents also floated government spending on social services,

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thereby absorbing labour in state-run sectors and industrial subsidies: ‘Confident about Iran’s massive oil revenue, the Shah’s government relied increasingly on imports, without any serious concern for increasing local production capabilities’ (Rahnema 1995, 135). Industrial expansion via direct government intervention and support, as well as import substitution and modernization programmes all demanded more money. At the same time, the expansion of Iran’s military power and demonstrations of strength in diplomacy also demanded massive resources. By the late 1970s, what seemed to be most unsettling for Iran’s stability was the combination of expansive diplomacy and governance goals that were not matched by diplomacy and governance policies that can achieve ambitions.

Statecraft 1980– 2010 To better situate the domestic and external narratives which emerged in this era it is important to understand the narrative alterations that occurred in the dominant societal narrative since the 1970s. Religion had always had a place in the dominant societal narrative, but its importance was accentuated in 1979, and in particular the central role of Twelver Shiism. Twelver Shiism is defined by a deep sense of remorse for not having come to aid Imam Hussein against his enemies in the battle of Karbala (commemorated annually in the ceremonies of Ashoura). The failure to come to Hussein’s aid drives Shiism’s commitment to battling oppression and injustice and empowering the oppressed meek and disinherited through strong group solidarity (Fadlallah 1997). Moreover, as a historically religious minority among Sunnis, with a history of confrontations between the two groups, there has been an understanding that survival and stability requires allies. At the same time, however, Twelver Shiism has intensely debated what its role should be in politics; a historic consensus among leading clerics advocated a quietest political stance in earthly politics while awaiting for a promised saviour to appear. In Twelver Shiism’s hierarchic clerical order the status of a Shiite cleric was traditionally based on his scholarship, emulators and peer recognition. However, with the increased role for clerics, eventually governing under the Islamic Republic, the political position of the cleric became an important determining factor for status (Feirahi 2007).3 Involvement of Shiite

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clergymen in Iran’s politics began in earnest only after the 1908 reforms, where their role in guiding society and advising decision makers increased. After 1953, that role was sustained but circumscribed by the government’s drive to move religion out of the public sphere. In the immediate aftermath of the 1979 Revolution governments included Ulama and secular (overwhelmingly leftist) figures. Two ideational camps competed over the form and essence of the Republic; both focused on governance and were relatively less preoccupied with diplomacy. The first was a clerical camp, sharing the religiously explicit dominant societal narrative discussed above. The second camp had non-religious interpretations of Iran’s history, and included actors such as the Tudeh, National Front, Freedom Movement of Iran, Mojahedin-eKhalq, Bikar and Fida’ii Khalq. These groups were united against the monarchy and an Islamic Republic, but lacked a unified political statebuilding vision, with some demanding a liberal democracy and others ‘government of the masses’. In the so-called second phase of the revolution, the second camp and its ideas were purged (Hani Fahs, AlSharq Al-Awsat, 13 February 2009); individuals and their ideas were excluded through violence, force, assassination and street fighting (see Rahnema 1998). In a few months, the clerical camp dominated. The Shiite dimension of the dominant societal narrative that had been alive in society since the Safavids (including under the Pahlavis) was revived by two sets of processes. The first came from purposive acts and discourses of decision makers who believed in the narrative’s adroitness to the state building project. The second process was at the ‘grassroots’ level with Iranians reattaching themselves to this Shiite component. Shiism came to be an explicit feature of the dominant societal narrative of the Islamic Republic. The clerics imagined a Republic built by Shiite solidarity that would push back external threats.

The External Narrative and Goals 1980 –2010 The external narrative of the Islamic Republic was built around the core idea of Iran’s global role in the world. However, the renewed prominence of religion in the dominant societal narrative meant that Iran’s external narrative was not solely focused on itself and its own global status; rather, what preoccupied Iran in this period was the arrogance of strong states and the oppression and political subjection of weaker states, who were also seeking to protect or achieve their independence.

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Drawing on Shiism’s view of the world, the Islamic Republic saw: the structure of the current international system [as] unjust and repressive. Thus, the existing corrupt rule must be replaced by the true Islamic order which is just, fair and virtuous. Until the realization of the ‘sublime universe’, the world remains structurally divided into two antagonistic spheres: the world of good and the world of evil. Light and darkness. The universe of Islam (Dar al-Islam) and the universe of anti-Islam (Dar al-Harb). On the one hand, there is the party of God (Hizb Allah) and on the other the party of Satan (Hizh al-Shaytan). Compromise between the two is impossible. The struggle is constant, until the first eliminates the second. Thus one [the believers in the world of Islam] must battle for the triumph of Islam. (Mozaffari 1999, 11) Given the above, Iran’s role in the world was now to implement policies that would remove the world’s oppressive structures and lead to a situation where ‘the oppressed or the meek must triumph over the dominant powers’. In this historic mission, Iran’s Islamic Revolution fights with – in the words of Ali Akbar Velayati – ‘the weapon of faith’ (Ramazani 1986, 34 and 22). In a world order that condones the oppression of many states, Iran needed to gain ‘true independence’, especially from the major powers from whom it had historically suffered oppression (Ramazani 1998). Thus, the external narrative recognized the same historical grievances against former colonial powers that the monarchy had, such as Iran’s occupation by Britain and the various attempts to undermine Iranian independence. Iran’s external narrative was therefore no longer about itself and not only confined to Shiite communities, but was decidedly global. Importantly, this meant that the narrative was not oriented toward the existence of the modern state system but to the pan-Islamic Umma, whose ideas of equality are common to all other communities. This idea that dignity and equality for all can and should be championed by Shiism was crucial here, and revealed the strong influence of Ali Shariati on the Islamic movement prior to 1979. Hence, Iran saw itself as a leader not of Shiites (in the narrow sense) but of the oppressed and the meek around the world, who would be rewarded for their diligence in fighting oppressions and Istikbar (arrogance).

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The tasks on Iran’s shoulders were therefore substantial. Policy mechanisms for diplomacy included Iran acting to export its revolution, which was expected to appeal to and unite the world’s oppressed. Iran started a policy of exporting its revolution in 1980, and its government announced that ‘Islam does not regard various Islamic countries differently [than other non-Islamic countries] and is the supporter of all oppressed people of the world’ (Khomeini 1980, 22). This meant that even under ‘Islamic’ rule decision makers could be unjust, and thus Revolutionary Iran would be the champion of the oppressed. This was especially important for Iran’s relations with Gulf States (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc.). It branded American allies in the Gulf as ‘mini-satans’, denounced their subservience to global oppressors (the US and USSR) and declared them unfaithful to the Islamic values they claimed to hold (Ramazani 1986, 23). Hence, exporting Iran’s revolution (in support of the oppressed) to such states became important in its crafting of a new world order. Importantly, while other states ‘may not be fully and purely Islamic, they are not anti-Islamic’ (Mozaffari 1999, 12); these included Syria, Libya and Algeria, and they could be ‘friends’ of the Revolution. While seeing the Islamic Revolution as ‘inevitable and irreversible’, Imam Khomeini did not advocate – in theory – the use of force to spread it, seeing revolution rather as a ‘natural’ process of history that should be supported through the sharing of ideas, solidarity and encouragement (Menashri 1990, 49; Ramazani 1986, Chapter 2). The idea that the world was unjust toward Iran that had been present in the former external narrative was retained in this era through the division of the world into oppressors and oppressed – a division in which Iran was in the oppressed camp. Interpretations differed under various governments, mainly over the most efficient and appropriate means to counter this injustice, ensure survival and retain national independence; this led to different policy outcomes from confrontation under President Ahmadinejad to global dialogue under President Khatami (Zarif 2014). Interpretations varied in their emphasis on the need for direct confrontation or in their emphasis on the need to adopt a posture of political dialogue emphasizing the unity of human existence. Given that the US figured prominently in shaping the structure of the global order (especially since 1990), it was the primary actor against whose policies Iran acted.

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The External Environment and Diplomacy 1980– 2010 Since 1979 there have been different patterns in Iran’s diplomacy, reflecting varied government interpretations of the external narrative. This diversity derived mainly not exclusively from Shiite rites, which empower individual clerics, each having nuanced views on issues and appropriate policy actions; to these differences was added power struggles among decision makers, something allowed for (and in many ways encouraged) by the Republicanism of Iran. For example, if the President’s vision on diplomacy clashed with the Vali-e Faqih, the latter becomes the ultimate arbitrator because he had greater say in devising action (Tazmini 2009, 85; Chubin 2002, 30 –1). In the aftermath of the Revolution, the broad-based governing coalition avoided confrontation and adopted a ‘testing the waters’ approach. In effect, they waited until other regional and global actors who had interests in Iran developed clearer policies towards the revolution. As domestic consolidation was completed, and the Imam Khomeini faction dominated government, Iran’s diplomacy changed. This seems to have been after the November 1979 seizure of the American Embassy by Students Following the Line of the Imam – a group loyal to Khomeini (Mottaghi 2006). Iran closed the Israeli embassy and transferred it to the PLO in late 1979, rejected the Israel – Egypt Camp David Accords and withdrew from the Baghdad Pact. With regard to the superpowers, Iranian diplomacy adopted a ‘neither East, nor West, but Islam’ posture (Keshavarzian 2005, 67). Iran’s diplomacy reflected its government’s belief that problems in the world were caused by global structures tied to Western interests, the creation of Israel, Palestinian dispossession and GCC governments’ abuse of Islamic principles. Iranian diplomacy called for the oppressed to rise up and overthrow oppressive and arrogant (moustakbireen) governments. In 1974, Khomeini had argued based on Islamic Hadiths that ‘Islam is fundamentally opposed to the whole notion of monarchy [. . .] monarchy is one of the most shameful and disgraceful reactionary manifestations’ (Hiro 1992, 31). Thus, such tones in post-1979 Iranian diplomacy resonated at a time of declining revenues and exposed disparities in rent distribution regionally (Bayat and Baktiari 2002, 308–10). Iran pursued its role in achieving global justice through military and economic assistance to oppressed peoples regardless of the costs to Iran, and mostly through select Bonyads that were exclusively accountable to

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the Supreme Leader.4 For example, the Sepah-e Ghods (Ghods Force), one of the five main branches of the Pasdaran (or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps – IRGC), played a key role in fostering Islamic liberation movements among the Bosnians during the Yugoslav civil war, as well as supporting the growth of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Mahdi Army in Iraq. Iran also offered scholarships and financial assistance to students, especially to study in Qom (Hunter 1988); the hope was that clerics and students would transmit the revolutionary zeal to their home countries (Sharara 1996; Menashri 1990, 48). Countering Iraq was the main feature of Iran’s diplomacy in the 1980s. The acrimonious Iran– Iraq rivalry and the Iran-imposed 1975 Shatt al-Arab settlement were likely instrumental in motivating Iraq’s 1980 invasion at a moment of perceived Iranian weakness (Parasiliti 2003). With Iran’s revolutionary discourse and sponsorship of select actors across the Gulf, the Iran– Iraq War drew in states with stakes in weakening Iran, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait (Ismael 1982, 36). Regionally, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was created in 1981 primarily to shield Arab Gulf states from Iranian threats. Globally, the US, France, Germany and the USSR contributed to Iraq’s ‘borrowed capacity’ in the War, with considerable Saudi Arabian financing (Ramazani 1986, 84). The US also helped replenish Iran’s capabilities, especially in the Iran –Contra Deal (Ehteshami 1995, 160), effectively draining Iraq and Iran. The Iran –Contra Deal, which involved transferring US weapons to Iran through Israel in order to by-pass the US arms embargo on Iran, was a delicate matter because it entailed dealing with Iran’s principal enemies. In its evaluation, Iran had to make a pragmatic choice that favoured its survival despite the fact that it would be collaborating with its stated enemies. Even the process of seeing the deal through necessitated a delicate balancing game inside government: officials like Ayatollah Rafsanjani were involved in making the deal, while figures deemed ‘radical’ (such as Ayatollah Muntaziri) were left out. Information about meetings with the US was leaked to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Shira’ by Muntaziri’s son-in-law (Takeyh 2009, 52). Afterwards, Mehdi Hashemi, a senior official of the IRGC, was executed on 28 September 1987, on charges of sedition and murder, and is suspected to have been killed because of his opposition to the Deal. Iran’s search for independence in the 1980s was also influenced by major power politics, including the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan

