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

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

ditional offer on February 15 to withdraw. 74 Although the other coalition members immediately rejected it, Moscow saw the offer as Iraq's initial bargaining position and received Tariq Aziz on the 18th with hopes of hammering out an agreement that was more in line with the Security Council resolutions. As well, the Soviets engaged in a round of consultations with foreign governments, and received the Foreign Minsters of France, Kuwait, and Iran. 75 As an Izvestiia correspondent wrote, "The center of diplomatic activity seems to have shifted to Moscow this week."76 The day before, the same correspondent wrote that since the war would undoubtedly worsen U.S. relations with the Arab world, it was an opportunity for the Soviet Union to increase its influence, if it could maintain a dialogue with Baghdad and distance itself from U.S. actions. 77 Such opinions could no longer be taken as necessarily authoritative, but they did seem to be borne out by subsequent Soviet moves.

Tariq Aziz took back to Baghdad a much modified set of proposals, and returned to Moscow on the 22nd. From these discussions emerged the Gorbachev plan. In brief, this plan envisaged the end to hostilities and withdrawal of Iraqi forces intact within a restricted time period, the end to sanctions after the withdrawal was complete (a change from the original plan, which would have seen sanctions dropped before all troops had left), and the abandonment of the idea of Iraqi reparations. The plan went much of the way to fulfilling the Security Council resolutions. It did not, however, meet them all (specifically Resolution 674 on reparations); and it did not go far enough to satisfy Washington's goal of destroying Iraq's potential to pose a military threat in the region.

The ground war began soon afterwards. The Soviet government expressed regret but did not condemn the action. 78

When the war ended, Moscow submitted a proposal to the Security Council for a post-war settlement. This document called for the involvement of all regional countries and the U nited Nations. It called for reduction of the foreign military presence to the levels of August 11, 1990, and implied a call for agreement among arms suppliers to limit sales to the region; and it urged efforts to achieve a wider Middle East settlement. 79 The implied support for reintegrating Iraq quickly into the regional system (which Bessmertnykh had made specific in the Supreme Soviet prior to the outbreak of the ground war) 80 did not prevent the U.S.S.R. from voting with the other permanent members of the Security Council to continue sanctions until Iraqi chemical and nuclear capabilities had been destroyed. 81


Conclusion

This chapter set out to examine the impact of new political thinking regarding Third World regional conflict on actual Soviet policy, taking as its case

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