Soviet-Iraqi Relations, 1968-1988: In the Shadow of the Iraq-Iran Conflict

Soviet-Iraqi Relations, 1968-1988: In the Shadow of the Iraq-Iran Conflict

Soviet-Iraqi Relations, 1968-1988: In the Shadow of the Iraq-Iran Conflict

Soviet-Iraqi Relations, 1968-1988: In the Shadow of the Iraq-Iran Conflict

Synopsis

From the beginning of the Ba'th regime in 1968 to the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Iraq was the Soviet Union's most important ally in the Middle East. Haim Shemesh explores the evolution of this Soviet-Iraqi relationship - one that Moscow often exploited - concentrating on the impact of the 1969-1975 and 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq conflicts on the fluctuations in Soviet-Iraqi ties and also examining other issues relevant to the alliance: the Iraqi communist party, the Kurdish problem, and developments in the Arab East, including the Arab-Israeli dispute. Shemesh's conclusions, based on comparative analyses of Soviet, Arab and Western sources, contribute to a better understanding of not only Soviet-Middle Eastern relations, but also Soviet-Third World relations in general.

Excerpt

This book is the first comprehensive study of Soviet-Iraqi relations from the time of the establishment of the Ba'th regime in Iraq in 1968 to the end of the Iraq-Iran war in 1988. Based on a comparative analysis of mainly Soviet and Iraqi primary sources, it provides a thorough and multifaceted view of the subject. It deals with virtually every factor that had an impact on the Soviet-Iraqi relationship, from the central ones of the Iraq-Iran conflicts of 1969-1975 and 1980-1988 and the superpowers' rivalry in the Middle East, to the less important ones such as the Arab‐ Israeli dispute, the Kurdish problem, and the Iraqi Communist Party.The study also contributes to a better understanding of the unfolding of Soviet—Middle Eastern and Soviet—Third World relations.

One should bear in mind the disproportion between Baghdad's status in Soviet global policy and Moscow's position in Iraq's overall external relations during the period covered in this book. Whereas the USSR, as the only superpower with which Ba'th Iraq maintained extensive relations, occupied the central place in Iraq's foreign ties, the latter's significance as a medium-sized, non-Communist, Third World country was secondary in Soviet policy. The countries that clearly preceded Iraq in the USSR's system of alliances—still intact in 1988—belonged to the following categories: (1) states in which the Soviet army was deployed, therefore constituting a military, and to a great degree political, extension of the USSR—the Warsaw Pact members except Romania, plus Mongolia and Afghanistan (the latter from 1979 to 1989); (2) pro-Soviet, Communist, Third World countries with special strategic value to the USSR, namely Cuba, as an advance position against the United States, and Vietnam also as an outpost against the United States during the Vietnam War and against China in the late 1970s and in the 1980s; and (3) greater Third World countries with some pro-Soviet orientation, such as India and Egypt under Nasser.Nevertheless, Iraq was an important ally of the USSR, for it was bound by a friendship treaty to the latter from 1972 and . . .

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