DIRECTORATE OF INTELLIGENCE
Soviet Policy and7 Arab-Israeli War
(Reference Title: CAESAR XXXVIII)
SOVIET POLICY AND7 ARAB-ISRAELI WAR
MEMORANDUM TO RECIPIENTS
The count of events before, dining, and after the Arab-Israeli War7ase study of the dilemmas and dangers which arise when the Soviet Union seeks to Implement Us basic Middle East strategy of support for the Arab nationalist movements. Moscow's policy recced In the Middle East is mixed, and events unforeseen by the Soviet leaders have forced significant and awkward shifts in Soviet policy emphasis.
In the period before the six-day waroviet policy shifted from support of moderate Arab policy to espousal of the radical Arab line, therebyequence of events that Moscow could not control After the defeat of the Arabs. Soviet policy shifted back again to support of moderate Arab policies. But current trends In Soviet policy are again toward support of Arab radicalism, despite the seeming likelihoodew war In the Middle East and the possibility of another Arab defeat. These policy shifts reveal how resistant Moscow is to any fundamental departure from its instinctive tendency to support militant Arab nationalism in hopes of Soviet political gains and/or Western political losses in the Middle East.
This research study
he Office of Current Intelligence, and the Office of National tstmates. Aitnough not in agreement with every statement or judgment, they are in general accord with the mo/or thrust and conclusions of the study.
Chief.pecial Research Staff
ABSTRACT OF SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
BEFORE THE WAR
SOVIET MIDDLE EAST POLICY UP TO THE CRISIS
Soviet Commitment to Political Support of Syria:6
The Soviets Urge Syrian-Egyptian Unity:7
Rumor Feeds Tension
Build-up of UAR Forces
Nasir Closes the Gulf of
The USSR and the Closure of the Gulf
ON THE BRINK
Nature of Soviet Support for the Arabs
Soviets UrgeLittle Too Late
THE SIX-DAY WAR AND ITS IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
Israel Attacks; the USSR Reacts
Charges of US-UK
Soviets Urge Acceptance of Cease Fire
Threat of Soviet Intervention and the Moscow Conference
SOVIETS REACT TO DEFEAT
Attempts to Reassure
Efforts to Regain International Prestige; Propaganda in the
SHIFT IN SOVIETTACTICS-TOWARD MODERATION
Soviets Urge Restraint on Arabs
More Flexible UN
CROSS CURRENTS IN THE SOVIET LEADERSHIP DURING THE CRISIS
The Yegorychev Affair
The Politburo Consensus and Differences Within It
SOVIETS SHIFT SUPPORT FROM SYRIANS TO EGYPTIANS
Moscow Endorses Nasir's Postwar
Soviets Urge Restraint on Syria
The Lever of Military
SOVIET MANEUVERS ON ARAB-ISRAELI SETTLEMENT
Position on Withdrawal
Soviets Support Arab Initiative
Increased Tension and Nasir's Ambivalence
Abstract of Summary and Conclusions
The Arab-Israeli war of7 wasumiliating defeat for the Arabsajor setback for Soviet prestige. The Soviets had committed substantial quantities of aid and political support to the Arabs, and the activist policy which they adopted inontributed significantly to pre-war tensions. In the hope of ensuring the support and survivalew Syrian regime, the Soviets at that time began toore militant, anti'Israel line and, more importantly, to encourage unity between their ally Nasir and the Syrians. While both Nasir and the Soviets might have hoped thereby to gain increased control over the fanatical Syrians, the net result of the policy was to push Nasir toward greater militancy against Israel. The Soviets failed to foresee the results of this policy. When they lost control of the situation, they were reluctant to spend their influence trying to restrain Nasir.
The embarrassing results of their pre-war policy led the Soviets to make some changes in their Middle East approach. Before the war they gave vocal support to the more extreme anti-Israel positions of the more militant Arab regimes. Afterward, Ihey retreatedore moderate, though still anti-Israel, line. Their willingness to take considerable risksituation they could not control, in order to achieve short-term goals, gave way in the war's aftermathomewhat more cautious, gradual approach. The dangers inherent in becoming overly committedadical leftist regime had become obvious. Before the war they undertook only perfunctory efforts to prevent Syrian provocations; now they began to urge restraint in earnest, ln place of the demagogic ambivalence which had marked their pre-warwith pledges of support left purposely vague and undefined, the Soviets now clarified the limits of their support for the Arabs. And,esult of lhe Arab military debacle, the USSR now asked that in exchange for aid. Soviet military instructors and advisers be given authority to train and organize at all levels of (he Syrian and Egyptian armed forces.
While the Soviets had shifted their tactics, they remained wedded to the strategy which had helped produce the Arab fiasco in the six-day war. They continue to believe that the maintenance of Arab-Israeli tensionigh pitch augments Soviet influence in the area. However, they evidently hope to succeed where they failed ino make their control over the Arabs efficacious and thusepetition of the June disaster. The result has been to give Soviel Middle Eastchizophrenic appearance.
For cxampk, Ihe Soviets have made clear to the Arabs that they do not intend to become involved militarilyuture conflict. On the other hand, Moscow has increased substantially the size of its Mediterranean fleet and has striven to restore Arab confidence in the firmness of its support through the prolonged visits of Soviet naval vessels to Syrian and Egyptian ports. The presence of large numbers of Soviet advisers and mililary personnel in the area, although possibly designed to ensure that the situation docs not again get out of hand, has increased the dangers of the Soviet involvement in the event of war. Sufficient materiel to rebuild the Arab armed forces (and possibly confidence) continues to move into the area. Despite the increasing threat to peace in the Middle East that the growth of the Arab terrorist and guerrilla organizations poses, the Soviet Union has avoided any moves which might endanger its standing with these groups. It has funneled military aid to several guerrilla organizations through the UAR and Iraq, using its East European allies as arms agents. While the Soviets may hope thereby to gain some control over the guerrilla leadership, they seem to have forgotten the failureimilar policy toward the Syrian militants prior to the June war.
Whatever may be the case, there hashift in emphasis in the last year away from the notable sobriety and caution shown by the Soviets after the June war, and toward renewed and overt support of Arab militancy. Recently the latter trend was highlighted by Kosygin's remarksine of active aid to the Arab anti-Israeliecember) and by increasing reportage in Soviet propaganda of the activities and exploits of the guerrilla movement.
The post-war Soviet receptivityegotiated political settlement in the Middle East at the same time has not completely evaporated. However, Moscow's first consideration appears-just as it was before the June war-once more to be consolidation of its position as champion of the Arab "national liberation" and "anti-imperialist" movement. It thus hasthe growing guerrilla movement. The Soviets see, it seems, inolicy prospects for long-range gains for Soviet influence in the region which outweigh the chronic danger of events getting out of control again as they did inence the Soviets have acceded to the Arab preconditionsiddle East settlement, though they would not be unreceptive. proposals which they thought the Arabs could be persuaded to accept. While the Soviets seek toonfrontation in the area, they may judge that the renewed support of Nasir and guerrilla militancy involves little chance ofonfrontation. Moreover, the Soviets once again seem confident that
they can control Nasir and avoid another full-scale Arab-Israeli war. Tbe dangers of the policy may be greater than the Soviet leadership assumes, given Nasir's tendency, amply illustrated ino act in anerratic, often bellicose, and sometimes politically suicidal manner.
SOVIET POLICY AND7 ARAB-ISRAELI WAR
BEFORE THE WAR
SOVIET MIDDLE EAST POLICY UP TO THE CRISIS
Soviet Commitment to Political Support of Syria:6
In thehe Soviets began to cultivate the newly emerging nationalist Arab regimes, taking advantage of growing anti-Western sentiment common among them. Nasir, the most impressive of the new breed of Arab leader and head of the strongest Arab state, was the Soviets' primary target. The USSR invested heavily in the UAR, and5 Cairo was almost completely dependent on Moscow for military aid. Arab fears that Soviet aid to the Middle East might be curtailedesult of Khrushchev's ouster were not borne out.
After4 overthrow of Colonel Shishakli in Syria, the Soviets had an on-again. off-again relationship with thai nation. The6 coup by the extremist wing of the ultra-nationalist Baath Party resultedapid rapprochement in Soviet-Syrian relations, and the inclusionommunist in the new Syrian cabinet was particularly gratifying to the Soviets. Thereafter, the USSR increased greatly its military and economic aid to Syria, and concern for the survival of the radical Baathistsajor consideration in Soviet Middle East policy.
In an effort to capitalize on the situation in Syria, the Soviets began publicly to endorse an increasingly militant anti-Israel line, and to issue warnings against any interference in the internal affairs of her new client. Apparently concerned that Syria's neighbor Jordan might take some action against the new Syrian regime, the Soviets privately warned the Jordanians not to do so. I
n iivettiya article attacked Israel for "armed provocations" against Syria aimed at overthrowing the new regime and warned Israel not to intervene.
Aay TASS item implied increased Soviet political support for the Syrian regime. According to this statement, the Soviet Union would not
"remain indifferent to attempts at violating peace in the region in immediate proximity to the frontiers of thehis statement specifically at-tacked "extremist" forces in Israel and charged that "reactionary" quarters in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, backed by the United Stales and Unitedwere plotting against Syria. The effect of the Sovietthe diplomatic impression of the language-was totill more activist Syrian policy against Israel. During this period the Syrians were backing guerrilla raids into Israel from Jordanian territory. While the number of these raids was not comparable to the postwar level of guerrilla attacks, itignificant increase over what had gone before.
The Soviets Urge Syrian-Egyptian Unity:7
ln addition to issuing warnings against intervention, the Soviets sought to secure the new Syrian regime by urging reconciliation between the Syrians and the Egyptians; the two nations had been estranged since1 secession of Syria from its union with Egypt. Kosygin,peech to the UAR's National Assembly inppealed for unity among the "progressive" Arab stales. The Soviets may have hoped that in exchange for protection through an alliance with the UAR, the Syrians wouldess provocative stance. Yet, the eventual result seems to have been to encourage Nasir toore militant line.
During the fall6 and continuingrab terrorist raids into Israel from Syria and Jordan intensified. Israel reciprocated with reprisal raids. Syrian Prime Minister Zuayyin, in October, announced that Syria would never take measures to curb the fedayeen. The United Nations Security Council <UNSO met several limes betweenctoberovember at the request of Israel, but the USSR veto prevented passageesolution condemning the terrorist raids.
Soviet behavior in the fall6 set the pattern for the subsequent performance in the springnctober^
jlbus, Moscowurgea me synan and tgyptian governments to stay calmretext for aggression.
ome three weeks after the Soviets pressed their allegation of an imminent Israeli invasion of Syria, the UARutual defense pact with Syria. The tuning suggests that the Soviet-sponsored reporthreatened Israeli attack may have encouraged the two Arab regimes to sign the pact. Certainly the Soviet report must have given the Syrian government added incentive lo seek the protection of an alliance with Nasir. and Nasir may have hoped lo acquire some control over the Syrians in exchange. The Soviet objective of Egyptian-Syrian rapprochement had been well served by the false report of Israeliimilar false report, disseminated inackfired and helped to precipitate the chain of events that led to war.
The USSR apparently hoped lhat the UAR-Synan alliance wouldgreater security for the radical regime in Syria and dampen the Syrian regime's tendency to undertake adventures on its own. However, Nasir did not succeed in moderating the provocative Syrian policy toward Israel. On the contrary. Nasir. tied to the far more militant Syrians, became more vulnerable in the face of demagogic Syrian appeals to anti-Israel passions among the Arab nations.'
