Why have the two most ardently pan-Arabist regimes in the Middle East, those in Damascus and Baghdad, been such bitter enemies? This analytically sophisticated book looks for the reasons in the nature of the states. Rule by narrow cliques that depend on patronage has meant that the regimes lack legitimacy and fear their populations may be manipulated by outside forces. The narrative chapters highlight the intense conflict between Hafez al-Assad and Saddam Hussein, leaving the reader with the impression that Syria is the more vulnerable of the two. Were the book to take into account recent events, Iraq would look considerably more threatened with disintegration. This is a valuable study, marred, however, by poor editing.
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