The Cold War in the Middle East

Authored by: Paul Thomas Chamberlin

The Routledge Handbook of the Cold War

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415677011
eBook ISBN: 9781315882284
Adobe ISBN: 9781134700653


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Between 1945 and 1991, the Middle East became one of the most hotly contested theaters in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. It can be argued that no other region would witness such a constant stream of warfare, crises, and strategic realignments over such a sustained period of time. No other theater of the Cold War contained such a volatile mix of crumbling empires, strategic commodities, revolutionary nationalism, ethnic and religious diversity, and potential proxy armies. No other Cold War frontier would be so unstable and subject to such dramatic change over the entire course of the Cold War: between 1945 and 1955, the Middle East would lean toward the West; from 1955 to 1975, it would lean toward Moscow; from 1975 onward, it would again shift toward Washington. All of these factors would combine in the decades following the end of World War II to generate an almost constant stream of diplomatic and military conflicts in the Middle East – fueled by massive arms shipments from the superpowers – many of which would ultimately outlive the Cold War itself.

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