THE ARAB-ISRAELI ARMS PROBLEM -- RELATIVE CAPABILITIES AND THE PROSPECTS FOR C

Created: 9/30/1958

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THE ARAB-ISRAELI ARMS PROBLEMCAPABILITIES AND THE PROSPECTS FOR CONTROL'

THE PROBLEM

To estimate present and future relative military capabilities of the Arab states and Israel and the likelihood of hostilities, and to examine the prospects for control of Arab-Israeli arms and reactions to and consequences of implementation of an arms control program.

CONCLUSIONS

believe that an outbreak of Arab-Israeli hostilities is possible at any time, and that the chances of such hostilities are increasing. They could begin as aof ai Israeli decision to callhowdown before the Arabs gain military superiority oresult of developments ln or interactionumber of dangerous situations, among which the instability of the regime in Jordan is cutj rently the mostontinuation of the Arab-Israeli arms race will Increase the danger of war.

We believe the Israel Defense Force is now more effective militarily than any

combination of Arab forces likely to be opposed to it and could probably defeat the Arab forces if Israel retained freedom of air action. The UAR, however, has the advantage In weapons and availableAssuming that present sources of supply to both the UAR and Israelisopen, the degree of improvement in Arab training and morale willajor factor in relative Arab-Israelicapabilities. Thus at some point, probably not far in the future, as Arab military proficiency rises, Israel may be faced with Arab forces which,an-for-man or unlt-for-unit basis,erior to the Israel Defense rorce.

hould Israel not have freedom of air action,apabilities ofround forces would be substantially reduced. W- estimate that the UAR air forces could achieve air superiority if they could in the future develop personnel capable of exploiting their advantages in equipment

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andpersed air fields. Even if the Israelis maintained freedom ofLn the air, logistic and economicwould prevent them fromextensive Arab territory for long. In any event they probably could notmore than the Sinai Peninsula, parts of Jordan, southern Lebanon, and aof southwest Syria, not Including Damascus.

1 An embargo on the fiow of arms to the Arab-Israeli area would probably reduce the danger of war, although it would not be so Important in this respect as other factorsoliticalsychological nature.

ith strong US and USSR support there wouldood chanceN-sponsored arms limitation agreement could be reached. Such an agreement could be effective, however, only with the support of the US and USSR and theof Israel and the UAR. Wethat the chances for such support and cooperation are alLm.

ARAB-ISRAELI MILITARYh* Arab armed forces surpass the Israel Defense Force both In numbers of men undernnd in wenpons of mostut Israellitlnct superiority In combat effectiveness and hss the advantage ofand political unity. Israel has an army0 and can, withinours, mobilise. Israel could not maintain this larger force mobilized forhort time without severe economic strain. The UAH alone, in contrast,0 men continually under arms and the other Arab states have at least. The UAR surpasses Israel In lank armament, the difference being particularly notable In medium and heavy tanks The UAR has substantially greater holdings of medium artillery and anti-tank weapons, though Itrae'. has more light artillery and rocket launchers. The UARetof whichre light bombers Israeletodd Jot fighter-bombers uhlch can be used for long-range groundand bombing missions,ight piston bombers. Israel's armsixtureith French types making up all Its anti-tank missilesarge proportion

'Tablesresent ArabUfacDof arms an appended.

of Its artillery and light tanks. The UAR retains some Western arms but Isstandardisation in Soviet weapons. Most other Arab states are armedixture of Western weapons types.

be Israel Defense Force, despite ItsIn arms, continues to excel 'he Arab forces tn organisation, training, leadership, morale, and the will to fight It isetter state of readiness than the Arab forces, which arc handicapped by low levels of technical proficiency, organisation, training, andUnlike Israeli military leadership, the effectiveness of Arab military leadership Isby Its Involvement In politics, bothand inter-Arab, and its discipline Is much weaker. Although the capabilities of Arab military personnel will continue lowith boih Bloc and Western training and continued Arab political and diplomatic victories will Improve morale, it is almostthat the Arab slates could not effectively combine their military forcesentral command tn the next lew years.n order to maintain its militaryIsrael te seeking to obtain sizeable amounts of arms from the US and other Wei-em countries, including fighter aircraft from France (now Israel's principal arms supplier) and BubnuTines from the UK. 'Vlille Israel

will probably be able to obtain additional amu, tr-reefinite limit to thewhich IU available personnel can man. The Israelis are aware that as Arab military proficiency rises and If the Bloc continues to provide arms, Iheie willime when the Israel Defense force cannot match the combined Arab armies however many weapons Israel may have obtained. Israel IsInterested In acquiring nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and has been conducting nuclear research with some assistance from France and the US.

