The Carter Years: Toward a New Global Order

By Richard C. Thornton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The Middle East to the Horn of Africa: From Whipsaw to Backlash, 1977

I n the Middle East and the Horn of Africa the United States faced two extremely complicated, interrelated problems. The gradual shift of Ethiopia from the American to the Soviet orbit raised the prospect of Soviet control of the entire Horn -- an accomplishment which could provide Moscow with tremendous leverage against the Middle East in general and Saudi Arabia in particular, as well as becoming a steppingstone for further Soviet penetration into Africa. The problem of the Horn therefore required the immediate attention of the Carter administration.

In the Middle East, the United States faced potentially the most explosive problem of all, a structural stalemate resulting from a geopolitical shift which had been halted midway and which was thus unstable and reversible. The breaking of the Arab encirclement of Israel and Egypt's shift into the American camp after the Yom Kippur War were not yet permanent; they were secured only by separation of forces agreements. Furthermore, the agreements did not address the fundamental issues of peace, security, and the Palestinian question.1

The two areas of tension were interrelated in that all of the Middle East principals were deeply concerned about Ethiopia's shift into Moscow's camp and were directly involved in efforts to forestall

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