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and American financing of insurgents followed by the Second Cold War increased Iran’s vulnerabilities. Iran benefited from superpower balances: as long as the US avoided provoking the USSR (despite condemning its occupation of Afghanistan), its Carter Doctrine benefited from a noncollapsed Iran because it buffered American allies in the Gulf (Brzezinski 1986, 50), while Iran’s independence was important for Turkish and Pakistani security (Hunter 2003, 136). Pakistan served to bring China and Iran together, a relationship that was strengthened by their shared concerns over the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, and which supplied Iran with Chinese military hardware (Alam 2004). Iran’s independence was tested when Saudi Arabia began assisting Iraq by manipulating oil market fluctuations. Saudi Arabia’s centrality to the oil market was made clear during the 1973 oil crisis. In the Iran – Iraq War, Saudi Arabia intervened to cover supply shortages (provoked by decreased supply from Iraq) regardless of the price, thus grabbing a large share of the oil market and gaining considerable leverage in the decades since. Iran needed oil revenues to finance its war effort and cover its domestic needs; as such, it was largely at the mercy of Saudi Arabian interventions in the oil market. Conflict peaked when Saudi Arabia’s market intervention suppressed prices a few months after Iran’s 1986 military victory at Al-Faw in southern Iraq. Iran had been significantly fatigued and its resources depleted by the campaign and Saudi Arabian interventions gave Iran the impression that it ‘was waging economic warfare’ in order to prevent an Iranian recovery (Chubin and Tripp 1996, 14). Deterioration in the ‘tanker wars’ drew direct American intervention (Hiro 1992, 37– 41). Iran’s material capacities were haemorrhaging, despite its ability to procure arms and spare parts from various sources, notably China, while investing heavily in domestic production and reverse-engineering (Johnson 2011, 103; Alam 2004, 535). Iran also expanded established economic and military ties with North and South Korea; these ties had developed bilaterally in the 1950s and continued to be important for all three, despite varied US pressures in the light of its close relations with South Korea. These ongoing relations reflected pragmatism in Iran’s post-1979 diplomacy, in the sense of consenting to ‘separate politics from the economy’ (Azad 2012, 166). Still, a weakened Iran saw its revolutionary zeal fatigued; softening the revolutionary rhetoric promised reprieve, especially with potential expansion in oil purchases

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from Japan and Europe. To stop the drain, Khomeini formally requested an end to hostilities and accepted UNSC Resolution 598, which he compared to ‘drinking a cup of poison’. Consistent with Iran’s narrative, his statement symbolized how structural injustice defined the world order and imposed on Iran extreme but necessary – and otherwise unthinkable – decisions. What his statement also signified was that the multiplicity of threats on Iran, especially from major powers, encouraged pragmatism in its diplomacy when the state’s survival was at stake (Ra’iss Tousi 1997, 54 – 7). While Iran was fighting Iraq, it was also extending its aid to allied actors across the Middle East. The Arab – Israel conflict allowed Iran to highlight its pertinence to a wide Arab and Islamic audience, thereby demonstrated the correctness of its revolutionary narrative and policies. Support for Hezbollah since the 1980s exemplified how Iran empowers disinherited communities and societies fighting just causes against occupiers and arrogant forces – in this case arrogance and oppression was not only represented by the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, but the traditional Lebanese establishment that had historically economically and developmentally marginalized Lebanese Shiites (as well as traditional Shiite elites in Lebanon who had not fought for their community’s collective rights) (Sharara 1996). Iran’s allies, prominently Syria, fought Israel when many Arab governments refrained to do so, thus boosting the revolution’s moral high ground against ‘reactionary’ forces. Moreover, Iran expanded relations with Sudan’s Islamic government in the 1990s (Menashri 2001, 247). Iran’s diplomacy thus sought to downplay the Shiite – Sunni divide by emphasizing its support for the oppressed, not ethnic or sectarian groups. Iran also championed the cause of the Palestinian people, but less so the PLO. Leftists and Marxists in the PLO leaned towards a collective Arab approach to the struggle against Israel, while Iran (as a non-Arab state) favoured a focus on the conflict’s Islamic dimensions, which did not receive wide PLO support. In addition, Iran’s relations with the PLO had to be calibrated against Iran’s relations with Syria, and were complicated by the Syrian – PLO clashes in Lebanon; in this context, Iran prioritized its relations with Syria (Parsi 2007, Chapter 8). Iran – Hamas relations later became the flagship of Iran’s support for the Palestinian cause, and complemented relations with Hezbollah (Mansour 2010).

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The USSR’s demise proved that ‘even superpowers can collapse.’ In a 4 January 1989 letter to Premier Gorbachev, Imam Khomeini advised him to learn more about Islam’s virtues as a social organizing principle; in the same letter Khomeini also emphasized that Iran was a good neighbour, which meant that Iran would preserve the status quo at a time of domestic transformations in the USSR. Soviet collapse validated Iran’s religiously guided narrative and symbolized ‘a victory for faith and spirituality over atheism and materialism’ (Herzig 1995, 2). The end of the Cold War, however, was coupled with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which culminated in increased US presence in the Gulf, and especially with troops on the ground (Yetiv 2008, 90– 9; Gause 2009, 88). The American blow to Iraq’s military capabilities quelled the vulnerabilities of America’s Arab allies and Iran (Atrisi 2006, 53). The new regional order with a weak Iraq and GCC states reeling from the Iraqi invasion allowed Iran to pursue bilateral contacts with Gulf states facilitated by common concerns for Iraq’s territorial integrity and potential spill-overs into Iran, Turkey and Syria from an empowered Kurdish enclave (Olson 2004, 16). What emerged in the 1990s was an American-Turkish-Iranian mutual understanding on the need for Iraqi unity even when these states supported competing Kurdish groups. Moreover, Iran sought improved relations with Saudi Arabia which the latter reciprocated in the second half of the 1990s (Menashri 2001, 244). Iran’s decision makers called for a ‘dialogue among civilizations’ in that period. Starting in the late 1980s and into the 1990s, then, Iran’s diplomacy transitioned ‘from confrontation to compromise, from expansionism to coexistence’ (Ehteshami 1995, 137) in the pursuit of global justice. This softened position also allowed Iran to rebuild the country following the Iran –Iraq War, particularly by defusing the conflict with Saudi Arabia. Iran’s narrative of fighting injustice and dispossession neither ended nor was it substantively altered, but the government welcomed interpretations favouring less confrontation and more political engagement in diplomacy. For instance, though Hezbollah remained integral to Iran’s diplomacy – a relationship which helped consolidate Iran –Syria relations, and taught Syria and Iran how best to organize their relationship in Lebanon, which had seen tensions in the late 1980s (Mansour 2010) – Iran nevertheless backed Syria’s pursuit of a political option with Israel during the 1990s peace processes (Eisenberg and Caplan 2010, 143).

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Iran’s rivalry with the Taliban in Afghanistan, undergirded by a Sunni-Shiite divide, often exploded in military confrontations. In the absence of an opportunity to bridge this divide, Iran took measures to buffer itself by facilitating the movement of loyal militias, as well as developing their operational infrastructure (Jalali 2000, 142–52). Pakistan’s relations with the Taliban generated tensions in Pakistan– Iran relations; these were overcome after India’s nuclear testing in 1998 pushed them closer together. At the same time, Iranian– Indian relations helped Iran balance Pakistan’s growing power (Wells 1999). On a related front, Iran’s ties with Central Asian states were driven by discoveries of raw materials, energy and trade opportunities in non-oil sectors (Herzig 1995, 18 – 54). Iran also tried to spread its form of Islam via funds, literature and preaching, as well as via the Pasdaran. These attempts were made mainly through informal networks, given that the newly independent states placed limitations on preaching in formal venues such as schools (Rashid 1994, 213 and 244– 5). Iran, for instance, sought to expand relations with Shiites in Azerbaijan through funding for religious schools and financing studies in Qom as part of its broader project to spread its Islam (Valiyev 2005). Iran also sought to defuse conflicts in central Asia with a potential for spill over. In this light, we can understand Iran’s continued relations with Armenia during the Nagorno–Karabakh crisis with Azerbaijan, its role in mediating the conflict, as well as its provision of assistance to refugees. In the early 1990s, the EU’s Critical Dialogue helped Iran’s bridgebuilding efforts, and came at a time of American ‘dual containment’ and an economic embargo (Amuzegar 1997). The Dialogue improved relations despite potentially derailing issues such as criticisms of Iran’s human rights record, the Salman Rushdie affair, the conflict with the UAE, assassinations attributed to Iranian agents in Germany and later the revived Iranian nuclear programme. Its importance lies in the fact that its inception provided ammunition to a movement within Iran’s government (aided by a reinvigorated civil society) seeking better international ties and cooperation. Simultaneously, Iran reached out to China, and signed ‘memoranda of understanding on economics, energy, industry, culture, and science’ (Tazmini 2009, 87). China helped Iran recover its hydrocarbon production and export capacities. It is also argued that China helped develop Iran’s civilian nuclear capabilities (and had done so since the 1980s), including providing hardware and training

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(Alam 2004, 535– 6). The US-imposed embargo became burdensome to Iran, especially toward the end of the 1990s. At this time it tried to convince regional (Arab) oil producers, especially Saudi Arabia, to lower production in a bid to raise prices, but with little response (aside from Iraq’s). Lacking the ability to change the existing rules, Iran’s only option was to play by them. After 1997, Iranian ‘dialogue of civilizations’ diplomacy argued that global injustice persisted, but that dialogue rather than confrontation was the best means of countering such injustice. These calls were reciprocated by the United States with a ‘reaching out’ tone, even if it did not end the embargo on Iran (Abrahamian 2004, 95). However, the US did declare that Iran was no long part of ‘dual containment’ (Barbara Crossette in the New York Times, 18 June 1998; see also Yetiv 2008, 99). President Clinton noted in 1998: ‘We have real differences with some Iranian policies, but I believe these are not insurmountable’, adding, ‘I hope that we have more exchanges between our two people and that the day will soon come when we can enjoy again good relations with Iran’ (Ramazani 1998, 185). Relations between Iran and GCC states also saw significant improvement, given that President Khatami’s diplomacy was largely constituted by discourses that advocated dialogue and highlighted communalities as means to global justice, not confrontation and violence (Ansari 2006, 130– 1; Halliday 2001, 43). His ‘implicit recognition of Iran’s responsibility for the tensions across the Gulf and his warm manner, combined with a policy of dialogue and his obvious domestic popularity, made him an easier interlocutor for the Gulf states’ (Chubin 2002, 28; see also Sariolghalam 2002). Much of this progress was shattered in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Iran had assisted the US to stabilize Afghanistan after ousting of the Taliban, and aided the new government; it also provided assistance to thousands of Afghan refugees. Nevertheless, the US branded Iran part of the Axis of Evil despite there being no proven connections tying it to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Iranian government interpreted this American act as evidence of the world’s inherent injustice, confirming Iran’s fears of major powers. Importantly, this American policy undermined the debate in Iran on the use of political dialogue over confrontation. By 2004, confrontational and noncompromising policies surged in Iran’s diplomacy, reflecting the dominance of ideas that saw confrontation as viable (and even preferred)

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means to fight injustice, especially the injustice that the world levelled against Iran. It was then that the nuclear energy file was reopened, despite the fact that Khomeini himself had declared it incompatible with Islamic values. The 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq dissolved the Iraqi army, inflamed sectarian conflict and empowered the Kurds. DeBaathification did, however, allow Iran a greater role in Iraq by opening the political sphere to varied rival factions, many of whom sought its support. Iran was adamant about securing its hegemony over Iraq; with war and US occupation in Iraq, the US-led embargo and its dependence of oil revenue, the stakes in Iraq for Iran were very high. Confrontational rhetoric increased in Iran’s diplomacy. Especially under the Presidency of Ahmadinejad, the overall tone of Iran’s regional diplomacy was generally confrontational even where in policy terms it was pragmatic, and came with a noticeably increased role of the Pasdaran (after somewhat of a lull in their use internationally in the 1990s). Iran’s assertive diplomacy post-2004 can be attributed to the increased role of a segment of the Pasdaran that interpreted Iran’s relations with the world in terms of stark contrasts (Safshekan and Sabet 2010). A sense of urgency characterized Iran’s diplomacy at this time, particularly with regard to ensuring state survival and state-building in the face of the US-led embargo. For Iran, America was aiming to: (1) prevent Iran from accessing modern weapons, (2) impose economic and commercial sanctions and prevent Iran from reaching global markets, and (3) prevent Iran from accessing modern nuclear technology for civilian purposes, while the US ignored the fact that Israel was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (Atrisi 2006, 67; Mottaghi 2006). The nuclear energy programme had become a means and symbol for ‘true independence’, rising to prominence after 2004. In addition, the United Nations-imposed embargo confirmed the major powers’ intolerance of Iran’s independence. In this context, Iran’s support for Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria could be understood as a measure of defence against what Iran saw as global intransigence.