In7 the tension along the Israeli-Syrian border was high as artillery exchanges increased. Syria (clearly nol strong enough lo handle Israel alone) put considerable pressure on Nasir to demonstrate his leadership of the Arab world and to prove the worth of Ihe November defense pad. During this period the Soviets warned Ihe Syrians on ai least two occasions that they did not want the situation to get out of hand. But the Soviel desire to capitalize on the prevailing tension in order to increase their influence at the expense of the United States prevented them from taking any strong position with the Syrians and led to somewhat contradictory actions. For example,ew weeks after the Soviets privately cautioned the Syrians againstar, Unttiya published an article charging Israel with concentrating large forces on the Syrian border, calling up reservists, and putting the military forces on alert.
order exchange of fire, Israel launched the deepest air strikes into Syria up to that time. This may have marked a
'Nasir was vulnerable to charges of Inaction from both left and right An Israeli raid on the Jordanian border town ofAl-Samu on6 caused Jordan's Husayn to start taunting Nasir.
major change in Israel's retaliatory policy, as its pilots were authorized to penetrate deep into Syria. The Syrians were humiliated and the Soviets, who had supplied Syria with aircraft, were embarrassed by Israel's success. Five days later there was another fierce gun battle across the Israeli-Syrian border. The Arab states criticized the UAR for remaining relatively silent and passive during the period. Moscow Radio, on the other hand, was shrill in charges. fleet moves and "conspiracies" and warnings of Israeli plans to invade Syria.pril battle revealed to the Soviets and the Syrians the vulnerability of Syria to Israeli attacks, and the Soviets may have concluded that in order to deter Israel, Egypt mustirmer commitment to Syria.
povict prop'aganda continued to link Israel and the
United Slates as plotters against Syria. Onpril, Bre2hnev called for the withdrawal of. Sixth Fleel from the Mediterranean.
PRELUDE TO7 Rumor Feeds Tension
peechay, Nasir, perhaps responding to Arab criticism and Soviel nudges, attacked "imperialism" and the United States in unusually violent terms. Onay Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol.harply worded statement,warned Syria that it faced severe conteraction if it did not halt terrorist incursions into Israel. Shortly thereafter, word spread through the area that Israel was concentrating forces on the Syrian border and was poised to launch an attack on Syria. The report was untrue. In fact Israel did not reinforce its frontiers and mobilize its reserves until after the UAR began its military build-up.
The origin of the report is not clear; it apparently did not originate wiih either the Syrians or Egyptians, both of whom were given the information by the Soviets. It is possible that the Israelis themselves floated the rumor hoping to induce the Soviets to persuade the Syrians to stop theiractions. In any event, the Soviets did not appear particularly concerned about establishing the validity of the report. They had made similarclaims in6 and7 and were the main disseminators of this report.peech onay Nasir said that
In speechesune anduly, Nasir cited the Soviets as the source of this "accurate information" and claimed that the information had been passed to an Egyptian parliamentary delegation which visited Moscow in May.
hroughay Soviet Foreign
rab ambassador accredited to Moscow of
impending Israeli attack on Syria and offered every assistance, including
military. Anotherconfirmed that such assurances had been
given in Moscowery high Soviet political officer. It is highly unlikely, however, thatlanket assurance was ever given. The report of alleged Israeli plans for an attack was subsequently repeated at the UNSC meeting onay by UAR Ambassador aKJuni and was echoed by SovietFcdorenko, who said that the Arabs had precise information of Israeli troop concentrations and an lsraeb intention to attack onay.
Soviet motivation forlimsy and unsubstantiated report as explosive as this one is not clear. Even if they knew the facts of the story to be untrue, the Soviets might in fact have feared that,esult of Eshkol's speech, an Israeli reprisal attack of some sort against Syria was likely to occur shortly. If so, they may have hoped to push the UARirm and open commitment to come to Syria'said, reasoning that such amight deter Israel from further raids. It is also possible that the Soviets hoped to frighten the Syrians into modifying their policies by convincing
them thai ihey faced an Israeli attack otherwise."
Build-up of UAR Forces
Nasir apparently believed the reports given him by the Sovietnd ihc mobilization of UAR forces deployed against Israel followed. Nasir may have had reasons of his own for proceeding as he did, but the report spread by the Russians gave him justification. According to the Egyptian press, an emergency had been declared in the UAR in order "to put teeth into the mutual defend pact withn public statements Nasir repeatedly stressed that UAR military preparations were in response to the threat of in Israeli attack on Syria. This apparently was designed to direct Israeli attention to the Egyptian border, and at the same time help bolster Nasir's image as the leader of the Arab world.
Onay Nasir requested the withdrawal of UNEF from Smai and the Gau Stnp. he subsequently demanded that these forces be withdrawn from the UAR entirely. Onay UAR forces began to occupy UN observation posts in Sinai. UN forces were not equipped to respond and the following day Secretaryhant agreed to completeyay. Egyptian soldiers had completely replaced the UN forces.
supports the view that Israel itself might have started the rumor.
"Nasir's willingness to believe the reports at this time may have been influenced by the Israeli air attacks on Syria In April as well as by Eshkol's sharp warning in May.
"The UN forces had been stationed in the UAR after6 war: units stationed in Sharmoint southwest ofthe Strait of Tiran at the mouth ofthe Gulf of Aqaba. hadoken of assurance of safe passage for Israeli ships through the strait. The control of the Strait of Tvan hadource of friction between the Arabs and Israelisn that year, following the armistice. Egypt installed guns near Sham ash-Shaykh. overlooking the smat. In6 campaign. Israel captured the pott commanding the strtdt. -In the fact of US. and Soviet pressuresubsequently withdrew ii. forces.
Nasir's demand lhal ihe UN forces be withdrawnhani's compliance served several purposes. With the UNEF buffer removed. Egyptian forces could respond more quickly in case of an Israeli attack on Syria. Nasir's demand also undercut Jordanian charges that the UAR had been hidingN shield. And. getting UN forces out of the UAR, particularly out of the symbolic and strategic post at Sharm ash-Shaykh, bolstered Nasir's prestige and Arab pride.
Soviets Appear Sanguine
While Soviet press support for the UAR build-up conveyed anof Soviet approval of developments, there were some indicationsUN
Ambassador FedorenKo expressed somft concern a! the speed 'of UNEF withdrawal, and on the same day Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin toldThompson that he thought the Soviets could "match" the United States in urging restraint on its allies. The Soviets did make some gestures
indicating Soviet unwillingness to become directly involved inSyrian-Israeli war.f
Onoscow Domestic Service broadcast charged that Israeli troops were being concentrated on the Syrian frontier and that some observers were comparing the situation with that on the eve of the Suez operation. According to the broadcast, the Syrians had had no choice but to put their army on alert in view of the threats from Israel. The broadcast also stated that the provisions of the Syrian-Egyptian mutual aid treaty had been applied, thai UAR forces were on stand-by alert, and that Cairo had stated thai ii would intervene in the event of Israeli aggression against Syria.
Onay the Novosti Press Agency went further. The dispatch, distributed in Arab countries but not carried in the Soviet press, slated ihai the USSR would nol stand idly bv if Israel attacked Syria. |
Ibe net eiiect oi sucn
siaiciiicrns inusiuuvn iu icasauic suwc niausViet support.
Nasir Closes the Gulf of Aqaba
Byhe day ihe small UNEF force was withdrawn from Sharm ash-Shaykh, Nasir announced that the UAR had closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping and to ships of all other countries bringing strategic cargoes to Israel. The next day, Eshkol repeated the Israel position that Egyptian interference with Israeli shipping in the Gulf would be considered an act ot aggression. Onay Israel warned that it would not wait indefinitely for an end to the Egyptian blockade and the withdrawal of Arab troop concentrations on its borders. By then, the Israeli armed forces were near peak mobilization.
Naur's actions during ihe month of May probably were influenced by bad information concerning Arab military strength and the extent of Soviet backing. But the false report of Israel's plans to attack Syria, by triggering Nasir's decision to mobilize,ajor role in Nasir's actions. If be believed that Israel planned an attack on Syria and that the UAR would have to respond, his mobilization and his demandithdrawal of UNEF forces might have been intended as deterrents.
However, Nasir's decision to blockade the Gulf of Aqaba raised the pitch of the crisis to new and dangerous levels. His speeches indicated that he believed Israel would respond to the blockade and that the UAR was equipped to handle an Israeli attack. Onay he staled
ecently we have felt urong enough that If wc were toattle with Israel, with God's help, we could triumph. On ihti bem we decided to take actualTakutg over Sharmeant that we were ready toeneral war with Israel
Though be indicated that lhe UAR would not initiate an attack, he declared that if Israel attacked either Syria or the UAR.
The battie willeneral one and our baste obfecttve will be to destroy Israel
While Nasir was publicly staling that Israel would have to respond and that the UAR could then handle Israel militarily, it seems likely that Nasir in fact believed thai Israel would not attack and that he would make major political gains forodest risk.
The USSR and Closure of the Gulf
The Soviets, the evidence suggests, were taken by surprise when Nasir closed Ihe Gulf. Not only was their disapproval indicated by ihe absence of
explicit expressions of support, but the reaction of the Soviet press was muted and delayed. Thisign ofack of advance notice, or absencerepared official position, or both. Onay TASS reported Nasir's statement on the closing of the Suez canal and several hours lateroviet government statement repealing much of the previous Soviet propaganda line, bui failed to mention the closure of the gulf.*
The first semi-official comment on the closure of ihe gulf came three days laterravda article. The article recalled thai Israel had not used the gulfhereby intimating she had no right to use it. However, the Soviets were at this point evidently reluctant to support Nasir's act.
The Soviet attitude toward the Middle East situation seemed to be summed uphetorical question poseduneoviet Deputy
Foreignasked if there was any
reason why the'uoan snouto won; wirn tne uim<
uiuuiu worn wun iiw united Slates in the Middle East. That the Soviets had not yet seen any reason to do so wasby their position at the United Nations, where efforts to resolve the situation were lukewarm, ineffective, and slow. The USSR had rejected requests for four-power talks. Onay Soviet UN Ambassador Fedorenko temporarily barred the way to Security Council discussion of the developing crisis by refusing to participate. Cmay,ecurity Council meeting was at last held on the crisis, Fedorenko added nothing constructive.
ON THE BRINK
Nature of Soviet Support for the Arabs
Reports on specific Soviet commitments to the Arabs are confusing; it appears that Soviet assurances were always kept vague and thus were open lo misinterpretation by the Arabs. The only fairly clear commitment the Soviets made was to support the Arabs if the United States intervened on behalf of Israel-and even here the extent and type of assistance were not
'The Soviet government ofay accused Israel of preparing to attack Syria and stated that Western "imperialist circles" were responsible for inciting Israel. Theconcluded by warning thai the aggressors would meet not only united Arab strength but also "strong opposition "from the Soviet Union and all peace-loving states.
Confusion in Ihe Arab world aboul ihe exienl of Soviet support forcause is dcmonsiraled by the varying official reports made loand Egyptian governments in mid-May.
In short, as far as we know, the Soviets tried to avoidlear-cut STarement concerning the nature and exicnt of their assistance in the event of war.
Fromoay ihe Egyptian Minister of War. Shams Badran, was in Moscow where he met with Kosygin. Gromyko, and Grechko**ln hisay speech Nasir said that Kosygin hadessage back with Badran slating thai ihe Soviet Union
stands with us in this battle and will not allow any country to intervene, so that the state of affairs prevailing6 may be restored.
This statement, together with Nasir's claims regarding Egyptian strengthis Israel, suggests that Nasir's expectations of Soviet support in the
eveni of war included only materiel and the necessary Soviet actions to. intervention in Israel's behalf. Nasir surely did not anticipate what in factdisastrous five-day war. He more likelyrolonged conflict in which Soviet aid-in the form of military equipment, not actual physical support-might well play an important part.
Whatever his interpretation of the actual Soviet commitment, Nasir apparently felt that it was sufficient. He seems to have believed that Soviet support would only be needed toecurrencewhen Western forces assisted Israel. He apparently felt that the United States could restrain Israel and also seemed confident that the Arabs could cope with Israel militarily if necessary. Nasir's confidence in Egypt's military capability seems to have been at least partially shared by the Soviets.
