Created: 5/16/1968

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Soviet Stratesy and Intentions in the Mediterranean Basin



Soviet Interests and Activities in Arab States


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Tho following Intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of thii estimate

The CenMolAgency ood iheonirotioni of iheof State ondandSA.


Vice Adm. ftufut Toyier, Deputy Director, Centralughes,clorIntelligence ond Research, Deportmenl of Stole

li. Geo Joseph f. Carroll, me Director. Deleote lmell*genee Agency U. Gen.ortef. the Director. Not-nvot Security Agency Dr. Chorlet H.or the Assistant General Monoger. Atonic Energy Conv mimon


Mr. WiUom O. Oetjcr. lor theodciol Bureaueitlgolion, the wbfecl being owttide el hi.

Tl 'i TTliirolei

ii prohibited.

within the meaning ol th. gg"

millionn Mi i ll nor lo on unout


, "Soviet Strategy and Intentions: in the MediterraneanECRET/CONTROLLED DISSEM,long-term Soviet plans and intentions in the Mediterranean and Red Sea basins. The estimate was issued on the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, and therefore did'not deal with the immediate tactical considerations underlying Soviet policy during the crisis itself., "Soviet Interests and Activities in ArabECRET, assessed Soviet policy toward the Middle East in the period following the June war, and estimated Soviet intentions, particularly with respect to the UAR, Yemen, and Jordan.

This Memorandum brings up to date thc information bearing on the main judgments expressed innd, especially with respect to the growth of thc Soviet naval squadron in the Mediterranean and the threat it poses to US naval forces. We believe that the basic judgments in both estimates remain valid.



During Ihe past year the political aod even more the military presence of the USSB ia thc Mediterranean area has increased. Since the Arab-Israeli war, in particular, lha comporitioo of thc Soviet Mediterranean squadron has normallyurfaceubmarines,uxiliary/support ships. Thc squadron reached its highest level in8 when it numberedrubmarines andurface ships.f which ate classified as major combatant vessels. Soviet ships have paid long, frequent, and conspicuous calls in UAJt ports, and have also visited Syria, Yugoslavia, aod Algeria. Since last July, the Soviets-haveepair ship and diving tender in Alexandria to perform occasional maintenance or minor repairs on surface vessels andThe USSB has acquired fuel storage facilities at Port Said. Elements of the Soviet squadron have engaged in tactical exercises in theradually increasing scale. And there' have been recent instances of surveillanceixth Fleet carrier byircraft with UAB markings.

Besides these manifestations, Soviet military advisers and technicians for much of the period since the June war have numbered as high asn the


UAR (allhough the number is now probably somewhat less)n Syria.

thus mote than doubling their numberi since before the war; tbe influence of these advisers has probably increased; and they now appear to be operating at lower as well as higher echelons oi the UAR's and Syria's military ealablisliments. Soviet strategic aircraft have made several visits to Arab states, an occurrence

unprecedented before the June war. Soviet Defense Minister Crechko recently visited Syria, Iraq, and thc UAR, and (he USSR recently concludes! an arms agreement with the Sudan.

eanwhile, US influence among Ihe Arabs has diminished because of what the latter consider US-Israeli collusion during and since the war. Contacts between the US and those Arab states most closely involved In the conflict with Israel have been markedly unfruitful; the UAR aod Syria have becomedependent upon Soviet military and poUrfcal assistance; and even Jordan wasme hard pressed to avoid recourse to the Soviel source of supply. France haserminated its previous supply of arms to Israel (although therehance that Israel will eventually get the SOircraft for which it hasnd basympathetic attitude toward the Arab cause; but its activities are not likely to forward the interests of the US.It has withdrawn from its naval base at Mers-el-Kebir in Algeria. And the rapid disappearance of British influence has been accelerated by withdrawal from Aden, partial withdrawal from Libya and Malta, and the announcement of departure from the Persian Culf by the end

n the other hand, tho forces of nationalism and conseivausm in the area remain strong obstacles lo the extension of Soviet influence. The UAR, Syria, and Algeria arc friends andegree clients of the USSR, but (hey are still jealous of their independence and are resentful of Soviet restraints on their ambitious. The Governments of Iran, Turkey, and Morocco have increased and extended their relationships with the Soviets, but their sympathies continue to be more with the Wesl than with the USSR- The policies of Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia are basically unchanged and will probably remain so as long as their present leaders retain power.