The Domestic Narrative and Goals 1980 –2010 There are strong narrative continuities in pre- and post-1979 Iran, despite the accentuation of the dominant narrative’s religious dimensions. Domestically, Iran did not move from being an a-religious

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to a religious society in 1979; rather, religion had always been a defining feature of society and clerics had political influence because they were socially significant. In Twelver Shiite belief, an Imam (the Mahdi) will eventually (re) appear and end oppression. While the dominant school believes in the need to wait until the Imam’s appearance in order to be politically active, another school believes in the need for clerical temporal agency in organizing the community. Since the Safavids, many Shiites have underscored the need for a temporal decision maker and caretaker to organize the community’s worldly affairs while waiting for the Imam; in waiting, the influence and status of the communal decision maker is temporary – yet essential. The clerical decision making elite that took over the state in 1979, sought to include revolutionary religious ideas in the domestic narrative. The natural border of the Islamic state is the Islamic Umma – thus ideas of exclusive Iranian nationalism were not part of the foundation of the Islamic Republic. Iran as a state, however, should be united in the face of external threats. The state was to be built on principles of empowerment for the disinherited and social liberation (Fadlallah 1997). A temporal caretaker and decision maker for the community, or Vali-e Faqih (the Jurisconsult), was the centre of the state. In the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini assumed this position, given the reverence and religious legitimacy bestowed upon him. The essence of these revolutionary Islamic ideas, however, did not originate with Khomeini. Figures like Ali Shari’ati had argued that movements against oppression had universal attributes shared by secular and religious actors alike, and complemented Shiism’s call for political activism to counter injustice (see Rahnema 1998). In the Islamic Republic, this narrative reflected a consensus among ruling clerics that was reached either by conviction or after the purging of opposition (Aboul Hasan Bani Sadr, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, 14 February 2009; Mohsen Kadoyr, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, 15 February 2009). In the domestic narrative, the oppressed (mostaazafeen) and oppressors (mustakbireen) are in constant political and economic struggles; hence, the need to build egalitarian social and economic orders (Moallem 2005, 90– 103). The Iran– Iraq War impeded the formulation of a comprehensive domestic strategy to achieve these goals, and what emerged were policies inspired by ‘left-leaning orientations’ which fitted with the general framework of supporting the meek and disinherited and

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working to end inequality and injustice. Out of principled conviction as well as practical necessity, the state took on great responsibilities in the economy, especially to sustain the war effort. Rather than have state institutions build a classless society, they were tasked with reducing the gap between classes, and addressing challenges to upward mobility for the lower classes (Abrahamian 1993, 53). Islam recognizes that people are divinely bestowed with different levels of wealth; thus, the task of government was to ensure equality of access in law and treatment. Policies guided the ‘establishment of various revolutionary foundations in an attempt to create grassroots support for an Islamic regime and to confront the radical opposition to the Islamic Republic’ (Behdad 1995, 105). The Bonyads, as para-governmental organizations, were designed to manage economic activities across sectors and social services, in pursuit of equality and justice, but also importantly in pursuit of Iranian societal empowerment and national independence. Since 1979, new discourses and ideas in government came about following the entry of new decision makers. Nevertheless, the domestic narrative retained the centrality of the revolution and its Islamic principles, and especially the spirit of collective coherence, as a necessity to protecting the state and guarding its independence. While there has been significant change in personalities, there has not been a shift in the domestic narrative. Rather, new ideas were introduced to the narrative concerning how best to achieve the revolutionary aims in governance. These did not overpower or discredit the dominance of the Velayet-e Faqih but underscored the primacy of Iranian interests, not at the expense of the Umma but rather as an important means towards broader global independence (see Safshekan and Sabet 2010).

Governance 1980 – 2010 In 1979, it was clear to Iranians why they had revolted: The shah’s regime was castigated for having adopted a Western development model that made the country’s economic survival and prosperity dependent on foreign raw materials, managerial know-how, technology, and trade. The regime was further faulted for the too-rapid exploitation of oil reserves, insufficient investment in agriculture, an industrialization drive geared to assembly plant operation, undue reliance on oil export revenues to

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finance domestic public expenditure, scant attention to non-oil exports, a widening gap between individuals, classes, and regions, and the promotion of a ‘consumerist’ economy. (Amuzegar 1992, 415) Governments and state institutions after 1979 were expected to do the opposite. Just months after the Islamic Revolution, the broad-based coalition which made it possible was organizing a transition. Ibrahim Yazedi, the foreign minister of the first post-revolutionary government, recalled how clerics, liberals and leftists worked in rooms with ‘pictures of Che Guevara and the Soviet symbols of hammer and sickle’ (interview in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, 10 February 2009). The problem in the revolutionary coalition, Yazedi continued, was that it agreed on overpowering the Shah, but disagreed on everything else, including the type of state that should emerge, its Constitution, governance and diplomacy. In essence, there was disagreement on what the state’s domestic and external narratives should be. Clerical elites purged individuals (clerics and non-clerics) and their ideas from government and many state institutions; ongoing ideational pruning consolidated support for Khomeini’s ideas, most of which had been formulated prior to 1979 and were shared by peers that came to govern. Moreover, the army was dismantled into smaller units with a narrow hierarchy staffed by government loyalists (not all of whom were experienced in combat); after initial hesitation, the higher ranks were purged in order to deny royalists the chance at a counter-coup. Such policies weakened Iran’s defences and fighting power. The Pasdaran was created and reported directly to the Vali-e Faqih, forming the security and military backbone of the government (Zabih 1988, 121– 2). ‘Exporting the revolution’ in diplomacy was entrusted to the Pasdaran, since at that time the war with Iraq had commenced and some senior ranks in the regular military had reservations about continuing with the war given its costs (especially given how infant the new state was) and long-term effects. The Iran – Iraq War, in particular, securitized national politics and allowed Iran’s ruling clerical elite to purge dissension from government, unify the various interpretations of the domestic (and external) narratives (embodied in political-clerical factions), boost patriotism and rally society around government (Hiro 1989, 43). Clerics in decision making circles had varied interpretations of the narratives, goals and appropriate

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policies; competition was bridgeable, thus policies – while changing – were nested in stable continuity. The government drafted a Constitution for an Islamic Republic, which achieved two complementary goals. First, it formalized the role of clerics in government, making the Vali-e Faqih (Jurisconsult) a formal status; the title was bestowed on Imam Khomeini and his successors. Secondly, it established a republican political system with varied institutional centres, with the Vali-e Faqih as the final arbiter in state affairs (Keshavarzian 2005, 75 –6). Religion and republican representation created a political system that drew its legitimacy from public participation, but under the guidance of the Jurisconsult. Khomeini then imposed his interpretation of the role of the Jurisconsult. The centrality of the Jurisconsult was not only spiritual, but ensured policy consistency since he formally and informally controlled the entire political system, including the Presidency (through the Guardian Council), and defined goals and policies for the Republic. To override interpretive consequences from clerical diversity, loyal Ulama held positions of power. Junior clerics were put in control of sensitive military and bureaucratic office, while more independent senior clerics (i.e. those potentially capable of challenging the religious status of the Jurisconsult) were sidelined (Roy 2001, 4). While working to exclude them from the policy making process, the government was not able to eliminate opposition to its policies from senior Ulama, since clerics retained moral authority, and hierarchy remained important. Moreover, since ideational rivalries and competition among Ulama is a feature of Shiism, contesting discourses and interpretations of narratives continued (Kamrava and Hassan-Yari 2004; Schirazi 1997, 61 – 80). An important aggregator of interests was the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) which, as an umbrella organization, ‘was designed to mitigate conflict between the “wings” but also to create the illusion of a united front’ (Wells 1999, 31). Policies to achieve national independence and empower Iranians were ‘left-leaning’ and included reducing dependence on oil rents and pursuing state-led development, which included the expansion of the state apparatus devoted to social welfare and wealth redistribution. Despite this, labour and leftist forces clashed with the government ‘in a brutal “civil war” between the two factions which lasted into 1981’ (Ansari 2006, 44). Purges of student and intelligentsia movements undercut their

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representative capacity, leaving them disempowered and without allies. Bazaaris and the private sector bourgeoisie were undermined by clericaldominated interventions in economic spheres, alienating them politically and economically (Ferdows 1983, 15). Factories were gradually placed under the management of ‘Islamic Associations’, clerical-run monitors of industrial and worker locales. With time there emerged ‘hegemony of the maktabi management [Islamic Management] and the Islamic Associations, militarization of the factories [. . .] and an official ban on the formation of even pro-government shuras [workers’ councils]’ (Bayat 1983, 20). To prepare society for the war effort against Iraq, and its long-term implications (such as population imbalances especially in terms of malefemale ratios) some dimensions of people’s private lives were also securitized. For example, ‘a nationalist discourse justified and encouraged high fertility which was intensified through the war time ration scheme’ (Riddell 2009, 218). As the Iran– Iraq War exacted a heavy toll on industry and saw many other sectors shift to support the war effort, Bonyads came to play a greater macroeconomic stabilization and directional role. Bonyads were institutions that traced their lineage to Waqfs, which are religious endowments that manage significant assets, and whose management of charities had formed the foundation of the modern Bazaar-Ulama alliance. They had existed under the monarchy (e.g. Bonyad-e Pahlavi), and were expanded under the Islamic Republic (such as Bonyad-e Mostazafeen and Astan-e Qods-e Razavi), where they were tasked with delivering social services and mobilizing society. After 1979, Bonyads were designed to be ‘absolutely loyal to the supreme leader and to local religious leaders who act as [his] representatives’ (Saeidi 2004, 484). Despite the stabilization provided by the Bonyads, Iran experienced extreme war fatigue and declining oil rents. Inside government this led some to recognizing the growing societal malaise, to push for increased political inclusionary policies and reform the economy. These reforms began during Khomeini’s final months in power, and continued in the late 1980s in the so-called Thermidorian era, bringing to government elite that was younger and ‘less dogmatic and more pragmatic than the old revolutionary guard’ (Mozaffari 1999, 15). Government: shifted its priorities from the exportation of revolutionary Islam to internal political consolidation and economic reconstruction.

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After eight years of war and suffering, it was in desperate need of economic improvement, without which its political stability would have been jeopardized. (Hunter 2003, 134). A population boom with a youth majority galvanized governance change; these young people were educated and urbanized, with the technical skills necessary for reconstruction (Mozaffari 1999, 15). In the midst of a trade embargo, economic liberal-oriented ideas dominated the route to recovery. In the face of a war-weakened industrial sector, imports flowed with trade de-regulation. The government’s main support base was the mercantile elites, and to a lesser extent Bazaaris, ‘whereby the mercantile elites effectively funded the state’ (Ansari 2007, 13). A mercantile bourgeoisie grew significantly in the 1990s, benefiting from the privatization of previously Bonyad-run activities; in addition, many subsidies were lifted (Ansari 2006). However, government was critiqued for drowning the country in a downward cycle of foreign debt and rampant corruption (Takeyh 2009, 128). In this context of growing internal discontent, the Pasdaran became involved in almost every aspect of governance policy making, particularly with respect to the economy and domestic security. The Pasdaran and its civil construction and engineering arm, the Khatam al-Anbia Headquarters, filled the need for domestic contracting by constructing buildings, roads, ports and other critical infrastructure. Dissolving the IRP in 1987 signalled the seriousness of these changes. However, its dissolution left a political vacuum that was not filled by political parties in the traditional sense (i.e. organized groups whose goal is to influence decision making), but rather by factional societal actors that supported, and received support from, clerics (Wells 1999). Into the mid-1990s, limited political openings developed with presidential and parliamentary elections. However, the dissolution of established parties transformed the political game into one where decision makers holding different ideas and representing different interpretations of the narrative struggled for power and directly appealed to societal support. Competition developed among these factions, which meant competition over the policy agenda (Ansari 2007, 14). By the late 1990s, a youth bulge, women’s movements, as well as students and labour that had operationally supported the war against

