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Syria's intervention in the Lebanese civil war, 1976: a domestic conflict explanation


  • Lawson, Fred H.


Syria's intervention in the Lebanese civil war in the late spring of 1976 has usually been explained in either structural or perceptual terms. Neither kind of account does a very good job of explaining the character and timing of this military operation. But relating the intervention to changes in Syria's domestic political situation accounts for it much more satisfactorily. Specifically, Syria's ruling social coalition found itself confronted with a substantial threat to its political position in the country from small farmers, craftspeople, and workers in the north-central provinces during the first months of 1976. In response to this threat, each member of the ruling coalition adopted a program that would insure its own dominance, but only at the expense of its domestic political allies. Under these circumstances, these social forces moved into Lebanon in an attempt to secure the capital, manufactured goods, and port facilities that would enable them to suppress their domestic political opponents while maintaining their own alliance. Domestic political struggles thus provide a more plausible explanation for Syria's intervention than either of the other two arguments can.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawson, Fred H., 1984. "Syria's intervention in the Lebanese civil war, 1976: a domestic conflict explanation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(03), pages 451-480, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:38:y:1984:i:03:p:451-480_02

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