SOVIET ACTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST (SNIE 11-10-56)

Created: 11/29/1956

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96

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SPECIAL

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE NUMBER

SOVIET ACTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE IN FULL

Sfbmiffed by the

DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

The following Intelligence organizations participated In the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the Intelligence organizations ol the Departments Of State, the Army, the Nai-y. the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

Concurred In by the

INTELLIGENCE ADVISORY COMMITTEE

onovember me. Concurring were the Special Assistant. Intelligence, Department of State; the Assistant Chief Of Stag, Intelligence, Department ot tbe Army; the Director of Naval Intelligence; the Director of Intelligence. USAF; and the Deputy Director far intelligence. The Joint Slaff. The atomic Energy Commin.on Representative to the IAC. aid the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau o/ Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside Of their jurisdiction.

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D1STRTB UTION: Whit* Hause

National Seeuniy Council Department of Slab-Department of Defenseoordinating Boardnergy CosuuL&loti Federal Bureau of investigation

SOVIET ACTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

THE PROBLEM

To estimate Soviet objectives and probable courses of action in the Middle East, particularly with respect to the Suez Canal and Arab-Israeli controversies.

ASSUMPTION

That the UK, France, and Israel evidence their clear intention to comply with the UN resolution with respect to the withdrawal of their forces.

DISCUSSION

Soviet Policy

Thc chain of events precipitated by Israeli, French, and British action against Egypt has sharply intensified most Middle Fastand has created major fresh sources of trouble. For the most part, these recent developments have worked to increase the influence of the USSR in the area, and Lo enhance considerably Soviet opportunities to undermine the Western position there and elsewhere. The USSR will take advantage of these opportunities, and in doing so willthc US with critical policy decisions.

in determining specific courses of action in tlic Middle East, the USSR will try in every way to maximize the disruptive effects of this situation on Die Atlantic Communityhole It will piobably pursue this general objective at the expense, if necessary, ofSoviet gains in the Middle East.

Thc scale, nature, and liming of Soviet moves will dependumber of factors

I'S policy action,

the course of the Arab-Israeli controversy, and what the UK and France do. The Interaction ol these factors in the fluid situation makesorecast of Soviet action.Soviet objectives and certain possible actions, together with their implications, can be defined.

The USSR still almost certainly wishes to avoid precipitating general war over lhe Mid-die East crisis. It also probably wishes to avoid overt action which would throw the weight oi world opinion against itsin the Middle East. Nevertheless, thc credit which the USSR gained, particularly in the Middle East, by its pressures on the UK, France, and Israel to halt theirypt. has probably increased its confidence that it can vigorously exploit the present crisis without undue risk.

n the present situation over-all Sovietprobably are:

a To consolidate the USSR's position as champion of Arab nationalism against the

Western Powers and Israel and ol antlcolo-nialtsm in general;

use the situation to distract worldfrom events in the Satellites,in Hungary;

undermine Western political andpower in the area and to makemaintenance of Western militaryalliances with Middle East states;

weaken the Wesl economicallynotably through theWestern access to Middle East oil; and

prolong and deepen Western

tages.1

G. Thus the USSR probably sees in thesituation opportunities not only to expand its influence ln thc Middle East at Western expense, butindfall opportunity to strike at tlie polilical, economic, and military strength of the Western governmentsas well as at the unity of the Western alliancehole. The disruption of Middle East oi) supplies and the closing of the canal lo trade in other commodities as wellthe NATO powers with serious andeconomic problemsayoffs due to oil shortages aren addition, lhe oil shortage now looming up before Europe is virtually certain to Increase strains bclwecn the Western European governments as they compete: (a) for the limited supplies which are trickling through the usual channels; and <b) for emergency aid from the US in the form of additional oil and financial aid to buy oil. II is almost certain that the USSR will seek to derive maximum advantage fromresentment in Europe against the USof the Oil Shortage The USSR has marie OflCis und will make offers of Oil to certain countries in Europe and thc Mediterranean

area exi

Probable Soviet Courses of ActionAssuming No Further Hostilities in Ihe Area

U-aiit Egypt. The USSR will almostseek,atter of priority, to Insure that Kassi; remains in power and that he

tiff position regarding both thc canal question and Israel:

USSR will almosi certainlyto help Nasser withstand anyand economic pressures aimed athis downfall. Such support willInclude assistance designed to offseteconomic measures against Egypt.

USSR will probably work toresistance to any UNto the British, French, andwill support Egypl in demanding thatbe limited to restoring theantehat UN troops shouldthe withdrawal of theleaving Egypt in control of thethen serveemporary shieldand IsraelompleteIsrael behind its former borders).

USSR will encourage Nasser inthat Egypt control thcand operation of the canal. It will Inperhaps other ways seek to delayof the canal, but will avoiddearly obstructionist In world opinion

'The Soviet Bloc now suppliesarrel pet day of petroleum and petroleum products to non-SI no-So vlet Blocay are shipped to Western Europe, primarily lo Sweden. Finland, and Iceland. tfl*>whi.io. the principal recipients have been Egypt and Yugoslavia Assuming that tankers available, the Bloc could exportlarger amounts of crude oil and/or finished products Irom its expanding producUon. Crude oi! production in the USSR Is currently Increasing at an annual rale ofillionrquiratrnl to an average of more thanarrels per day Any substanUal Increase in exports would, however, involve some saennce of economic activity because of the rapidlyng domestic requirements for petroleum. In rhrw of these domestic needs and the difficully ofil from producing and storageto porti. it la considered unlikely that the Soviet Bloc would maintain exports tor long ln excess nf irarrels per day. This quantity, equivalent lo about four percent of total Westcin Euiopi-an consumpUon, woulda reduction of somen IS percent In Die esliiv.alcd current delicti.imited period, however, if willing to draw heavily ontheould br able to augmentIhe additional quantities of petroleum available for expoit to Wi-tlern Europe

alienating India and other Asian powers which are adversely affected by the closure of the canal.