he immediate purpose of the heightened Soviet naval activity has probably been tohow of support to the Arab side in the diplomatic fencing which has followed the June war. In tills respect it complemented the rapid Soviet mihtary resupply of Arab stater, and helped to restore tbe Soviet prestige which was at least temporarily tarnished during the conflict ftielf.roader stale, Soviet naval activities are intended to impress both the Arab states aad Israel willi Soviet military strength and flexibility and to Inform the world al large, and the US in particular, tliat the Mediterranean can no longer be accounted an American lake.


The Sovieu are helping the UAR. Syria, and Yemen fo develop ports and air baser. These are used al present by the USSR to some degree, diousrh we do not know what Sovier rights would be fn periods of high tenston. We stdl do not believe that tlie Soviets intend to establish military bases of their own in thethe sense, for example, that Yokosuka in Japan is an American naval base. In our view, they would consider such an act pohocally disadvantageous and mibtariry unnecessary. To support their naval operations Uiey will probably continue to rely principally on auxiliary ships, much as the US docs in the

Assuming that there is no major crisis in the Middle East, the Soviets are not likely in the next two or three years to increase thc size of Ihcir Mediterranean squadron much above the high leveb of the recent past They wdl probably continue to Improve Its capabilities by assigning newer and more effective shipsegular basis: cruise missile and nuclear attack submarines, includingsses with improved antSsulrniarine warfare capabibties; and the Moskva-class helicopter carrier. In the event of hostilities against the US. the primary rnission of this force would be to neutralize the US strategic attack capabibties.

Nevertheless, the main function of the Soviet Mediterranean squadron is pohbcal and is likely to remain so for at least some years to come. This raises the broad question of the USSR's Intentions with respect to the apphcalioo of its conventional military power in support of its foreign pohcy objectives. In the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern area, this isatter ofubstantial military presence toisplay, to demonstrate the existenceoviet Interest, and to be able to support such an interest without actually having to 6ghL It may be noted that if the Suez Canal were open, the Soviets could use elements of the Medjterrariean squadron to establish at least aonavalupport of Soviet interests in tho Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

Projected improvements in Soviet air and sea lift capabilities over the next several years will give tho Soviets greater capabilities to support their Arab clients during periods of regional tension. The Soviets may, in fact, be increasingly mclined to deploy their ships specifically In support of friendly states; some of their Egyptian port calb in the period following the June wax were almostin response to Cairo's desire to deter possible Israeli attacks. Moreover toe almost constant presence of Soviet landing ships iu tbe Mediterranean since the June war suggests that Moscow wishes to indicate that it might land troops in the area. Yet such landing forces as the Soviets are likely to main tain in the Mediterranean will probably bo insufficient for operalions on any large orscale, ot against mora than token opposition.




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a Director oJ Uleltgenee and Research, tor the Depot (went ol Saotc

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Detente ondol tba Jointfssistant Chiel of StofI tor lrdell>ge<ice. Deportirent of lhe Army, tor the

Oeportmenlthe Army

Chief ot Naval Operononsor the Oepartntenl of ihe


Chlof ol Staff, Inielligence,or iho Oeparlmenlhe Aii


of leiielligenee. ACC, for Ihe Atomic Energy Commission

D rector. ffA. for the Federal Eureou o' ln*eirlgolion

of NSA. forMotional Security Aoency

L Director of CwC'ol ReferenceA, lor any Cher Department or Aoency

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