/However, the most important soviet error at tnis
point would appear to have been their failure to foresee an Israeli attack.
Soviets Urge Restraim-Too Little Too Late
During the period between the announcement of the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba and the outbreak of war. Soviet policy apparently was based on the asumption that Israel would not attack if the situation remained static. On the one hand, the Soviets gave encouragement to the Arabs and left open the possibility that they would support the Arabs in the event of war; on the other hand, they sought gently to restrain the Arabs from further provocative actions. There is no indication that they ever attempted to persuade Nasir to lift the blockade. Anxious to avoid war and at the same
lime retain the atmosphere of tension from which they felt they could benefit, the Soviets urged upon the Arabs only that degree of restraint they felt necessary to keep the situation from boiling over into war.
The Soviets, in their post-war accounts, have claimed that before the war they urged the Arabs to refrain from actions which could be used by Israeli ruling circlesretext to launch hostilities. Nasir has supported this claim, stating that onay. Government had given the Soviet Ambassador inessage asking that the Soviets urge the UAR to use restraint and not be the first to open fire. I
Soviet attempts to restrain the Arabs were limited, however, and suggest that they were concerned not so muchossible Israeli retaliation for closure of the Gulf of Aqaba. as they were about further Arab actions which in turn might lead to war. Their late May attempts to convince the Arabs that Israel was not going to attack* 'apparently referred back to the original untrue reportlanned Israeli attack on Syria, rather than to the possibilityetaliatory attack for closure of the gulf.
In the last days of May, Nasir began to settle his differences with the more conservative Arabituation most feared by Israel and, by the beginning of June, the Egyptian and Israeli positions were completely intransigent.une Israeli Labor Minister Yigal Alon insisted that some protection of Israel's borders from terrorist attacks, the withdrawal of Egyptian troop concentrations along the border, and the lifting of the
blockade were necessary conditions to avoid an "inevitable" military clash.une UAR Foreign Minister Riyad announced that the Suez Canal would be closed to anyone who tried to break the blockade.
Most available information indicates that the Israeli attack at dawnonS June cameomplete surprise to the Soviets. |
timing of the attack certainly surprised the Arabs. After the war Nasir
blamed his unpreparedness on the fact that the United Slates had indicated
it would try to restrain Israel. And Nasir, as well as the Soviets, apparently
was convinced Israel would not attack. approval.
THE SIX-DAY WAR AND ITS IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
Israel Attacks; lhe USSR Reacts
Israel's attack on the UAR came in the morningurprise enabled the Israeli air force to virtually eliminate the Egyptian air force on the ground, and Israeli forces advanced with little trouble into Sinai and the Gaza Strip.une Israeli forces were well on their way to the Suez;une they captured Sharm ash-Shaykh; andune Israel claimed complete control of Sinai. The war with Jordan began later in the dayune. After Jordanian forces seized UN headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel launched air and ground attacks along the armistice line and Israeli forces swept toward the Jordan River. Israel had virtually destroyed the Syrian air forceune, but did not begin her ground attack against Syriaune; by the time of cease-fire with the Syrians, Israeli forces had penetrated aboutiles into Syria and occupied the Golan Heights.
Soviet press organs, also taken by surprise, continued their pre-war propaganda themes.une Izvestiya and TASS both charged that Johnson and Wilson, at their recent Washingtonad worked out an anti-UAR strategy and that they had spurred Israel on. Thata Moscow broadcast in Arabic said that Israel would not have attacked. instigation, that the Arabs were ready to reply to theand that the Arabs were not alone in their just struggle. Some hours later,rench-language version of the same commentary beamed to the Maghreb states, the following line was added:
As the Soviet government Stressed recently, the organizers will have to face not only the united strength of the Arab couniries. but oho the firm response to this aggression by the USSR and all other peace-loving states.
The commentary did not elaborate, leaving the threat of Soviet intervention vague.
The Johnson-Wilson meeting had endedune.
A Soviet government statement, issued lateune was even more imprecise. It demanded that Israel.halt military actions immediately and withdraw behind the truce line, stating that the Soviet government reserved the right to take all necessary steps. It called on the UN to condemn Israel's actions and to try to restore peace in the Middle East.
These statements revealed the Soviet fear of becoming militarily irt-volved.
but their acrions suggesT mat ims wascnogsancrnairvc ai wis pomi.
for twomake sure no accidental confrontation with the United States occurred and to try to stop the war, which they quickly realized the Arabs could not win.
Charges of US-UK Involvement
Soviet restraint was also demonstrated in Moscow's reaction to the Arab charge that the United States and Great Britain had actually partici-pated in the air strikes against the UAR.)
The implications of this charge for the Soviets could have been serious, if they in fact hadommitment to assist in the event of an actual US intervention. The Soviets never officially accepted the accusation of US participation as valid, although the Soviet press did, in several instances, repeat the charges."
visit io Moscow tromto June, ine aovieis reportedly emphasized that US aircraft had not participated in the Arab-Israeli war and asked him m
pass this information to Nasir.
JThe Soviets were cieariy unwilling
TO lail lor wnat They may have leu was an Arab effort lo drag Ihcm imo the war.
Soviets Urge Acceptance of Cease Fire
Agitaled conversations were reportedly held between the Soviets and Egyptians after the outbreak ofCairo between Nasir and Pozhidaycv, and in Moscow between Ghaleb and top Soviet leaders. The Egyptians demanded that the Soviets immediately replace their demolished air force but were told that there was no place to land planes as the airfields too had been destroyed. In response to the Egyptian accusation that the Soviets were
6 June domestic broadcast repeated the Arab Command statement that it had proof of Western participation. As hie asoviet domestic commentator said that while the US was trying to repudiate reports of participation, the fact remained that on the eve of the war, US and British carriers passed through the Suet and stationed themselves in the Red Sea. from where their planes "covered Israel's air space."
deserting them in their hour of need, the Soviets said that theyonly to supporting the Arabs against the United
Soviets decided shortly atler tne Israeli
Wnco'iaTc-ceasc-firc should be accepted, as the Arab position was not yet catastrophic. They felt that the Egyptians could not respond successfully as they had no planes; however. Nasir did not accept this line of reasoning andounter-offensive which failed.
The Sovietsrief time refused to accept the simple cease-fire resolution put forth at the UN and instead urged adoptionesolutionease-fire with tbe call for withdrawal of troops to prewar positions. Israel refused to accept this condition and the UAR refused toease-fire without it.une Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Semenov ordered Soviel UN representative Fedorenko io accept the simple cease-fire in spite of the Arab position. However, Cm UAR was not yet prepared to accept and without Egyptian approval the Security Council unanimouslyimple cease-fire resolution.
For the next two days the Soviets apparently attempted to persuade the UAR toimple cease-fire, although they were also pushing tease-fire with conditions.
AR Embassy spokesman in Paris said that Egypt rejected the UN resolution callingimple cease-fire. The Soviets requested an immediate meeting of the Security Council that afternoon andecond cease-fire resolution, simply calling on the governments concerned to cease firing0 GNfT that night, lt was unanimously adopted. Jordan and Israel agreed, but the UAR still rejected it.*
'Oi this date Radio Moscow broadcast the textoviet government statement to Israel charging that the failure of Israel to comply with the UN callease-fire was further proof of Israels aggressive policy and threatening to break diplomatic relations with Israel.
1JIC ICHMIIIIt IUI UUUBIlI
Egyptian policy are not Clear, soviel pressure toease-fire had been consistent and perhaps effective, but it is more likely thai Nasir saw the hopelessness of Egypt's military position and finally decided to accept.
une, at the same Security Council meeting athant announced that the UAR would abideease-fire if Israel would do the same, the Sovietsraft resolution callingondemnation of Israel and the withdrawal of troops behind the truce line. This resolution was never passed but was to become the basis of Soviet demands in the months ahead.esolution was unariimously passed, demandingof the previous resolutionsune) callingease-fire. Two hours after passage of the resolution, Syria and Israel had accepted it.
Threat of Soviet Intervention and the_Moscow Conference
In spile of the formal agreement to cease fire, Israeli troops continued to advance into Syriandune. At this pointy lhe Soviets began to threaten some (undefined) action if Israel did not stop.
There were indicalions lhat the Soviets were in fact makingfor limited intervention. Onune there were several reports of Soviet military preparations-one involving the possible landingoviet sailors near Latakia, Syria, and the other involving the possible landing of paratroops in Syria to halt the Israeli advance toward Damascus, These reports reveal the extent of Soviet concern for Syria and its regime, but the amount of support being considered was token only. It is not impossible that these reports were circulated by the Soviets in an attempt to scare the Israelis into stopping their advance in Syria.
After the war the Soviets were to claim that the Israeli haltirect result of the USSR's determined stand. While it is possible that the Soviet threatsole in Israel's decision to stop, the fact that Israel had agreedease-fire before the USSR began to make threats suggests that the Soviet threats were not so important; furthermore, there is little to indicate that Israel had planned to take Damascus in any event.
Two or three days after the start of the war. the Soviets summoned their East European allies to Moscow to discuss the situation. The leaders metune and the following daytatement warning that if the UNSC did not take proper measures and if Israel did not withdraw to the armistice lines, the signers would do "everything necessary to help the peoples of the Arab countriesesolute rebuff to thehis belated and again vague verbal threat indicated that the Soviets and their allies had no intention of becoming militarily involved. Onune the Soviet Union did, however, break diplomatic relations with Israel, and in the days that followed the other Moscow signatories followed suit.*
Various other agreements not included in the public statementat the Moscowwas agreed
tliat the Soviets would be the spokesmen for all and that they wouldunited front on the Middle East problem."the meeting
recognized the need to repair the war damage in me /vraD countries and to supply the Egyptian armed forces with replacements for lost tanks, aircraft, and otherut limits to this aid were also discussed. -Ln-liabl-pX. the weaknesses in the UAR military structure revealed by the war reported, the Soviets decided they must exercise control of Egyptian useoviet-supplied military equipment. It was agreed that all of Nasir's requests for military aid would be met. but that the Soviets would demand that they participate in any future UAR decision concerning major military actions to be launched with Soviet-supplied arms. While the Soviets may have requested that they be involved in such decision making, it is not likely that Nasir would have agreed to weaken his own prerogatives. The Sovietsreater role in Egyptian military training and organization.
SOVIETS REACT TO DEFEAT
Attempts to Reassure Arabs
The Soviets, shocked by the magnitude of the Arab defeat, reacted instinctively. First, they tried to salvage what they couldad situation. They were particularly vulnerable to charges that they had failed the Arabs; they also were sensitive to rumors that the Chinese were going to move into the area with offers of aid and even more sensitive to the prospectshinese propaganda heyday at their expense. Their immediate aims were to restore their damaged prestige in the eyes of the world and to re-establish their credibility as friends of the Arabs. The emergency airlift of
'The Semen agreed to contact Cairo immediately in behalf of the Eastern European countries: this wat the first time the Soviets had thus represented the Eastern European countries in negotiations with the UAR.
aid begun by the Sovietsune* (the largest such operation Moscow has ever conducted) and theune statement of the Moscow conference were the first steps in this direction. Subsequent high-level visits and assurances of continuing military aidital element in their efforts to restore their influence with the Arabs.
The Arabs were stunned by defeat and were at once gripped by shock, humiliation, and anger. They looked for scapegoats andumber; the United States and Great Britain whom they said had aided Israel, some of their own leaders-particularly military-whom they felt had failednd the Soviet Union which they felt had let them down. Their frustration and anger with the Soviets was openly expressed in the press as well as privately. Among the most vehement was Algerian President Boumediene, who at one point apparently considered ordering alt Algerian students in the USSR to return home. Onune Boumediene flew to Moscow where he reportedly attacked the Soviets for their failure to assist. He was reminded of the dangers of nuclear war and was somewhat mollified by promises of continued aid. Syrian President Al-Atasi visited Moscow shortly after the war and charged that on the second day of the war the Soviet Ambassador to Damascus had promised "technical military assistance" which was then not provided. The Soviets reportedly responded that the military situation had developed so swiftly that the Soviet aid program had been thrown off balance.