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Iraq, now rose to contest politics. Intersecting interest networks connected societal actors and decision makers (Ansari 2006, 58– 63; Halliday 2001, 43; al-Husseini 2001, Chapter 15). President Khatami’s election represented a victory for a coalition of the ‘modern right’, economic liberals, and the ‘modern left’, joining together to ‘defeat the “traditional right” and “traditional left” in the 1997 presidential, municipal and parliamentary elections’, with sympathizers among the Bazaaris (Behdad 2001). Khatami’s interpretation of the domestic narrative privileged political dialogue and increased inclusionary policies in order to combat structural injustices inside Iran. By the late 1990s, the Pasdaran was recovering from the criticism that its export of the revolution and the Iraq war had devastated Iran (Zabih 1988). Pasdaran decision makers did not share President Khatami’s narrative interpretations, especially when his reforms threatened the Bonyads, which funded their operations (Hashim 2001, 46). While the Axis of Evil rhetoric was undermining Khatami’s dialogue-based approach, especially by exposing his politics as unable to protect Iran given the continued American intransigence, a new generation of revolutionaries was rising in the Pasdaran and came to define governance, most visibly during President Ahmadinejad. Government under Ahmadinejad was guided by the belief that the guardians of Iran’s independence and empowerment (in this case the Pasdaran not the clergy) derive legitimacy from God, not the people. This idea came from Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi and influenced a group of Pasdaran cadres and political elites who came to control government via local and national elections. Followers of Mesbah-Yazdi believed in divine, not temporal, accountability, and thus often acted in governance (and diplomacy) to undermine the widely held societal idea that only the clergy holds the special status that connects the divine realm (i.e. the Mahdi) to everyday politics. Hence, for example, President Ahmadinejad’s frequent statements that the Mahdi (around whose figure and mythology the Iranian political system rests) appeared to him and instructed his political actions (Safshekan and Sabet 2010). Governance policies in this period combined exclusionary policies, such as the house arrests of opposition figures, with inclusionary policies, such as the opening of space for opposition groups to organize. Domestic opposition to Ahmadinejad grew to a confrontational level in the 2009

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Presidential elections, at a time when the government was pressured externally, especially by the embargo. The government did, however attract support from actors who benefited from some economic reforms, including a rising middle class, and others who saw Iran as subject to unjust external threats and thus opted to rally around state symbols. What defined the first decade of the new millennium was a strong sense of commitment to Iran, rather than its government per se. This gave Iran’s government reprieve from societal pressures, and helped rally society against external threats and pressures, as well as around symbols and politics that carry the potential of empowering the state; the nuclear energy program was one such rallying point, which did not prevent domestic dissent around its feasibility or appropriateness. Despite some threat to the government’s domestic narrative, growing regional sectarian polarization and lingering American hostility towards Iran increased its ability to rally society around state institutions and narratives of strength and resistance.

The Domestic –External Nexus 1980– 2010 In this second era, the main objectives of Iran’s diplomacy were threefold: (1) to expand its ties regionally and globally; (2) to support Islamist movements; and (3) to combat estekbar or ‘world arrogance’ – referencing the US (Sariolghalam 2002). Following Iraq’s initial invasion of Iran, Khomeini addressed Iranians and said: ‘You are fighting to protect Islam and [Iraq] is fighting to destroy Islam [. . .] There is absolutely no question of peace or compromise and we shall never have any discussions with them; because they are corrupt and perpetrators of corruption’ (Bakhash 2004, 23). External threats allowed for the consolidation over state institutions and government of a group of clerics who were instrumental in overthrowing the Shah. Clerics consolidated their control over government by framing their actions as what Khomeini described as ‘a ‘divine and religious duty’ (Khomeini 1982, 23; Seifzadeh 1997; see Carter 1982, 505) to resist America, the Shah and the SAVAK. Decision makers’ agency was important in materializing ideas: the Bonyads aided in social mobility among revolutionary forces and allowed the Jurisconsult to support diplomacy goals, such as aiding Lebanon’s Hezbollah (Saeidi 2004, 483–6). The decline in the status of confrontational ideas in the external narrative in the 1990s helps understand Iran’s overall bridge-building

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diplomacy (Hashim 2001, 39). However, the Islamic Republic maintained ties to causes that were in line with its narrative of dispossession and empowerment, especially Palestinian ‘anti-establishment’ factions such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria (Mozaffari 1999, 20). Consequently, Iran remained suspect under rules of the regional and global orders largely set by the US (Ramazani 1998, 183– 4). America’s invasion of Iraq and its Axis of Evil rhetoric, combined with an increased embargo and a wide-ranging sanctions system had three effects on President Khatami’s faltering ‘reformist’ coalition in the 2000s. First, they diffused pressures for domestic reform. Secondly, they undermined the validity of the ‘dialogue with the West’ idea. Third, they legitimated and empowered narrative interpretations of the imminence and necessity of a global conflict given unbridgeable cultural practices. We should not, of course, undermine the fact that this coalition that brought Khatami to power had its own internal incongruence which made cohesion among its members a challenge; the president was not able to satisfy all of their demands. President Ahmadinejad’s tenure brought an interpretation of the Iranian narrative that elevated a confrontational tone domestically and in diplomacy; his avid commitment to a nuclear programme was one such manifestation. Iran’s government provoked the ire of actors (on the inside and out) who did not agree with its politics, but still managed to muster support domestically and with support from states like Russia to keep the program going. It seemed that underneath a fiery rhetoric, Iran’s diplomacy was strategic and non-arbitrary in its search for national independence.

Conclusion Monarchic Iran occupied a central position in the politics of the Middle East when it was a pillar of NATO and American Gulf strategies. The Islamic Republic still occupied a central position in the politics of the Middle East, but its external and domestic narratives altered its constellation of allies and policy options. President Khatami’s reign was important because of his idiosyncratic personality and the constellation of ideas he represented. His tenure might not have left substantive changes in the power structure, but it furthered an opposition momentum which unfolded in the 2004

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and 2009 elections. The Ahmadinejad Presidency elevated a narrative interpretation that favoured confrontation and aggressive politics to safeguard national interests. It is too soon to judge the outcome of current politics, but actions taken and messages sent around 2014 – 15 seem to be more conciliatory in nature – similar in some instances to the 1997 – 2004 era, though they are also non-compromising in some respects, especially in achieving national independence.

CHAPTER 8 CONCLUDING REMARKS

The Arab Spring, Theoretical Observations on Statecraft and Future Research This book has traced the influence of narratives on politics through an empirical investigation of six Middle East states from the mid-twentieth century to 2010. In so doing, it has sought to provide a new analytical framework for the study of statecraft, which integrates the crucial role that ideas play in politics. Statecraft in this book has been understood as the set of processes through which governments engage in building and changing a state’s material and ideational structures, with varied degrees of success. In this manner, statecraft requires both a capacity to deal with competing (and at times incompatible) ideas and interests, and the technical knowledge to measure available resources and forecast material transformations. It is therefore through statecraft that governments at once integrate their understandings of society’s ambitions and concerns into policy action, and act to change ideas in order for the state to better adjust to emerging exigencies. Fundamental to statecraft are narratives. As ideational structures, narratives stabilize a complex reality, thereby allowing governments to act. It is from a dominant societal narrative that decision makers draw the ideas for the external narrative that guides the state in the world and the domestic narrative that directs and organizes state-building goals and policies. Governments act with reference to these narratives. Crucially, dominant societal narratives have what I term an ‘ideational core’, which is constituted by a clusters of core ideas that are strongly resistant to change; the strong

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influence of these core ideas on both external and domestic narratives helps explain policy continuities in moments of extreme transformation. Since 2010, Middle East politics has experienced a marked increase in activism, contestation and unrest – a set of processes now termed the Arab Spring. These revolts have had an impact on the three components of statehood, namely, governments, institutions and material structures and dominant societal narratives. They also pushed governments to take greater interest in other regional states, because they could not but be implicated in neighbours’ domestic situation via security spill overs, and because the revolts drew in myriad actors, including major powers such as the US and Russia, as well as non-state actors such as Al-Qaeda, and later the Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS, or IS). The Arab Spring then has undoubtedly had important consequences for the region. However, in the six Middle East states under study, post-2010 politics cannot be described as ‘revolutionary’, in the sense of leading to qualitative and permanent changes to the state. In fact, many stable patterns are observable, and even ostensibly ‘new’ governments have continued to conduct ‘business as usual’. It is therefore premature to pass a scholarly judgment on the extent and durability of these transformatory processes both in the case of states most directly affected, such as Egypt and Syria, and in the case of states subject to their spill over effects, such as Turkey and Israel. Given the importance of the Arab Spring and the ongoing discussions, both within and outside of academia about its effects and potential longterm outcomes, I provide a brief discussion of the interdependent relationship between government, political structures, and narratives in the six cases under study since 2011. In so doing, I highlight important continuities in statecraft with the pre-2011 period and, especially, the importance of considering narratives in understanding the unfolding of current events. I then conclude with comparative observations on the salience of the book’s theoretical framework; these include a discussion of three main issues that I think are pertinent to statecraft and the study of the Middle East, as well as proposals for future research.

The Arab Spring Egypt In Egypt, the outbreak of Arab Spring revolts and the initial momentum in Tahrir Square were certainly the product of a decades-long,

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debilitating economic status quo coupled with an exclusionary political system. However, they were also the product of the Mubarak government’s failure to generate compelling and stable domestic and external narratives following the peace treaty with Israel and Sadat’s subsequent assassination. Recall that a government’s legitimacy is tied to its ability to effectively provide a range of services and institutions, and to anchor these in compelling domestic and external narratives. Up until 1979, Egypt’s dominant societal narrative had included ideas (albeit not in its ideational core) about solidarity with Palestine; consequently, Egypt’s external narrative had also framed the state as a leading defender of Palestinian rights. With the peace treaty, Sadat drew on a core idea from the dominant societal narrative, namely, a sense of Egypt’s long continuity in time and its duty to itself, in order to change the state’s external narrative and to argue that peace was critical to reestablishing Egypt’s domestic prosperity. Governments since 1981, however, did not consolidate Sadat’s initial changes into stable domestic and external narratives; rather, they were content with simply administering the state. To this end, the central idea, and crucially not narrative, that they promoted was the need for security bereft of any ideational framework. In Cairo and other large cities, then, these ‘popular revolts’ were a genuinely spontaneous expression of widely shared public discontent over the government’s failure to provide services, as well as a rejection of the reduction of governance to security. These popular movements imposed changes on governments, most vividly demonstrated by the fact that they pushed President Hosni Mubarak to resign. However, in Egypt as in Syria and Tunisia, sometime after the initial thrust of the revolt, established political agents and partisan interests moved in to capitalize on the momentum. In Egypt, these parties included the military and the Muslim Brotherhood (or al-Ikhwan). The Muslim Brotherhood has always represented continuous opposition not only to Egyptian governments, but also to Egypt’s dominant societal narrative. It has consistently sought to delegitimize governments by highlighting their governance and diplomacy weaknesses, building up alternative domestic social infrastructure and, crucially, presenting a counter-narrative for the state. Using this threepronged approach, the Muslim Brotherhood has succeeded in mobilizing a large number of Egyptians for decades. In 2011, then, the Muslim Brotherhood was well-placed to take advantage of the space created by

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anti-government protests that called into question its performance, as well as its limited ideational focus on security. Brought to power in the country’s first legitimate contested elections, the Muslim Brotherhood, under the leadership of President Mohammad Morsi, began using state institutions and its control of government to chip away at the dominant societal narrative. In particular, it sought to introduce an activist panIslamic narrative that reframed Egypt as one state among many in the Islamic Umma (nation), whose well-being Egypt was called upon to support and defend. In so doing, the Brotherhood was calling into question a core idea in Egypt’s narrative, namely, that the sense of being the people of the Nile should trump other allegiances, including panIslamist ones. This attempt to change a core idea is crucial in explaining the Brotherhood’s subsequent demise from the political scene. This new narrative focused on the Umma over the state informed the Muslim Brotherhood’s emerging domestic and external narratives, at once focusing on ‘correcting’ un-Islamic policies and behaviours at home and forging deeper and more solidary ties with fellow Muslims globally. These narratives, in turn, led to policy actions that diverged considerably from previous governments: the domestic narrative sought to influence the drafting of the new constitution to enshrine Sharia law, while the external narrative strongly supported Hamas and began a formal rapprochement with Iran. This attempt to create a narrative shift, or an actual break with the previous dominant societal narrative, led to instability both within Egypt, and between it and many regional and global states, particularly traditional allies such as the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and even Jordan. In 2012, a series of large-scale anti-Muslim Brotherhood protests began and drew wide support. This provided the military with the opportunity it needed to challenge the Brotherhood and re-establish full control over the state, which it accomplished in a bloody military coup in July 2013. The military capitalized on instability on both the domestic and external fronts in order to portray many of the Brotherhood’s policy actions as directly undermining not only Egyptian security, but its millennial historic continuity. The army continued to promote itself as the country’s protector, the proof of which was its restraint during the anti-Mubarak revolt and its support of anti-Morsi protests in 2012– 13 (notwithstanding the subsequent controversy).

