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November 09, 1990 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-11-09

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I BACKGROUND

Double Game

Continued from preceding page

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dized more than 20 years of
Soviet-Iraqi friendship and
wrecked Moscow's broader
aspirations in the region.
While the Soviet Union did
indeed oppose the invasion,
notes Dr. Sherr, the Iraqi
action does have important
political and economic
spinoffs for Moscow.
Economically, the
destabilization of the Gulf
has sent shock waves
throughout the oil-
consuming industrialized
world, a phemonenon that
could, in the long term, have
the effect of enhancing the
appeal of the Soviet Union's
own huge, underdeveloped
oil and gas reserves in
Siberia.
On the political level, the
Soviet Union is urging Iraq
to withdraw from Kuwait in
order to deny the United
States the opportunity of a
military success which
would lead to the imposition
of a Pax Americana — and a
major political defeat for
Moscow — in a region so
close to Soviet territory.
Moscow, he says, would
also benefit from Washing-
ton's ignominy in the eyes of
its allies, particularly Egypt
and Saudi Arabia, if the Ira-
qi provocation was removed
and the United States, hav-
ing deployed massive quan-
tities of men and materiel,
was forced to fold its tents
and go home.
"I don't think the Ameri-
cans would be able to main-
tain their credibility in the
Arab world if they failed to
act against Iraq now. You
can't make military moves
on such a vast scale and not
go through with them."
Having lost its East Euro-
pean empire, he notes, the
Soviet Union cannot afford
to lose its influence in the
Middle East.
Nor does Dr. Sherr
subscribe to the theory that
the Soviet Union has aban-
doned its competition with
the United States in the re-
gion in favor of superpower
cooperation:
"If Moscow succeeds in
brokering a peaceful resolu-
tion to the crisis, it will rep-
resent an unqualified vic-
tory for the Soviets, but if
there is a military
showdown," he adds, "they
could lose everything."
At the heart of the differ-
ences between Moscow and
Washington is the fact that
while Western interests in
the Gulf are derived from oil,
the Soviet interests are de-
rived from the proximity of
the region to its own borders.
Moscow might be outraged
by the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait, but it is not

threatened by it. The threat
to the Soviet Union is
perceived in a powerful
American military presence
in what it considers to be its
own backyard.
Moreover, while instabili-
ty in the Gulf threatens oil
supplies, drives up gas prices
and dislocates the economies
of the West, this uncertainty
could, conceivably, prove to
be an economic windfall for
the Soviet Union.
If Israel plays its cards
right, it could emerge as a
beneficiary of all this hard-
nosed Soviet pragmatism at
the -very moment when rela-
tions between Washington
and Jerusalem enter the
freezer.
Moscow has already dem-
onstrated its manifest good
will toward Israel: This year
alone, some 200,000 Soviet
Jews are expected to
emigrate, while restrictions
on Jewish religious and
cultural practice in the

If Israel plays its
cards right, it could
emerge as a
beneficiary of all
this hard-nosed
Soviet pragmatism.

Soviet Union has undergone
a significant liberalization.
On a political level,
Moscow has gone some con-
siderable distance toward
meeting Israeli demands for
a resumption of full diplo-
matic relations by agreeing
to the establishment of con-
sulates-general.
In presenting the face of
friendship to Jerusalem, the
Soviet leader is hoping,
again, for political and econ-
omic rewards: He is anxious
to cultivate relations with
Israel because he believes
that this may open the door
to preferential trading ar-
rangements with both the
United States and the Soviet
Union.
On a political level, he is
anxious not to be left out of
future Middle East peace-
making diplomacy, par-
ticularly where it concerns
his two other Middle East
allies, Syria and the
Palestine Liberation Organ-
ization.
Having built up a stock of
credit in Israel, Mr. Gor-
bachev's next task will be to
convince the Israelis that
peace with both Syria and
the Palestinians is possible
and that, most important of
all, a level of Soviet media-
tion is fundamental to the
achievement of such
desirable goals. LI

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