PROSPECTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF ARAB UNITY MOVES

Created: 2/20/1958

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PROSPECTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF ARAB UNITY MOVES

THE PROBLEM

To estimate the prospects and implications of the Syrian-Egyptian union and the Xxaq-Jordan federation.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Both the Syro-Egyptian union and the Iraq-Jordan federation, althoughby long-range developments and plans, came into being to meet immediate political needs. Nasser probably agreed to go forward with the union at this time because he was convinced that it was necessary in order to forestall atakeover in Syria, as well as because heropitious moment foxof long-laid plans on his own terms. The federation was created to counter the anti-conservative pressures generated by the union throughout the ArabParas.)

he persistent and widespread appeal among Arabs of the concept of Arab unity was the foundation upon which both the union and federation were constructed. Of the two, the union, under Nasser, the leader and symbol of Arab radicalalmost certainlyreater

word "onion" will hereinafter be used to refer to the Brro-Egyptian union, officiallyhe United Arab Republic. The word "federation" wul refer to the Iraq-Jordan

popular appeal in the whole area, and willontinuing attraction upon the radical elements in the conservative states. The creation of the twoemphasizes the polarization of the area between radical and conservative forces and the contest for area leadership between Egypt and Iraq will beSince both groupings proclaim the Idea of Arab unity, surface cordiality may be maintained, but at least covert hostile activities are likely between them.

asser will face formidable problems in keeping the union together andstability within the twostates, but we believe that the union can carrjr through for atear or so on its present momentum. If Nasser were removed from the scene within this period, Egypt and Syria would probably revert to their independent status. It Is unlikely that conservative forces would then succeed to power in either state and any successor regimes

would be likely toeutralistpolicy. )

The Iraq-Jordan federation will also have serious internal problems,due to the radical Arab nationalist orientation of Jordan's ex-Palestinian population and to Jordan's economic problems. If the federation survives ita initial difficulties, however, and Ls able to capitalize on the economic resources of Iraq, its long term prospects would be favorable. )

The creation of the two Arabincreases Israel's apprehensions with respect to the eventuality of military action.

Intrinsically, the principle of Arab unity is no more favorable to Soviet than to Western interests. We believe that,the Soviets suffered tacticalin Syria, they will adapt theirto the situation and seek to use the unionridge to Africaeans of weakening the conservative states. While the Soviets are likely to take much the same attitude toward the federation as do the leaders of the union, they will covertly seek to undermine theregimes. )

he success of the Iraq-Jordanwill probably depend heavily upon US diplomatic and material support. Overt US hostility to the Syro-Egyptian union would almost certainly strengthen the union. On the other hand, public expression of US support for the idea of Arab unity, coupledelaxation of overt pressures upon Nasser, mightNasser to bring the Syro-Egyptian unionore truly neutral position and mightore favorable area reaction to discreet US support of the Iraq-Jordan federation. )

DISCUSSION

PROSPECTS FOR THE SYRO-EGYPTIAN UNION

rigins of Agreement on Union: Wethat the direct Impetus for Egyptian-Syrian union came from theneutralist elements ln Syria centered In the Arab Socialist Resurrectionist Partyhe leaders of this party and their inilitary allies (Lt. Col. SarraJ. etc.)felt that the extreme pro-Soviet group ln Syria could only be checked by assistance from Nasser. They called for union with Egyptproposal of long standing with great appeal for Arab nationalists in Syria and one which the pro-Soviets could notoppose without serious riskIn effectfor Nasser's direct Intervention totheir position. Nasser, who had long been moving in the direction of union with Syria, had postponed final Involvement in union because of the practical problems.agreed to go forward at this time,because he had been convinced that union was necessary toommunist takeover ln Syria and because he saw amoment for realization of long-laid plans on his own terms.

ature of the Union: Only the broadof the plan for union have been worked out. Nasser's announcementebruary on the union constitution emphasised the authority of the President and the separation of the domestic affairs of Egypt and Syria. Nasser, who is the only candidate for the union Presidency, ls granted nearly absolute powers until be decides to terminate the so-called transition period Ho Is to appoint all members of the Joint parliament and cabinet, as well as the members of the two executive

councils which will handle Ihe domesticof Egypt and Syria respectively. Syrian political parties are to be abolishedingle official party, the National Union, with Nasser at Its head. Within Syria Nasser Is likely to try to exercise control through the ASRP, although officiallyand Its allies ln the Syrian army. It is likely that be will dominate the Jointof government and that his voice will be decisive ln matters of foreign policy and defense.

