MIDDLE EAST AND THE COLD WAR
In the Middle East, it wasn’t clear-cut about who was manipulating who. Egypt was
able to work the superpowers off each other to their own advantage. Cold war
wasn’t static in terms of its alliances.
GENERAL PATTERNS OF INFLUENCE
- Soviet influence over Syria, Iraq, Libya and Egypt
- Western influence over Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey
- But what is the extent of their influence??
o Someone limited influence especially when we look at individual case
o Willing to supply some arms and aid to the state, but not that much so
this is when we see a shift in alliances
Egypt as example of this
US was very cautious of how much arms it gave them
- Why were they hesitant/limited??
o US had own interests in regions and was trying to stay on neutral
terms with a lot of the actors.
o Both superpowers wanted to avoid an arms race in the region
o In 1950, US was part of the tripartite agreement: between US,
France and Britain saying they would not sell large amounts of arms
to the Arab states but it fell apart when France supplied arms to Israel
and US to Egypt.
- “Tail wagging the dog” phenomenon
o When a lower power manipulates the higher power
o Reverse manipulation by playing the superpowers off each other
- Effects of US/USSR power struggle on Middle Eastern states?
o Clash of civilization? Lost democratic potential in the region?
o Influenced development of domestic politics
o Military-backed regimes common
o Political polarization
o Stunted growth of democratic institutions
Court systems in particular
- Because superpowers stayed involved, even though they weren’t colonial
states anymore, they had an influence on how far domestic politics could go
US/SOVIET INTERESTS IN MIDDLE EAST
- Soviets were concerned with their border regions
o Dual borders with Iran and Turkey
- US wanted to make sure Soviets couldn’t expand over its borders and
increase its sphere of influence - Wanted military presence themselves in allied states so they could be close
to the soviet union in the event of war geopolitics and strategic advantage
- Alliances develop early after WWII
o Truman Doctrine: 1947; Policy of containment to portray
communism and USSR as evil. Used doctrines of freedom and
democracy to gain support. Motivated by concern that Greece would
move to the left and go socialist/communist. They offered them aid if
they jointed the US’s side and then this extended to Turkey.. “start of
containment policy” motivated by US interests and threat of
o Baghdad Pact: 1955; UK agreement with Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and
Iran that they would prevent communism and encourage peace and
democracy in Middle East. This was short-lived and Iraq pulled out
and the whole thing fell apart after the Iran Revolution in 79.
- Influence: shifted from Britain and France to Soviet and US
o Still see Britain as primary Western actor in many states
o Power vacuum?
o All of this has effect on internal domestic development
- Oil reserves?
o Soviet is not relying on Middle East for oil and the US is also doing
okay on it’s own not oil dependency at this time
o Economic interests more so than supply issues
o We do see oil used very much as a tool of manipulation
o Political, social, economic battles, especially for the US
o Driving force for US is to contain communism
IRAN: COLD WAR EFFECTS
- State that ended up having more of an oil play in politics
- AIOC: Anglo-Iranian Oil company
o Strong British links and profits in economic interests and supply due
to strong British presence in Iran
o Movement to nationalize the AIOC so revenue would come back to
Iran rather than being exported to Britain
- In Same year, Iran elects Mohammed Mossadegh as PM democratically
o Ended up having support from socialist and communist groups even
though he did not directly identify himself as communist. They had
more of a voice than ever before and this was a trigger for the US.
o Trigger for Britain as perceived threat to economic interests and
threat to US political interests
- Operation Ajax: CIA supported coup to oust Mossedegh
o Britain vs. American interests? Would US have done it without push
from Britain? Two worked together to engineer successful coup.
o Reinstalled the shah who was pro-western and remained in power o Post war movement toward creating strong democratic system in Iran
did this actually stunt the development domestically??