Soviet Policy Dilemmas in the Middle East

by Arnold L. Horelick

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The policy dilemmas that confront the Soviet Union in the Middle East are discussed in the context of the Soviet Union's position as (1) champion of the "progressive" regimes in the "national liberation struggle"; (2) the major non-Western source of aid to developing countries; and (3) the senior member of the world Communist movement. The Arab-Israeli conflict was a defeat for the Soviet Union in that it demonstrated the failure of massive Soviet military aid and the unwillingness of the Soviet Union to intervene militarily. At the same time, the Arab defeat provides the Soviet Union with its moment of greatest opportunity in the Middle East: Arab dependency on the Soviet Union is now greater than in the past and this dependency offers new opportunities for enlarging Soviet influence. The most fundamental questions of Soviet foreign and defense policy are now at issue in the Middle East. For the present, the Soviet Union is seeking to keep open as many alternatives as possible.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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