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

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

9
Beyond the "Terror Network":
Eastern Europe and the Middle East

Lenard J. Cohen

The former leadership of our state had a sort of tacit agreement with the Arab world that no terrorist act would be committed in Czechoslovakia. This was naturally not free of charge. Whole terrorist groups were able to cross our country freely, meeting here to coordinate their future action. Most of the time, their stay here was camouflaged and called spa treatment and such things.

--Anti-terrorist official in the Czechoslovak Federal Interior Ministry
( August, 1990)

Fundamentalism in its sectarian, exclusivist, fanatical expression can only be overcome if movements incarnating freedom ... can prove to be effective and genuinely represent new forms of grass roots (as opposed to "guided") democracy. ... In this way the lessons of the uprisings now sweeping across Eastern Europe can be precious for the Middle East.

--Egyptian journalist for Al Ahram ( March, 1990)

During the decade from 1980 to 1990, the relationship between the countries of Eastern Europe and the Middle East underwent a fundamental and rapid change. At the onset of the 1980s almost all of Eastern Europe's Communist regimes served as junior partners in the implementation of Soviet-inspired policy toward the Middle East. While the individual East European capitals in the Warsaw Treaty Organization (W.T.O.) did not march in perfect lock-step with Moscow's international policies, most provided various Soviet allies in the Middle East with armaments, trade links, and general support in the struggle against the alleged "American-Zionist" alliance. For the Middle East's radical Islamic movements engaged in state-sponsored international terrorism, Eastern Europe also served as a useful training ground, a regional safe house, and a military supply depot for their unconventional political activities.

-192-

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