received substantial shipmentsfrom the Soviet Bloc In IBM andhas not added greatly to IU armsthis year, except (or three SovietSyria, however, has continued toshipments. The Egyptians andhave more weapons than theyeffectively absorb, so that the limitmilitary capabilities is the proficiencypersonnel rather than weaponsthe UAH forces have further needwe beltev; the Bloc will arrange tothem.

The armed forces of Saudi Arabia.and Jordan have no Soviet Bloc weapons and have little or no capability for offensive operations. Irtq has had no weapons directly from the Soviet Bloc, although the UAR Is probably transferring some such weapons. For the iinmedlale future, we do not believe that Iraqi armed forces hare any significant capability against Israel. While Bloc arms have been supplied to Yemen In quantities which are considerable In relation to Yemen's site, we do not believe that Yemen's military capabilities in relation to Israel are of any significance.

DANGER OF RESUMPTION OF ARAB-

ISRAEll HOSTILITIES

ha Arab-Israeli war In Palestine8as never been effectively concluded. The Israelis have sought to establish their stateormal and accepted element In the area. The Arabs on their part haveto accept Israel or acknowledge their defeat In the Palestine war. Both sides have helpedtate of hostile tension, the Arabs by blockade and harassment and Israel by raids and Intimidation. Another round with Israelhe fulfillment of Arab -lalms to Palestine have remained implicit In Arab thought and conduct. Hostility to Israel hasrincipal force behind the Arab unity movement and overt expression of that hostility has become essential to success In Arab politics- In these circumstances there has been and continues to be grave danger of war.

tabtiUine factors. In the midst of the bitter emotions and crackling tensions that characterize Arab-Israeli relations, we believe that there are some factors which tend to stabilise and to prolong the present situation. Tht Arabs are afraid of Israeli militarythe Israelis are aware of theirto Arab air attack. Another and per* haps equally important factor is the prevalent belief thatS is committed to thsof Israel and that thesto Uie support of the UAIt and Itselief which leads each sideeal victory over the other Is now possible. On the Arab side there hasrowing belief that time Is working in the Arab behalf and that circumstances will ultimately lead to the downfall of Israel. The presence of UN representatives In the area hastabilizing influence,the United Nations Expeditionary Force In the Sinai and Oulf of Aqabaearch for external support. Both Israelis and Arabs will evaluate their situation and make their decisions with respect tother In the context of their understanding of the Intentions of the great powers. Both will seek to mobilize world opinion on their side and toosition in which support could beby UN action. Israel will continue toecurity guarantee from the US. In the area It Is currently seeking to develop special ties vith Turkey and Iran. Nasser and the Pan-Arab nationalists will seek to obtain both Western and Soviet Bloc support against an Israeli attack. If such an attack does come they win hope to have assurances of Soviet support stated in such terms as to deterpowers from assisting Israel.

rospects for war. Despite growing Arab military capabilities. IsiaH's sense ot military perll Is probably not now so acute as to Induce it to disregard the dangers ot resort to pre-ventlve_war. For his part, Kasser will wish tohowdown until he is convinced that heieved military superiority. Even then he might be restrained by the knowledge that the Israelis would remain capable ofserious damage on his forces and by the prospect of Western support forevertheless, the growth of Arab military strength relative to that of Israel is increasing the chanceseliberate resort to war. If the Israelis became convinced that the tune was approaching when they could no longer defend themselves effectively, they would be likely to think once again in terms of awar to assure survival, relegatingpolitical and psychological factors and economic considerations to the If Nasser's Pan-Arab group believed it had achieved clear military superiority over Israel, it would be greatly templed to blot out Israel.