While union will be publicly emphasized, the two states are likely to retain separate internal administrations. Nasser willdo his best to see that the governmental institutions of the union avoid anyof interfering In the domestic affairs of the separate states. He is likely to beabout hasty or over-ambitious projects for amalgamation, particularly those which might give rise to the suspicion that Egypt Is benefitting from the union at the cost of Syria. -*

Public Reactions: At least at the outset the union will enjoy considerable popularWhile many pol locally articulatemay have reservations with regardnion which gives preponderance to Egypt, most of them are likely to approve lt at this time, if only because It appears to constitute the most effective means of thwarting the bid of the pro-Soviet and Communist group for control. Most politically articulate Egyptians will probably also accept the union.

Minorities, many commercial Interests, conservative elements, and perhaps somegroups are probably dissatisfied with the

, union but are likely to withhold criticism, at least ln the initial stages. Later, however, as their special Interests are encroached upon they may risk more open criticism.for instance, are likely to blame anydifficulties upon the union. Also. In the course of time, many Syrian politicians, local notables, officers ln the armed forces, civil servants and other persons who have held positions of authority are likely to become increasingly resentful of Egyptian domination of the union government. The Christian,

Druze, Kurd, and Alawlte minority elements will continue fearful of being overwhelmed by the dominant Moslem majority in the Arab unity movement.

Internal Problems: Despite the generally favorable popular response to the union and to Nasser's leadership, he will have serious problems In giving substance to the union. Although be will seek to keep bisIn Syrian domestic affairswinimimi he will probably become Involved ln matters which many Syrians consider to be of purely Syrian domestic concern.

One of the first problems that willNasser is that of establishing hisboth over the pro-Soviet group ln theand over the Syrian Communist Party. The leaders of the pro-Soviet group. Deputy Prime Minister Azm and the Chief of Staff, Major Oencral Bizri, while supporting theIdea of Arab unity, have privately opposed the present union since it threatens their personal ambitions. Their recent behavior indicates that they will seek to avoid in open break with Nasser and are likely to try to come to terms with him. Nasser on his part may attempt to compromise with them for tbe time being. The Syrian Communist Party, while paying lip service to Arab unity. Is opposed to an Egyptian-dominated union, particularly because of Nasser's attitudelocal communist parties. We believe it likely that Nasser will decide that he must reduce drastically the Influence of the Syrian Communist Party. He is probably nowosition to do this. However, Nassercannot eliminate the Party andish to eliminate all memberi of the pro-Soviet group. Accordingly, both tbe Party and other pro-Soviet elements willotentially formidable force ln Syrian affairs.

Nasser will probably also have seriousIn obtaining effective control over the army and the faction-ridden political scene In Syria. Despite the agreement of all political parties, with the exception of the Communists, to disband andational union party, Jockeying for position winalong old party lines. To the existing factionalism ln the Syrian Army wul be added

Syrian-Egyptian rivalry for key posts andLn the armed forces. Many Syrian army officers fear the possibility of complete integration of Syria and Egyptian forces,thatnited army most of the Important positions would go to Egyptians.

gypt and Syria do not haveeconomies and, apart from the union's control of oil transit faculties, there Is little prospect for mutually advantageous economic cooperation. Thus such measures of economic integration as Nasser might attempt would probably lead to conflict and criticism of the union. The union adds the oil pipelines to Nasser's control of the Suez Canal, thushim potential economic and political leverage over the producing states as well as over the Western oil consumers.

We believe that Nasser and the Syrianhave now become so committed to the union that they cannot retreat without disastrous consequences to themselves. We do not believe that Nasser can solve the many problems with which he Is confronted or that he can significantly Improve conditions of life within Egypt or Syria. However, he will hare to meet only the lowest standard ofand we believe that the union can carry through for atear or so on Its present momentum.

ear or so, however, the problems of Internal organization and control are likely to pile up and large numbers of Egyptians and 8yriana are likely to have real andgrievances against the union regime. In time opposition groups might develop,In Syria, which would seek tothe Nasser regime. It ls not possible at this time to foresee the exact composition

. or political orientation of such groups either In Egypt or Syria They might be morethan the Nasser regime, but they would almost certainly still be Arab nationalist ln character and favor Arab unity and

f Nasser were to disappear from the scene, the union would probably collapse and Egypt and Syria would probably revert to their independent status. Even ln this case It Is unlikely that conservative forces would succeed to power ln either country. Even if they did they would be unlikely to accept an open alliance with the West.

II. EXTERNAL POLICIES OF THE SYRO-EGYPTIAN UNION

The Idea of expansion Is Inherent In Syro-Egyptian union. Indeed, the union's very existence has already increased, and willto heighten, the pressure being exerted against the conservative Arab governments.

