Middle East Instability

May 27, 1959

Report Outline
Interplay of Arab and World Rivalries
Factors Responsible for Instability
Effects of Cold War on Middle East

Interplay of Arab and World Rivalries

Since World War II no region of the world has produced more crises than the Middle East. Hardly a year has passed without outbreaks or threats of violence, internal or international, in which one or more of the great powers have been either active participants or anxious spectators. War of the Arab states against Israel, riots and revolution in Egypt, Anglo-French armed intervention at Suez, revolution in Iraq, American troop landings in revolt-ridden Lebanon, and lesser disturbances have punctuated the years. The Soviet Union, far from holding aloof, has helped with arms and propaganda to keep the region in turmoil.

East and West came to blows in Korea. That eventuality has been avoided so far in the Middle East, as in Europe, but the war of nerves has been nowhere more pervasive than around the eastern Mediterranean. Western Europe's dependence on Middle East oil, and on the short sea route to the Orient, has contributed on one side to concentrating power rivalries in this quarter; and the fact that Moscow now looks beyond traditional Russian goals in the Middle East toward new objectives in Africa has done the same on the other side.

Competition between East and West is by no means solely responsible for the succession of Middle East crises. Deep-reaching influences at work among the countries and peoples of the region itself have put in motion a process of governmental, economic, and social change which naturally has stirred all kinds of conflict between old and new. It is a period of ferment and instability made to order for designing foreign powers—but one which raises the fears of all other foreign powers with vital interests at stake. Until recently, Western apprehensions centered on apparent entanglement of Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser with the men of the Kremlin. Now the scene has shifted to Iraq, where Reds recently seemed on the point of taking over the government of Premier Abdel Karim Kassem and giving international communism its first direct foothold in the Middle Bast.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jun. 21, 2013  Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
May 2009  Middle East Peace Prospects
Oct. 27, 2006  Middle East Tensions Updated
Jan. 21, 2005  Middle East Peace
Aug. 30, 2002  Prospects for Mideast Peace
Apr. 06, 2001  Middle East Conflict
Mar. 06, 1998  Israel At 50
Aug. 30, 1991  The Palestinians
Oct. 19, 1990  The Elusive Search for Arab Unity
Feb. 24, 1989  Egypt's Strategic Mideast Role
Apr. 15, 1988  Israel's 40-Year Quandary
Mar. 02, 1984  American Involvement in Lebanon
Nov. 12, 1982  Reagan's Mideast Peace Initiative
Apr. 23, 1982  Egypt After Sadat
Jan. 04, 1980  Divided Lebanon
Jul. 20, 1979  West Bank Negotiations
Dec. 01, 1978  Middle East Transition
Jan. 13, 1978  Saudi Arabia's Backstage Diplomacy
Oct. 29, 1976  Arab Disunity
May 16, 1975  Middle East Diplomacy
Sep. 13, 1974  Palestinian Question
Dec. 12, 1973  Middle East Reappraisal
Apr. 25, 1973  Israeli Society After 25 Years
Aug. 19, 1970  American Policy in the Middle East
Apr. 25, 1969  Arab Guerrillas
Aug. 02, 1967  Israeli Prospects
Jul. 06, 1966  Middle East Enmities
Apr. 14, 1965  Relations with Nasser
Aug. 17, 1960  Arab-Israeli Deadlock
May 27, 1959  Middle East Instability
Jun. 04, 1958  Nasser and Arab Unity
Oct. 02, 1957  Soviet Threat in Middle East
Sep. 18, 1956  Suez Dispute and Strategic Waterways
May 09, 1956  Middle East Commitments
Apr. 13, 1955  Middle East Conflicts
Mar. 31, 1954  Security in the Mideast
Oct. 23, 1952  Israel and the Arab States
Jan. 30, 1952  Egyptian Crisis and Middle East Defense
Mar. 17, 1948  Palestine Crisis
Feb. 18, 1946  Soviet Russia and the Middle East
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Cold War
Middle East Conflicts
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia
U.S. at War: Cold War
War and Conflict