New Essay on Insights — “The Superpowers, the Arab ‘Radicals,’ and the Coming of the Second Cold War, 1977–1984” by Benjamin V. Allison

21 February 2024

In November 1980, the Arab League met in Amman, Jordan, for a summit aimed at promoting Arab unity, particularly against Israel and Egypt, which had concluded a peace treaty the previous year. But the summit rapidly fell apart, as members of the Steadfastness and Confrontation Front (جبهة الصمود والتّصدي) — Syria, Algeria, Libya, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) — boycotted the meeting, and Syria and Jordan mobilized thousands of troops to their shared border. Although hostilities were avoided, the incident signaled deepening fissures in the Arab world, which was now split into two major camps: the so-called moderates — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iraq — which supported Iraq’s war against Iran, and the purportedly “radical” Steadfastness Front backing Iran and boycotting the summit.

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