Union leaders will take advantage of the initial Impact of the union to excite public opinion in the conservative Arab states.plans for the union provide for the loose association of other states, wo do not believe the union leadership ls likely to press Immediately for the adherence of other Arab countries. The union leaders will be deterred by the practical problems of amalgamation and by the danger ofostilefrom the West and Israel, as well as from the Iraq-Jordan federation. Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. Negotiations have been underway tn Cairo between representatives of Yemen and Egypt looking toward Yemen's Joining the union. It ls probable that some arrangement wul be concluded In the near future, although the relationship between Yemen and the union ls likely to be pro forma.

f, however, the Western powers should adopt an openly hostile attitude toward the union its appeal to Arab nationalistswould be enhanced. The Egyptian and Syrian leaders as well as the Soviet Union would probably exploit this hostility toArab aspirations" through propaganda and subversive activities In an effort to cow and possibly even to overthrow theArab regimes. Were their own Internal problems to become unduly troublesome, the union leaders might well try to blame their difficulties upon Intrigues of the conservative Arab leaders and the West, therebyto arouse popular hostility toward the "foes of Arabhe union leaders are unlikely ln any event to adhere to anyfor bringing the other Arab states Into the union, but will seize opportunities as they arise.

respect to the rest of the world,leaders are likely to follow the policyneutralism" as expounded bywill continue to rely upon thefor extensive military andAt the same time, they aretry to balance Soviet influence byrelations with the West. They willpersuade the Western powers toneutralist position, expand trade,economic assistance as ato Soviet activity. Toward thisIs likely Initially to follow apolicy toward the West, seeking toand establish the respectabilityunion. The union leadership,remain basically suspicious of thewill find continual grounds forsuch issues as Israel, tbe Baghdadthe Algeria problem

III. CONSERVATIVE ARAB STATE REACTIONS

Reactions: The governmentsJordan, and Iraq Immediatelythe Syro-Egyptian union as ato their_DOSltions and to the status

the

was deeply disturbed by theof the union and cast about for means of answering its challenge. Ail three of these governments approached the US for advice and assistance. King Saud is apprehensive of the implications of the union but istoounter-grouping. He might, however, give financial support, at least, to opposition groups within theaud Is particularly disturbed by theions of Yemen's association with the union snd may take steps to undermine the Yemen's regime. All the conservative Arab states have avoided open opposition to the union. Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia have publiclytheir approval.

he Iraq-Jordan Federation:n Amman King Felsal of Iraq and King Hussein of Jordan signed an agreemen ing their two countriesedera

Details of federation nave not been settled and the parties have yet toonstitution and worklan for implementation. Nevertheless, It appears that both haveumber of the normal attributes of sovereignty and that Iraq has assumed heavy responsibilities.

King Felsal Is to be head of the federation, with Hussein as his deputy and acting in his absence. There Is toegislative council, half to be appointed by the parliaments of each country. The federation is toingle foreigningleingle minister of nationalThere will alsooint cabinet to be appointed by means not yet determined. The armed forces of the two countries will be united. On the other hand, each King is to remain on the throne In his own country and the governmental machinery of the two states will continue to fun coon in matters ofconcern. Presumably, each state will have Its own Prime Minister, cabinet, andas before.

In foreign affairs the federation Is to actingle state. Although the Iraqis are likely to dominate in this as in other fields of Joint endeavor, they are unlikely to have the clear and overwhelming preponderance that Nasser will enjoy In the foreign affairs of the Syro-Egyptian union. There are also certain problems, particularly with respect toborder with Israel and the Palestinian refugees, ln which Jordan's Interest isfrom Iraq's.

A basic problem In foreign policy Is that ot Iraq's membership In the Baghdad Pact. The negotiators of the federation arrivedompromise by which each member state will be bound only by Its pre-existingcommitments. Iraq has agreed to reconsider Its position ln the Baghdad Pacthen the time comes for extension of its present membership. Should Nurt return to the Iraqi Prime Ministry, as we now believe likely, bis very presence symbolizing as it does Iraqi membership in the Pact wul giveammunition to theof the Iraq-

it '

Jordan federation. There will be continuing pressures for Iraq to resign, from within Iraq itself, from Jordan, and from other Arab nations.

There will probablyarge measure of political agreement between the ruling groups of the two states largely because they have perceived Ineans of bolstering their positions. However, the federation will not solve the most Important domesticin either of the states and. Indeed, may make some of them more serious. The radical nationalists ln Iraq, while unenthustastic about the federation, will probably noterious problem of security for theThe principal threat to the position of the Jordanian Government will continue to come from the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Theill probably oppose the federation In principle, but so long as Nasser continues toriendlythey are likely to remain quiescent. Should the Syro-Egyptian union becometo the federation, or should Nasserurge the Palestinians to do so, they would probablyetermined drive to disrupt the federation, or possibly to join the union.

