Created: 1/15/1953

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The following member organizations of the Intelligence Advisory Committee participated idth the CentralAgency in the preparation of this estimate: The intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Joint Staff,

All members of the Intelligence Advisory Committeehis estimate


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To identify the major forces and trends in the area, to assess their origin,strength, and probable development, and to estimate their effect on theand Soviet positions in the area, in the absence of general war.


addition to its objective ofto stability in the Middle East, the Westpecific and basic concern with the extensive oil resources andlocation of the area. Denial of these assets to the West woulderious setback to it in the struggle with the Soviet Bloc, even if the area did not come directly under Communist control

Patterns of authority are beingby rising discontent among nearly all social groups. This discontent is finding expression in growing demands for elimination of foreign influence and for internal social, economic, andreforms.

Attainment of stability is obstructed by the ineffectiveness of Middle Eastern governmental and political institutions,

1 This estimate deals with Iran, Iraq. Syria.Jordan, Saudi Arabia. Yemen, Egypt, and the principalities of the Arabian peninsula Conditions In Turkey and Israel, and theirwith Ihe West and the Sonet Bloc, differ in so many respects from those Ln the rest of the Middle East that they will be treated only insofar as ihey affect developments ln the rest of the area.

by inadequate development of economic resources, by Arab-Israeli hostility, and by inter-Arab rivalries.

The USSR will continue to encourage disorder and anti-Westemistn and tothe substantial opportunities for creating friction among states of the area, between them and the West, and among the Western Powers. Soviet rulers may estimate that the area can be effectively denied to the West without being brought under direct Communist control and without forcing the USSR prematurely to accept full responsibility for supporting Communist regimes in the area.

Local Communist parties, exceptin Iran, are not likely to develop the strength to seize and maintainof Middle Eastern governmentsthe next few years. However,Influence will probably grow, the principal danger being that without formally assuming control Communists will exercise an increasing influence on non-Communist governments.

However, except for Iran, Middle Eastern states do not feel immediately threatened by the USSR and they fear that acceptance of Western support would lead to Western domination. In particular, the acceptance of USis seriously hampered by the Arab conviction that the US is responsible for maintaining the slate of Israel, and by US association with the former colonial powersthe UK and France.

Although we do not believereakdown of authority is imminent,possibly in Iran, the over-allwith respect to stability is

n tbe foregoing circumstances,will probably rely increasingly on their armed forces to retain power. Although such authoritarian regimes offer hope of arresting the drift toward disorder, they will be beset by manyproblems. They will also have toolution to the problem of estab-lishing relations with the Westernwhich will be acceptable toaspirations at home, but which will permit them to obtain Western military and economic aid and advice.

addition to its objective ofstability In the Middle East, the Westspecific and basic concern with theoil resources and strategic location ofDenial of these assets toerious setback to itstruggle with the Soviet Bloc, evenarea did not come directly undercontrol.

Middle Eastern states do notstrength to stand alone in theor the capacity to cope with theirproblems. In past years, theof British and French power ln theto stability, even though ita focal point for nationalist Ineffective governments anddeveloped resources still makesupport essential to Middle Yet these states, jealous offear that acceptance ofsupport would lead to WesternThe question, therefore, Is whetherrelationship can be establishedMiddle Eastern states and the Weston the one hand mollify Middleof tbe West, and on thesuch Western advice and support as will enable Middle Eastern states to maintain internal conditions generally favorable to themselves as well as to Western interests.

Basic Forces

atterns of authority are beingthroughout the Middle East by rising discontent among nearly all social groups. The traditional ruling classeslandlords, tribal leaders, and wealthy merchantswhile struggling to maintain their privileged positions, have shown little ability orto solve growing social and economic problems. There hasapid growth of educated and semi-educated elements in the citiesstudents, government workers,classes. Junior army officers, small businessmenwhose aspirations for economic and social status are These elements are being aroused by agitators offering varied and often conflictingfundamentalistsa return to true Islamic practice; secular reformers advocating such programs as land reform, the elimination of corruption, and the extension of democratic government;of authoritarian rule along fascist lines; and finally, the Communists. Urban


Industrial workers are not yet numerous or weU-Ctfganlzcd, and trie large peasant class is in general still politically passive. Both groups, however, are becoming moreto political agitation.

