Cold War Rivalry in the Middle East

The Cold War

Europe 1977.0615

Cold War Rivalry in the Middle East

The Cold War in Europe (15 June 1977)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

In 1967, Israel conquered large swathes of Arab territory, which Soviet-supported Egypt and Syria attempted to retake in 1973. When they failed, the Arab world retaliated against US support of Israel with an oil embargo against the West. Further instability in the region occurred when ethnic tensions between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus prompted a Turkish invasion of that island and Palestinian refugees helped set off a civil war in Lebanon.

Main Events

Britain, Denmark, and Ireland become members of the EEC

Yom Kippur War

Following their defeat in the Six Day War, Egypt and Syria launched a sneak attack on Israel during the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur (hampering mobilization). Initially, the Egyptians and Syrians had the upper hand, but after 19 days of fighting, the Israeli Army had crossed into Africa and were nearing Damascus. The Soviet Union began mobilizing against Israel, but backed down after the United States began mobilizing in turn, ending the war.

OAPEC oil embargo begins

The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) decided to cut oil production to force the United States to end its support of Israel.

Turkish invasion of Cyprus

Believing Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios III to be a Communist sympathizer and opponent of eventual union with Greece, Greece's ruling military junta sponsored a coup against him by Nikos Sampson. Citing Sampson's hostility toward the island's Turkish minority, Turkey invaded Cyprus on 20 July 1974, occupying 36% of the island.

Lebanese Civil War

By 1975, demographic trends and a large influx of Palestinian refugees led Muslims to become the majority population in Lebanon, undermining the authority of the mandatorily majority-Christian government. On April 13 of that year, fighting broke out between government-aligned Phalangists and the leftist-aligned Palestinian Liberation Organization, triggering civil war. The following year, Syria invaded Lebanon in support of the government, and though unable to effect any major advantage, continued occupying much of the country.

Portuguese and Spanish transitions to democracy

In 1974, the Portuguese military, coupled with civil protesters, overthrew the Estado Novo regime of António de Olveira Salazar, establishing a pathway to democracy. Soon after, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco restored the monarchy, appointing Prince Juan Carlos as his successor after his death. Instead, Juan Carlos restored civil authority to Parliament, holding a referendum for a new constitution to take effect in 1978.

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