Probably because they realized their need for Soviet aid and support, the Arabs' anti-Soviet line of the first few days faded fairly quickly. Press articles lost their anti-Soviet tones and,!
"Although the Soviets had begun to airlift replacement equipment to the Arabs while the war was still In progress, aid alone was far from enough to reverse the tide of the war. In the war the UAR lost about two-thirds of its fighters, four-fifths of its bombers, and one-half of its tanks: the Syrians lost most of their fighters and one-fourth of their tanks. The Iraqisgerians lost only small amounts of materiel.
une Nasir issued his official resignation. At the same time Commander-in-Chief Amir and War Minister Badran also submitted their resignations as did II other high-ranking military commanders. Nasir later retracted his resignation, but the others held.
the same day Fozfiidayev had handed Nasir an "important message" from the Soviet government. Possibly this contained promises of further Soviet support.*
A major move in the Soviet effort to assuage the Arabs was the tour of Soviet President Podgornyy to Arab capitals in late June. Podgornyy himself described the tripcalminge undoubtedly gave reassurances of continued support, both military and economic, but the exact amount promised and the quid pro quo (if any) were not so clear. It seems likely that at this time the Soviets committed themselves at least to the replacement of all Egyptian equipment lost in the war. The Podgornyy-Nasir talkswere not completely smooth and final agreement on al' issues was
the Syrians were very upset by
Podgornyy did return to Moscow before visiting Syria, and his visit to Syria may have been particularly unsatisfactory. The communique issued after this visit was somewhat chillier than those following his trips to Cairo andnd
Ihe extent ofauimu ami
spproacrraTKraavisea tne syrans not to consider an immediate resumption of hostilities. His promise of aid io support an eventual resumption of war was said to be offset by a
'In fact. Arab resentment was to continueong period; open criticism stopped, however, because ofthe need for Soviet aid.
"The former said simply that "official talks" were held and that Podgornyy expressed "heartfelt gratitude" for the hospitality shown him. The others stressed the spirit of friendship and understanding which prevailed at the meetings.
Soviets wereuLiiianume umu iii mi imuuii, urn. li-crrcy
they did so unsuccessfully, for although they have been given increased access to Arab ports, they have not acquired control of any port facilities. Soviet technicians and advisors were subsequently stationed in Syria, but. again, it is highly unlikely that these advisors have been given command authority.
Efforts to Regain International Prestige-Propaganda in the UN
Restoration of their international status was the second immediate goal of the Soviets in the wake of their June setback. Onuneetter to the Secretary General of the UN, Gromyko requested an emergency session of the General Assembly to consider the Middle East situation and the question of "liquidating the consequences of Israeli aggression against tbe Arab stales and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces behind the armisticehiseversal of the USSR's traditional emphasis on the Security Council and was probably based on the expectation thai the assembly wouldore sympathetic vehicle for propaganda purposes.*
A number of UAR UN officials, Iwerc disrr
ather lhan an attempt to help tlie Arabs. This
miQ-June asN. As the peak of the immediate Soviet posi-war
"the USSR considerea" propaganda phase" in the UN. drive to regain Arab trust had been reached with Podgornyy's trips to the Middle East, so ihe drive io regain prestige in the worldigh point with the arrival at the UN of Soviet Premier Kosygin onune. Onh Kosygin addressed the UN General Assembly. He repeated Soviet charges of Israel's mid-May plot to attack Syria and of imperialist support for Israel, charging that military maneuvers by. and British fleets on the eve of the war could have been interpreted by Israel as encouragement for aggression. He also attacked the United States for blocking the Security Council resolution calling for immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops. But he steered clear of any implication of. and British involvement in the
'Onune ihe Security Council failed iooviet draft resolution condemning Israel and demanding that she withdraw her troops behind the armistice line.
war. He stressed (he dangersorld war which he said would be nuclear and,tatement not includedater Moscow Domestic Service version, said that every state should refrain from further complicating the situation.
Kosygin then presented the Soviet Union's draft resolution which contained four provisions:
Condemnation of the aggressive actions of Israel and the continuing occupation by Israel of part of the territory of the UAR, Syria, and Jordan;
Immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the occupied territory to positions behind the armistice lines;
Restitution in full by Israel of the damages inflicted by its
Immediate effective measures by the UN Security Council to eliminate all consequences of Israel's aggression.
Kosygin met with President Johnson at Glassboro onnd again onune, thenress conference lo discuss the meetings. He hinted at Sonet flexibility in his statement that after Israeli withdrawal the Security Council could consider all other questions arising in the Middle East. The TASS version of the press conference omitted this statement but said simply that all other solutions (other than withdrawal) lo the crisis wereKosygin's formula was to be the basis of the7 Soviet proposal which never cameote.**
SHIFT IN SOVIET TACnCS-TOWARD MODERATION
Soviets Urge Restraint on Arabs
While the desire to restore their reputation with the Arabs and to ensure against Chinese inroads in the area was stimulating the Soviets to continue active support of the radical Arabs, they also had seen the
'Seeor discussion of leadership differences on ihe Middle East.
disastrous results that policy had helped cause in June. The Soviets, however, tried to straddle both sides of ihe problem. They continued to supply large quantities of aid-both mililary and economic-but they abo tried togreater control over its use. In addition, they would moderate their support of the radical Arab line.
Soviet political restraint reflected an urgent desire toepetition of the June War. The Soviets at the time made it very clear to the Arabs that they would not come to their assistance in the event of renewed hostilities. This shiftomewhat vaguelear-cut position emerged in early July.uly Fast European leaders with the exception of Romania's leaders met in Budapest: their communique" promised continued aid as well as "steps aimed al strengthening the Arabs' defenset contained no implied threat of action by the socialist states in lhe event of renewed hostilities.*
During this same period Ihe Arab leaders were meeting in Cairo ineffort toommonhe Soviets reportedly sentthis "tittle summit" that the Arabs should expect no Sovietif hostilities were resumed, although aid and diplomaticcontinue. Only if "clear-cut" intervention by the United(and this would be determined by the Soviets) would thedirectly involved.
'In addiaon. aceordnxgPSU document prepared In7 tor dutribunon to delegates to the November anniversary celebrations In Moscow Iter page SI I. the conference abo decidedore realistic stand was needed on the part of the Arabs and that an Immediate step should be to combine demands for Immediateormula for terminating the state of war.
"On II July Boumcdlene, Nasir, and Husayn met In Cairo but were reportedly unable lo reach agreementommon approach The next day Boumcdicne met in Damascus with Syrian leaders, and theytatement promising resistance to compromise. At this time Husayn was trying to promote an Arab summit-which would be moderate in approach The Syriansgertans were opposed, end the VAR was fluctuating. Onuly Nasir indicated that the UAR wouLd attend an Arab summit.
Soviets alsoompromise plan-if the Arabs would accept implicitly the existence of Israeltate and end the state of belligerence, the USSR would intervene with the United States to pressure Israel to give up "most" of the territory occupied during the war.
In addition to top-level consultations and communications, numerous military delegations were traveling back and forth in an effort to work out priorities and conditions foryrian dissatisfaction with Soviet aid offers had been indicated after Podgornyy's visit to that country early in July. Toward the end of that month Egyptian disappointment began to
The most obvious condition demanded and agreed upon was the stationing of Soviet advisors in the Arab armed forces. Soviet advisors began arriving almost immediately in the UAR. They arrived somewhat later in Syria and Algeria, possibly reflecting earlier unhappy Syrian reaction to
stated that by late
'Soviet First Deputy Defense Minister Zakharov was in Cairo fromuneuly. Late in Junegerian Defense Minister met with Brezhnev and Grechko. and in early July Soviet Deputy Defense Minister Pavlovskiy spent several weeks in Algeria. Soviet military delegations also arrived in Syria shortly after the war. Onuly Grechko metAR military delegation led by Chief of Staff Riyad and late In July Soviet Politburo member Maiurov met with Iraqi and Sudanese military delegations.
Juneovlei officers had already been attached to the UAR army at brigade level and had already caused dissension in the UAR military
The second Soviet condition most frequently reported was theof naval facilities in the Mediterranean. Such facilities are essential to the maintenance by the Sovietsizable fleet in the Mediterranean, and the Soviets demonstrated7 their firm intention of becoming andediterraneant the same time Soviet condemnation of Western bases in the area made their own acquisition of bases an embarrassing proposition. Hence, their demands may have centered on the use of facilities rather than their acquisition. Nasir, in talks with Husayn in early July, said that he was prepared toefense pact with the Soviets giving them whatever bases in the UAR they needed. This statement is somewhat suspect, however, as it smacksasir effort to push the West (which he may well have assumed would receive this information) into
"The Soviets began building up their Mediterranean fleet shortly after the war. Inthey sent their first landing ships through the Bosporus into the
war Ihe site Of the Soviet fleet conltHUed to grow.
making concessions in an effort lo slave offoviel presence
Reports that Nasir had rejected requests by Podgornyy and Zakhardv" fbr soviet acquisition of naval faculties but had approved the idea of the Soviets expanding available facilities. Onnd II July Soviet ships put into Alexandria and Port Saidisit-probably to demonstrate Soviet support for the Arabs and possibly to make use of their new access to port facilities there. Onuly the Egyptian paper Al Jumhuriyah stated thai the UAR would extend an open invitation to the Soviet fleet to stay in Port Said and Alexandria as long as it wished. Since lhat time vessels of the Soviel fleet have continually visited these ports, as well as Latakia in Syria.
More Flexible UJjPosture
In addition to modifying their policy of supporting the Arabs by urging restraint and imposing conditions on aid, the Soviets, in July, began movingore flexible stance at the UN. Their position, as reflected byuly Budapest Conference, wasore realistic Arab position was needed and that demands for immediate Israeli withdrawal shouldormula for terminating the state of war.
Having made their propaganda points with the Arabs, the Soviets dropped the hard-line resolution proposed by Kosygin on IV June and gave their supportonaligned nations resolution sponsored by Yugoslavia; this draft was somewhat more moderate than that of the Soviets. While it called for the immediate withdrawal of all troops behind the armistice line with UN supervision, il did noi demand condemnation of Israel, did hoi call for reparations, and did suggest lhat after withdrawal had occurred the Security Council might consider "all aspects of the situation in then addition, it requested that the Secretary Generalersonal
representative to work for compliance.uly Gromyko praised the resolution and condemned any other approach, However, the draft failed to passote"
In mid-July the Soviets indicated their willingness toN
j vtlieimat, wmis'ivr
the first time the Soviets didromise of some reciprocal action for Israeli withdrawal, they did not put withdrawal and ending the state of belligerency on the same level. Rather they called for Israeli withdrawal under UN supervision and for referral of the Arab-Israeli question to the Security Council, which would be enjoined to decide on issues concerning termination of the state of belligerency, free passage through international waterways, and the refugee problem.
Xhal the Egyptians and Iraqis naa agreed to the Soviet draft proposal, nowever, Boumediene and the Syrianstatement onuly promising lo resist any compromise. The Soviets were unable to change Boumediene's mind when he visited Moscow in mid-July, and the radical Arabs prevailed. The USSR never presented its draft and onuly the General Assembly's emergency session was adjourned.
Thus the Soviets had cornered themselves by restricting their freedom to maneuver in the UN. Their initial calleneral Assembly session reflected their desireublic propaganda forum. In July, when they had
The emergency Uh'SC session considered seven draft resolutions and adopted two-all others failing to gain the required two-thirds majority. The US draft, which along with the Soviet draft failed to pass, called for negotiated arrangements with third party assistance based on five principles: mutual recognition of the political Independence and territorial integrity of all countries In the area; recognized boundaries to accompany disengagement and withdrawal: freedom of innocent maritimeust solution of the refugee problem: recognition ofthe right of all sovereign nations to exist In peace and security. The two resolutions which were passed called for adoption of humanitarian principles and for Israel to take no action to alter the status of Jerusalem.
