The Tundra and The Desert: An Analysis of Soviet-Iraqi Relations, 1968-1972 Open Access

Roos, Noah (Spring 2020)

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In the context of Cold War competition between great powers, the Soviet Union actively sought out allies in different regions of the world. These alliances served as a means for the Soviet Union to exert influence and secure its status as a great power of global reach and significance. The Middle East was one such area the Soviet Union wanted to play a role in. Initially, the Soviet Union focused on building ties with Egypt and Syria, but after the 1967 Six Day War, it turned its attention to Iraq. Iraq needed the material benefits that came with an alliance to the USSR, but its diplomatic isolation put it at-risk of transforming from a Soviet friend to a Soviet client or puppet. 

Therefore, from 1968 to 1972, the ruling Iraqi Ba’athist regime focused on stabilizing its domestic position while maintaining ties with the USSR. This would make it harder for the Soviet Union to exert pressure on the Iraqi government’s actions and simultaneously ensure economic and military aid from the USSR continued to arrive. With its rule secured, Ba’athist figures such as Saddam Hussein worked to build new diplomatic partners for Iraq, balancing out the position the USSR previously held and limiting the potential of future great power influence efforts. The thesis demonstrates that, rather than the local power Iraq being a tool of the great power Soviet Union, Iraq was actually the state with more control of this bilateral diplomatic interaction.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction - 1

Chapter 1: The Impact of 1967 - 14

Chapter 2: Soviet-Iraqi Relations, 1968-1972 - 36

Chapter 3: Afterwards and Iraqi Drift, 1972-1975 - 65

Conclusion: Looking at the Big Picture - 86

Bibliography - 94

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