The foreign policies of Iraq and Lebanon

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As fragmented states, Lebanon and Iraq suffer from what one may call political schizophrenia. Like schizophrenia, this is a personality split resulting from the coexistence of opposed sets of identities and pursuits. In the political world, this condition affects how a state responds to its environment. While sufferers of schizophrenia have a tendency to dissociate themselves from their environment, their political counterparts cannot afford such isolation. The geopolitical location of Iraq (in the heart of the Middle East) and Lebanon (a buffer-zone between Syria and Israel) has shaped the political development and foreign behaviour of these two states. As late comers to the international system and as states-in-the-making, Iraq and Lebanon share many of the dilemmas of other Arab states (Saouli 2012, 49-67). Their peculiarity, however, lies in their ethnic and sectarian compositions which have hitherto constrained state consolidation, making them vulnerable to external influence. The political struggles inherent in state making processes, and the politicisation of Iraqi and Lebanese identities, as I will argue in this chapter, make it impossible to talk about one foreign ‘policy’ in these cases. Although Iraq and Lebanon are units (nominally ‘sovereign states’) in the international system, their foreign behaviour is not unitary; rather each unit generates multiple foreign policies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Foreign Policies of Middle East States
EditorsRaymond Hinnebusch, Anoushiravan Ehteshami
Place of PublicationBoulder and London
PublisherLynne Reinner Publishers
Number of pages37
ISBN (Print)978-1-62637-029-6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Foreign Policy; Lebanon; Iraq; Fragmented states


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