The Middle East from the Iran-Contra Affair to the Intifada

The Middle East from the Iran-Contra Affair to the Intifada

The Middle East from the Iran-Contra Affair to the Intifada

The Middle East from the Iran-Contra Affair to the Intifada

Excerpt

The Iran-Contra scandal had a major impact on the Middle East. The disclosure that the United States, occasionally using Israel as a conduit, had sent arms to Iran undermined the U.S. diplomatic position in the Arab world and helped promote the massive U.S. naval buildup in the Persian Gulf aimed at reassuring the Gulf Arabs of U.S. support against Iran. The Soviet Union, seeking to exploit U.S. discomfiture over the scandal, tried to promote an international peace conference and, in the process, carried on a diplomatic flirtation with Israel. The USSR also allowed Kuwait to charter three Soviet ships but then tilted to the Iranian side as Moscow sought to exploit the rising U.S.-Iranian hostility.

The Iran-Contra affair had an effect on other nations of the Middle East as well as on the superpowers and the protagonists in the Iran- Iraq war. Thus Israel, whose leadership had its own goals in strengthening Iran against Iraq, played an important role in the affair. Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Jordan sought to exploit it to pressure the United States into accepting an international conference on the Arab- Israeli conflict. By contrast, for Syria, Turkey, Lebanon (where the story was first revealed), and the Sudan, the issue was of less significance although all four countries faced more than their share of challenges during the 1985-89 period.

In the Arab world, preoccupation with the threat from Iran diverted attention from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, helped reintegrate Egypt into the Arab fold, and increasingly isolated Syria. King Hussein and Yasser Arafat signed an agreement in 1985 to form a joint Jordanian-Palestinian negotiating team for talks with Israel, but the agreement collapsed one year later amid mutual recriminations. Israel's divided National Unity government also proved incapable of promoting the peace process, and the Palestinian Intifada, which began in December 1987, underlined the Palestinians' desire to control their own destiny.

This book is an analysis of these developments as case studies in the foreign policies of each of the main actors involved. Domestic forces that have played a major role in the foreign policies of the main actors will be examined as well. Yet it is hoped that the book is more than merely the sum of its parts, however excellent the analysis in each of . . .

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