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In so doing, it drew on the core idea of Egypt’s millennial continuity around the Nile; this meant that Egypt came first among states, rather than simply being one among them. Unlike under the Mubarak Presidency, post-2013 governments actively sought to provide coherent domestic and external narratives for the state in which to embed this core idea of Egyptian uniqueness and long history. To this end, there was an explicit appeal to Egypt’s Pharaonic heritage and its role as ‘the mother of the world’, and a concomitant framing of ‘proper’ Islam (and religion more generally) as in service to the interests of the state. Following the 2014 election of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces who ousted Morsi in the coup, these narratives stabilized. Though many policies in governance and diplomacy reverted to Mubarak-era ones, such as strong relations with Gulf states and virulent opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, there was an evident concerted attempt to anchor such policies in a narrative. In this light, we can understand Sisi’s project to expand the Suez Canal using only Egyptian investments (announced in 2014) as a grand state-building project that appeals both to the importance of the Nile and to Nasser’s towering legacy. In sum, Sisi actively sought to promote narratives that would legitimate his government and policy choices, understanding, perhaps, that the appeal of the Muslim Brotherhood required an ideational and not simply a material dimension.

Israel The Arab Spring incentivized Israel to move to the background and observe surrounding developments. In line with the Iron Wall logic, emerging regional realities initially served only to alert Israel’s diplomacy, especially when rapid changes were entangled with violence and carried the potential for spill over. This observational stance can be attributed to the fact that the Arab Spring has largely not been about Israel, or the Palestinian cause for that matter; on the contrary, from Israel’s perspective the Arab revolts and the instabilities they caused aided its goal of weakening the Arab states by turning them against themselves. However, a main source of concern came from Iran, and its unfolding was interesting. As Iran’s diplomacy tone began to shift from confrontational to reconciliatory (translating into a decreased sense of threat from Iran regionally), the Israeli government became more active in choosing policies and postures that were consistent with

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Israel’s dominant societal narrative, in order to reanimate, sustain, and keep in the public discourse an existential fear of the regional environment. Prime Minister Netanyahu thus began explicitly framing the revolts and their associated turbulence, not as a moment of change, but rather as a confirmation of the constant inherent threats facing Israel, and the hostility and unreliability of surrounding states. This culminated in his November 2012 appeal to the UN General Assembly in which he used a bomb drawing as a visual aid to impress upon the world Iran’s imminent threat. Despite Netanyahu’s alarmist warnings, there was growing engagement of world powers, and particularly the United States, with Iran. This occurred at a time when the consequences of the Arab Spring in places like Syria and even to a certain extent in Egypt were increasingly divisive and reactionary. Taken together, Israel’s international isolation over the Iran issue and growing regional instability further confirmed the core narrative idea of a dangerous external environment in which even allies can be untrustworthy, and in which Israel must fend for herself. The Arab Spring, then, while initially eliciting little reaction, eventually served to strengthen Israeli narratives, and thus contributed to continuity across Israeli policies.

Syria Unlike Egypt, which has a sense of geographic and historic continuity as a singular people that overlaps with its modern state configuration, Syria has been historically defined by immense ethnic, religious and regional diversity. As such, the adoption of pan-Arabism, allowed the state to capture the loyalty of varied and at times opposing groups by framing such loyalty within a broader, more inclusive and trans-national narrative rather than an exclusively state-centric one. At the same time, however, pan-Arabism had few concrete and clear directions for governance and diplomacy. With the outbreak of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, Syria also soon saw protests that began in the southern city of Daraa. In response to these public demonstrations, there was tension between a political approach and a militarized one. Initially, the political approach took precedence and an agreement was reached between local decision makers and government security representatives (Barout 2012, 187). However, armed groups, allegedly loyal to the government, embarked on a series of mass public killings, which ended any opportunity for a political resolution.

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What the protracted civil conflict and political infighting in Syria highlight, in effect, is the difficulty this dominant societal narrative built around pan-Arabism faced in responding to regional and domestic change. Specifically, the transnational element in Syria’s narrative focused both the domestic and external narratives outward and, in particular, on the conflict with Israel. The government’s appeal to such a narrative was successful in the pre-2011 regional context where contestation for Palestine was often the only permissible outlet for dissension in many states. Once large-scale domestic contestation began, however, and once it emerged in Syria, it posed a direct challenge to Syria’s outwardly focused narrative. This is because the contestation was decidedly local: protesters were protesting for themselves, not for others. In the face of such an overt challenge to its narrative, the government sought to undercut the protests’ momentum by paradoxically appealing to this very same narrative. It argued that what was happening in Syria was not a legitimate uprising as in Egypt and Tunisia, but rather an orchestrated plot to undermine Syria because it was the ‘beating heart of Arabism’, the last standing bastion of Arab Nationalism and the leader of resistance against Israel. This explains why the government blamed the revolts on mukharribeen (vandals), pointing out the disorganized nature of the mobs and discrediting their political claims by labelling them mere criminals. In so doing, it hoped to rally Syrians behind the old pan-Arab narrative by framing protestors as traitors. Moreover, it explains why the government opted for its ‘standard operating procedure’ of violence against the protests once it became evident that its attempts at reasserting the narrative were failing. While some decision makers favoured a non-violent approach, the particular challenge posed by the protests in Syria made violence almost inevitable: their internal focus was by definition a threat to and betrayal of a core idea in Syria’s narrative, and would have required an actual narrative shift in response. Unable to provide a new narrative, the government simply opted to impose its will by force, and continued to frame its actions within a pan-Arab narrative of antiimperialism and anti-Zionism; it also relied on traditional regional and international alliances, principally with Iran, Hezbollah and with Russia. By seeking to preserve the old dominant societal narrative, then, the government exposed the limits of a narrative that provides little ideational framework for domestic relations.

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As time progressed, military force therefore completely took over any prospects of a political settlement, and it became common for the government to lob accusations at ‘terrorists’ and takfiris (Muslims who accuse other Muslims of apostasy thereby justifying their killing). As sectarian polarization rose across the Middle East, particularly on Syria’s borders in Lebanon and Iraq, many reminisced about the stability that Syria had enjoyed prior to 2011. Re-securing Syria has been a rallying call for all Syrians; however, this idea has not been anchored in an ideational framework that would form a unified point of departure from the conflict.

Turkey Consistent with the dominant societal narrative, Turkish governments reacted to the changing post-2011 environment by maintaining the option of military force in diplomacy as they pursued core interests – supreme among them territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Arab Spring mainly affected Turkey due to its political effects in Syria. The Syrian conflict reconfigured the role and place of Kurds and Kurdish politico-military groups in the region. In particular, the Syrian government sought to curry favour with the Kurds by granting many of them citizenship and repealing a slew of discriminatory laws. Moreover, as Syria fragmented, Kurds began controlling significant areas of Northern Syria, which led to strong ties being forged with the autonomous Kurdish area of Iraq. With the rise of Islamist groups, Kurdish groups were increasingly framed as the frontline against this ‘Islamic extremism’ in the region. Finally, the Syrian conflict also produced vast numbers of refugees, many of them Kurdish, who sought refuge in Turkey. Taken together, these events had the strong probability of galvanizing Turkey’s own Kurdish population and its desires for more autonomy, thus threatening the sovereignty of the state. Consequently, the main Turkish policy after the outbreak of the Syrian revolt was to securitize and consequently militarize its southeastern borders in a bid to impose stability and curb the effects of growing Kurdish autonomy in Syria and in Iraq. In addition to securing its border, it also engaged in periodic military campaigns in Kurdish areas along the Syrian and Iraqi borders. This military action has been accompanied by a debate inside Turkey about what constitutes appropriate ‘strategic depth’ and, importantly, about what the Islamic

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narratives currently guiding diplomacy mean for the Republic’s political system. In this regard, it is important to remember that the greater place for Islam in Turkey’s dominant societal narrative did not start with the Arab Spring. However, it was with the regional rise in Islam’s prominence during and after the Arab Spring, that Turkey found the opportunity to make its new Islamic commitments explicit via public discourses and diplomacy actions, an example of which is Turkey’s strong support for Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Arab Spring therefore required that the government balance two competing aspects of the dominant societal narrative. On the one hand, Turkey needed to use military force in order to ensure favourable outcomes in Kurdish-held areas of Syria and Iraq, and thus secure its sovereignty; on the other hand, there was the need to protect its longterm vision of building positive regional ties based on shared religious principles. In so doing, the Turkish government has sought to consolidate the narrative alteration to a more Islamist orientation, while also reaffirming the longer-standing core idea that Turkish sovereignty as a Turkish state cannot be challenged.

Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia’s dominant societal narrative crystallized around three main ideas, namely: the absolute authority of Wahhabi Islam; the obligation to spread this version of Islam; and the absolute authority of the ruler (unless there are proven extreme cases of grave violations of Islamic principles). The two requirements of strict religious adherence and absolute loyalty to the state have often led observers to describe Saudi Arabia as a quintessential ‘authoritarian’ state. This has then allowed for arguments that the government does not actually retain genuine support among its citizens, but that it extracts such support by force. This instrumentalist view of Saudi Arabian politics, however, misses more than it reveals. The particular status that the Al-Saud family enjoys is rooted in tribal systems of governance, which require that the government procure rather than enforce loyalty. In other words, even in cases of royal decrees, Saudi Arabian decision makers regularly consult with tribes in order to negotiate their support, and bargain over material rewards or the inclusion of particular values within the domestic narrative and related governance policies.

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Saudi Arabia thus offers an interesting, though understudied, case for understanding what constitutes inclusionary governance and how such governance materializes. It is precisely because Saudi Arabia has alternative consultation and inclusion mechanisms that it has retained the support of a large swath of its citizens, who continue to value the political arrangement that the state offers. The presence of such consensus building mechanisms for the continued legitimacy of the dominant societal narrative has been especially critical since the Arab Spring. Prior to 2011, Saudi Arabia’s religiously driven and proselytizing external narrative had few competitors in the region; most religious-based groups in other states were either suppressed or highly regulated. Saudi Arabia was therefore able to use its financial resources to great effect in spreading its understanding of Islam, which consolidated its place within Muslim societies. All this radically changed post-2011, when the uprisings provided openings for various Islamic (and especially Sunni) state and non-state actors to emerge or to gain prominence. Such actors, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the AKP in Turkey and the various Islamist rebel movements in Syria, with their own religiously infused narratives were potential alternatives to that of Saudi Arabia. This previously absent challenge to Saudi Arabia’s dominance in its external environment posed substantial risk to its domestic stability and the continued legitimacy of its dominant societal narrative. A central goal of Saudi Arabia’s governance policies has always been to prevent Wahhabi-compliant ideas that were critical of the government and its policies from taking hold domestically. Such ideas had the potential of coming together and providing a powerful counternarrative, particularly with respect to the Al-Saud’s family role. Prominent among these critical voices were many Al-Sahwa figures, who in early 2011 signed a petition calling for reform. Though they are Wahhabis, Al-Sahwa figures had integrated interpretations of Islam taken from the Muslim Brotherhood, the most important of which was the rejection of absolute loyalty to a worldly leader in favour of loyalty to the Islamic Umma. Al-Sahwa thus agreed that Islam had a special place in Saudi Arabia’s dominant societal narrative, while explicitly challenging the role of Al-Saud within it. The presence of such a powerful and regime-focused counter-narrative explains Saudi Arabia’s extreme hostility to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, who also believed

