The Soviet position in the Middle East is stronger today than it was ten years ago. This was not the result of invasion, nor of infiltration by stealth: the Soviet Union became a Middle East power by invitation. It has seized no military bases, but was offered the facilities it wanted by the governments of Egypt and Syria, Algeria and the Yemen, of their own free will. Soviet progress has been gradual, unlike its advance into Eastern Europe after 1944. Not one country has been taken over, no attempt has been made to impose from above the communist political and social system. There have been changes in some countries, but they were the outcome of internal ferment, not outside pressure. Soviet influence has grown not because of the spread of communist ideology, but as the result of efforts made on different levels to make friends and influence people : loans, arms supplies, political assistance, support of the Arab countries against the West and Israel. It has always been Soviet policy to stress that this assistance, in contrast to imperialist aid, is selfless and free of ulterior motives; neither bases nor oil nor political conformity are expected in return. The Soviet Union has been willing to cooperate with kings and sheikhs as well as ultraradical revolutionaries. The fact that some of these leaders were militantly anti-communist was no obstacle; it complicated relations in some cases, but on the whole Moscow showed great moderation and patience in the face of Egyptian tantrums (in 1959-61), and turned a blind eye to the suppression of communism in Turkey and Iran. Israel was the only exception, but in this instance, too, the reasons for Soviet hostility were not primarily ideological. Having to choose between the Arab states and Israel, Moscow opted for the bigger battalions, which it thought were also the stronger battalions.