Soviet policy in the Middle East has varied considerably over the past 43 years, as has Soviet policy in the Third World more generally. Indeed, in some respects, Soviet policy toward the Middle East has been a function of the general Soviet posture in, or thinking about, the Third World as an arena of East-West competition. For this reason, I have found it useful to conceptualize the evolution of Soviet Middle East policy in categories similar to those I have elsewhere found useful for conceptualizing dominant tendencies in Soviet Third World policy. 1 Although later in this chapter I will narrow the focus to concentrate on Soviet policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, I begin the analysis by focusing on Soviet policy in the region more generally.