t any time other circumstances leading to major hostilities mightollapse of the shaky regime In Jordan or an attempt to establish by coupro-Nasserwould probably lead lo Israeli action in tho West Bank area of Jordan. This, in turn, would probably resultlash withand perhaps also UAR forces. The Israelis might also move lnlo the West Bank arearo-Nasser government were to come to power by generally peaceful means. Should the UAR become embroiled in seriousinternally. In its relations with other Arab states, or In lis relations with the West, the Israelis might consider the opportunity to destroy Nasser too good to pass up. Nasser might seek to escape domestic or Inter-Arab troubles by focussing attention on Israel. Finally, there will be continuing danger thai local friction over one of thetroible spots on the Arab-Israelior In the Oulf of Aqaba, could lead to major hostilities, especially since Nasser is likely to use his growing military power to attempt to Intimidate Israel and fore?from it.

hus thereumber of ways in which war between Israel and one or more Arab states could start. These circumstances, plus the general instability of the Middla East, and the high tensions prevailing there, lead us to the CTcIusIon that an outbreak of Arab-Israeli ho8tlUt.es Li possible at any time, and the chance* of such hostilities are Increasing

III. MIllTARr CAPABILITIES OF THE ARABS AND ISRAELIS IN EVENT Of WAR1n estimating relative Arab and Israeli military capabilities we are aware of theof the superiority of Israeli military personnel tn the Palestine Warnd the Sinai campaign6 We are also aware,however, of the present UAR advantage In arms, and particularly in Jet aircraft and numerous widely dispersed air fields. Israel's smaller air force, on the other hand, must operate from fewer baseseographically restricted area We bell*re that if the UAR air forces had competent leadership and air ciews they could, whether or not the element of surprise were Involved, probably gain air superiority In the event of war with IsraeL Wc are unable to assess precisely the present capabilities of UAR atr forces personnel: we bJlcve that they are now Inferior to Israeli personnel but that they are Improving.

n present clrcuma'anoes. If the Israelis were to rraintaln freedom of action In the air, Israeli ground forces could probably0 seize and hold the Gaza Strip, West Jordan, southern Lebanon, and the southwest comer of Syria. At the same time Israel couldscire and hold strategic points in the

be).ere tt unnecessary for poxpoara of Ovatlmabf lo seek to differentiate betweenia which Jordan and Iraq wore and were not involved. It tt llkalv that Jordan woaatInvolved whatevor the position ef Its ior-einmenl becouM Israel would move lnlo iheBank at fa Even ln lha' erent, however, wc be-Here that the bulk of the Jordanian Army woald stay on the East bank Under presentwe believe It unlikely that the Iraqi OovoraastM coo Id spare or rapport slf&incarit forces for use againstebanon,Arabia, and Yemen are also unlikely to be able lo mas* any tfcnlAiant military contribution lawar with IiracL

would of course have an advantage, but only so long as the other aid* failed to obtainequipment. Oiven the probable attitude of the USSR toward tht UAR and of tht major Western powers toward tht Israelis, we believe It unlikely that such an unbalance would long continue.

2S. Under these circumstances, the likelihoodignificant change In relative military capabilities will depend in large part on the extent to which the UAR succeeds In realizing the potential of Its far greater militaryIt Is probable that, for some time to come, the Arabs will suffer from deficiencies In Individual skills, organization, leadership, and morale. Nevertheless, the ability of toe Arabs to use modern equipment will almost certainly Improve as they gain in training and experience. Moreover, increased confidence In their professional abilities Is likely lo result in higher morale and possibly In an increased will to fight. Thus at some point probably not far in the future, as Arab military proficiency rises, Israel may be faced with Arab forces which, though perhaps still not equal to Israeli forcesan-forrnan or unll-for-unit basis, are superior to the Israel Defense Force.