TtrP PLCP FX.
losing his post, it seems unlikely that he would have raised his voice if there had been no support for his views at the highest levels. In anyolicy of calculated risk was shunned by the consensus that emerged in the Politburo during the crisis.
ore aggressive view may have had some supporters within the Politburo itself, the evidence contains little direct indication as to who they might have been. Shelepin. of course, is one suspect since Yegorychev, who voiced the criticism of leadership's crisis actions at the June plenum.can beember of the coterie around this leader. However, there were signs that the militant view had supporters among elements on the periphery of the inner-leadership, especially among the mililary. For example. Red Star was one of the few Soviet organs which openly defended the UAR's closure of the Straits ofune) and was particularly insistent in its calls for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories. Further, it was closeonth after the war before any Soviet military leader explicitly endorsed Soviet handling of the crisis. Onlyuly did Defense Minister Grechko dorezhnev alsoigorous public defense of Politburo policy in the crisis.
Brezhnev's speechuly bore all the earmarkseneral apologia for Soviet Middle East policy, past, present, and future. This was his first post-war speech and probably was designed to counter both foreign-particularly Arab-and internal criticism. He first tried to counter argumentsore assertive policy should have been followed in the crisis. He insisted on the "correctness" of Moscow's "energetic" moves to stop Israel and protect Arab interests. He then moved on to defend the continuing strong Soviet support for the Arabs; while careful to say-in line with Politburo policy-that the struggle in the present phase wase emphasized the demand for Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands and pointed to the material aid the USSR was rendering the Arabs. While alluding to efforts at resolving the crisis in the UN. he dwelt on the purpose of Podgornyy's missions to the UAR, Syria and Iraq; namely, strengthening ties and coordinating common action in Ihe defense of Arab interests. The speech contained tittle hint of any interest inompromise settlement in the area. In general the speech seemed toefense of Moscow's pro-Arab policy. From the perspective of Soviet internal politics it appeared to reflect Brezhnev's awareness of Ihe danger of an alliance of mililary* and party elements joining together in opposition to official policy in the mid-East.
'The speech was deliveredraduating military
The danger was already implicit in the Yegorychev affair. Yegorychev. (he Moscow party chief andre-eminent figure among the party's middle-level executives, launched his criticism of official policy when two of its prime promoters and agents, Podgornyy and Kosygin, were away from home implementing that policy, the first in Cairo and the second in New York at the UN. This left Brezhnev, the third of the triumvirate in charge of executing the adopted policy in Moscow, to bear the brunt of this evidently unexpected attack.!- "
I in- preontent OI tlie Yegorychev criticism remains unclear.
imilar criticism-but pom figures linked with reform rather than hard-line positions-was discernible7 June Pravda article by Rumyantsev, Burlatskiy and Bestrmhev. This article while devoted to the need for more intensive study of broad social and political trendsointed call for better political predictions "especially" with regard to "prospects ofdeveloping international relations. "The glaring case in point-the lead up to and outbreak of the ArabJsraeti war-could scarcely fail to come to mind in an informed reader.
equipment and that "further improvement" of militaryreat extent" on the practical activity of the military itself. Further, the introductionoviet naval force into the Mediterranean in the wake of the crisis served, among other things however belatedly, to cover the leaders' flank against charges of passivity in crisis situations.
In any case, Brezhnevevere rebuff to Yegorychev by relegating himesser post-presumably as an object lesson lo any who assumed his policy or leadership was easily challengeable-and obtained an express stamp of approval from the Centra! Committee and the Moscow party organization among others for the Politburo's actions during the crisis. Indeed, the display of his organizational power was essential to Brezhnev's immediate prestige and authority. Brezhnev's elaborate defense of policy in the crisis inuly speech also mirrored his awareness of the danger of an erosion of his authority resulting from publicity within the regime of the view that the leadership was nol sufficiently forceful in foreign affairs. Further, it is possible that the main motive behind the Yegorychev foray was to undermine confidence in the leadership; Brezhnev's rapid responsein rebuffing this attempt.
The Politburo Consensus and Differences Within lt
The quick disposal of Yegorychev underlined the agreement among the top figures in the Politburo on the need for caution and strict avoidance of any direct Soviet involvement in the military side of the conflict. The evidence contains strong indications that the latter view was unanimously held by the four ranking members of the Politburo; Brezhnev. Podgornyy, Suslov, and Kosygin.
For example, both Bre2hnev and Suslov during the war's early siage_ were critical of Nasir
Bolh Kosygin and Podgornyy indicated their commitmenteaceful resolution of the crisis. Further, the tenor of Kosygin's statements and activities at the UN and Glassboro and Brezhnev's treatment of Podgornyyonfidant regarding the Ycgorychev affair deepens the impression that these figures were working in close concert to minimize the effects of the Arab setback.
Yet within this area of agreement at least two diverging positions were visible as well as differing nuances in the views expressed by individual figures. The differences suggest that policy in the crisis was formulatedoalition rather thanoterie of like-minded men. For, on the one hand, Kosygin seemed toore flexible position than his colleagues with regard toajor political settlement in the Middle East, while Brezhnev, and even more distinctly Podgornyy, assumed lessostwar settlement. The latter seemed more intent on refurbishing the Soviet image as the Arabs' champion and restoring them to their prewar positions than on altering the basic conditions that had helped produce the war. It should be noted, however, that these views reflected the different forums to which these men were spcaking-Kosygin to an international audience, Podgornyy to the Arabs, and Brezhnev to party and military groups. However, their views were compatible with the differing outlooks each had displayed earlier.
|reportedosygin even threatened to resign at one
pointesult of his disagreement with other Politburo members. That he may haveosition of greater flexibility than the other leaders was suggested by the conciliatory shadings of his statements during his UN trip in contrast to the uniformly harsh-toned. anti-Israeli, anti-Westernin Soviet media. Indeed, passages in Kosygin's statements which could be interpreted as conciliatory were excised from Soviet press accounts. Editorial trimming of such passages was evident, for example, in Kosygin'sune statement that after an Israeli withdrawal al) other questions arising in Ihe Middle East could be considered by the Security Council.
Any hintsoftening of Soviet demandsiddle East settlement or of the possibility of compromise were absent from Brezhnev's major speechuly. He also did not reiterate Kosygin's support at the UN of Israel's right to exist as an element of Soviet policy, nor the Premier's reference lo the responsibility of the great powers to contribute to peace in
the Middleimilarly, the Central Committee resolution which, in effect, approved Brezhnev's unpublished report to the plenum also omitted these points. In other respects, however, the resolution paralleled the main lines of Kosygin's UNas might be expected, defining Soviet policy positionsore thoroughgoing ideological form. Similarly, Podgornyyonversation f
an intransigent tone.
He indicated that he was notompromise was possible, though heeaceful solution was necessary. He emphasized that aggression could not be rewarded and that Israel's withdrawal from occupied Arab territories was the precondition of any negotiations. That this position may haveiplomatic stance rather than ironclad policy was at least suggested when
tot to take what the Arabs and the soviet* saia puonciy too iitenuy ana inar compromises were necessary. Yet.
While detailed evidence on the views of other Polilburo-lcvel figures on Middle East policy during the crisis period is scanty,"one notable moderate-sounding voice emerged in the Central Committee Secretariat. The audience to which it was addressed probably in part accounts for ils tenor. In late July, in his meeting with Italian Communists, party secretary Ponomarev expressed sharp criticisms of the Arabs for refusing Moscow's counsels of restraint before the war and for taking such unilateral actions as closing the gulf. He charged that the Arab governments were fanatic and irrational, and that Moscow was forced to give aid to Nasir as he was the most reasonable of the Arab leaders; he was particularly critical ofiewnot previously held by Brezhnev, who in early June had stated that
'Kosygin* assertion of Israel's right to exist was implicit in the statement that every people had the right "to establish an independent state of itsike Brezhnev, other leaders did not mention this right with reference to the Middle East, though presumably recognition of Israel's right to statehood hasromise of Soviet policy.
Boumediene was the most reasonable of the Arab leaders. Ponomarevthat the Arabs were bleeding the socialist states and criticized the Egyptians for keeping the Suez closed. He was quite pessimistic, stating that the cease-fire had left the crisis unresolved and the Soviets did not know how it could be resolved; he expressed alarm that the situation might leadirect confrontation among the great powers.
ln sum. it would appear lhat during theerhaps uneasyexisted, based on the desire io keep lossesinimum and woid any direct involvement in the conflict. While some leaders may have urged stronger action than was in fact taken, support forourse seemshave been slight. However, once the actual crisis had passed the fences on Middle East policy surfaced-most explosively in the Yegorychev attack. Consensus approach again prevailed, aimed at preserving with minimal loss the Soviet role as champion of Arab interests. However, on one side ofthe consensus may haveard-line, activist position, and on lheore moderate one. Differences over the extent of commitment to te made io the Arabs most probably have persisled.leadership probably have been partly responsible forPh ejic course of Soviet conduct since the war; they alsootential lor change in Soviet Middle East policy.
SOVIETS SHIFT SUPPORT FROM SYRIANS TO EGYPTIANS
Moscow Endorses Nasir's Postwar Moves
Soviet policyradual, hesitant shift away from the radical Arab position toward the Egyptians in the months the June war. During this process Soviel policy makers expenenced repeated frustration both because of the imperviousness of the Syrian radicals and their Arab abettors lo any notion of compromise politics in the UNand because of their own self-imposed inhibition against pressuring thehe point where they might turn in anger againstponsor^ Despite lhe pari Nasir had played in prccipitahng
way of contrast less fanatical than the Syrian and the morecounsel and admonition, ln fact, after the shockrabjessencd and Nasir had survived the crisis of his own leadership.not hesitate to aim public criticism a. the Egyptian failures anda. Nasir himself in press articles in late June.
iTSS showing ^patience will, Arab hotheadedness and retemnftr ^Irewar actions
as case in point. Evidence that Nasir had been chastcned-at least lempo-rarily-by his experience and saw the need for political flexibility was first reflected in his decision in mid-July to attend an Arab summit meeting. Since the meeting was endorsed by the conservative Arabs and boycotted by the radicals, the decisionhift away from his prewar alliance with the Syrians. Nasir's decision to side with the conservative Arabs wastied to an effort to find sources of relief for the UAR's critical economic situation. Loss of revenue from the closing of Suez as well as the general dislocation caused by the war hadonetary crisis and Nasir needed money. At the conference, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Libya jointly agreed to provide the UAR and Jordan with quarterly aid payments, in exchange for which these three nations were to resume oil shipments to the United States. The conference rejected the "continue-to-fight" policyby Syria (which refused to attend thelgeria, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and gave Nasir andandate toolitical settlement; itugoslav compromise proposal "reasonable."'
'In mid-August Tito had visited the UAR. Syria, and Iraq In an effort to win Arab support for his proposal. This five-point plan did notonbelligerency clause as Nasir had said, indicating that Nasir was prepared to go further in compromise than the Titoublished in Tanyug oneptember its provisions were:
The putlback of all troops from territories occupiedune, with UN observers on hand.
A UN Security Council or big-four power guarantee of the security and frontiers of all countries in the areainal solution was found.
Free passage through the Strait of Tiranuling by the Internationa! Cowl of Justice.
Restoration of all forces in Suez on the eve ofS June.
As soon as the above was done, the UNSC would Jake steps to resolve other issues.
In Iheeek of September Moscow somewhat belatedly voiced its approval of the Khartoum conference. At the same time Soviet propaganda changed its tune on Middle East issues. As late asugust Sovietcontinued to echo the hard line taken in Pravda and Izvestiya early in the month. Radio Peace and Progresseport urging continued embargo of US oil, withdrawal of Arab currency from Westernenera] boycott of the West. Also Moscow had been critical of the idea of an Arab summit prior to Nasir's announcement of his decision to support the Khartoum summit onuly.