d. The USSR will continue to encourage and support Nasser in demands that the UK, France, and Israel pay reparations andbear the cost of clearing the canal.

c. As long as progress is being made by the UN and thc UN force remains in Egypt, the USSR is unlikely to try to Introduce arms and technicians In quantity. However, in spite of the UN resolution, the USSR will probably quietly replace some of Nasser's losses lnin order to help his domestic position, to rebuild morale In the Egyptian armed forces, and to bolster his standing tn the area. If so, the necessary technicians, probablySoviet pilots, would accompany the equipment.

Visa-Vis Other Arab States. The USSR will probably make increasing use of Syria in its anti-Western and anti-Israeli campaign. Pro-Soviet elements are already gaining thein Syria, where the conservative, relatively pro-Western leaders are divided and on the defensive. Thc USSR probably regards these trends in Syria as sufficiently favorable for the purposes of its Middle East policy, and is likely to avoid any open demonstration of control over the Syrian government even if it gains such control.

The Bloc has already supplied aircraft and armor lo Syria. This Includes an4rmored5 fighters, which were delivered in Egypt. Wc believe that most, if not all, of these fighters were destroyed by thc UK-French attack We have no reliable evidence lo support reports lhat additional large quantities of Soviet air and armored equipment and personnel have arrived in Syria. Sincectober Ave Soviet Bloc ships have docked at Latakia but we believe that no additional equipment olher than small arms has been off-loaded Future introduction of aircraft, military advisors, and technicians is likely, and possibly some volunteers.*

thusromisingSoviet effortsmilitary, political, and

economicln the Arab world. Aof the present extreme nationalist and pro-Soviet trend In Syria would give theumber of advantages. It would, for example:

Soviet efforts to encourageSyrian blackmail and boycott tacticsphysical sabotage againstoil pipelines transiting Syria fromSaudi Arabiaof which only one,Tapllne, ls now in operation.as long as the Western Powers arepassage through the Suez Canal,be of critical Importance lo thea strategic and economic weaponWest.

weaken thc military positionBaghdad Pact countries and increaseproblems of Turkey and Iraq.

up greater poliUcal andin many parts of the Arab world

additional means ofArab-Israeli tensions which the USSRin pursuing Ita pro-Arab,anti-Western policy.

The establishmentoviet-Satellitein Syria, or evenovernment clearly dependent on the USSR would,also:

to drive Saudi Arabia, Lebanon,closer to lhe West, almost certainlyand Iraq to prow towardin Syria, and raise fear andSoviet intentions In much of Europe

lhc USSR with muchof having to participate directly inhostilities in thc Middle East.

ordan alsoromisingfor Soviet political and subversive efforts. The new, anti-Western Jordanian parliament has recently recommended the abrogation of thc Anglo-Jordanian Treaty (and the British

'The term "vnluiileers" is used Ih this estimate to mean troofis. tank drivers, jet pilots, etc.,employed, or Intended to be employed. In combat They arc thur. distinguished, from act-vlsoiji. technicians, trainers,ho arc notiii-ra) intended to participate in combat

subsidy) and tlic establishment of relations with lhc Bloc. Implementation of theserequires only the consent of thc weak and unstable Jordanian king who undercircumstances Is unlikely to prove able to hold out long against strong popular

s lirael. The USSR probablythat incurring the enmity of Israelheap price lo pay lor the gains in the Arab world lo be derived from nn anti-Israeli policy. The USSR will therefore almost certainlyontinuation ol Arab-IsraeliIt will probably alsoelief among the Arabs Uml thc USSR favors the eventual elimination af IirMl

We do not believe, however, that the USSR wants to precipitate lull-scale hostilitiesIsrael and the surrounding Arabontinuation of high tension short of war probably appears sufficiently advantageous and certainly leu risky for Soviet Interests, since they probably consider that in present circumstances all-out Arab-Israeli hostilities might lead to the rapid destruction of Arab forces (including those equipped by tbe USSR) or even to US Involvement andwar. Thus, the USSR will probablyIts efforts to Inllmldatc Israel againsi launching full-scale war against Syria and Jordan.

Probable Soviet Courses of ActionAssuming Further Hostilities in the Area

If Arab-Israeli hostilities did develop, the Bloc would probably step up political support and military assistance to the Arab side,Including sending volunteers to Syria. In thc UN and elsewhere, it would probably seek to take the lead ln demanding drastic measures against Israel.

If Anglo-French military action against Egypt should be resumed, the Soviets would probably step up polilical support andassistance to Egypt. If requested, they would probably send volunteers. They would also probably renew and intensify their threats against Britain and France.

The scope of Soviet action, however, in the event of renewed British-French military operations, an Arab-Israeli war.onflict over Syria, would depend greatly on theof tlic US. The USSR would be unlikely lo make good on any threats of hostilities against the UK and France or Israel or even to send volunteers if it estimated that such steps wouldS reaction whichincreased the risk of general war.

II is obvious, however, that in the critical situation surrounding an outbreak ofthere would be serious risks ofon the pari of both the USSR and the

West.

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