The Middle East in Transition: Studies in Contemporary History

By Walter Z. Laqueur | Go to book overview

THE 'NATIONAL FRONT'
In Communist Strategy in the Middle East

by A. BENNIGSEN

SINCE THE DEATH of Stalin, a new policy of expansion has been worked out by his successors and applied to the Middle East with a success that alarms most Western observers. Some of the latter predict the imminent sovietization of that part of the world -- within two years according to the most pessimistic, or ten years according to the most optimistic.

But in fact the notion of 'sovietization' has lately become transformed, and to ignore its new meaning is to misunderstand the whole political development of the U.S.S.R. In Stalin's time, sovietization could come about only through the violent seizure of power by the local proletariat, or through occupation by the Red Army. Stalin, one of the old Bolsheviks, despised and distrusted the bourgeoisie, and had no confidence in anything less than revolt -- a civil war waged by the proletarian masses themselves and led by Communists. The sovietization of the Middle East could therefore be conceived only in three possible forms -- (a) violent proletarian revolution, (b) the break-up of states with multi-national populations (such as Iraq, Persia, and others) by the action of dynamic minorities such as the Kurds or Azerians looking towards the U.S.S.R., or (c) a Soviet military occupation -- this last solution being, however, improbable.

In reality, neither the Soviet theorists nor Stalin himself ever thought these methods likely to succeed. That is abundantly proved by their refusal to assist the separatist movements of the democratic republics of Azerbaidjan or the Kurds of Mahabâd. Such revolts could be easily throttled by police and authoritarian régimes which,

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