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that ultimate loyalty should be to fellow Muslims and not the state or its leaders. As such, in Egypt it sided completely with the military, at first withdrawing much needed aid when Morsi came to power and subsequently refinancing the state once it was under military control. In addition to withdrawing its direct support for Egypt under Morsi, Saudi Arabia also laboured to obtain GCC support in order to limit the avenues through which the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere might build ties with Saudi Arabian sympathizers. With the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Saudi Arabia faced an even more explicit challenge to its claim of being the home of orthodox Islam. Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood or even other Sunni groups in Syria, ISIS posed a direct existential threat to Saudi Arabia. It did so firstly because it shares a similarly strict and exclusivist interpretation of Islam that draws on many of the same teachings, particularly those of ‘Abd al-Wahhab, and also because it is actively proselytizing. Secondly, ISIS – unlike Al-Qaeda before it – has successfully anchored its narrative in a territory, thus allowing it to begin institutionalizing this narrative as a component of an emergent state. In so doing, it has called on all Muslims to swear allegiance to its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in a move reminiscent of Saudi Arabia’s notion of reverence for the leader (Ita’at Wali Al-Amr), and to move to its ‘caliphate’. In so doing, it questions the authority of Al-Saud and Saudi Arabia as the home of Wahhabi Islam. As with Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt but with graver implications, then, ISIS’ threat is in providing an alternative for dissenting Wahhabis (and Salafis) within the Saudi Arabian state. Saudi Arabia’s engagement in the US-led anti-ISIS coalition must therefore be understood in light of the threats that ISIS poses to its dominant societal narrative. Another element of Saudi Arabia’s dominant societal narrative is an implicit sectarianism with respect to Shia Islam, whereby Sunni (and particularly Wahhabi) Islam is understood to be the orthodoxy. Though this has not always been made explicit, the overtures to Iran by world powers and by Egypt during the Arab Spring were seen by Saudi Arabia as moves to legitimate and further allow the expansion of Iran’s active involvement in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region. This overlapped with the 2011 protests in Bahrain, in which the majority Shia community was seen by Saudi Arabia as rebelling against the Sunni ruling family at the behest of Iran (though, in fact, the protests drew

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Bahrainis of both sects). Saudi Arabia experienced its own protests throughout 2011– 12 mainly in its oil-rich Eastern Province which focused on anti-Shia discrimination in the Kingdom. Together with the calls for change from dissenting Wahhabis, these pressures pushed the Saudi Arabian government to make the sectarianism of the dominant societal narrative increasingly explicit. This appeal to sectarianism ensured that dissenting Wahhabis and Salafis and the long-restive Shia of the Eastern Province did not ally to challenge the Al-Saud regime. Its regional consequences were more ambiguous, isolating Saudi Arabia from many Arab allies as well as the United States, while inadvertently pushing its position closer to that of Israel. This accelerated the government’s rethinking of its military reliance on the US, and led to attempts at diversifying weapons sources (with overtures to China) (Al Faisal 2013). As the Arab Spring progressed, so did the level of Saudi Arabian alarm, leading to a series of policy choices with varying outcomes. It spearheaded the deployment of Gulf Shield forces in limited and tactical reactive interventions to quell protests in Bahrain as part of a GCC-sanctioned operation; this was largely successful. Saudi Arabian interventions in Yemen have been much less clear, however, and Yemen might yet prove to be the real test of Saudi Arabia’s strategizing capacity. It does not seem likely that a long-term strategy to bring Yemen into the Gulf fold will develop, nor that Yemen would accept being under Saudi Arabian patronage. In Yemen as in Bahrain, Saudi Arabian diplomacy did not reflect a long-term strategy for conflict resolution; rather, policies were geared to producing an immediately stable status quo. This reactive and short-term diplomacy is likely related to the fact that prior to 2011, Saudi Arabia’s dominant societal narrative, as well as its related domestic and external narratives, had encountered relatively little sustained opposition. This means that it did not have to contend with many competitors within its external environment, particularly among Sunni communities, and therefore had not needed to develop much in the way of genuine diplomatic strategy. With the Arab Spring, not only did it suddenly face an increasingly rehabilitated Iran, but also myriad Sunni Islamist groups and an intrepid United States that sought a more hands-off approach to the region. In facing this changing environment, Saudi Arabia has maintained strong continuity with its pre-2011 narratives and policies.

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Iran Core ideas in Iran’s dominant societal narrative are crucial to understanding its actions during the Arab Spring, particularly its sense of mission in the world, its resistance imperative, and its sense of being under siege and existentially threatened by surrounding states and major powers. Prior to 2011, Iran’s resistance narrative and related external policies, especially with respect to the Palestinians, garnered wide support from both Shiites and Sunnis, and gave it a captive audience among many non-Shiite marginalized groups in the region who identified with its call for justice against imperial designs. The victories and achievements of many Iranian allies further raised the profile of the resistance ideas in Iran’s narrative. Crucial in this regard were Hamas’ resistance to Israeli occupation at a time when many felt that the Palestinian Authority (and Fatah) had completely capitulated to Israel and the US, and Hezbollah’s ability to successfully engage Israel militarily especially in the 2006 Lebanon War. In this context, the UN sanctions that were imposed on Iran for its nuclear energy development beginning in 2006, reaffirmed both its narrative sense of encirclement and served to present Iran as the courageously resistant underdog in a grossly uneven fight. Iran used this to advance its position in the region, particularly in Iraq, which then in turn provided it with a stronger negotiating position vis-a`-vis major powers on the nuclear issue. Throughout the Arab Spring, Iran continued supporting ‘resistance’ movements and states, and simultaneously advanced a position of rapprochement with the West. However, the fact that the Arab Spring was not focused on Palestine or fighting imperialism, but rather on contesting local conditions, meant that Iran’s support for resistance movements and states as traditionally understood was perceived as buttressing the aggressor rather than supporting the oppressed. In particular, Iran’s enthusiasm for the Arab Spring in places like Tunisia and Egypt was in stark contrast to its unwavering backing for Bashar Al-Asad, as well as its support for the role of Hezbollah and militias in Syria. This refusal to see the similarity between protests against Al-Asad and those against Ben Ali and Mubarak lost it much support in Arab societies, where this refusal was interpreted as a betrayal, not only of justified resistance in Syria, but also of Iran’s former claim to champion all of the oppressed. Crucially, this partisan support

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contributed to the sense that Iran’s actions were guided primarily by sectarian rather than universal concerns – a sense that was amplified by its support for Nouri al-Maliki’s stubbornly sectarian policies in Iraq, which alienated the vast majority of Iraqi Sunnis, and laid the groundwork for the rise of ISIS in north-western Iraq. Rather than cause a narrative crisis in Iran, however, this increasing suspicion and hostility toward it – propagated by global media and via the official statements of many regional states and major powers – actually served to reconfirm its sense of isolation in an threatening external environment, thus sustaining the legitimacy of its dominant societal narrative. The rise of ISIS in 2013, moreover, combined with the fact that the conflict in Syria had by that time become a war of attrition, relieved some of the hostility toward Iran, both regionally and globally. Despite the support it lost during the Arab Spring, Iran’s ability to successfully forge a resilient economy and advanced military capabilities, while projecting itself regionally and successfully negotiating with major world powers on its nuclear issue served to confirm its narrative and policy choices. *** Despite the real changes that the Arab Spring continues to provoke, much of the enduring stability encountered in the Middle East since 2011 can be accounted for by the role of narratives, as ideational structures, in guiding actions in governance and diplomacy.

Theoretical Observations and Ideas for Future Research There are three key theoretical insights that emerge from this discussion that should be further explored: (1) the necessity of narratives; (2) the significance of narrative content; and (3) the inter-dependence of narratives and agency.

Narratives are Necessary to Statecraft I have argued that dominant societal narratives are one of three necessary components of any state, together with government and the political system. Such narratives act as ideational frameworks linking a state to a specific understanding of its past, orienting it in the present and directing its ambitions for the future. Importantly, dominant societal

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narratives retain a degree of flexibility, which allows them to incorporate new ideas and undergo narrative alterations, while retaining their overall cohesion. This overall cohesion is provided by an ideational core that brings together a cluster of core ideas that largely go unchanged and very often unchallenged. Dominant societal narratives are crucial in politics for three main reasons. First, decision makers have themselves been socialized in and accepted many, if not most, of the ideas in such narratives. Secondly, narratives generate parameters to action, not only by making some actions more acceptable, but also importantly by foreclosing a range of policy options from consideration. Finally, they inform the domestic and external narratives that governments need to govern domestically and act externally. Crucially, narratives are relevant irrespective of the ‘regime type’ in power; even in ‘authoritarian’ states, decision makers are often invested in or at the very least must attend to the influence of a dominant societal narrative. Saying that decision makers are themselves invested in dominant societal narratives draws attention to the underappreciated fact that such individuals are not all-knowing rational instrumentalists; rather, they are members of their societies who, like everyone, have been socialized into particular ideational structures and hold particular ideational commitments. In so doing, we understand the ways in which narratives can guide action without directly causing it, i.e. without being instrumentally manipulated toward achieving a set goal. In the case of Israel, for instance, decision makers’ commitment to maintaining the Jewishness of the state cannot be understood as a pure manipulation of popular sentiment; rather, they themselves agree with and are attached to this core idea in the Israeli dominant societal narrative. Furthermore, ideas can only ever be instrumentalized if they are already important, if they already matter for and to people. So, for instance, Al-Asad’s ability to instrumentalize pan-Arabism was rooted in the importance of panArabism to Syrians, and the connections and solidarities it implied. A potential explanation for why states need a dominant societal narrative is related to the fact that the Westphalian state requires deeper commitments between individuals and between individuals and the state, than did previous systems. In the Ottoman Empire, for instance, though loyalty to the Sublime Porte was expected, along with compliance in taxation and conscription, individuals and groups were not forced to relate to one another, did not depend on faraway groups for

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their wellbeing and were not directly involved in the political process. The assumption of the Westphalian state, however, is that citizens are tied to each other in important ways and involved in politics; even in states that had only the trappings of statehood, then, a narrative was needed to provide ideational direction for the group. Though narrative cohesion is crucial to stability, especially in times of crisis, such cohesion does not necessarily guarantee positive statecraft outcomes – it only makes the stability of the status quo more likely. This means that even with the existence of cohesive dominant societal, domestic and external narratives, their contents is what will determine the extent to which they are beneficial rather than detrimental to the state and society’s well-being. For instance, in the case of Syria, neither the dominant societal nor the domestic narratives were particularly cohesive. The dominant societal narrative was built around the nebulous idea of pan-Arabism, and the domestic narrative drew on this as a means to provide a framework that could accommodate the country’s diversity, without really creating a locally anchored domestic narrative that linked the country’s past, present and future in a compelling manner. While the appeal to pan-Arabism generally and domestically was able to sustain the state for decades, it proved unable to deal with the rapid and momentous challenges of the 2011 protests and subsequent conflict. Crucial in this regard is the distinction between narratives as ideational structures and their content discussed above. While Syria did have the necessary ideational structures, their content was minimal and poorly woven together; they relied mainly on external referents that bore little relation to Syrians’ everyday lives and their demands and grievances in 2011. Short of making a narrative shift, the government had little choice but to impose its narrative by force.

Narrative Content Matters Though the necessity and structure of narratives are universal, their contents can and do vary. If the nature of narrative privileges resistance and promotes suspicion of others, it will then create a logic whereby action becomes necessary. Similarly, if a narrative argues that a group has nowhere to go or that coexistence with others is not possible, then it forecloses two of the most common options for dealing with the world: migration and negotiation. Alternately, narratives that are built on the idea of historic continuity might have fatalistic undertones in

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the sense of impressing very little ‘sense of urgency’ upon decision makers to alter an existing equilibrium, even when this equilibrium can be improved upon. Two particularly interesting questions emerge here. Does having a ‘negative’ history carry particular importance to diplomacy and statebuilding? How is this different than any other ‘history’? These questions come to mind when considering the many shared ideas and plotlines in the Israeli and Iranian narratives. This similarity in ideas is relevant to the broader argument I am making on the need to historicize behaviour. One reason why negative narratives are different is that they frame the world in less nuanced ways. These narratives, by inherently taking a defensive posture, tend to frame the world as one of extremes; they have strong symbolic boundaries (of who is in and out), and generate a felt need in people to patrol these boundaries intensely. Narratives in Israel and Iran are to varying degrees founded on stories of martyrdom, injustice and the expectation of consistent interventions to wrestle political power away from the group and undermine it. Iranian and Israeli governments often speak of a sense of being ‘isolated’, ‘surrounded’, and ‘encircled’. These narratives provided a range of options from which governments then purposely chose policies that endorsed their preoccupation with security. However, these narratives also made these options more attractive to governments in the first place. A negative narrative requires the creation of strong state apparatuses and a cohesive society that can withstand external and domestic threats; it facilitates state-building by endowing governments with power to impose policies of national significance. In search of survival, successive governments framed the regional environment since 1950 in the shadow of negatives. What should be noted, however, is that Israel’s and Iran’s development of significant military capabilities relative to other states in the region was not caused by their narratives; it was a consequence of governments making sense of narratives in terms of what would and would not be acceptable. Nevertheless, what should be emphasized is that Israel and Iran’s need and willingness to pursue the development of said capabilities stemmed from the narrative. In the Iran and Israel cases there was a strong relationship between negative experiences, narrative-legitimate policies and policy pragmatism. Given these narratives of being under threat, policy pragmatism

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was prized because it ensured survival. Pragmatism in policy choices was not seen as a violation of a disciplined position, but as a necessary choice to achieve the ultimate and necessary goal of survival. In so doing, the narratives in Israel and Iran recast pragmatism – so often understood as an unprincipled position – as the ultimate ethical choice.