iv. conseouences of continuation of

PRESENT arab-ISRAELIoUflco! aid psychological. afor the next year or so of the present Arab-Israeli situation and relationship.further build-up of arms on both sides, is iik-ly to magnify present tensions and Increase present dangers. An Increase in the military strength of the UAR will also enable It to move toward other goals in addition to that of ing or surpassing Israeli strength. Such an Increase would enablefurther to extend his Influence andHiroughout the Arab world and to txert additional pressures upon the remaining conservative governments.conomic The economies of Israel and the UAR are severely burdened by the cost of their military establishments, which seriously restricts economic development. Annsuseonsiderable part of the money

contributed to Israel from abroad, thusth* amounts available for economicThis diversion Is, however, offset to some extent by the tendency of foreignto go up In times of military threat to Israel. Furthcnncre the Arab blockadethe cost of Israel's Imports andthe realisation of Israel's potential as an area trading and manufacturing center. The UAR is trading large quantities of cotton for Soviet Bloc arms and has in addition accepted heavy long-term crecit obligations. It ishowever, that within the foreseeable future expenditures fir arms will causebreakdown In either coin try.

ttitudes tottatd US ond USSR.of present Arab-Israeli relations and continuation of the arms build-up over the next year or so is likely to have furtherand clearly recognirj-ble effects upon area attitudes toward the great powers The US Is likely lo be more clearly identified in Arab eyes as the enemy of Arab nationalism and the Soviet Union as its supporter. Ifmilitary supplies areIsrael by the US. prospects for re-establishment of good relations between the US and the bulk of tne Arab area will be reduced. Since, however, the Arabs have long believed that the US la supporting Israel, relations between the US and the Arabs arc likely to be more seriously affected by US involvement in inter-Araband those Involving the Arabs and US ante*.

rotpectsettlement of the Arab-Israeli problem. We believe that in tbestate of ten;Ion and mutual suspicion in the Middle Easteneralof the Arab-Israeli problem noron major Individ .ml issues can be brought about. Even if the US and the USSR were to agree on tht desirability of abasic animosities would continue, and prospectsettlement would remain poor.

V. PROSPECTS FOR ARMS CONTROL IN THE

ARAB ISRAELIhe Arab-Israeli conflict existed before the spiralling arms build-up and arms control would not. In itself, solve the basic problems

behind it. The arms race does, however,to bitterness and suspicion It greatly Increases tht danger of the outbreak ofbetween Israel and Ihe UAR and, along with other factors In the situation, obslructa progress toward tht Improvement in thtatmosphere whichrerequisiteettlement. Because of the way in which lt encourages the Identification of the entire West as the eneny of the Arabs and thtBloc asriend, the arms race diminishes the chances for an Improvement In U8 relations with the majority of theessation or limitation of tht aims build-up would reduct but not eliminate the dangers implicit In the Arab-Israeli situation.

rms embargo. An arms embargo would be tht most direct and most effective means of halting tht Arab-Isi sell arms race, but it would require agieement between thepowers and the USSR If the great powers agreed to Impose an arms embargo on the area they could probably bring influence or pressure to boar on other arms producers which would greatly reduce the flow of arm* to the Arab Israeli area. Both the Arabs and Israelis, unless they were persuaded to Join in an agreement to limit arms Imports would, however, seek arms from Irregular sources and by devious channels In an attempt to Improve their positions. The establishment of anwould facilitate the developmenteneral arms limitation agreement for the area under UN or otherffeets upon Arab-Israeli capabilities of an agreement to limit shipment of arms to the area In the event of such an agreement, Israel would enjoy an advantage In that It has better facilities and skills for the manufacture and maintenance of arms and ammunition than the Arab states. There Is,efinite limit as to quantity and nature of the armaments which could be manufactured The Arabs, on the other hand, would probably beosition ultimately to increase their military capabilities beyond their present level by Improving tht ability of their militaryeffectively to utilise the equipment which they now have. Limitation of the flow of armaments to the Arab-Israeli area would

probably not have as much effect upon the likelihood of war aa other factorsolitical and psychological nature.