There is no clear picture of theeconomic plans, althoughof the two economies, the finances and development plans of the two governments appears to have been agreed upon, lnat least, at Amman. Because Iraq'srowing economy with great potential based on Its natural resources ln oil andland, and because Jordan's economy is generally agreed not to be viable,would benefit Jordan and Imposeupon Iraq. The federation does havepotential for economichan the Syro-Egyptian union due to the

natural resources of Iraq and to thecontiguity of Iraq and Jordan.

of the Iraq-JordanAs In the case ot thethe very fact of union betweenJordan has significant implications.of the federation will, of course,upon the degree of success withIs administered, but. as in the case of the

Syro-Egyptian union, high standards ofwill not be required.are that the federation leaders will not immediately seek to challenge Nasser and that Nasser Is Inclined, for the time being at least, toolerant attitude toward theFor the federation, like the union,stands for the Idea of Arab unity and therefore cannot. Initially at least, betoo strongly even by the radical

Nevertheless, even if the appearance of cordiality between the union and theprevails on the surface, the creation of the two groupings will emphasize theof the area between radical andforces and between the advocates of "positive neutralism" on the one hand and elements willing to cooperate closely with the West on the other. Thus the contest for area leadership between Egypt and Iraq will be stimulated. Unless ltatent failure, the federation will probably have the effect of strengthening the political positions ofand FelsaL However, the Iraq-Jordan federation will have much less Initial popular support than the Syro-EgypUan union. Whatever its policy and behavior, thewill be regarded by many inside andIts boundariesestern creation and as basically hostile to the Pan-Arabcause.

Lebanon: Lebanon will wish to preserve its special character and economic position. Though lt probably favors the federation lt is Likely to stand aloof, at least until the Syro-Egyptian reaction becomes clear, in the hope that the two groupings will produce anin the area.

Saudi Arabia: Regardless of theapparent success or failure and of tbe Syro-Egyptian reaction, King Saud is likely to remain aloof. He will probably feel that his own Influence and position will best be served by continuing the general orientation of his foreign policy toward the US and the states of the federation. While seeking toon the best possible terms with the Syro-Egyptian union, he will attempt to influence Yemen away from the union.

duce the chances of an Arab-IsraeliIt may also Increase Israeliand make preventive military action more likely. Should the Palestinian element ln Jordan succeed ln breaking away from the control ot the Jordanian Government andto enter the union, Israel would almost certainly intervene militarily.reakdown of order ledeneral scramble forterritory, Israeli armed forces would also become Involved. On the other hand, Israel almost certainly reahses that anon either group would risk bringing In the other, as well as alienating world opinion and risking unfavorable reaction in the UN. We believe that, despite the increase ln Arab capabilities resulting from the recentlt willonsiderable tune before these capabilities are sufficient to overthrow the state of Israel. However, Israel's estimate of the Arab threat will almost certainly be more alarmist than our own.

he Soviet Position: The victory of the ASRP-Nasser forces over the Soviet Bloc's principal friends and advocates ln Syria was probably regarded by the Soviets as at least 'a temporary tactical reverse. However, they may believe that the Syro-Egyptian union can be made useful to themridge to Africaeans of weakening the conserratlTe Arab states. It now appears likely that the Soviet Union will give public support to the union and that It will continue to offer the union the various types of asilTtance which it previously gave to the two states separately. The Soviets will seek to maintain theirfor subversive activity in Syria and at least covertly to keep the Syrian Communist Party In being. They wul continue totbe anti-Western tendencies of Arab nationalism. They will seek to guide the union toward closer association with the Bloc

he Soviets are likely to regard the Iraq-Jordan federation as an instrument of West-em policy. They are likely, however, overtly at least, to take much the same attitudethe federation as the leaders of the Syro-Egyptian union In order to stay within the bounds of the general Soviet policy of avoid-

trig the appearance of Interfering In Arab affairs- They wu! covertly seek to undermine the conservative regimes, while giving as much encouragement as possible to radical Arab nationalists in the two federated

onsequences of Alternative US Courses of Action: The current US noncommittalwith respect to the Syro-Egyptian union has probably encouraged Nasser toonciliatory and moderate attitude. Union leaders will probably seek more overtby the US ot their neutralist stand and ultimately seek economic assistance, which they will Justifyeans of combatting Communist Influence ln the area.

vert US hostility to the Syro-Egyptian union, would almost certainly strengthen the cohesion of the union, for the Immediateat least, and consolidate forces within the two countries behind it. It would also accentuate domestic tensions in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon.

he success of the Iraq-Jordan federation will probably depend heavily upon USand material support. However, Arab resentment of outside interference In their affairs makes it possible that such support could become an Impediment rather than an asset. If it were too conspicuously displayed. If given quietly, and combined with anthat the US favored Arab unity moves In general, lt would probably greatlythe federation.

ublic expression of US support for the Idea of Arab unity, coupledelaxation of current pressures upon Nasser, mightNasser to bring the Syro-Egyptian unionore truly neutral position and mightore favorable area reaction to discreet US support of the Iraq-Jordan

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