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Russia Enters the Middle East

Courtesy Reuters

Once again the Middle East seems fated to become the main danger zone of world politics. During the last decade the East-West détente has prevented a head-on collision between the superpowers there, but many signs point to impending changes. As the Soviet Union reaches strategic parity with the United States, there is growing temptation for it to assert its strength in an area so much nearer Moscow than Washington. The Western withdrawal from the area will be complete with the British departure from the Persian Gulf. From the Soviet point of view the Middle East is a vacuum and seems the least risky area in the world in which to expand the Soviet sphere of influence. The Russian drive to the south which began in the eighteenth century seems at last likely to achieve fulfillment.

The Russians' strengthened position in the Middle East has come about not by coercion

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