The Soviet Union and the Middle East


This is a first attempt to review and to examine critically Soviet views on developments in the Middle East since 1917. It is, of course, impossible to deal with the Middle East entirely in isolation; occasional references to Soviet policy in Asia in general and to the basic conceptions behind it are unavoidable. While making certain allowances for important differences in the various countries, Soviet Asian and African experts have always tended to regard the colonial world and the dependent countries as a whole; Soviet policies in the Middle East have sometimes been decisively influenced by events in India and China. It is impossible to retrace the discussions and disputes about the Middle East except in the wider framework of the great Soviet debate on the coming Asian revolution, a debate that has continued, off and on, for almost forty years.

Some difficulties in method should, perhaps, first be mentioned. It is admittedly easier and more correct to talk about a "Soviet view" on any given subject of public interest -- whether modern painting, Tolstoy, or the Middle East -- than about, say, an "American" or a "French" view. Nevertheless, there is a danger of exaggerating the uniformity of Soviet thinking; substantial differences of opinion on the Middle East existed up to about 1928; since then, unanimity has not been complete, there are differences of emphasis and there are varying nuances in political appraisal and analysis. The analysis of Soviet views on "Western Asian" topics is further complicated by the frequent changes in the party line in dealing historically with such subjects as the Gilan Republic or the role of the Egyptian Wafd, or Gandhi and Nehru and the non-Communist national liberation movement in general.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1959


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