I'm right in the middle of looking for a topic write about for my "American and the Middle East" research paper. And I came across something... interesting.
Apparently, in the 1940s, the United States wanted to undertake a project called the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (TAPLINE). The enterprise, which would transport oil from Saudi Arabia to Europe and the eastern United States via Lebanon, was created to save millions of dollars in terms of oil transport costs. The pipeline’s route went through Jordan, over the Golan Heights in Syria, and ended at Sidon in Lebanon, rather than snaking along the original, significantly longer, transport route through the Persian Gulf and Suez Canal. It was the greatest industrial project of its time.
The terms of TAPLINE, however, weren't in the interests of the Syrian government. There was a democracy in Syria at the time, and the Syrian leaders collectively refused to support TAPLINE. Around that time, a magical coincidence occurred. A military coup by Husni al-Zaim overthrew the resisting Syrian government, replacing it with one much more compliant with American interests in the Middle East. The first act this new government took was to approve the pipeline, and construction went ahead through Syria.
Recent studies on America and the Middle East have shed light on the events that led to the al-Zaim coup. It now appears that the CIA was involved in this first coup in Syrian and Middle Eastern history. CIA agents Miles Copeland and Stephen Meade, acting military attachés in Damascus, helped al-Zaim orchestrate the event and sparked the necessary fires in domestic Syrian politics that allowed the coup to take place.
It was the beginning of Syrian-U.S. relations that would later turn very sour.
I can't wait to find out more about this early stepping stone in Syrian-American relations. With Damascus gaining ground on the international stage, studying Syria is becoming crucial to understanding just how the Middle East ticks, and how America has historically tried to deal with the region.
I'll post up any interesting updates as I make my way through this research paper over these next few weeks.