The Syrian state began as a fragile artificial entity at odds with itself and enjoying few power resources. It was also both profoundly irredentist and a recurrent victim of stronger neighbours. Within twenty years it had been transformed into a regional middle power. Since then, no other Arab state has proved so adept at exercising power out of proportion to its natural endowments or so resolute in ensuring that its interests could not be ignored (Drysdale and Hinnebusch 1991:1-9). This outcome was a function of state formation within; yet that formation was itself dependent on the state’s ability to extract resources-arms and oil money-from the international system.