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International Relations In The Era Of The Cold War Middle East Notes
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EAST INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS IN THE ERA OF THE
COLD WAR 1
Yezid Sayigh & Avi Shlaim (eds). The Cold War and the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997 William B. Quandt. Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1967. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2001 L. Carl Brown (ed.). Diplomacy in the Middle East: The International Relations of Regional and Outside Powers. New York, NY: I.B. Tauris &
Co Ltd, 2004 Fawaz A. Gerges. The Superpowers and the Middle East: Regional and International Politics, 1955-1967. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, Inc., 1994 Fred Halliday. The Middle East in International Relations: Power, Politics and Ideology. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005 Yury Polsky (1999). Arab and Soviet Perceptions Between the Six-Day War of June 1967 and the October War of 1973. The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, 26:3 Karl DeRouen Jr & Christopher Sprecher (2006). Arab Behaviour towards Israel: Strategic Avoidance or Exploiting Opportunities? British Journal of Political Science, 36:3 Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (1990). Multilateral Negotiations: a Spatial Analysis of the Arab-Israeli Dispute. International Organisation, 44:3 Galia Golan (2006). The Soviet Union and the Outbreak of the June 1967 SixDay War. Journal of Cold War Studies, 8:1 Douglas Little. 'The Cold War in the Middle East: Suez Crisis to Camp David Accords'
. M. Leffler & O. A. Westad. The Cambridge History of the Cold War.
Yezid Sayigh & Avi Shlaim (eds). The Cold War and the Middle East. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997 Adeed Dawisha, 'Egypt'
The West pushed Arab states into the arms of the USSR. Eisenhower Doctrine and Baghdad Pact pre-emptively transposed Cold War logic onto regional politics, which convinced Egypt of American colonial designs - causing it to encourage Soviet presence. Cold War created conditions for Egypt's political dominance by causing a convergence of Egyptian and Soviet interests, re opposition towards West, and hence means to ascent. Egypt exploited the Cold War for regional and domestic political purposes.
Six-Day War. Ba'athist support for Palestinian guerrillas led to border violence and direct skirmishes; Nasser tried to avoid the inevitable conflict and Syrian defeat. Closing the straits was meant to 'bolster the Syrians and to warn the Israelis that Syria did not stand alone', not as a prelude to war!
Nasser abandoned his revolutionary posture because of his economic dependence on conservative and pro-Western Arab states: abandoned neutrality and turned exclusively to USSR for military support. The USSR moved into the Mediterranean as Nasser outsourced Egyptian defence to it: Soviet technicians and pilots led counteroffensive to Israeli deep penetration bombing. Israel halted aerial operations over Egypt to avoid a direct clash with the Soviets!
Sadat hoped the Soviet-Egyptian Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation 1971 would lock in continuation of Soviet material support to ensure Egyptian victory in future war and guarantee his political survival… but expelled Soviet personnel 1972 when détente seemed to imply that USSR, delaying delivery of weaponry, would preclude such a war.
Yom Kippur War. USSR saved Egypt by threatening Washington with unilateral action, thereby making the US, on nuclear alert, pressure Israel to stop its advance. This backfired for Soviets by giving Sadat personal legitimacy and freedom to break off, in order to reach peace with Israel through the Americans, who mediated disengagement from Suez Canal and facilitated infitah with FDI. Sadat unilaterally abrogated Treaty in 1976 and closed embassy 1981. Egypt became totally dependent on the US.
Patrick Seale, 'Syria' Cold War considerations were 'relatively unimportant' for Syria, although West feared it was becoming a Soviet satellite - Syrian-USSR interests did not really align.
Phase 1 - Honeymoon. Syrian and Soviet security interests converged. o Syria was centrepiece of Egypt and Hashemites' plans for regional hegemony and the subject of Western fears of communist penetration of the ME - read as guise for imperialism. Western hostility (Baghdad Pact, Suez) pushed Syria towards Egypt. USSR, only viable patron, offered cheap assistance without conditions. 3
West feared Syria was becoming a satellite (plotted several coups) but this was misreading: Ba'ath disliked communism as rival to Arab nationalism. Phase 2 - Marriage. o Syrian-Soviet alliance existed only for provision of defence, so suffered when this purpose was eroded. USSR supported Arab militaries in order to gain bases against American 6th Fleet and Polaris submarines; alliance was not comprehensive - no cooperation in planning for war. Interests diverged, causing Egypt to break off: USSR was unwilling to equip Syria to wage total war on Israel. It urged Arabs to accept peace, fearing getting sucked into conflict.