Now Pravda endorsed the Khartoum conferenceeptembertep forward in Arab unity; il said that the view held by various Arabs that the resumption of war was the only way out had been replacedore sober approach. Radio Peace and Progress, on the same day, noted the absence of the Syrian leaders "who consider military operations the main method" but said that the Syrians had agreed to support "all positive measures" drafted in Khartoum. Pravda and Izvestiya now praised the resumption of oil shipments to the United Statesecessary source of Arab revenue. Novoye Vremya in September called the Syrian and Algerian advocacy of continuous struggle unrealistic, and praised the Egyptian public for reacting favorably to suggestions that the slogan of destruction of Israel be dropped. The article held out hope for settlement by saying that the Khartoum conference had rejected direct negotiations "at the presenthereby leaving open the possibility that this might change.
The Soviet decision to change the propaganda line evidently came after Nasir's own switch to support of Khartoum and somewhat tardily. Despite the delays, the Soviets hadajor step in their policy of supporting the less militant Arab line. Each step in this direction cost the Soviets influence in the more radical Arab camp, and each step was madeA public Soviet position on the summit conference was necessary, and. as the radical Arabs vigorously opposed the conference while Nasir supportedoviet position was bound to alienate one or the other. The fearenewed war and another setback was consistently pushing the Soviets toward the moderate Arab line and away from their previous support for the radicals.
Soviets Urge Restrain! on Syria
Pravda's endorsement of the Khartoum summit registered Moscow's readiness to support the relatively moderate position now assumed by Nasir and to criticize the more radical Arabs in public. The Soviet policy of urging
Egyptian-Syrian unity before the war had helpedush Nasir toward greater militancy with disastrous results. Now the Soviets were prepared to make clear their supportore rational Arab line and lo risk alienating the Syriansesult. Their efforts to pull the Syrians in that direction met with no success.
The arguments used by the Soviets clearly indicated their apprehension about the possibilityenewal of the war and their particular fear that Syrian provocations would cause an Israeli reaction which might prove disastrous. And they were now willing to let the Syrians know that they did not support any policy which might impel the Israelis to resume the fighting.
In earlyyrian delegation led by Minister of Defense Hafiz Asadeek in Moscow; reports on the results of this visit suggest -less than satisfactory result from the Syrian point of view.
In any event, the Svrians were dependent on the Soviets tor their equipment and, while the message may never have been relayed directly, the
implication might well have been conveyed that until the Syrians moderated their position, Soviet support would be less than complete, ln addition, the Soviets might well have reasoned that the dangers inherent in supplying the radical and aggressive Syriansarger military capability were too great to be risked.
The Lever Of Military Aid
While Soviet arm-twisting never reached the point where the Syrians or Egyptians openly complained. Soviet military aid policy was unmistakably aimed at measurably increasing the USSR's presence, influence and-to whatever degree possible-control over Arab policy in the war-making sphere.
The Soviets had considerable room in which to maneuver and apply pressure in their military aid program. For, although they had immediately promised after the war to resupply equipment lost in the war, the Soviets could decide how much and what type of additional equipment would be forthcoming. The stationing of Soviet military advisors In the Arab forces was clearly one of Moscow's conditions for aid. The number of Soviet personnel in Arab countries jumped rapidly to about four times its pTewar level and continued to be maintained there.
This influx has been accompanied by signs of considerable friction within the Arab armed forces between the Soviet and Arab military, r
The authority actually given these advisors is not clear. Although various reports haveigh degree of Soviet authority in training and operational exercises, there is no proof of direct Soviet command and control authority. While it seems unlikely that Soviet personnel have any final say in policy and command decisions, the extent of their involvement in both the Syrian and UAR armed forces is certainly greater than it was before the war. The Soviets must in this way expect to exercise some restraint on Arab forces and to make sure that Soviet-supplied equipment was not again squandered; at the same time they obviously hoped to raise the standards and capabilities of the Arab armed forces.
Tlie Soviets also succeeded in gaining increased access to naval facilities in the Mediterranean. The Soviets greatly increased the size of theirfleetnd access to refueling and repair facilities had become very desirable.oviet naval presence in Arab portsreater deterrent factor against future Israeli attacks and, more importantly. US intervention in the area.
istinction must be drawn between ihe establishment of Soviet bases in the Middle East and the use by the Soviets ofoort
jin oilier woros, soviet requests lor coniform port" lacmrieT
:cn rejected, but Soviet use of such facilities would be permitted "
t. Ihe Soviet fleet has made only minimal use of these ports and has relied primarily on its own auxiliary ships for supplies and repairs. However. Soviet fleet vessels have made prolonged visits to various ports, particularly Port Said and Alexandria in the UAR and Latakia in Syria. The increased Soviet naval presence provides an added counter for Soviet tactics in future crisis situations
SOVIET MANEUVERS ON ARAB-ISRAELI SETTLEMENT Position on Withdrawal Ambiguous
The Soviet shift in August and7 to support of Nasiress militant propagandand Ihe growing Soviet criticism of the radical Arabs were accompaniedorresponding inclination by Ihe Soviets to follow Nasir's lead in the diplomatic realm without undertaking any initiatives of their own. As their shift on various themes (the summit, an oil boycott of the West, and so forth) had been accomplished in stages, so
tact ,heSoviets 'hemseh<es probably would not wish to acawrc bases fomW,ha ha* lor* been outspoken critics of US bases. Furthermore, the* acaumnon of bases ZldZerZem StVlmore vulnerable to possible mvoMmen,uture war.
their positionolitica! scitlcmcni during this period wasven contradictory. For
The public statements of top Soviet spokesmen were also vague. Both Kosygin and Gromyko in mid-September publicly stressed the dangers of tensions in the area "in direct proximity" to Ihc USSR's frontiers. Gromyko. in hiseptember speech to the General Assembly* warned of Ihc dangersew armed conflict, called for Israeli compensation to Ihe Arabs, and said that if Israel did not observe Ihe UN resolutions, the Security Council must determine sanctions.
lie ma nol elaborate, oui the implication tiut eomprormscs-wcTT was clear.
By the end of September, however. Ihe Soviets seemed to have no specific goal in Ihe diplomatic realm, and their statements seemed to lack direction. They still had not taken any public position on the Tito proposals of August" which the moderate Arabs, including Nasir. had indicated were acceptable. Taking no initiatives of iheir own. Soviet policy seemed to belate of suspense and seemed content to let Nasir take the lead, as he had on the Khartoum summit, and follow his initiative in againompromise UN resolution.
Soviets Support Arab Initiative
The special emergency session of ihe VNGA, convened on I? June and adjourned temporarily onuly, concluded cm IS Septemberesolution asking that the regular General Assembly session give ihe Middle Easi situation high priority. Gromyko ooi addressing the regular iessKm.
Increased Tension and Nasir's Ambivalence
Numerous border incidents along the cease-fire lines in the Middle East haveraisedArab-lsraeli tensionigh pitch since the end of the war and the dangerajor outbreak of war has returned. Arab terrorist raids into Israel increased steadily and by7 Israel was warning that it might have to strike at the "centers oflear threat to Syria and possibly to Jordan. The threat particularly alarmed the Syrians who |
|wcrc expecting an "imminent
In October there were indications that Nasir wasroubled stateanxiety about the leader's mental
condition, saying thai he was subject to sudden fits of temper and severe depression and was obsessed with the ambition of restoring Egypt's prestigeuccessful strike at Israel. The sinking of the Israel destroyer Eilai onctober might have reflected this attitude on Nasir's part. If so, he must have been further infuriated by Israel's retaliation-the bombing of Egyptian oil refineries-and the announcement that the United States would supply fighter bombers to Israel.
There were various reports at this time that the Egyptian position was hardening and doubt was growing in Cairo about the possibilityeaceful settlement. Onovember Haykal, writing in Al Ahram. termed the continuation of the wareit, however, by adding that this did not necessarily mean that fighting would resume tomorrow.
In spite of their reportedly hardening position, the Egyptians during this period, nonetheless,raft resolution, submitted by thehich embodiedew changes the earlier Jordan/UAR/Soviet
'jLLiJ'i Jj. i-
understanding of early October, Israeli withdrawal from all territoriesduring the war was tied to the end of the state of belligerency, as it had been in the Arab plan, but instead of referring the questions of refugees and free passage through international waterways to future deliberation, this draft implied that settlement of these issues would occur in the same time frame as the other provisions. In addition, it called for the dispatchpecial representative to the Middle East to coordinate efforts to resolve the situation.
Al this time, however, the UAR and Jordan appeared to be losing touch with each other. Cairo, which had calledecurity Council session* apparently without consulting Jordan, was supporting the Indian draft Husayn, on the other hand, felt that the Arabs mustroposal which had US approval, as the United States was the only nation which couldracticalS draft resolution had also been presented to the Security Council; it called for an end to the state of belligerency and recognition of the right of all states to exist within recognized boundaries; it called for Israeli withdrawal, but did not specify withdrawal from allterritories. |
The Security Council met in urgent teutonovember at the request of the VAR.
During the fall Soviet diplomats began to speak again of adanger in the Middleeveral indicated that, without a'which wmad farerrorism might increase and
(This threat may wel"
have been intended tor Western consumption with the goal of pushing the Westore flexible diplomatic position.
The degree of pressure, if any, the Soviets exerted on the UAR to accept the UK draft is not known, but they evidently did want some sotLoX political accommodation to reduce the danger of renewed hostilities.
""'edorenko was annoyed over the sinking of the tuat
as uiii uuiiiuuLaivu naumig agreement at the UN. Probably the Soviets also feared that incidents of this sort might result in renewed war.
In October Muhyi ad-Din stated that the Soviets were not providing the UAR with arms in the quantity or quality requested; he said that they were holding back on certain weapons and counseling that the UARinal agreement on permanent guaranteed boundaries.PSU documentwritten in October, which was circulated to delegations visiting the USSR inhe Soviets stated that it was necessary for the Arabs toore realistic approach and that an immediate step should be to combine demands for immediate Israeli withdrawalormula on terminating the state of war. Thus both the desire and the willingness to pushesolution seemed to be present on the Soviet side.
"Sec pareor further discussion ofthis document.
At the same time Soviet actions betrayed ambivalence.
ii ne ami specmea inui iiraer withdraw to preo June oorders and postponed consideration of the refugee problem and passage through international waterways for futureby the council. Thus.it returned to the7 Soviet proposal; this emphasis on total withdrawal and postponement of the other issues made the Soviet proposal more palatable for the Arabs than was Ihe British plan but also ensured its rejection by Israel and the United States. In addition, the Soviet draft omitted any provisionpecial representative to be sent to the area.
The Soviet action delayed Security Council proceedings for two days and mystified everyone. Their sudden action cameurprise since they were expected to support the UK draft. The action may haveast-minute effort to appease the radical Arabs by playing the part of partial obstructionists and by going through the motions ofore pro-Arab resolution which they expected to withdraw.
Onovember the Soviets withdrew their resolution and supported the British draft which then passed unanimously.
The Syrians predictably reacted violently to the Security CouncilOnndovember Atasi and other Syrian leaders issued inflammatory statements calling for armed struggle. And. onovember,
fcuayyin complained to the Soviet Ambassador irrTTarimcic; mat inn ussn. wanted to impose Nasir's political line on the Syrians. The Soviets did not remainravda article onovember praised the self-control of the moderate Arabs and criticized Arab "hoi-heads":
We cannot help noting that In some Arab capitals there are hotheads and hasty statements in the press which,under present conditions, actoomerang, give pretexts for anti-Arab Western propaganda, and are taken advantage of by extremists in Tel Aviv.
