Soviet Union Table of Contents
Soviet relations with several Arab states improved during the mid- to late 1980s. In late 1985, Oman and the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Relations also improved with Bahrain, Kuwait, the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen), Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. This Soviet policy of improving ties with Western-oriented Arab states, as well as with the radical regimes of Syria and South Yemen, indicated a shift in Soviet policy away from the forging of a radical bloc of states toward a more flexible diplomatic approach to Middle Eastern problems. A major objective of this more flexible Soviet policy was to achieve the convening of an Arab-Israeli conference in which the Soviet Union would act as the primary peace broker. The Soviet Union began pursuing this objective in the 1970s as part of its general effort to erode United States influence in the region.
Gorbachev pursued closer ties with several moderate Middle Eastern states--Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel--while maintaining ties with radical regimes such as those in Syria, Libya, and South Yemen. In May 1987, Kuwait sought Soviet protection of its shipping in the Persian Gulf, and the Soviet Union agreed to let Kuwait charter Soviet-flagged tankers to transport oil. The Soviet Union also increased the size of its naval task force in the Persian Gulf. For the first time since the expulsion of Soviet military advisers in 1972 and the abrogation of the 1971 Soviet-Egyptian Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1976, a Soviet ambassador was posted to Cairo in 1985. Also, the Soviet Union agreed to reschedule Egypt's military debts on favorable terms. The Soviet Union agreed to provide Jordan with new weaponry, and Jordan's King Hussein announced his support for the convening of an international conference on the Middle East in which the Soviet Union would participate. This improvement in relations occurred despite Jordan's arrest of local communist party leaders in the spring of 1986. Lastly, the Soviet Union made several overtures to Israel in 1985-89 regarding reestablishment of diplomatic relations--severed in June 1967 as a result of the June 1967 war--in an attempt to gain Israeli support for an international conference on the Middle East. The Soviet Union had de-emphasized its previous condition that Israel withdraw from territories occupied during the Arab-Israeli June 1967 War before the reestablishment of relations, but the Israelis insisted on restoration of relations before the convening of the international conference. In 1987-88 the Soviet Union and Israel exchanged consular missions, but as of 1989 full diplomatic relations had not been restored.
Data as of May 1989