Each country Isifferent stage of social change and political development. In Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where no political parties exist, the tribal monarchies are in firm control. In Jordan, political activity outside the court and tribal leadership is just beginning to take form, and is being fomented by educated elements from West Jordan. The old guard is still in control in Iraq, but the advocates of change are growing in strength. Although secular reformers are in control in Egypt and Syria, attainment of social and political stability Is by no means assured. In Iran, the National Front'supon pursuing an anti-Biitlsh policy, regardless of the effect on the nation'smay lead to further political and eco-monlc disintegration from which only the Communists could profit.

Throughout the area, many proponents of changeimilar negative andattitude. Thereeneralto eliminate tbe powers that be, with little regard or thought for what comes after. The two basic forces that motivate theof change are:

esire to eliminate foreign inSuence The Middle Eastern governments and people are basically suspicious of Western motives and tend to become Increasingly nationalist and neutralist.

rowing demand for internal social, economic, and political reforms. Few of these reforms, however, have been cast as positive programs.

Obstacles to Stability

of stability Is beinga number of problems not capable ofquick solution. They includeof the instruments of government,economic problems, and rivalriesstates of the area.

Existing political institutions andmachinery arc inadequate in thesituation. Many legal and political forms have been copied from the West, but have not been adapted lo Middle Eastern needs. In addition, therehortage ofradition of responsibility and integrity in government it lacking.are further handicapped by the facts that the formerly dominant class is inflexible and resistant to change and that theof change frequently offer programs incapable of rapid or practicalAny government efforts to executeprograms encounter strong resistance from special Interests.

Growing pressure for economicadds to the problems facing Middle Eastern governments. Except for oil. the area has few economic resources. Egypt. Jor-don, and Lebanon are overpopulated into arable land and known resources.Syria, Iraq, and Iran have much land which could be brought under cultivation, development of this potential would require many years and large-scale investments.efforts to develop the resources of the area are handicapped by Inefficient economic procedures, untrained personnel, andto new methods.

Israel and the related Arabajor obstacle to stability in the Middle East. Arab hostility toward the new state and fear of Israeli intentions have aggravated the difficulties of the Arab states in tackling pressing Internal problems, have burdened them with high militaryand have prevented the development of an expanded area economy. Although Syria has broken the solid Arab front againstof Arab refugeesy signing an agreement with the UN for resettlement tn Syria0 refugees, final solution of this problemong way off. No progress has been made toward solving other Arab-Israeli difficulties. The Arab states fear an Israeli attempt toadditional territory under the pressure of overpopulation and lack of economicparticularly water. Conversely. Is-

rael fearsrowth of Arab strength will leadar of revenge.

stability of the area Is alsorivalries among the Arab states.ommon cultural andwhich some religious andhave hoped to make the basis forand unity. Thepolitical significance of thishas been overshadowed ln theby petty dynastic quarrels, narrowpolitics, religious differences,of economic interest.haracteristic of theand have interfered with efforts toproblems Effective leadershipareahole has not beenwhich Is regarded as the stateto provide such leadership,Arab League, but has had littleachieving positive united action.Turkey. Pakistan, and others toln the area have evoked littleto US Influence

in the Middle East

US association with Israelontinuing irritant in US-Arab relations and the major obstacle to the acceptance of US influence in the Middle East The Arab world is united in Its bebef that the US Is primarily responsible for the establishment of Israel, which itas an act of ruthless anti-ArabMoreover, many Arabs believe that US partiality in the Arab-Israeli dispute is further demonstrated by US failure to press more vigorously for enforcement of UNon Arab refugees, on delimitation of the borders of Israel, and on theof Jerusalem. The US faces the dilemma that Israel cannot survive without foreign aid and that US aid to Israel deepens Arab resentment against the US.