Ø US read Syrian incursion into Jordan as Soviet attempt to bring down ally so urged Israel to flex muscles: USSR had not encouraged Palestinian rebellion or Syrian intervention but this experience proved danger of close alliance with Arabs, esp. after War of Attrition, just as Syria was most desperate for Soviet support. USSR wanted influence but not at cost of war, which Syria wanted!
US rejected USSR call for withdrawal to 1967 lines, which USSR thought was only way to stop war but US feared would only consolidate Soviet influence. Interests briefly realigned to destroy Israel-Lebanon accord brokered by US. Phase 3 - Divorce. o Meeting Gorbachev convinced Assad in 1986 to "look for other options". USSR assumed position of neutrality; Assad had to abandon strategic parity. Syria had no choice but to support US in Gulf War, lest Iraq attack it after Kuwait.
Efraim Karsh, 'Israel' Cold War was relevant for Israel only insofar as it consolidated statehood: the security logic was so extreme that there was not much the superpowers could do.
Israel found itself in Soviet sphere because the West feared that it was going communist! USSR then dumped Israel: anti-imperialist preferences were better served by Arabs. West did not want alliance with Israel either, preferring not to alienate Arabs: Suez was a blip in relations with UK; Eisenhower saw Israel as hindrance to containing the USSR, rebuffing pleas for security guarantees and urging Israel to give up part of the Negev for peace with Egypt! 1962 was first time US agreed to Israeli request for arms. Only France was friendly, hoping to use Israel to control Nasser, to take heat of Algeria…
but reoriented FP towards Arabs 1962 because Israel served no purpose.
1967 transformed Israel from a liability to an asset. US previously feared defence of Israel would derail its Cold War strategy: if Israel could defend itself, it now served American interests as a buffer against Soviet penetration (partly by positioning the US as the only superpower able to deliver Israeli concessions to the Arabs). American and Israeli interests coincided: e.g. threats against Syrian invasion of Jordan.
Ø Israel remained an asset, not a friend. Policy of linkage induced Nixon to open bilateral negotiations with USSR in 1969 over Res/242, to get concessions in Vietnam. Israel refused to be sacrificed in Rogers Plan. Escalated War of Attrition in 4
hope of swift victory, so political pressure would abate; instead, US used arms sales as leverage: get Israel to suspend attacks (not realising heaviness of Soviet presence). Nixon resumed sales to avoid requiring use of American troops to defend Israel.
Yom Kippur War. Meir begged White House for arms. Interdepartmental senior crisis management group feared "turning around a battle that the Arabs were winning might blight our relations with the Arabs"; Nixon refused to let it lose to Soviet proxies but his order was not implemented for days, as Sec of Defence opposed decision. When Sadat rejected ceasefire, US expedited airlift as the only way to enforce a ceasefire. Nixon promised to "squeeze [Israel] goddamn hard" afterwards by pressuring Israel to accept ceasefire when it was on the offensive.
The US resolved to use Israeli sacrifices to pry Egypt away from the USSR. Ford threatened Rabin that the US "would not finance a state of deadlock that would damage its political interests": suspended contacts and aid until Israel was ready to reopen negotiations, thereby showing that only by cooperating with US could Arabs get what they wanted. > Again, this had nothing to do with the Cold War: Israel fought back American pressure and turned to negotiations only when it had been given secret farreaching commitments, e.g. that agreement should be a permanent peace treaty.
Egyptian-Israeli peace was a local, not superpower, initiative! Carter tried to reactivate multilateral dialogue, pushing Sadat and Begin to go it alone because they realised that détente meant less local room for manoeuvre. Israel only turned to Egypt after Jordan rejected territorial compromise. Neither Egypt nor Israel wanted the USSR to have a role in regional peace-making!
Avi Shlaim, 'Conclusion'
The Cold War had limited impact: the primary impulse for international relations was internal ('sub-systemic dominance'). Great powers are chiefly concerned with other great powers, not minor allies, which they might sacrifice; facing a more acute security logic, smaller powers vigorously resist being used as sacrifices.
Soviet position in Third World was tenuous: relied heavily on supply of arms. Gains when weaponry flowed (produced alliance with Egypt) and losses when restricted (defection of Egypt). This meant clients offered only 'commitment without control': they remained resistant to the imposition of a settlement. They entered Cold War against their will, so only to extent they could exploit it for arms and money.
Bad superpower relations enhanced local allies' bargaining power. During détente, superpowers prioritised rapprochement over clients' interests, so they went it alone as the only way to avoid the frozen status quo.
Cold War had zero effect on Middle East domestic policy, other than in Iran, where the Shah's alignment with the West reinforced regime's anti-communist orientation. Cold War international did not discourage authoritarianism: insulated from external pressure to 5
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