The Decline of the Soviet Union and the Transformation of the Middle East

By David H. Goldberg; Paul Marantz | Go to book overview

Introduction

Paul Marantz

First in 1989, and then in 1993, the walls came tumbling down, and international politics were transformed. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall was breached, symbolizing and accelerating the collapse of Communism throughout Eastern Europe and eventually in the Soviet Union as well. In September 1993, the walls of non-recognition and non-cooperation that had long separated Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) were torn down as Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and P.L.O. Chairman Yasser Arafat signed historic documents aimed at moderating their enmity and constructing new, cooperative arrangements. Although these two events were separated by four long years and took place in different parts of the world, there was a strong causal link between them: The decline of Soviet power was an important factor promoting the transformation of the Middle East.

The momentous changes that took place within the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s produced a geopolitical earthquake of immense proportions in the Middle East. The resulting after- shocks will continue to transform the landscape of the region for many years to come.

Following Gorbachev's assumption of power in March 1985, Soviet foreign policy went through three major stages: reconceptualization, decline, and disintegration. Between 1985 and 1988, Gorbachev's "new thinking" produced a searching re-examination of Moscow's approach to regional conflict and its Cold War rivalry with the United States. In 198-1990, the Soviet Union's international power declined as domestic political and economic crises ate away at the foundations of Moscow's international power. In December 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist, and fifteen new sovereign states emerged in its place. This book examines the impact of these changes on the Middle East and analyzes how the decline of the Soviet Union has provided the impetus for the continuing transformation of diplomatic alignments, domestic policies, and rivalries throughout the region.

The first part of the book discusses how the Soviet Union's changing foreign policy influenced developments in the Middle East. Carol Saivetz begins

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