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The Evolution of the Iraqi and Syrian Security Forces: Coup-Proofing and Counter-insurgency in Two Ba'athist States

CIS Seminar Series

Ibrahim al-Marashi from California State University San Marcos examines what captured Iraqi state documents can reveal about regime dynamics in Syria.


The far reach of a security apparatus and military and para-military forces in Ba’athist Iraq and Syria have several features in common. In Iraq and Syria parallel militarism and a system of parallel overlapping security services proved effective in creating coup-proof systems. Numerous military coups failed to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Al-Asad rule over Syria has also spanned decades. In-group patronage is a consistent feature of both states, and the beneficiaries of in-group patronage within the security apparatus tend to support the regime to the end rather than abandoning it. Finally, these states are willing to unleash their security organs, employing high levels of violence against their own population to quell an internal threat. This talk  examines what captured Iraqi state documents can reveal about regime dynamics in Syria.


Ibrahim Al-Marashi is Assistant Professor of Middle East History at California State University San Marcos.  His research deals with the modern history of Iraq. He is the co-author of Iraq’s Armed Forces: An Analytical History (Routledge, 2008).  He obtained his D.Phil. at University of Oxford, completing a thesis on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. He is an Iraqi-American who lived at various times in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey, and has travelled extensively through the Middle East.

For more information about al-Marashi, click here.

The discussant for this talk is JACQUES HYMANS, Professor of International Relations, USC.