US alliance with the UK and France, the most Important former colonial powers ln the area, also arouses Arab distrust. Demands In French North Africa for greaterare strongly supported In the Middle East. Most Middle Eastern willcertainly remain determined to weaken if not abolish British influence and special privilege. On the other hand, the UK. for reasons of prestige as well as of economic and military security, feels that It cannot afford to relinquish Its still substantial military and economic positions. US efforts to bring the two parties together run the risk ofach side to be less Inclined toward compromise in the hope of eventual USand (b) evoking charges of favoritism from both sides.oo rapidof British positions would leave avacuum which the US would havein filling, and which would accentuate insecurity and create further opportunities for Soviet or local Communist exploitation.

US is also handicapped by thethe Arabs do not feel immediatelyby the Soviet Union or recognizepersonal stake ln theThey are far moreIsraeli aggression, and they suspectinterest In the area's defense Isa camouflage for strengtheningat the expense of their

Soviet Capabilities and Intentions in the Middle East

USSR has so far carried onovert political activity in theEast. Soviet rulers probablyWestern influence is declining, thatand political deterioration willand that the general situationsteadily more favorable to theof Communist influence. Sovietconclude that the area can beto the West without being broughtdirect Communist control andthe USSR prematurely to acceptfor supportingln the area. The USSR willto encourage extremism of manyanti-Western andto utilize opportunities to embarrassof the Western Powers withand with the states of the the Middle East, particularly the

dispute, offer the USSR many opportunities for Increasing these activities and for winning Arab good will.

lthough the Moscow-directedParties are small and illegal and are not now, except inajor political factor in the Middle East, Communismto and profits from unrest In the area. The Communist program holdseady solution attractive to dissatisfied groups, particularly the educated class. The Cornmunists can exploit the widespreadagainst the Western Powers and the ruling classes without too openly revealing Soviet imperialist motives and goals. agitation among workers and peasants is increasing, and Communist influence is likely to grow as these groups become more insistent upon Improving their lot. The principal dangers posed by the Communists are: (a) that they will infiltrate government and military services to the point of seriously interfering with the exercise of authority: (b) that progress toward reform and economic improvement will be so slow that radical groups will become discouraged and turn to Communism; and (c) that non-Communist groups, particularly the nationalist andelements, will become divided,or willing to cooperate with the Communists, to such an extent that small, disciplined Communist parties cana decisive influence on governments of the area even without formally assuming control.

PROBABLE DEVELOPMENTS Political Developments in the Arab States

e do not believereakdown of authority in the Arab states is an immediate danger. Their security forces, if givenleadership, are capable of mamtaining internal control. None of the Communist parties is likely during the next few years to develop the strength to take over theby peaceful means or by force. Nevertheless, the over-all situation withto stability is currently deteriorating.

n this situation, governments willrely increasingly on their armed forces to retain power. Military reformist regimes are already in power in Egypt and Syria. and further regimes of this type may emerge Although such authoritarian regimes offer hope of arresting the drift toward disorder, they will be handicapped by their lack of experience in dealing with economic andproblems; by the difficulties ofreforms which produce quick and tangible benefits for the people; and byfrom vested interests, extremeCommunists, and possibly religious fundamentalists. If they are to succeed, such regimes will have to provide the people with some prospect of participation. They will also have toolution to the problem of establishing relations with the Western Powers which will be acceptable toaspirations at home, but which willthem to obtain Western military and economic aid and advice.

Political Developments in Iran'

ranore pressing problem than that existing in the other states of the area, owing in part to the proximity of the Soviet Union and the strength of the Tudeh Party, and ln part to the more immediate danger of social, political, and fiscalThe longer present trends in Iran continue unchecked, the more difficult It will become toreakdown ofauthority which would open the way for atradual assumption of control by Tudeh. Althoughreakdownunlikelyhe Iraniancontains so many elements ofthat it might occur at any time. The loss of Iran to Communism wouldlow to US and Western prestige and wouldthe vulnerability of the remainder of the Middle East and of the Indian

'SeeProbable Developments ln Iran"

Economic Developments

The Middle East's basic economicare not likely to be resolved in thefuture. It is improbable that local action can correct the low and. in some places, declining standard of living,backwardness, and foreign tradeMiddle Eastern foreign trade, except possibly that of Iran, will probably continue to be principally with the Western nations. The most important foreseeable economicwill relate to oil and to foreign aid programs.