Soviet efforts to urge the Syrians into moderation had failed. The Soviet decision to endorse the compromise UN resolution furtherthe Syrians. In spite of their efforts toiddle line, the Soviets had again been forced to choose and. in so doing, had alienated the Syrian extremists.
In7 ihe Soviel leadershipPSU document on Soviel policy In the Middle East giving an authoritative defense andof Soviet actions in the Middle East. Circulated among delegates toh anniversary observances in Moscow, it reflected Soviel sensitivity to criticism of the USSR after the war. both by critics domestic (Yegorychev) and foreign (particularly of course thebe document pictures the Arab leaders as supporters of Soviet policies who did not seek Soviet involvement in the armed conflict. It only gives an intimation of Arab dissatisfaction with Soviet policy in raising accusations against the Chinese and "imperialists" who allegedly sought toedge between the USSR and the Arabv The document zigzags between attacks on the "imperialist West" and "ils tool" Israel, attributing Israel's aggression to the "imperialist" goal of destroying the progressive Arab stales, and criticism of the Arabs for their military failure in the war.
Soviet contempt for the Arab military is visible in passages on mililary aid which explains how deliveries of basic arms bad already made up for UAR and Syrian losses in theiting Podgornyy's trip in late June, the sending of military delegations to the Middle East, and the visits of Soviet naval vessels to Port Said and Alexandria as measures of the Soviet effort to sirengthen Arab defenses, it suggests that the successful use of the aid rests with the Arabs in stressing the importance of the efficient mastering of equipmeni and the need to improve the Arab armed forces.
The document tends lo exaggerate Soviel efforts to prevent war in late7 and Soviet support for the Arabs when war broke out. According to its account lhe USSR urged restraint on the Arabs dunng the late May visits of Badran and Atasi. but when the war started, sent mililary aid to the Arabs and Soviet warships into the Mediterraneanounterpoise to. Sixth Fleet. And, finally, according to the document, the Sovietseries of warnings, culminating in lheune message lo President Johnsonhreat of unspecified Soviet counteractions if Israel did
At the same time, the document reaffirmed the Soviet interest in asettlement" and Israel's continued existencetate, while calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from Arab territory. In this connection, the document cited the admonition ofthe July Budapest conference that the Arabs must be more realistic and that the first step shouldemand for immediate Israeli withdrawal with an arrangement for terminating the state of war between the Arabs and Israel.
(The lessArab leaders had already indicated that they wanted Israeliall territories occupiedondition unacceptable tothe Arabs and Israelis were at odds on the question of whenwould occur-before, during, or after some reciprocalIn this period the Soviet position vacillated It shifted fromwithdrawal before any reciprocating Arab moveore flexibleback again The argument over the foregoing issues was furtherby questions of passage through international waterways,the refugee problem, supervision of an agreement, direct talks, andThus, passageN resolution, seenajor goal for soirst step,esitant one at that,olution.
While the resolution wasanacea, its passage punctuated the change in Soviet tactics which had evolved since the June war. Before the wai Moscow lent support to the fanatic Syrian regime which it sawpringboard for extending Soviet influence in the Middle East. To this end Moscow pursued conflicting tactics which soon proved counter-productive. On the one hand. Moscow made no effective effort to curb the mounting Syrian propaganda and guerrilla campaign against Israel and at one point helped abet that campaign byalse report of an imminent Israeli military move against Syria. On the other hand. Moscow sought to revive Egyptian-Syrian rapprochement evidently expecting that such awould at once serve to curb Syrian initiative and deter Israel However, the unintended result of the Soviet policy was not to improve control over the Syrians but to radicalize Nasir and to accelerate the movement of events toward war.
During and after ihe war. ihe Soviets improvised policy staying away from direct involvementmokescreen of pro-Arab propaganda and diplomatic gestures. Moscow issued some vague threats and initiated an airlift lo the Arab nations while making clear to the Arabs lhat Ihe USSR would not be drawn then or in the future toar.
As Ihe war crisis receded Soviet policy shifted toward stronger support of Nasir who evidently was at least temporarily chastened by defeat. Moscow followed Nasir's lead and gave its support to the Khartoum summitThe conference was endorsed by ihe conservative (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan) and moderate (UAR) Arabs and boycotted by the radical Syrians. The Soviets urged the Syrians both lo attend the conference and modify their line. In Ihe face of Syrian refusal, Moscow put pressure on Ihe Syrians by giving Ihem less mililary aid than was requesied-bui to no avail. The new Soviel line was underscored by the USSR's endorsement of the UN compromise resolution in November despite Syrian opposilion. Earlier in7 Syrian opposition had led the Soviets to back down from their proposed resolution. In November they refused lo back down again and onompromise resolution was passed in the Security Council with Soviet backing. While it might have been supposed ai the end7 that Soviet policy on ihe Middle East had finally evolvedore or less firm course. Soviet policy since then has once againchizoid tendency.
etermination in the aftermath of the June disaster loepetition of lhat episode, the Sonet leadership has continued to nde on ihe back of an unpredictable and untamed Arab nationalist movement. Indeed, Soviet diplomats became more vocal in urging restraint on the Arabs in7 and warned them not to expeel direct Soviet participation in any second installment of the June war. Nonetheless. Moscow at the same lime resumed and even augmented the policies thai had produced Arab overconfidencc in the first place: it re-cquipped Arab armies, stepped up training of the Arab military through an expanded corps of Soviet advisors, and began to funnel aid to the Arab guerrillas-the most fanatical vanguard o( the Arab movement against Israel.
The renewed Soviet preference for the presumably more malleable Egypiians over the Syrian zealots scarcely offset the chronic danger inherent in Soviet policy Any pressure Moscow pui on Nasir in favorolitical settlement with Israel was restricted by its own desire not lo alienate the Arab leader. Aciing under this inhibiuon the Soviet moderate line of7 has eroded as-Nasir's anti-Israeli militancy has mountedoint
where he rivals Ihe Syrians in stridency. The moderate Ircnd in Soviet policy has been increasingly submergedrend toward more open support of Arab militancy. Recently, the la iter trend was underscored by Shelepin'sFTU meetingtrong line of active aid to Arab guerrillas, Kosygin's remarksimilar) in welcoming an Egyptian delegation, and increasing favorable reportage in Soviet media of ihc activities and reputed exploits of the Arab guerrilla movement. The shift suggests that Moscow once more seems intenl on keeping pace with Arab radicalization. Moreover, with its increased military and naval presence in the area along with greater confidence in its strategic posiure toward the United States, Moscow may now sec itselfetter position than it was7 to tolerate the risk inherent in ils policy and be readyore aciive role in any future crisis in the Middle East. Whileudgment does not necessarily imply that the present Soviet leadership hasenchant for sudden or risky initiatives in crisis situations, it has unmistakably striven to put itselfosition toore active pari in future crises and incidentally reduce its vulnerability to charges of unpreparedness from internal critics that arose inn sum. the Soviets currently estimate that the long-range gains for Soviet influence in the Middle East outweigh the chronic danger of having events get out of control as they did in
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The prelude to the Arab-Israeli war contains the recurring theme of Soviet attempts to manipulate and take advantageighly explosive situation over which, in the final analysis .the Soviets had no control. Prior to the radical Baathist coup in Syria inoviet policy-makers focused on wooing Nasir. After the coup, they saw Syria as anothercandidate for advancing Soviet influence in the Middle East and turned their attentions to that more fanatical, more anti-Israeli nation. In the spring6 they began toadical anti-Israel line more in harmony with the inclinations of the fanatical Syrians than with the relativelyviews of Naiir.
The decision to support the Syrians involved the commitment of prestige as well as additional quantities of economic and military equipment. Thus the Soviet Unionajor interest in insuring the survivalhaky regime, beset by internal problems and vulnerable to outside pressures. Syria's hostility toward her conservative, pro-West Arab neighbor Jordan created fear of subversion from that quarter, and her aggressive policy towards Israel-including both verbal andacks-created thepossibility of reprisals from that nation.
In addition toenerally harder (more pro-Arab. anti-Israel) propaganda line in the Middle East, ihe USSR began to issue vague waminp against any outside interference in Syria's affairs. In the beginning these warnings were directed primarily at Jordan, but soon the focus ofshifted to Israel, which was portrayed as the tool of Ihe United States. Although this. line was consistent with Ihe Soviet policy ofU.S. influence in the area and, therefore, might have been used in any case, il is also possible that memories of. intervention in Lebanon contributedear. interference in Syria.
Hoping to ward off any retaliatory attacks against Damascus, the Soviets sought lo bring Syria and Ihe UAR closer together; this wns not an easy task as the two had been very hostile since the break-up of their unionnyrian-UAR rapprochement. Ihe Soviets may have hoped to gain several things; first.they might have fell Nasir could persuade the Syrians toess provocative attitude toward Israel,and, secondly, they apparently wanted Nasir to pledge his support to Syria and thereby deter any planned inlervenlion againstoviet disseminated report in6 that Israeli troops were concentrating along Ihe Syrian border
in preparation for an attack may have helped prompt the signingAR-Syrian mutual defense pact directed against Israel inhe terms of the pact made the UAR the senior partner with the option of determining when and how it would respond to any hostilities between Israel and Syria. The Soviets and Egyptians may have hoped this would increase their influence over Syria; the most important effect of the treaty, however, was to render Nasir more vulnerable to demagogic pressures brought by the extremist Syrians.
During the early months7 the conflict on the Israeli-Syrian border mounted as guerrilla attacks from Syrian territory intensified. An Israeli reprisal attackajor air battlepril between Syrians and Israelis resulted in an overwhelming victory for the latter and pointed up Syria's military vulnerability. Nasir's passivity during and after this battle led to new efforts by the Soviets to persuade Nasir toredibleto Syria, probably in the hope that this would deter Israel.
Another Soviet-spread rumor in7 that Israel hadits forces on the Syrian border in preparationajor attack triggered the chain of events which led to war. The rumor was without basis in fact, and while some analysts feel that the Soviets did believe the report, it seems likely that they didf they did believe it, they were remiss in their failure lo investigateimilar Soviet-disseminated false accusal ion in6 had been followed by the November defense pact between Syria and the UAR. It is thus quite possible the Soviets werealse report in an effort to manipulate Nasir. They may have hoped to convince Nasir that an Israeli attack on Syria was imminent and that he should convincingly show his support for Syria and thereby deter the Israelis from undertaking any major hostile action.
The Soviets' willingness to pass along an uncorroborated report as dramatic as this one illustrated their readiness before the war to take risks for tbe sake of their immediate goals. Of course, the full extent of the danger was not yet understood. In their drive to gain Nasir's support for the Syrians they added fuel to an already explosive situation. Their concern about a
'The Soviets may well hove feared, however, that the Israelii were contemplating an eventual attack. Onay Israeli Premier Eshkol hadharp warning to Syria, stating that that nation faced severe counteraction if it did not halt terrorist raids Into Israel.
possible Syrian-Israeli conflict and their desire lo increase their ownand power in the area at the expense of the United Stales caused the Soviets to underestimate the risks involved in their policy. The USSR was trying to play the role of manipulator, bul it did noi have direct control over the primary aclors,
Nasir. the led. now look the lead into his own hands. The Soviets initially looked on approvingly as he mobilized Egyptian forces and moved Ihem toward the Israeli borders. (Some analysts feel the Soviets were upset by the Egyptian mobilization, bul if lhat was the case, they gave no indication ofis demand that UN emergency forces befrom Sinai and the Gaza Strip was described by him and accepted by lhe Soviets as an attempt to deter Israel by convincing the latter of Egyptian readiness to come to Syria's defense. However, the Soviets were not quite so sanguine or approving of Nasir'say announcement lhat he was blockading the Gulf of Aqaba. For this wasove to deter Israel but wasrovocation which the Israelis interpreted as an act of war.
