Israel’s raid on Iraq’s nuclear facility on June 7, 1981, could be a watershed event in the Middle East, creating new military and political realities. The US-Israeli relationship once more is a central issue in regional politics, and new strains have been added to US-Arab relations. Washington’s ability to promote Arab cooperation against a Soviet threat or to bring the Arabs and Israelis to the bargaining table has been struck a hard blow. Arab leaders far from the front lines in the Levant have been shown that their military and economic facilities are not beyond the reach of Israel’s striking power. Rather than drawing them into a negotiating process, Israel’s demonstrated prowess will only speed the arms race. Tel Aviv has made the point that it will not allow an Arab state to develop a nuclear weapons capability. In the absence of US restraint on Israel, Arab leaders will intensify their search for alternative ways to boost their security and protect their interests; this presents opportunities for the USSR.
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