Narratives and Agency are Interdependent Narratives, as ideational structures, stabilize the world, interpret it, and make a complex and often opaque reality comprehensible, so that decision makers can act in it. A state’s narrative is distinct in content to those of other states or actors in world politics; however, a state’s narrative is similar in its structural attributes and functions across all states. To establish itself as a sovereign independent actor in the contemporary era, a state needs a distinct ideational structure. Narratives are not a choice, least of all for the imagined collectivities that make up states (Anderson 1991), and are an essential way in which all peoples grasp the world and make sense of it. Interestingly, the cases discussed here provide multiple examples of how the narratives of postindependence states were crafted and how they influenced policy choices. Given this co-constitution of narratives and agency, instrumentalization is a far more complex issue than is often assumed. While this book has argued that narratives have powerful explanatory power for understanding the contemporary Middle East, this argument should not be seen as deterministic; neither should the discussion on agency be understood as purely instrumental. Analysis should instead look at the mutual dependence between ideas and decision makers’ agency. In the decades under study, narratives were generally stable and tended to change relatively slowly. Where the state faced monumental shocks (e.g. the Islamic Revolution in Iran), there were still important ideational continuities demonstrating the resilience and adaptability of narratives in contexts of extreme uncertainty and change. In looking to government agency to make sense of narratives, it becomes clear that government agency only really makes sense in light of the narratives that are filtering the world, and thus helping governments make sense of it. Therefore, though narratives are structured by governments, they are also structuring of government agency. The study of agency is therefore as relevant as the study of ideas, both of which must be historicized.

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The historical approach of the book highlights the importance of government choices, legacies of previous actions and the long-term influence of narratives. Governments reap the consequence of their predecessors’ policies in previous periods. Governments also find themselves locked in by narrative logics and contents that preceded them; they can of course try to make narrative alterations, but what they cannot do is ignore it, change it or deny it overnight. To be sure, the factors underlying the conditions of the Middle East today are complex, but these have been as much a consequence of outside influences or unforeseeable events, as of the decisions of local elites. For decision makers to claim otherwise would be chutzpah of monumental proportions. For scholars to claim otherwise would not only be to ignore history, but to continue to frame Middle East states and their elites in colonial terms, as places and people devoid of any real agency to determine their affairs. To acknowledge local decision makers’ agency, then, even when this has led to disastrous outcomes, is not to ignore the legacies of colonialism or the Middle East’s particular position vis-a`-vis the West, nor to discount the deep societal challenges they contend with. Rather, it is to insist that the key role decision makers have played in the region’s persistent troubles should neither be ignored for fear of playing into Western imperialism nor blamed on society’s ‘ignorance’ or ‘backwardness’. John Ralston Saul (1994, 26) emphasizing the responsibility of government in statecraft, wrote: The conclusion drawn by [. . .] most of our e´lites – is that the population constitutes a deep and dangerous well of ignorance and irrationality; if our civilization is in crisis the fault must lie with the populace which is not rising to the inescapable challenges. And yet civilizations do not collapse because the citizenry are corrupt or lazy or anti-intellectual. These people do not have the power or influence to either lead or destroy. Civilizations collapse when those who have power fail to do their job. A related observation that merits further analysis is how narratives and governments act at the level of the individual imagination, and how they build societal expectations. Saad Eddine Ibrahim astutely captures why and how government during the Abdel Nasser era received overwhelming national support for narratives, goals and policies; even

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established opposition movements lost much of their appeal to government policies and narratives. Ibrahim notes (1992, 36 – 7): President Nasser used violent deterrent measures against al-Ikhwan [as the most prominent national opposition movement], but more importantly, the regime pulled the rug from underneath them by appealing to their social bases and sympathizers from the middle and lower classes with the massive socio-economic transformations from which they benefited [. . .] that is, [the regime] shared national wealth with them [. . .] then crafted for them an Egyptian national project, and an Arab nationalist project which captured and enthralled their imaginations and it rallied them to execute it; effectively, the regime included them in national policy making in meaningful way. In essence, Abdel Nasser [’s regime] ‘nationalized’ [galvanized] Egyptian classes for the sake of the revolution by making the revolution their own. For Ibrahim, the important question becomes how to manage people’s imaginations and how to then act to materialize their imaginings. For Egypt’s Abdel Nasser, societal support was complemented by external opportunities, such as handsome strategic rents, which made possible not only imagining but pursuing an expansive domestic state-building programme and leadership in multiple external systems. Egyptians and most Arabs believed in these narratives and goals. Yet by 1970, governance policies had alienated a significant segment of society, tied economic stability to the inflow of rents (thus limiting manoeuvrability in diplomacy), created a bureaucratic behemoth and debilitated industrial structures. In the Westphalian state system, government presides over society and is expected to know how to guide it and develop its potential. This is where government agency becomes central in assessing the best and most appropriate means of action. When under threat, and especially if the survival of the group is at risk, decisions tend to become clearer – certainly the stakes become clearer. It is when a group faces ‘a challenge from an alien culture [or any outgroup], [that its . . .] past becomes crucial to a newly formed state, as well as to the inhabitants of society, in defining themselves in relation to an “other”’ (Davis 1991, 31). It is in such moments when options that might not otherwise be on the table become acceptable, that government agency

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plays a defining role in influencing the state’s fate. However constrained they may be by circumstances, and whatever the range of available options, decision makers do make a choice.

Final Words This book has argued for the importance of history, ideas and agency in understanding the contemporary Middle East. Advocating for the study of narratives demands a willingness to suspend judgement long enough that we can move beyond simple assessments of decision makers’ intentionality (all too common in ‘scholarship’), and instead discern the thinking that motivates the policies in the first place. There are many events in history that one might wish had never occurred, and yet they did. In order to learn from history, then, the first step is to understand the narratives underlying action, why they appeal to people, and how they can be interpreted to lead to positive policy outcomes. Obviously, ‘positive’ will mean different things to different people, but I mean for the good of the majority of people in full respect of their diversity. Finally, I intended this book not only as a formal academic exercise, but also as a true intellectual endeavour, a testing ground for the reader’s willingness to read with an open mind and perhaps revisit their own narrative. In so doing, the book hopes to contribute to and broaden the reader’s insight into the region. To look at a situation that might be ethically disturbing is no easy task; harder still to acknowledge that it is ethically disturbing. To suspend – if even for a moment – one’s narrative and exchange it for the narrative of another might seem impossible in a region of unbalanced accounts and festering grievances. Yet the ability to do so is a crucial capacity we must cultivate if the cycles of conflict that have scarred the Middle East is to be broken and a genuine, just and lasting peace found.

NOTES

Chapter 1

A Framework for Analysing Statecraft

1. Statecraft is at once an art and a science. ‘Art’ refers to the recognition and management of frequently incompatible interests, and action to counter pressures, whereas ‘science’ refers to the technical knowledge necessary to measure available resources and forecast material transformations. 2. This definition of diplomacy is wider than traditional understandings that posit it as only relating to functions of political exchange between units and forms of protocol. Traditional understandings of diplomacy subsume it under foreign policy, which is generally understood as the entirety of a state’s external actions. The reason I chose to use the term diplomacy rather than foreign policy as the overarching term for my discussion is to move away from the overemphasis on actions rather than on ideas. In contrast, I use the term diplomacy to highlight the role of ideas and actions combined for a state’s external relations. 3. I am not proposing here an exhaustive literature review of debates about ideas in FPA and IR. This section is intended as a sketch of some general points of divergence and convergence between my work and some important schools of thought in FPA. 4. Focusing on the government as the primary decision making unit is consistent with the book’s emphasis on the state level (Thies 2010). Governments generally consist of individuals who agree upon major policy issues and how to implement them, even if they do not hold the same level of responsibility and power with respect to decision making. Agreement can be achieved through various processes including: (1) the exclusion of noticeable outliers from the decision making process; (2) dissenters voluntarily opting out from the governing regime; or (3) a dominant decision maker dictating the decision making process with minimal or insignificant level of opposition (i.e. groupthink). 5. I try to approach the practices of governance with neutrality, and avoid the oftenused terms (and regime type categories) such as democracy and authoritarianism.

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My use of terms such as exclusion and inclusion might be contested and not problem-free; but in general their usages in academic literatures and public discourses have been relatively less tainted. In the same vein, and when possible, the term ‘ideology’ is avoided in this book; this is because ideology, often defined as a set of ideas that constitute goals, place expectations, and direct actions, possesses a negative connotation or bias in that it is used as an often-manipulated instrument of governing rather than having effects on action by its own merit.

Chapter 2 Statecraft in Egypt 1. While these risky policies were consistent with the narrative, they were not the only options that the narrative supplied. For instance, despite being a leader, Egypt could still have developed more inter-dependent engagements with other Arab states as it sought to achieve the unity its narrative demanded. It chose to focus, instead, on its leadership. 2. This is one distinction between this work and that of authors writing from the perspective of political psychology.

Chapter 3

Statecraft in Israel

1. It should be noted here that ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers’ in that era carry different meaning, and usages than the terms used to describe Israeli settlements and settlers in the West Bank after 1967. The distinction mainly revolves around the marked increase in the religious-driven commitments of settlers to take over contested land (not part of the state of Israel but falling under its control) after 1967. 2. The Ashkenazi narrative developed mainly in Europe and resulted from sociocultural interactions that were not identical to the experiences of Sephardi and Mizrahi communities; it was also influenced by European colonial discourses about settling and developing land. 3. The ambiguous place of the Occupied Territories in Israel makes discussion of an external and domestic narrative more challenging here; in effect, these territories are both a part of Israel and a ‘different’ political entity. This dual status ties the domestic and external narratives on issues pertaining to the Territories together in complex ways.

Chapter 4 Statecraft in Syria 1. I use the term ‘local narrative’ and ‘meta-narrative’, to distinguish these alternate narratives from the ones discussed in this book, namely, state-related narratives. This being said, local and meta-narratives have the same attributes and functions

NOTES

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of all narratives, and they needed agents to interpret their tenets and develop concrete policies from them. 2. In Syrian-dominated Lebanon, all decisions regarding the peace process with Israel were made by Syria (Khashan and Haddad 2000).

Chapter 6

Statecraft in Saudi Arabia

1. A tribe is a cooperative territorial unit whose members define their belonging and commitments in reference to commonly agreed-upon traditions, symbols and ancestry. A tribe has a political structure which defines internal centres of authority and which can be mobilized to achieve a certain goal. Each tribe has segments or sets of smaller groups that mirror the main structure and can act within the larger structure in pursuit of common goals. 2. The exact contours of such a narrative have not yet been fully theorized, however it has been suggested in many public forums that it has clear markers that Gulf societies themselves identify (in dress code or customs), and that it is distinct from other Arab and Islamic societies who might share many of these markers. See an interesting interview on Al Jazeera in 2009 (http://goo.gl/K9luCY). See also Center for Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies, Nadwat Waqi’ wa Moustaqbal Mou’assat Al-Moujtama’ a-Madani fi Dowal Majlis Al-Taa’oun al-Khalijee (Conference on the Current and Future of Civil Society Institutions in GCC states) (Kuwait City: Kuwait University, 2000).

Chapter 7

Statecraft in Iran

1. For a remarkable and nuanced discussion of this, see a multi-part series titled ‘Idea of Iran’ published by I.B.Tauris in 2005. 2. Religious belief in Iran is complex and ties ancient history with contemporary life. It has influenced the pool of societal ideas and narratives in many direct and nuanced ways. Not all these ideas can be explored here for reasons of space; such religious beliefs include, but are not limited to, the Baha’i faith and Zoroastrianism. 3. Beginning in the Safavid era, Shiite thought and action began centralizing around the individual cleric, attributable mainly (but not exclusively) to the intricate connection that been evolving between mosque and state. This centralization is what accounts, in part, for the importance of clerics in Shiism. 4. The Bonyads are institutions that emerged from the awaqf, or religious endowments, and were tasked with managing select state affairs, such as welfare services and education. The Bonyads that were only accountable to the Supreme Leader were tasked with other responsibilities, such as helping the oppressed globally. Importantly, these Bonyads were not audited.

