The Communist Movement in the Arab World

By Tareq Y. Ismael | Go to book overview

5

Perestroika and after

The Gorbachev era, the final chapter of Soviet and eastern European communism, could not have failed to make an enormous impact on the lives and fortunes of Arab communism. Gorbachev's coming to power in March, 1985 and his “new thinking” brought about dramatic changes in Soviet foreign policy. Third World nations, including the entire Arab world, were only of peripheral interest and importance to Gorbachev and his reformist ideas. His Middle Eastern policy was subservient to the overall objective of opening Soviet society to the world, especially the Western world and the United States. In trying to bring an end to the hostilities and mutual mistrust of the Cold War era, and allow more room for Soviet economic reforms, Gorbachev and his advisers endeavored to improve Soviet-Israeli relations, necessitating thereby a lessening of the long-standing Soviet support for the Arab nationalist cause. 1 However, the Soviet retreat from its support of Arab nationalists and the Palestinian cause was incremental and intricate. The Palestinian and the Arab peoples still had many influential friends in the Soviet policy apparatus, and both Gorbachev and his Foreign Minister, Edward Shevardnardze, needed to work in a cautious and prudent way. 2 The first more open and decisive steps in the new direction took place during Yasser Arafat's visit to Moscow in April, 1988. During Arafat's visit and in the months leading up to the November, 1988 PNC session in Algeria, Arafat and other Palestinian leaders, such as George Habash and Nayef Hawatmah, increasingly came under pressure to accept UN Security Council Resolution 242, including its provisions of Palestinian recognition of the state of Israel, and respect for Israeli security concerns. 3 These were longstanding issues that Palestinian leaders had held as negotiating positions which were now, in the words of one Israeli scholar, “subjected to a heavy dose of Soviet pressure to generate a new peace process. 4 On the other hand, the Soviets were reluctant to recognize the creation of a Palestinian state at the November, 1988 PNC session, and won the praise of the US State Department and the Israeli government for their efforts “to prevent this new entity from joining the UN or the World Health Organization in 1989.” 5

Moscow then started to follow American foreign policy on the region almost without question, so much so that it advised the PLO to participate

-84-

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The Communist Movement in the Arab World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables viii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - The Heritage of Arab Communist Parties 1
  • 2 - The Soviet Legacy 17
  • 3 - The Soviet Union and Arab Issues: 1919-1967 41
  • 4 - The Soviet Union and Arab Issues: 1967-1984 71
  • 5 - Perestroika and After 84
  • 6 - The Crisis of Communism in the Arab World 102
  • Appendix 1 124
  • Appendix 2 133
  • Appendix 3 143
  • Appendix 4 147
  • Appendix 5 163
  • Appendix 6 180
  • Notes 186
  • Index 205
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