S sponsored ooreemenf on Ifmtfafion of ormomeits.N body were constituted to study the limitation Of armaments In the area, the Israel) and Arab governments would probably cooperate with it at least to theof discussing the problem. Yet no Arab state would be likely to take any step ln the matter until the UAR had made Its position clear, after this happened the rest'of 'he Arab states would probably follow Nasser's lead. There would in any event be great difficulties in reaching any useful agreement. Both Arabs ami Israelis would be disinclined toUN inspectors access to their militaryevenemporary basis forol settingontrol. Arabs would almost certainly refuse to negotiate with Israelis on arms limitation as on otherthe UN would have to dealwith each side, and neither tide would be bkely to agree to anything untJ assured that its adversary had made atommensurate agreement. The wholewould prove very complicated.

ith strong US and USSR support there wouldood chanceN-sponsored arms limitation agreement could be reached. Its effectiveness would depend largely upon the willingness of the USSR to Implement IL An inspection system made up of UN te^ms at the main seaports, air fields, andcenters and with aerial Inspection rights could prcbably determine whether an agreement to limit arms Imports were being carried out, but only if the UAR and Israel were willing to cDoperate. Intelligence sources could probably provide the USeliable check on general adherence to any agreement, but it would probably be difficult for the US to prove any violations (eg. before the UN) without compromising at least some sensitive sources.

oviet biteretts. We believe that the Sovietl seek to exploit its position of Influence and prestige In the Arab world, and la unlikely to enter into or support any agreement which would detract from thewhich It has achieved The Soviets will probably calculaterolong'.tion ofIn the Middle East, dangerous though It may be. Is likely to intensify strains between the US and Arab nationalist regimes, and thereby con tin je to advance Soviet Interests. Nevertheless there are reasons why themight consider entering Into anon the limitation of the flow of arms to the area They have several times expressed their willingness to workoint embargo of arms to tht Middle East If negotiations wete embarked upon It is likely that thewould seek to include Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan in the embargo area and take the position that the US would have to withdraw from military bases in the ares In order to make the embargo complete. It Is possible, however, that the Soviets have some interestore limited embargo and might not press demands which they knew would beto the US. However, Itrobably oppose effective enforcement We bcl.cve that they do notenera) war at this time and that they may wish to reduce the dangers Implicit In the Arab-Israeli situation. They might also value an agreement between themselves and the West on aruu limitation in the Middle East because It would enhance their own standingower with Interests and responsibilities in the area. And they may also feci that tbe revolutionary social and political situation In the Middle East, which they have for some time been exploiting with considerablewould not become less profitable after an agreement on arms limitation.

rab reactions. The Arab reactionreat power arms embargoNarms limitation agreement wouldbe generally adverse. They would regard such moves as attempts by the great powers to arbitrate their affairs and to limit their freedom of action. They would fear that the West was involved in some devious scheme to provide an advantage for Israel or to hall the progress of the Arab military build-up so as to retain Israel's present position Use of the UN would not allay Arab suspicions because of their tendency to regard the UN as anof the US. They would also suspect

the motivesoviet Union. It isthough unlikely, that all these objections might be overcome in Nasser's mind by other considerations. We believe that Nasserthe possibilityoint Israeli and Western attack as the greatest danger that confronts him. Ue might conclude that an arms limltatkn agreement participated in by the US and the USSR vould protect him against that eventuality. He might alsothateriod of armsthe Arabs could make greater gains in military strength than the Israelis.

tratit reactions. The Israelis havecherished their freedom of action and have been particularly proud of their ability to defend themselves. They would almost,Dot accept any reduction of theirstrength and at present would probablyy limitation on Imports of arms. However, with the continuation of the situation with which they arene ln which virtually the entire Arab area Is hostile and in which Westernis gicaUy reducedthe Israelis might conclude that they can no longer hope toIndefinitely the capability for defeating the Arabs They might therefore come to accept an arms limitation agreementby thr UN and linked withgreat power understanding on the area They might hope that it would provide greater securityontinued race for arms superiority over the Arabs, as well as releasing funds sorely needed for development They would accept such an agreement, however, only if they werethat Cveyirm and clear security guarantee by the US.

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Original document.

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