central intelligence agency
CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE IN FULL
THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AND THE NEAR EAST
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approvaa tor releasehistorical review programcentral Intelligence Agency.
the current situation in the mediterranean and the near east
Access to the oil of the Persian Gulf area and the denial of control ofajor, hostile, expansionist power are deemed to be essential to the security of the US. From this point of view the major threat to United States security lies in the possibility of progressive Soviet penetration Into the Mediterranean and Near East, either directly, through satellites, or through local Communist action.
In viewing the Mediterranean-Near Eastern areahole, it must be noted that the strategic position in the western Mediterranean differs in two important aspects from that in the eastern Mediterranean. In the western Mediterranean, the key countries, France, Italy, and Spain, are integral parts of the European as well as the Mediterranean area, not only through their geographic positions on the European shores of the Mediterranean but also because of their colonies In North Africa (Italy at this moment, however, has no control over its Africann consequence, these countries are directly influenced by the over-all developments in Europe as well as by those in thc Mediterranean and, conversely, developments In these countries vitally affect both the Mediterranean and European areas. Secondly, they are not contiguous to the USSR, although Italy bordersoviet satellite. In the eastern Mediterranean, on the other hand, the key countries can be considered primarily asparts of the Mediterranean-Near Eastern area. Two of them, Turkey and Iran, have extensive common frontiers with the USSR, while Greece borders on three Soviet satellites.
From the point of view of the security of the Mediterranean-Near Eastern area, the existence in France, Italy, Spain. Greece, Turkey, and Iran of stable regimes, friendly to the US. wouldarrier to Soviet encroachment Geographically,arrier would actafeguard against Soviet penetration into thebasin and the Near and Middle East. It would not of itself, however, prevent thc USSR fromangerous degree of influence In thc Arab states and North Africa through exploitation of the antagonisms which exist In those areas,
2. Critical Situations in Order or Importance. a. Italy.
The Italian Government faces an Immediate economic crisis Unless itprompt and effective aid and adopts more realistic and vigorous economic policies, there will ensue an economic collapse which might possibly leadommunistto power. Such an event would not only bring Italy within the Soviet orbit, but would alsorofound psychological efTect throughout Western Europe, the
Note.aper has been coordinated mlU) the intelligence orsanlaaUons of the Deportments of State. Army. Navy, and Air Poroea.
Mediterranean, and the Near Bast. (While the situation in France is similar to that in Italy. France Is not Included in the enumeration of critical situations in thebecause its key position in the European area makes It more appropriate to treat France in that connection. However, as inferred above. Soviet control of France would hove vital repercussions in the Mediterranean, particularly North Africa)
In Oreece. the USSR, acting IndirecUy through its satellites, is in actualof takingortion of the country by force. Unless an early pacification and economic and political rehabilitation of the country arc achieved, the situation, already at an advanced state of deterioration, may well pass beyond the possibility of effective remedy. Extension of Soviet control over Greece would give tho USSR access
Aegean and would outflank the Dardanelles.
Arab determination to resist the partition of Palestine Is such that any attempt to enforce that solution would lead to armed conflict, presenting an opportunity for the extension of Soviet influence. Any firm establishment of Soviet influence in the Arab states would not only be dangerous int would also tend to isolate Turkey and Iran Furthermore, irrespective of the possibility of Soviet penetration of this area. US support of the partition of Palestine might lead the Arab states, on their own, to take steps which would adversely affect US economic and strategic Interests in their territories.
Proximity to the USSR and internal weaknesses and antagonisms render the country vulnerable to Soviet pressure and penetration. Unless Iran takes steps to effect long-overdue political and economic reforms, Soviet encroachment will beMoreover, unless Iran's confidence In the effectiveness of US and UN support against Soviet aggression is maintained, it may accede to Soviet demands, such as the
which would facilitate Soviet penetration and domination.
3. Lkss Ukokht Situations ik Order of Importance. a. Turkey.
The situation in Turkey is comparatively stable. The Turks are constantlyto Soviet pressure, which they may be relied upon to continue to resist. Even with the material US aid now being applied, however, they arc incapable of prolonged resistance to attackajor aggressor. Extension of Soviet control or dominant influence over Greece, Iran, or the Arab states would tend to Isolate Turkey.
eading state in the Arab League. Egypt strongly influences any issue,that of Palestine (seeffecting any Arab country. Controversial political problems which have affected Egyptian relations with Great Britain have been referred to the UN, and Egypt now tends to place responsibility on the US as well as the UK for any UN decision. If unable to obtain satisfaction on theseEgyptlon enmity toward the US will continue to increase.
c. French North Africa.
Thc resurgent nationalism rife in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia ishreat to the authority of France and presents an opportunity for Soviet exploitation Conversely, any possible extension of Soviet control over France would gravelythe strategic situation in North Africa, rf. Libya.
The situation in this area is presently stable, although it contains latent possibilities for the Incitement of Arab nationalism, particularly if the Arab state! were to become generally antagonistic to the Western Powers. The immediatelies In current negotiations regarding the disposition of the Italian colonies and the participation of thc USSR therein.
The political future of Spain is an unsolved problem, but the short-termIs stable and the regime is definitely anti-Communist.