Omnibalancing in Syria: prospects for foreign policy
Robinson, Glenn E.
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Syrian foreign policy has been routinely misunderstood as the domain of one man; Hafiz al-Asad, and now his son Bashar al-Asad; who makes decisions irrespective of domestic political considerations in Syria. This thesis challenges that conceptualization by arguing that domestic concerns are the central element in the making of Syrian foreign policy. I argue Syrian foreign policy is best understood as the result of "omnibalancing" the interests and threats of the two key groups of the authoritarian bargain: the Alawi military elite, and the Sunni urban business class. The Alawi military elite form the backbone of the Syrian regime. Members of this minority make up only 12 percent of the Syrian population, but hold important leadership positions throughout the state. The Sunni business class rose to prominence in the Syrian regime because it has the ability to reduce the regime's expensive overextension. This group has become junior partners to the Alawi military elite. The key to the analysis of Syrian foreign policy is the regime leadership's ability to balance its external and internal threats. Conceptualizing Syrian foreign policy through the lens of omnibalancing sheds light on Syria's calculations over a possible peace deal with Israel in the years ahead.
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