By John W. Amos II

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These stories often then become self fulfilling prophecies, triggering t h e very coup t h a t was rumored. Aside from boundary issues, t h e r e a r e a multitude of o t h e r sources of conflict: (a) S t r a t e g i c conflicts revolving around control of land/sea a c c e s s r o u t e s . These a r e of very a n c i e n t origin and have been relatively s t a b l e in their configuration since pharaonic antiquity. They have t w o principal foci: Egyptian versus Mesopotamian power struggles over control of t h e Levant; Egyptian or Mesopotamian s t a t e s versus South Arabian s t a t e s over domination of t h e Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.

The quality and c h a r a c t e r of response t o this environment is in large p a r t culturally determined, t h e product of culturally defined security systems of behavior. In its existential dimension, Arab political behavior is a compound of intense verbal hostility and p r a g m a t i c action. Since t h e intentions of o t h e r s can never be really known, Arab leaders can t r u s t no one. In this situation of mutual mistrust, t h e r e is a natural tendency to over r e a c t t o t h r e a t s , real or imagined.

42) Armed militia and worker units quelled t h e disturbances, but t h e prospect of a major Sunni uprising r e m a i n e d . (43) The regime t h e r e f o r e found itself faced with a potential revolutionary situation: opposition from a majority of its population; division within i t s own security forces; the possibility of a major confrontation with its neighbors, and the ignominious defeat of its most prized symbol. The reality of conflict had suddenly b e c o m e overwhelming; a t this juncture, the Ba'thist image, system took over.

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