Middle East Crisis
Middle East Crisis
a sharpening of the contradictions after World War II between the forces of imperialism and the forces of progress that resulted from the aggressive actions of the imperialist powers and international Zionism against the national liberation movement of the peoples of the Arab East. One of the acute periods of crisis came with Israel’s aggression against the Arab countries, which began in 1967, supported by the imperialist powers (especially the United States) and the international Zionist circles.
The anti-imperialist and antifeudal struggle that developed throughout the Arab East after the victory of the anti-fascist coalition in World War II led to the emergence of a number of independent Arab states. The United States, Great Britain, and France, despite the existence of imperialistic contradictions between them, acted as a united front against the national liberation movement of the Arab peoples. They began compelling the Arab countries to conclude unequal treaties and agreements; building and reconstructing military, air, and naval bases on the territory of the Arab countries; and attempting to draw the Arab states into various military-political blocs and groups. They also imposed “aid” upon them, planted their agents there on a wide scale, and organized the persecution of patriotic and progressive forces.
Great Britain and the United States also created a permanent center of danger for the Arabs in Palestine, where imperialism and international Zionism, supported by local reactionary circles, sharply intensified national differences to a point where there were open military clashes between the Arab and Jewish populations in the territory, which was administered under a British mandate. As a result, the implementation of the United Nations General Assembly resolution of Nov. 29, 1947, which partitioned the territory of Palestine into two independent states—an Arab state and a Jewish state—was frustrated, and on May 15, 1948, the day after the declaration of the creation of the state of Israel, the Arab-Israeli War of 1948–49 was unleashed. The war enabled Israel, which had the support of the imperialist powers and of international Zionist circles and organizations, to forcibly change its frontiers, which had been defined by the United Nations decision, and to seize considerable territories in Palestine that had been allotted to the Arab Palestinian state.
In May 1950 the United States, Great Britain, and France made the so-called Tripartite Declaration, in which they declared their intention to guarantee the inviolability of the frontiers of the Middle Eastern states and expressed their readiness to supply the Arab countries and the state of Israel with armaments and military equipment, allegedly for the purpose of ensuring their internal security. This declaration, the colonialist nature of which was only too evident, was accepted by Israel alone, since the guarantees stated in it confirmed the results of its war with the Arabs.
On Oct. 13, 1951, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Turkey proposed that the Arab countries participate in the establishment of a “Middle East command,” which would provide for foreign troops to be stationed in the countries of the Middle East and a number of other measures (placing armed forces, military bases, ports, and so on at the disposal of the “allied command” staff). As this obviously neocolonialist plan was rejected by the Arabs, the three powers and Turkey changed their tactics and concluded a number of bilateral military alliances that led to the establishment, with the participation of Iraq, of the Baghdad Pact. However, attempts to draw other Arab countries besides Iraq into the pact proved fruitless, and after the July Revolution of 1958, Iraq withdrew from the pact.
As the liberation movement in the Arab East grew stronger, the imperialist powers attached ever-increasing importance to Israel as a weapon in their anti-Arab policy. The extremism of the governing circles of the Israeli state, its aggressive activity against the Arab countries, and its attempts to create through the seizure of Arab lands a “great Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates” met with the full support of the leading imperialist powers. Israel received a vast amount of financial and military support from the imperialists. Thus, from 1948 to 1966, American aid, reparations from the Federal Republic of Germany, contributions made to Israel by Zionist organizations abroad, and private capital investments in Israel’s economy amounted to about $8 billion, more than half of which came from the United States. All this money, together with large deliveries of all types of armaments, helped to create Israel’s military and economic potential, designed to serve its expansionist policies.
In October 1956, Great Britain, France, and Israel carried out an armed attack against Egypt—which had pursued a policy of genuine independence after its July Revolution of 1952—with the aim of overthrowing the legitimate Egyptian government and forcing Egypt to capitulate before the military, political, and economic demands of the aggressors. This tripartite aggression ended in failure because of the resistance of the Egyptian people and the powerful support they received from the Arab states, the USSR, and other countries of the socialist community, as well as from all peace-loving peoples. In January 1957 the United States announced its program of expansion in the Near and Middle East, known as the Eisenhower Doctrine. However, contrary to its calculations, the doctrine was accepted only by the participants in the Baghdad Pact and Israel. In accordance with the doctrine, the United States and Turkey endeavored to carry out an armed intervention in Syria in autumn 1957, but the Syrian government, with the support of peace-loving forces led by the USSR, was able to prevent this attempt. In the summer of 1958 the United States led its forces into Lebanon, and Great Britain acted similarly in Jordan, an action that appeared to be a preparation for intervention in the internal affairs of Iraq for the purpose of restoring the reactionary regime there, which had been overthrown by the people. However, the determined attitude taken up by the USSR in defense of the Arab nations once again helped to prevent intervention and caused the aggressors to withdraw their troops from Lebanon and Jordan.
The struggle against colonial rule in the western part of the Arab world compelled France to recognize the independence of Morocco, Tunisia (1956), and Algeria (1962). In 1962 the monarchist regime in Yemen was overthrown. Great Britain, fearing that it might lose its supremacy in southern and eastern Arabia and in the PersianGulf region, strove overtly and covertly to eliminate the Yemen Arab Republic; Saudi Arabia participated in this struggle with Great Britain, yet attempts to eliminate the republican regime in Yemen proved unsuccessful. Subsequently, British imperialism was obliged to withdraw its troops from its important military base in Aden and to grant independence to the protectorates of Southern Arabia, on whose territory the People’s Republic of Southern Yemen (1967) was proclaimed.
