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I think it is fascinating how society is affected by political events that took place thousands of years ago, or for that matter, barely seventy years ago. For example, at the end of World War II, Middle Eastern countries tended to align with one of the super powers in the hopes of receiving financial aid and military arms. One example would be Mustafa Barzani’s working with the Soviets. From the Soviet point of view, Barzani was working with them implanting communist ideals into the minds of the Kurdish people, who were looking for support in their fight for autonomy.

Middle East cold-war-mapThe United States spent millions of dollars bolstering the Pahlavi government in Iran. By helping the Shah in modernizing he country, selling the United States oil, and buying US weapons, the goal of the United States was to have a friendly government, with a military that would stand up against the Communist threat in the Middle East. In doing so, the United States ignored the totalitarian methods the Shah used while ruling the country. The Westernizing of Iran with America as a close ally backfired when the religious community headed by the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini led a rebellion that deposed the Shah.

King Saud of Saudi Arabia, in his attempt to stay neutral during the Cold War, did feel threatened by the Soviets backing of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Saud was afraid that Nasser’s overthrowing of King Farouk, monarch of Egypt, might catch on in his own country. This fear led both Saud and Feisal to look toward the United States for financial and military aid during this period.

During the Cold War, Kuwait did not side with either the Americans or the Soviets, but was not neutral either. Instead, the Kuwaiti government opened diplomatic relations with the Soviets and sold oil to the Americans. The relationship that the Kuwaiti government made with the United States during the Cold War paid off when in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and the United States led the coalition of U.N. forces to liberate the country.