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INDEX

Abdel Nasser, Gamal, 25, 26, 27, 30, 32, 33, 39, 42, 43 –4 failed assassination attempt, 37 national support, 246 –7 Aflaq, Michel, 98, 99 –100, 101, 105 agency and dominant societal narratives, 11 –12, 245 –8 Ahmadinejad, Iranian President, 209, 217, 224 –5, 226, 227 AKP (Justice and Development Party), Turkey, 141, 142, 144, 153, 155 Anatolian Tigers, Turkey, 153 Arab Cold War, 34, 68, 75 – 6 Arab League, 48 –9 Khartoum Summit (1967), 35, 80, 103 Arab Socialist Union (ASU) Egypt, 41, 53 Arab Spring, 229 – 41 Arab unity/pan-Arabism Egypt, 28, 33, 35 – 6, 102 –3 Israel, 63, 79 Saudi Arabia, 164, 171 Syria, 112 –13, 115, 126, 233, 234

(1950 – 70), 96, 97 – 8, 102 – 3, 104 – 5, 107 – 8, 109, 110 – 11 Al-Asad, Bashar, 118, 124, 240 Al-Asad, Hafez, 113 119, 123 –4 Aswan Dam/High Dam project, Egypt, 30 –1, 34, 36, 39, 42 Atatu¨rk, Mustafa Kemal, 128, 129 –30, 135, 136, 143, 154 Baathists/Baath Party Iraq and Saudi Arabia, 163 Syria, 98, 99, 104, 106, 107 –8, 109 –10, 118 –19, 121, 125 Baghdad Pact (1955) and Egypt, 29 –30, 31, 33 and Iran, 195, 210 Israel and Turkey, 67 and Syria, 102 Bazaar and Ulama, Iran, 200 –1, 202 –3, 205, 208, 221 – 2 Ben-Gurion, David, 60, 69, 71, 94 Bonyads, Iran, 219, 222, 224, 225

Britain and Egypt, 30, 38 Suez Invasion (1956), 26 –7, 28, 31 and Iran, 202 withdrawal from Gulf, 161, 194, 196 Camp David Accords, 45, 48 –9, 58, 80, 114 –15, 210 China and Egypt, 31, 50 and Iran, 212, 215 –16 Communist Party Syria, 107 –8, 109, 111, 112, 122 Turkey, 139 contestation and dominant societal narratives, 12 –14 see also Arab Spring; social and political protests Damascus Spring, 124 Davutoglu, Ahmet, 143, 148, 155 Dayan, Moshe, 48 diplomacy definition of, 3– 4

280

STATECRAFT

diplomacy-governance nexus, 20 –1 and external narratives, 15 –16 see also under specific states domestic narratives, 16 –17 governance and, 17 – 19 see also under specific states dominant societal narratives, 3–4 and agency, interdependence of, 11 –12, 245 – 8 characteristics and functions of, 8–14 external and domestic in diplomacy and governance, 14 –19 ideational core of, 9–10, 228 –9 necessity of, 241 –3 significance of content, 243 –5 study methodology, 21 – 2 see also Arab Spring Eban, Abba, 31 European Union (EU) and Iran, 215 and Turkey, 143 –4, 145, 148 external narratives, 15 diplomacy and, 15 –16 see also under specific states external/strategic rents, 16, 19 Egypt, 39 –40, 42, 49 –50, 53 Israel, 74 see also oil Fahmy, Ismael, 46, 47, 52 France and Israel, 67 Suez Invasion (1956), 26 –7, 31 and Syria, 118 Free Officers Coup (1952) and governments, Egypt, 25 –6, 28, 29, 37 –9, 40

IN THE

MIDDLE EAST

Gaza, 85, 91 Raid (1955), 28 –9, 30 –1, 65 Global South, 1 diplomacy, 16 and Egypt, 32 Golan Heights/occupied Golan and Syria, 103, 104, 112–14, 116–17, 118, 120, 126 governance definition of, 4 and domestic narratives, 17 –19 see also under specific states government agency and dominant societal narratives, 11 –12, 245 –8 as component of state, 7 and governance, 18 – 19 legitimacy and domestic narratives, 17 Grand Mosque, Mecca, 182 – 3 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), 148 – 9, 159 – 60, 173, 177 – 8, 210, 214, 216 Gulf Shield Rapid Deployment Forces, 177, 239 Gulf War, 49, 82, 116, 144 –5, 175 –6, 178, 184, 185, 214 Heikal, Mohammad Hassenein, 25, 27, 30, 34, 41, 42, 43, 48, 65 Histadrut, Israel, 71 –2, 75, 88 Holocaust, 68 –70 Al-Husri, Sati’, 97 –8 Hussein, King of Jordan, 163 al-Ikhwan see Muslim Brotherhood

import substitution industrialization (ISI), 38, 52, 138 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 53 Iran– Iraq disputes, 197 Iran– Iraq War, 211, 212 – 13, 218 –19, 222 –3, 225 and Egypt, 49, 58 and Saudi Arabia, 174 and Syria, 116 and Turkey, 144 Iraq invasion of Kuwait (Gulf War), 49, 82, 116, 144 –5, 175 –6, 178, 184, 185, 214 and Israel, 93 –4 and Saudi Arabia, 162, 163 and Syria, 115 and Turkey, 144 –5, 148 US invasion and occupation (2003), 217 and USSR, 196 see also Baghdad Pact (1955) Iron Wall, Jewish idea of, 62 –4, 76 –8, 79 –80, 82, 85, 93, 94 Islam Egypt Al-Azhar, 37, 41, 42, 51, 53 Muslim Brotherhood/ al-Ikhwan, 36 – 7, 40, 41, 42, 53, 54, 55, 230 –1 Iran 1979 Revolution, 206 –7 Islamic Republic, 207– 9, 210–11, 213–14, 215, 217–18, 219, 220–3, 225–6 Shah’s government, 199 –203 Saudi Arabia, 157, 158 – 9, 160, 164, 165, 166 –9,

INDEX 171, 172 –3, 174 –5, 237 –9 militancy and political criticism, 179 –80, 181, 182 –5, 186 –7, 189, 237 –8 and tribes, 166 – 7, 189 –90 Western security forces, 185 –6, 187 Syria and Arabism, 97 – 8, 99 Muslim Brotherhood/ al-Ikhwan, 108, 110, 121 –2 Turkey, 136 –7, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144 and Arab Spring, 236 Developing Eight (D-8) countries, 147 and economic liberalization, 153 –4 and secularism, 135 synthesis, 149 –50, 154 –5 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), 238, 241 Jerusalem, 87 –8, 164 Jordan Black September (1970), 80, 104, 112 and Israel, 83 –4 and Saudi Arabia, 163 and Syria, 104, 112, 115 judiciary, 19 Israel, 90 Khartoum Summit (1967), 35, 80, 103 Khatami, Muhammad, 177, 209, 216, 224, 226 –7 Khomeini, Imam/Ayatollah, 204, 209, 210, 213, 214, 217, 218, 220, 221, 225 Kuwait, Iraqi invasion of (Gulf War), 49, 82, 116, 144 –5, 175 –6, 178, 184, 185, 214

labour foreign/expatriate Iran, 204 Saudi Arabia, 168, 170–1, 175–6, 178–9 and land reform, Syria, 106 –7 political activism and representation Egypt, 40 –1, 52, 57 Iran, 221 –2 Israel, 71 –2, 88, 89 Turkey, 138, 153 Labour Zionism, 61, 86, 134 Lebanon and Egypt, 33 Hezbollah and Iran, 213 and Israel, 80 –1, 84 – 5, 126 and Syria, 113, 115 –16, 117 –18, 125 legitimacy and domestic narratives, 17

281 and Al-Sahwa, Saudi Arabia, 184, 186, 237–8 Syria, 108, 110, 121 –2 Narratives see dominant societal narratives frame (theoretical effects of), 12, 244 ‘ideational structures’, 3, 6, 9, 10, 17, 228, 241, 242, 243, 245 Nasser presidency see Abdel Nasser, Gamal national roles, horizontal and vertical, 14 NATO and Turkey, 131, 132, 133, 140, 145 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), 32, 35 nuclear technology Iran, 85, 178, 198, 217 Iraq, 93 – 4 Israel, 67 oil

Madrid Conference/Process, 49, 83, 92, 116 – 17, 126 Mamlachtiyut, Israel, 69, 71, 75 Mapai, Israel, 71 – 2, 75, 88 military coups/governments Egypt, 231 –2 Free Officers, 25 – 6, 28, 29, 37 –9, 40 Iran, 199, 202 Syria, 100, 106, 108, 109 –10, 112 Turkey, 139 –40, 141, 151, 154 –5 Mossadeq, Mohamad, 192, 195, 202 Mubarak, Hosni, 51, 230, 232 Muslim Brotherhood/ al-Ikhwan Egypt, 36 –7, 40, 41, 42, 53, 54, 55, 230 –1

Iran, 195, 198, 203, 204 –6, 212 –13 Saudi Arabia, 160 –1, 162, 164 –5, 167 crisis (1973), 212 foreign/expatriate labour, 168, 170 –1, 175 –6, 178 –9 rents/wealth, 158, 160, 164 –5, 172 –3, 174 –5, 180 –2, 185, 188, 189 Syria, 124 Ottoman Empire, 105, 150, 242 –3 ‘Neo-Ottomanism’, 141 –2, 148 and reforms, 128 –30, 134, 135, 136 –8 Pahlavi monarchy see Reza Pahlavi, Mohammad (Shah of Iran)

282

STATECRAFT

Palestine –Israel conflict First Intifada (1987), 49, 78, 82, 91 Gaza, 85, 91 Jerusalem, 87 –8, 164 Jewish settlement and state-building, 71 –5 Jewish settlers, 69 –70, 73 –4, 86, 89 Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), 80 and Egypt, 33 – 4, 49 and Iran, 210, 213 and Saudi Arabia, 175 and Syria, 115 and Turkey, 140 and peace talks, 78 –9, 83 –4, 87, 91 –3 Second Intifada (2000), 85, 92 West Bank, 78, 83, 86 –7 pan-Arabism see Arab unity/ pan-Arabism Pasdaran (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps), 211, 215, 217, 220, 223, 224 PKK, 117, 144, 145, 147, 152 Rabin, Itzhak, 79, 83, 87 –8, 90, 91 –2 Reza Pahlavi, Mohammad (Shah of Iran), 193 –4, 198 –200, 201 –2, 205, 206, 219 – 20 Russia see USSR/Russia Saadeh, Antoun, 98 al-Sadat, Anwar, 44 –5, 46 – 7, 48, 51, 53, 56 – 7, 230 Al-Sahwa, Saudi Arabia, 184, 186, 237 – 8 Al-Saud monarchy Crown Prince Abdullah, 177

IN THE

MIDDLE EAST

Ibn Saud, 158, 160 Islamic and tribal authority, 158, 159, 163, 166 –7, 236 challenges, 182 –3, 184, 186, 237 –8 King Faisal, 180, 182 September, 11, 2001 attacks, 216 –17 Sharon, Ariel, 85 Shatt al-Arab waterway, 197, 211 Sinai Bar-Lev Line, 68, 76 and Egypt, 44, 47 –8, 56, 57 social and political protests Egypt, 55 –6, 57 Israel, 89 Syria, 122 –3, 124 Turkey, 138 –9 see also Arab Spring social services Egypt, 53 Iran, 202 – 3, 205 –6 Saudi Arabia, 185 societal actors (and government), 12, 15, 18 Soviet regime see USSR/ Russia state and statecraft, 7– 8 tripartite definition of, 7–8 Sudan and Egypt, 34 Khartoum Summit (1967), 35, 80, 103 Suez Canal bureaucratic administration, 42 closure of, 33, 34 crossing (al-Ubur) (1973), 45, 57

expansion of, 232 nationalization (1956), 31, 32, 40 Tripartite Invasion (1956), 26 –7, 28, 31 –2, 41, 43, 66 –7 Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), 98, 99 Taliban, 215 theoretical issues analytical framework, 5–7 and future research ideas, 241 –8 tribal system, Saudi Arabia, 159 –60, 165 –7, 168, 170, 182, 189 –90 Ulama and Bazaar, Iran, 200 –1, 202 –3, 205, 208, 221 – 2 United Arab Emirates (UAE), 161, 162, 177, 194, 197 United Arab Republic (UAR), 33, 34, 68, 102 –3, 109 War of Attrition (1968–70), 35, 43, 56, 68, 76, 104 West Bank, 78, 83, 86 –7 Westphalian system, 1, 7, 242 –3, 247 Yehuda and Samaria (Israel), 78 Yemen, 33 –4, 35, 162 –3, 176, 239 Zionism, 61, 62, 64, 73, 74, 87 Labour, 61, 86, 134