At this important stage the Soviets made Uttle effort to retrieve the situation for which they had so carefully laid the groundwork. Although they were not informed in advance of the blockade and did not approve of it, they were clearly unwilling to squander any of their influence by trying to convince Nasir that he must pull back. They seem to have minimized the possible dangers, being persuaded lhat the United States could and would restrain Israel, fairly sure that the UAR could deter Israel from any attack (Nasir himself seemed convinced lhe Arabs could handle Israelnd secure in the belief that regardless of what happened the USSR could only gain politically al lhe expense of the United Slates.
Instead of trying lo convince Nasir thai he must retreat, the Sonets continued with their demagogic but ambivalent support of the Arabs. They issued sirong statements of support for the Arab cause, implying Soviet assistance in lhe event of imperialist aggression. They left deliberately vague, however, the forms such assistance would take and under whatit would be forthcoming. Nasir was convinced that the USSR would at least prevent. interference in Israel's behalf, his major anxiety at the time. There is no evidence that the Soviets ever made it clear to him, however, that they would not become directly involved" and they never
'On one occasion in mid-May, they did finally indicate this to the Syrians, but there is reason to doubt that this one clear statementelter of Soviet ambiguity ever reached the UAR.
tried to persuade Nasir to retreat from the suicidal steps he had already taken. The closest they came to the Utter was to suggest that he not take further provocative actions.
Surprised by the Israeli attackune and shocked by the ease and magnitude of the Israeli victory, the Soviets first of all made sure thai they would not be pulled into the conflict. They made immediate use of the "hot-line" to Washington both to try totop to the Israeli attack and to insureUSSR confrontation. They rejected the Arab chargeUK participation in IsracU airharge they probably felt was calculated to draw them into the war. The Soviets then turned to the task of salvaging what they could from the debacle. Theyimple cease-fire resolution in the United Nations in an attempt to cut Arab losses, and they initiated an emergency airlift of equipment to their Arab allies.
The only indications of possible direct Soviet involvement came after Israel began its march into Syria onJune. On that date the Soviets began to issue vague warnings of possible Soviet action if Israel did not stop its advance toward Damascus, and onune there were several reports indicating lhat the Soviets in fact were making plans for token landings of sailors and/or paratroops in Syria. After the war the Soviets attributed the cessation of hostilities by Israel to the effect of its warnings. White it is possible that Israel slopped il* advance rather than risk possible Soviet intervention, it is more likely that it stopped because it had achieved its objective of capturing the strategic Golan Heights; there is little to suggest that Israel planned to advance to any of the Arab capitals. In any event, the Soviet threats were kept vague and the reported actions being considered by the USSR were belated and only token in nature.
The initial reactions of the Soviets during the war seemed almost instinctive in character-fust, self-preservation and then the attempt to salvage what they could. Immediately after the war they continued with essentially the same approach; they tried to redeem themselves in the eyes of their Arab allies by sending high-level delegations to reassure the Arabs of continued Soviet support, and they tried to regain some of theirprestige by championing the Arab cause with strong words in the United Nations.
However, interwoven from the beginning of the post-war period were the strandsomewhat more cautious Soviet approach to the Middle East, based on the desire toecurrence of the June disaster. Soviet fear of another runaway situation was demonstrated by their demands for
some control over future arms shipments, by an unwillingness to make unlimited commitments of military aid, particularly to the Syrians, and by the Soviet decision to make it clear to the Arabs that they would not come to their assistance in the event of renewed hostilities with Israel.*in7 the Soviets seemed to be workingompromise UN resolution which would combine demands for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories with termination of the slate of belligerency in the Middle East.
However, in many important ways Soviet policy retained ambiguities. While fearfulew mililary disaster and therefore anxious to restrain Arab militancy, the Soviets quickly demonstrated their support for their Arab clients by shipping large quantities of arms to them. While anxious to get some sort of UN resolution passed, in order to put pressure on Israel to withdraw, ihe Soviets withdrew their support ofroposal in July in the face of radical Arab opposition. These apparent contradictions point up the USSR's consistent dilemma-the desire lo continue to profit politically from Middle East tension without permitting the situation to explode again.
Soviet policy during the post-war period of June and July was in transition. The leadership was struggling to justify its actions in the Middle East which were under attack from both foreign and domestic sources. Its foreign critics included the Arabs, who had been disillusioned by Soviet inaction during the war. Within the Soviet Union, Moscow City boss Yegorychev attacked these policies at the late June CPSU plenum. Although Yegorychev was removed from his post, the fact that he dared express strong criticism suggests that he felt his views had support from influential elements in the hierarchy.
In spile of internal disagreements, Soviet policy began lo lake clearer shape in the summer7 and by November of thai year the second shift in Soviet policy was virtually complete. The first shift, that ofad followed the radical Baathist coup in Syria; it had reflected the Soviet
'The Sovieii did. however, manage to retain an element of ambiguity regarding their response in the event. Interventioniddle East war. While stating explicitly that no Soviet armed intervention would occur in the event of Arab-Israeli hostilities, they indicated that the USSR might become directly involved in the event of. mtervention-to be determined by the Soviets.
decision to support and defend this regime and to try toyrian-Egyptian rapprochement. It had involved the adoption by the Sovietsore activist line and had helped push Nasirore militant stance. The second shift followed Nasir's own post-war decision lo reject the bellicose "contimie-to-fight" line of the Syrians, and involved the Soviel decision to support Nasir al the cost of alienating the Syrians.
In late July and August the UAR began toore conciliatory attitude toward the Westore friendly attitude toward theArab nations. The latter change in line was probably prompted in large part by the economic plight of the UAR, for soon afterward Arabcame forth with promises of substantial quantities of aid to Nasir. Nasir shifted from opposition to supportroposed Arab summit which was being endorsed by the conservatives (Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, and Jordan) and boycotted by the radical Syrians. The conference, held in Khartoum at the end of August, gave Nasir andandate toolitical settlement and termedompromise Yugoslav proposal. The Soviets, forced toublic choice between Nasir and the Syrians on this issue, chose Nasir. Critical of the conference until Nasir endorsed it, the Soviets switched to supporting it and at the last moment even triedto persuade the Syrians to attend.
Soviet backing for Nasir's policies was further revealed by the USSR decision in7 to support Nasir's and Husayn's efforts toesolution passed in the United Nations. The terms agreed to by the two Arab leaders in September were similar lo those included in the Soviet-backed plan of July; the Soviets had withdrawn this plan when the radical Arabs rejected it. This time the Soviets indicated they wouldesolution regardless of Syria's opposition.
The compromise (UK) draft resolution which was finally passed by the UN Security Council contained less favorable terms Ihan those desired by the UAR (for example, it did not specify that Israel withdraw from all territories occupiedune, nor did it call for Immediate Israeli withdrawal. Nonetheless, after considerable haggling Nasir had apparently agreed to accept it. Before its adoption, however, the Soviets made one final attempt to avoid alienating the radical Arabs. On the eve of the Security Council vote, they submitted their own substitute draft calling forIsraeli withdrawal from all territories occupied during the war. However, thisesture only, and the day after submitting it the Soviets withdrew the draft and voted for lhe UK resolution.
The Soviel gesture served to give the radical Arabs some assuranceoviet commitment to their cause. The substitute draft restated the Soviets' pro-Arab position and placed the USSR in the role of temporaryIf the mollifying ofthe Syrians was its objective, it had little success, for they reacted violently to the passage of the resolution, and attacked the Soviets bitterly for voting for it.
A Soviet-Syrian estrangement had been in the offing throughout the summer and early fallaving made their choice for Nasir and the more moderate line, the Soviets had turned to the task of trying to move the Syrians in that direction-to no avail. There was considerable evidence that the Syrians were furious at the lack of Soviet support during the war and dissatisfied at the Soviet subsequent failure to give them everything they wanted in terms of military aid. The rift between the two was further exacerbated by the increased Soviet influence that accompanied theaid. The USSR insisted upon, and the Egyptians and the Syrians acquiesced to, the stationing of Soviet instructors and advisors at all levels of both the UAR and Syrian armed forces. Although they probably recognized the need for Soviet personnel to instruct in the use of equipment, both the Syrians and Egyptians undoubtedly had to swallow considerable pride in order to accept the presence of large numbers of foreign military advisors.
The Soviets also, according to reports, exerted pressure for theor use of naval facilities in the Mediterranean. They have not acquired control of any Arab ports, and even their use of these facilities has been minimal, with Soviet vessels relying primarily on their own auxiliary ships for supplies and repairs. However, the Soviet fleet has been providedaccess to various Arab ports, and Soviet vessels have paid occasional visits to them with the apparent purpose of demonstrating Sonet support for the Arabs and deterring Israel from attacking these ports. Israel has in fact not attacked any of these ports, but itatter of conjecture whether or not this has had anything to do with the Soviet presence.
Soviet shipments of military equipment to the Arabs increased in intensity during and just after the war. The Soviets apparently promised almost immediately to replace all equipment lost in the war and this has been virtually accomplished. Since the summer7 shipments have settled downairly steady flow, and the resupply program has restored Arab capabilities to at least the pre-war level.
imilar way the Soviet attitude toward the fedayeen has tended to increase rather than decrease tension. Despite the dangers of major Israeli
retaliation, ihc Soviets have been increasingly unwilling to abenale the fedayeen, and.esult, have been providing them indirectly with some assistance-mostly small arms equipment. In the last half9 Soviet media began to voice support of the fedayeen and to publicize reports on the guerrilla-terrorists actions- And by the end9 statements by figures at Ihe Polllburo level indicatedine favoring more active aid to the Arab guerrillas was emerging in the Soviet leadership. Soviet recognition of the fedayeenorce to be reckoned with reflects the political reality of the situation; since the June war the fedayeen haveignificanthe Middle Easl.
The actual Soviet military presence in tbe Middle East has increased substantially since the war. The Soviet Mediterranean fleet was bolstered significantly7 and then leveled off. After the war the Soviets stationed large numbers of technicians and advisors in all branches and at all levels of ihe Egyptian and Syrian armed forces with the objective of raising the standards and capabilities of these organizations. The element of caution is also present in this policy, as these personnel have the additional purpose of exercising some control over the use io which Soviet-supplied arms are put. However, though Soviet advisors have apparently beenigh degree of authority, particularly in training operations, thus causingfnction with the Arabs,o evidence in cither the UAR or Syria of direct Soviet command and control authority. It is doubtful that direct participation of Soviet personnel in combat would occur, or. if it did occur, that it would be acknowledged."
Nonetheless, the added Soviet presence in the Middle East increases the possibility of Soviet involvementuture conflict. Furthermore, in spile of the presence of Soviet advisors, the USSR has little more control over Arab actions than il had inasir is as unpredictable as ever, and apparently determined lo maintain military pressure against Israel along the Suez Canal. There is bttle to suggest lhat ihe Soviets have made any serious effort to restrain him. Thus, the Soviets are again in the position of being
e presence of Soviet personnel in Syria may be partially responsible for Israel's restraint in launching reprisal attacks in Syria. However, this may be due more to the fact that the Syrians have been cautious about launching terrorist attacks from their own territory; ihe latter seems more likely as the Israelis have launched reprisal raids into the UAR in spite of the presence there of Soviet personnel.
heavily committed in terms of money, arms, men and prestige to its Arab clients withoutroportionate share in the decision-making.
Soviet policy in the Middle East thusesemblance to an attempt at pressure cookeryeliable safety valve. With one hand Moscow has sought to hold the lid on pressures tending toward another major eruption in the Middle East and with the other feeds the fire causing those pressures, In fact, the moderating tendency in Soviet policy which emerged after the June war has suffered erosion recently. The Soviets' choice of Nasir over the Syrians as the less fanatical and irrational of the two has been undercut by the increasing anti-Israeli militancy of the Egyptians under Nasir's lead since the June war. Unwilling to lose the position they have beside the vanguard of the Arab movement, the Soviets are once again moving with the current of Arab extremism. The danger of the policy is certain, but what remains very uncertain is whether or not the Soviets have instituted effective means to guide or deflect the current whenever Soviet interest requires.