Laqueur, Walter
January 1969
Foreign Affairs;Jan1969, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p296
This article deals with the efforts of the Soviet government to assert its strength in the Middle East in 1968. The Russians' strengthened position in the Middle East has come about not by coercion or infiltration but by invitation. The Soviet Union was officially asked to become a Middle Eastern power and was willingly offered the facilities it wanted by the governments of Egypt, Syria, Algeria and Yemen. Communist ideas have become popular in the Middle East, but the Soviet brand of communism has lost much of its earlier appeal. The Soviet monopoly in anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism disappeared; every self-respecting radical leader in the Arab world subscribes to these doctrines. If arms supplies are added to economic credits, Egypt ranks first in the world among the recipients of Soviet aid. Yet in coming years its role in Soviet Middle Eastern strategy is almost certain to decrease. Moreover, while the emphasis in Soviet relations with Turkey and Iran is mainly economic, Soviet political and military help has been the great attraction for the Arab world. Iraq comes third in the list of Russia's partners in the Arab world. Economic ties have been strengthened in recent years and the Soviet Union has shown particular interest in the development of the Iraqi oil fields. Political relations have been checkered.


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