The Role of the Superpowers in Conflicts in the Middle East - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  969 Words
Date:  2022-12-09


The knife edge war that existed in the Middle East between 1948 and 1978 was mainly started by the religious and territorial clashes between the Muslims and Israelis. The conflict was fuelled by nationalism and religious differences and other wrangles such as the refugee problems in Palestine. Despite the fact that the conflict was not instigated by the Superpowers, they played a major role in sustaining and intensifying the fight by engagements of the Superpowers due to their interest in the region during the Cold War. The involvement and reach of the superpowers into the Middle East was evident in the years before and after 1978. The Superpowers propagated the fight by providing the nations from the Middle East with weaponry and other funds that they would need in escalating the conflict. There are so many reasons that drove the Superpowers to concentrate in the Middle East and which eventually led to the escalation of the conflict.

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The Geographic location of the Middle East has always been of high strategic importance to other nations. This is as a result of its accessibility to the Suez canal which acts as a fundamental trade route between Africa and Asia and perhaps most importantly, its close proximity to the oil fields in the Middle East (Khalidi 166). The geographic location of the Middle East was one of the reasons that drove the Soviet Union and the USA indirectly into war. The USA was mainly interested in the Middle East since, after the Second World War, it encountered a massive shortage of oil and it had to trade with nations that were rich in oil. However, the Soviet Union had a totally different agenda. It was mainly concentrated in world domination. By dominating Europe, the communist believed that it would be much easier to control the world. Hence, they had to control the involvement of the USA in Eastern Europe in order to achieve its plans for world domination. This led to the intensification of the relationship between the USSR and the USA since the USA had to fight back to control the encroaching power of the USSR.

The conflict in the Middle East was mainly enhanced by Soviet aggression. It held a conference in 1945 in which the Soviet Union discussed how they would govern Europe after the war. The response of both the US and USSR to the arms race marked the explosion of the war in the Middle East. It was a competition between two superpowers to gather the most powerful and sophisticated nuclear weapons. This was a demonstration of how the war had begun and spread. The USSR was vexed when they realized that the USA was building an atomic bomb in 1945 (Sanad 363). The USSR felt insecure and they decided to manufacture their atomic bomb in 1949.

The fight in the Middle East was also escalated when the rivalry between the Soviet Union, USA their allies worsen. The two superpowers played integral roles in the initiation of the war. Some of the factors that propagated the war are America's fear of communism attack, the enmity, and misunderstanding between capitalist East and Communism West and the Soviet Aggression. The blame for the war cannot be placed on one nation since it developed as a series of reactions and a struggle for supremacy between the superpowers. Hence, both the USA and the USSR played a role in the propagation of the fight but the degree of contribution varies since they played different roles in its initiations.

The Role of the Superpowers in Conflicts in Afghanistan

The superpowers had varying interests in the Afghanistan conflict. After the American disaster in Vietnam, the foreign policy of the U.S.A. was not interested in controlling activities in Afghanistan and that gave the Soviet Union a chance to take control of the region. With the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Soviet capitalized on the lack of leadership in American foreign policy to spread their influence across the globe. There are polar differences in the interests that the Soviet Union had in Afghanistan in 1979 and the interest of the US in Afghanistan in 2001. The primary reason that drove the Soviet to intervene in Afghanistan was geopolitical drivers such as war that dominated international relations. The Soviet's motivation to go to Afghanistan was propagated by the relative weakness of the U.S. after the collapse of the Shah in Iran in 1978. At that period, the U.S. was still reeling from the defeat in Vietnam and it was also riddled with the economic crisis. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 can be explained as an execution of the Brezhnev Doctrine which called for defending socialist regimes with ties of allies in Moscow (Gillard 731). The Soviet leadership was also troubled by the relationship that existed between Afghanistan and the USA.

The nature of military tactics used by the two superpowers in Afghanistan could not be more different, mainly at the outset of the fight. The Soviets responded to the opposite force exerted by Afghans by using excessive force, ferocity, and brutality that resulted into the death of more than 1.5 million Afghans ("Soviet Military Intervention in Afghanistan: Roots & Causes" 392). The Soviet forces created the havoc by bombing cities such as Kandahar and using land mines in different parts of the country which caused the population to drop from 250,0000 to 25,000 ("Soviet Military Intervention in Afghanistan: Roots & Causes" 393).

Works Cited

Gillard, David. "Afghanistan, non-alignment and the superpowers." International Affairs, vol. 64, no. 4, 1988, pp. 731-731.

Khalidi, Rashid. "The Superpowers and the Cold War in the Middle East." The Middle East and the United States, 2018, pp. 157-174.

Sanad, Jamal. "Alan R. Taylor, The Superpowers and the Middle East (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1991). Pp. 225." International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 25, no. 02, 1993, pp. 363-364.

"Soviet Military Intervention in Afghanistan: Roots & Causes." Polity, vol. 16, no. 3, 1984, pp. 384-403.

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