Courtesy Reuters

Once again events in the Middle East and adjacent areas dominated the world situation in 1980. To Americans, the inability to obtain the release of the 52 diplomats held hostage in Tehran since November 1979 was particularly dismaying. But of even greater underlying importance was the inability to mount a firm allied or regional response to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, where a grinding and brutal war went on with no sign of ending. In the fall, military conflict broke out between Iraq and Iran, again with no end in sight and with consequences for oil supply that by the end of the year had further tightened market prospects, and caused a new jump in oil prices. Finally, the Camp David process-which the Carter Administration had regarded as its greatest achievement-bogged down over issues of autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza that lay at the core of any hope for settlement of

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  • J. C. Hurewitz is Professor of Government and Director, Middle East Institute, at Columbia University. He is the author of The Middle East and North Africa in World Politics and other works.
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