In order to disrupt the unity of the Arab states and weaken their struggle against imperialism and Zionism, the forces hostile to them aggravated them and endeavored to utilize for their own ends the difficulties facing Arab countries in their economic development and certain differences in their social structures, as well as such problems as the Kurdish question in Iraq, the Iranian-Arab differences in the Persian Gulf area, and the racial conflict in southern Sudan.
On June 5, 1967, Israeli armed forces provocatively invaded the territory of the United Arab Republic, Syria, and Jordan and subsequently occupied a considerable part of their lands. Relying on the support of the United States and other imperialist countries, Israel gave ultimatums to these Arab states; accepting the Israeli demands would have been tantamount to total surrender. However, Israel and the forces of imperialism and world Zionism supporting it failed to accomplish their main goals: to overthrow the progressive regimes in Egypt and Syria, thereby undermining the liberation movement of the Arab peoples; to put an end to the close cooperation between the progressive Arab states and the USSR and other socialist countries, thereby weakening as much as possible its influence on the settlement of problems connected with the Middle East crisis; and to forcibly compel the Arab states to settle, on terms favorable to Israel, the problem of the Palestinian refugees (numbering. 1.5 million in 1970) driven from their lands as a result of the openly chauvinistic policy of the Israeli Zionists.
Israel has persisted in its endeavors to utilize the results of its aggression, although such action might threaten a further outbreak of war. The rulers of Israel, with the support of world reactionism, including Zionist circles, have persistently failed to comply with the demands of peace-loving nations for a settlement of the Middle East problem through the withdrawal of troops from all seized Arab territories and the settlement of a number of other questions relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict as laid down in United Nations resolutions (the Security Council resolution of Nov. 22, 1967, the General Assembly resolution of Dec. 11, 1948, on Palestinian refugees, the resolutions of the Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly of July 4 and 14, 1967, and of the Security Council of May 21, 1968, and July 3, 1969, on Jerusalem, and others).
A divergence that developed in the positions of the imperialist powers acted to some extent as a new factor in the Middle East crisis. France, which in the 1960’s began to follow an independent policy within NATO, condemned the Israeli aggression, imposed an embargo on the export of arms to Israel, and, unlike the other members of NATO, demonstrated an understanding attitude toward the Arab view on the question of a settlement. The positions of the USSR and France on this question drew markedly closer, a fact that had a definitely positive effect on consultations between the representatives of the four powers—the USSR, France, the USA, and Great Britain—which began on Apr. 3, 1969, in New York for the purpose of seeking ways of achieving a peaceful political settlement in the Middle East.
The Middle Eastern problems have, in effect, remained on the agenda of the main organs of the United Nations. When the differences in the Middle East became more acute, emergency sessions of the United Nations General Assembly were convened on three occasions (1956, 1958, and 1967) and emergency special sessions on three occasions (1947, 1948, and 1961). Whenever any problems concerning the Middle Eastern crisis were examined in the United Nations, the Soviet Union and other socialist states always defended the interests of the Arab peoples, enabling them to hold out in their struggle against imperialism, colonialism, and the aggressive ambitions of Israel and international Zionism.
However, the aggressive attitude of the imperialist powers and the expansionist aims of the Israeli ruling circles prevented the forces of peace from reducing tensions in the Middle East to a point where it could have become an area of stable and enduring peace. Israel, assisted by the United States, a number of other imperialistic states, and international Zionist circles, had created by early 1970 a situation in the Middle East characterized by constant armed provocations and by a de facto state of undeclared war against the Arab states. In autumn 1970 bloody incidents were provoked in Jordan for the purpose of crushing the resistance movement of the Palestinian Arabs who were acting against Israel and of creating a pretext for possible intervention in Arab affairs by imperialists and Israeli Zionists. This led to sharp protests from Arab and world public opinion and to an official warning by the USSR against the admissibility of such intervention. Egypt, Syria, and other Arab states are strengthening their armed forces with the support of the socialist countries and offering growing resistance to the aggressors. The struggle for liberation has markedly increased in intensity in the Arab territories occupied by Israel. Solidarity between Arabs is growing ever stronger. The general anti-imperialistic front of the Arabs gained markedly in strength as a result of the revolutions in Sudan and Libya.
On Apr. 17, 1971, the leaders of the UAR (the Arab Republic of Egypt since Sept. 2, 1971), Syria, and Libya decided to combine all their efforts in the struggle against the invaders and to create a triple federation. The creation of the Federation of Arab Republics (FAR) made imperialist and Zionist circles extremely wary.
At the same time Soviet-Arab cooperation in economic, political, and military fields was gaining strength. The Friendship and Cooperation Treaty between the Soviet Union and Egypt was signed on May 27, 1971. A treaty between the USSR and Iraq followed on Apr. 9, 1972. The treaties emphasized the intentions of the parties to lead a persistent struggle against imperialism and Zionism and included clauses preordaining military cooperation by the signatories.
On Apr. 8, 1971, the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU adopted a special declaration in support of Arab peoples, including the Arab people of Palestine. A just settlement in the Near East became a most important and integral part of the peace program confirmed by the congress.
The actions of the aggressors, their reluctance to settle the Middle East crisis through peaceful political means are sharply condemned by the world community.
D. S. ASANOV [3–1243–5; updated]