Antl-Westernism and nationalism are growing threats to Western oil interests in the Middle East. However, the Arab states are unlikely to attempt to nationalize their oil industries unless they become convinced that Iran is profiting moreesult of oil nationalization than they are under existing contracts. Saudi Arabia and the small Arabian principalities are generally aware of their inability to produce and market oilthe assistance of major Western oilNevertheless, the states of the area, particularly Iraq, may be expected to exert greater pressure for an Increased share of the oil revenues,eduction in the privileged position of the Western oil companies, and for greater local participation In theirRefusal of the Western oilto make some adjustments to these pressures would increase Arab hostility toward the West and might eventually lead tonationalization of Middle Eastern oil resources.

Oil revenues are an important source of revenue for government operations anda source of capital for economicin the Middle East. The oil companies provide important technical and educational services. Although fear of losing oil revenues actseterrent to the adoption of extreme anti-Western policies, such rational self-interest cannot be counted upon In the present emotional political climate in the Middle East.

As pressures increase for economic and social reform, the governments will be under increasing compulsion to turn to the West for assistance- The granting of suchmay influence the evolution of the area and offer Middle Easterners hope of ato their social and economic problems. Nevertheless, there are formidable obstaclesuccessful aid program in the Middle East Western supervision of such aid will be handicapped by the sensitivity of theof the area to any signs of Western interference in local affairs. Demands for aid will probably be large and for projects which the nations of the area are not ready to use effectively. US refusal to meet these demands will create disappointment which mayanti-US sentiment

Military Developments

Middle East armed forces are Incapable, individually or collectively, of effectivelyattackajor power. Theand usefulness of manpower forand military support purposes Is limited by prevailing Inefficient agriculturalphysicaligh rate of illiteracy, and lack of technical andtraining. None of the states of theEast has the resources or Industrial base to support modern armed forces, and nearly all countries are already allocatinglarge shares of their resources for military purposes.

Accordingly, defense of the Middle East against Soviet Bloc aggression will ultimately depend on employment of Western armed forces. At present local forces are not even capable of manning and maintainingbases for quick and effective use by Western forces in the event of war. Efforts to strengthen Middle Eastern defenses against aggression are confronted by obstaclesnoted. The Middle Eastern states,Iran, do not feel immediately threatened by the USSR. They are apprehensiveenewal of Western domination. Hence, thererowuig demand tn roost of the area for elimination of existing Western bases and removal even of existing Westernforces.


the other hand, the emergence of regimes relying largely on the support of local armed forces will stimulate demands for Western assistance in the training and equipping ot those forces. But here again, this opportunity for Western influence isby the deep Arab-Israeli antagonism. Any aid given to one side will arousein the other.

It is possible that the desire for military assistance will be strong enough to induce the Arab states to Join with the Western Powersegional defense organization, particularly if Egypt should take the lead. The success of such an organization wouldlargely upon the extent to which the states of the Middle East could be convinced that they were participating as equals with the Western Powers. Even so, it is unlikely that participation in such an organization would quickly lead the Arab states to agree to the stationing of more Western troops in the area or to the allocation of their own forcesommand organization However, such an organization wouldech-sjiism for coordinating Western military aid and advice to the Middle East states and for carrying out some preliminary defenseIt might also have some beneficial political and psychological effect and would give the West an opportunity to reduceEast suspicions of Western "imperialist" designs. Such an organization is not likely to develop sufficient military strength In the Middle East during the next few yean to cause the USSR to consider Itself seriouslySoviet rulers, however, would besensitive to any Western inilitary moves in Iran.

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