chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

ByBaruch A. Hazan

Soviet Middle East policy is prompted by military, political, economic and ideological considerations. Britain's rule in the territories between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf as well as Arab hostility toward the atheistic Communist ideology, and Soviet Russia's concentration on Europe, prevented Moscow from playing a key role in the Middle East. Soviet policy was dictated by the old imperial dream of penetrating the Middle East. Its objective was twofold: establishing a political and possibly even military foothold in Palestine, and accelerating the ousting of Britain from the Middle East, cutting the land bridge between British forces based in Egypt and those in Transjordan and Iraq. Stalin's death changed the pattern of Soviet foreign policy. New assessments led to the rational conclusion that Soviet penetration into the underdeveloped world could enlarge Moscow's sphere of influence and create a radical change in the global balance of power. The Soviet Union started arms deliveries to Egypt in September 1955.