ARMS FOR THE ARABS: The Soviet Union and War in the Middle East by Jon D. Glassman

ARMS FOR THE ARABS: The Soviet Union and War in the Middle East

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A timely and valuable work on Soviet policy in the Middle East. Glassman, a US Foreign Service Officer, traces the USSR's twenty-year involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict, with special attention to Russian-Arab arms deals. He finds Soviet policy influenced by a desire to restrain their allies--in order to protect their Arab friends from their own too ambitious plans and to avoid confrontation with the US-- while at the same time the Russians were forced to maintain the alliance by backing the intransigent Arab position toward Israel. When seeking to expand their influence in the region during the mid-'50's, Soviet leadership came to believe ""that a united anti-Western Middle Eastern bloc could be cemented by encouraging joint Arab military efforts aimed against Israel."" But the weaponry furnished by the USSR, Glassman shows, was often defense-oriented. By 1967, Arab overconfidence led to a disastrous war that the Russians objectively helped create but really desired to avoid. Glassman carefully follows the post-1967 Soviet military build-up, the conflicts which ensued with Egypt's President Sadat in 1971-72, and the renewed cooperation making possible the October 1973 war. His tendency to emphasize military aid often obscures important political questions and does not prepare the ground for understanding the rapid decline of Soviet influence in Egypt over the last two years. Nevertheless, this is a fine piece of scholarship which will become a standard reference.

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 1975
Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press