Soviet posture in the Middle East since the Yom Kippur War has been low-keyed in the face of sharp reverses. If the USSR hopes to profit from the anti-Western transformation it has promoted, it must bank on a renewal of Soviet patronage in Egyptian affairs. Soviet prospects depend upon the collapse of Sadat's "American strategy." A new war might succeed in drawing Egypt back, but is highly risky. The Soviets will probably rely on erosion to undermine Sadat's present strategy, on the assumption that Egypt's tilt toward the United States could not survive an indefinitely postponed settlement. The deterioration of Soviet-Egyptian relations has probably weakened Soviet incentives to promote settlement in favor of subverting Sadat's American connection. Most Soviet options entail risks and leave Soviet fortunes dependent on parties over which Moscow has little control. Given the huge uncertainties, the present Soviet low profile posture is neither surprising nor entirely without prospects. 18 pp.
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