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The Cold War in the Middle East

Podcast Episode Summary:

In this episode of Mid-Atlantic, host Roifield Brown sits down with Ian Sanders, host and producer of Cold War Conversations, to dive deep into the Cold War's impact on the Middle East. Through a detailed and engaging discussion, they explore the geopolitical dynamics, conflicts, and the roles of global superpowers in shaping the region's history. This conversation sheds light on lesser-known aspects of the Cold War, emphasising the importance of oral histories in understanding complex historical events.

Show Notes & Topics Discussed:
  • Cold War's Influence in the Middle East:
  • Specific Conflicts and Events:
  • The geopolitical shifts in the 1950s, including the overthrow of the monarchy in Egypt and the rise of Nasser, signalling a move towards socialism but not communism.
  • The strategic importance of Jordan post-formation of the State of Israel and its complex relationship with both the West and its own citizens.
  • The Six-Day War and its consequences, including Israel's territorial gains and the weakening of Nasser's position in Egypt.
  • The Iran-Iraq War as a significant yet often backgrounded conflict of the '80s, illustrating the enduring legacy of border disputes and the influence of external powers.
  • Soviet Union's Challenges:
  • The draining effect of the Soviet Union's involvement in Afghanistan, drawing parallels to the American experience in the region decades later.
  • The withdrawal from Afghanistan and the internal pressures leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

  • Broader Implications and Themes:
  • The rise of Arab nationalism and anti-colonial movements in the Middle East, facilitated by the geopolitical vacuum left by declining British and French influence.
  • The emergence of Islamic fundamentalism as a significant force following the Cold War, with ties back to the conflict in Afghanistan.

  • Conclusion and Podcast Promotion:
  • Ian Sanders encourages listeners to explore Cold War Conversations for in-depth interviews and stories, offering a comprehensive view of the Cold War's global impact.
  • Host Roifield Brown wraps up the episode with a call for listener engagement through reviews and previews upcoming content for the podcast series.

  1. "And at the end of the conflict, there was really nothing. Nothing there, there was no benefit really from either side. They almost ended up back at where they started there, but there were a number of proxy forces operating in, in both countries."
  2. "So the Soviet Union fades away to Christmas 1991. But I think one of the other things that weakens the Soviet position is they have been exhausted, their army's been exhausted and bled dry by their ill-advised invasion into Afghanistan in 1979."
  3. "Yeah, the Iran-Iraq war is an interesting one. I remember this playing out in the '80s and it was almost like background noise, but in terms of its scale and the number of people killed, it is a really significant conflict and particularly for that area."
  4. "The six-day war was really a Israeli surprise, a surprise attack on Egypt. What was happening at the time is Egypt had told the United Nation forces that were on the Suez Canal to they had to get out. And in the process of them leaving, Israel sees a great opportunity to launch a surprise attack."

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