Created: 1/25/1979

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National Intelligence Daily (Cable)


SYRIA-IRAQ: emporary Alliance

The three-month-old rapprochement between Syria and Iraq ie the product of mutual concern over the leraeli-Egyptian peaoe proceee and the upheaval in Iran ao wall ae the narrow tactical coneidcratione of each eide. unity" scheme between theee tworivals may come soon, it will be fragile and euperfioial. Both governments are deeply auspicious of eaoh other and have rival preteneione for leadership in the eaetern Arab world.

Limited political, economic, and militarybetween the two is nonetheless likely as long as their short-term objectives outweigh thoir permanent national ambitions. Syrian President Assad and Iraqi President Bakr may announce agreement in principle to

"unite" their two countriesummit meeting in

Damascus later this month. [

There is little chanceeal integration of the two countries. Arab groups in Syria and Iraq have been rivals since the seventh century. Theirinability to agree on sharing waters of the Euphrates River, for example, reflects theirdifficulties. (U)

Religious sectarianism also works againstunni Muslim minority rules in Baghdad and an Alawite minority regime governs in Damascus. Many Syriansa real rapprochement because they fear Iraqisubversion.

Since Syria achieved independencetsforeign policy concern has been to preserve national independence against threats from its neighbors. Syria

has supported the idea of Arab unity but largelyatter of its Baath Party's pan-Arab ideology. Iraq and Egypt have tried to exploit this tendency order to dominate the Syrians. Syria joined the United Arab Republic with Egyptever-implemented federation agreement with Egypt and Iraqnd joined the Confederation of Arab Republics initiated by Egypt and Libya None stood the test of time.

The Camp David accords and developments ir. Iran are the most important, but not the only, current sources of affinity between Syria and Iraq. The Syrians are also attracted by Iraq's oil wealth and view Iraq's armed forcesossible reserve that could enhance Syria's military credibility and its ability to obtain concessions from Israel in future negotiations. Iraq sees ties with Syria as the first step towarda stronger role in Arab affairs and towardSoviet and domestic Communist influence in the region. Iraq also is concerned about unrest spilling over from Iran.

The various joint committees created in the past two months to pave the wayity apparently have made little progress in the key areas of party,intelligence, and security matters. Both sides want Israel to feel increased military pressure, and thus are likely to hammer out some arrangoment for closer military coordination. The possibilities include:

formation, at least on paper, of a

joint military command.

token Iraqi military presence in Syria,

possibly on the Golan Heights.

ontingency planning for deployment of an Iraqi force to Syria. I

The economic results of the rapprochement to date have been mixed. Transportation services have been resumed, restrictions on border crossing lifted, and new commercial and trade contracts signed. over distributing waters controlled by Syria through the Tabaqah Dam on the Euphrates River, however, may

t ST"


Despite their congruent views toward Camp David, the two countries have made littlo apparent progress in the area of political cooperation. The two international wings of the Baath Party could be reunitedcheme to stress Arab solidarity at the cdming summit meeting, but the depth of the personal antagonisms anddifferences between the two sides would makeove only cosmetic. The national leaders of Iraq and Syria will, in any event, retain ultimate control of all political activity in their respective countries.

Original document.

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