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The Arab World and Western IntelligenceAnalysing the Middle East, 1956-1981$
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Dina Rezk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780748698912

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698912.001.0001

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Syrian Secession

Syrian Secession

(p.116) 4 Syrian Secession
The Arab World and Western Intelligence

Dina Rezk

Edinburgh University Press

Syria’s secession from the UAR in 1961 marked the beginning of the end of pan-Arabism. This chapter explores to what extent this dramatic development came as a surprise to the Anglo-American intelligence community, and how they reacted to it. It argues that although analysts had a good sense of the political, economic and cultural challenges of integrating the two regions, Nasser had acquired a quasi-invincible status which precluded serious consideration of secession. Despite initial misgivings about the formation of the UAR, analysts realised that this experiment with Arab unity had rendered Syria more stable than any time since independence was wrested from the French in 1949. Resorting to their cultural library of Arab stereotypes, analysts feared how the ‘undisciplined’ and ‘individualistic’ people of Syria would manage without Nasser’s moderating leadership and how the latter would respond to this unprecedented challenge to his prestige. They warned that Arab-Israeli relations would suffer and that Nasser might seek to restore his status as pan-Arab leader elsewhere.

Keywords:   Syria, secession, pan-Arabism, Nasser, UAR

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