Soviet Policy toward the Middle East since 1970

Soviet Policy toward the Middle East since 1970

Soviet Policy toward the Middle East since 1970

Soviet Policy toward the Middle East since 1970

Excerpt

The four-year period between the death of Egyptian President Gamal Nasser and the sudden resignation of United States President Richard Nixon witnessed a number of major upheavals and changes in the always volatile Middle East. The Arab-Israeli conflict again erupted into full-scale war in October 1973, bringing the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear confrontation. The war also brought on a five-month oil embargo against the United States and a quadrupling of oil prices. In addition, the period witnessed the failure of a Communist-supported coup d'etat in the Sudan and a major rearrangement of Middle East alliances. Egypt, under its new President Anwar Sadat, moved from a position of hostility towards oil-rich Saudi Arabia to an alignment with it, while simultaneously moving from an alliance with the Soviet Union to a more neutral position between the superpowers following Sadat's expulsion of the Soviet military forces from their Egyptian bases in July 1972. Indeed, by the time of Nixon's resignation it appeared that Egypt was moving toward the United States-despite all the military aid given by the Soviet Union during the October war. Soviet policy-makers struggled to deal with these developments. It will be the purpose of this book to demonstrate how the Soviet leadership sought to cope with Middle Eastern developments that it not only had not planned but also found most difficult to control.

A number of scholars and government officials were kind enough to comment on this manuscript at various stages of its preparation. Special thanks go to Professors Aaron Klieman of Tel-Aviv University, Abdul Said of American University, Melvin Croan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Teresa Rakowska-Harmstone of Carleton University, as well as to Dr.David Albright of Problems of Communism and Mr. Norman Anderson of the State Department's Egyptian desk, whose criticisms helped improve the manuscript. In addition, I would like to thank the other members of the State Department's Near East/ South Asia section and the diplomats representing Egypt, Jordan, and Israel who were kind enough to grant me interviews during my research. Finally, I would like to thank the large number of American, Israeli, Arab, and Soviet scholars with whom I had long discussions about the Middle East and my students at Marquette University from whom I learned so much. Needless to say, while I am indebted to all these individuals for their assistance, the views in this book are my own and I bear full responsibility for any errors.

I received research support for this study from Marquette University and from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This support enabled me to travel to the Middle East and to the Soviet Union. I would like to thank the personnel of the Zionist Archives in Jerusalem and the library of Radio Liberty in New York who afforded me every courtesy during my research. I would also like to offer my thanks to Ms. Karen Scibilia, who helped me maintain my files on the Middle East, and to Ms. Sandy Feuerabend, who typed the manuscript.

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