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The Arab World and Western IntelligenceAnalysing the Middle East, 1956-1981$
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Dina Rezk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780748698912

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698912.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 08 March 2021

War of Attrition

War of Attrition

(p.200) 7 War of Attrition
The Arab World and Western Intelligence

Dina Rezk

Edinburgh University Press

In 1968, a protracted War of Attrition between Egypt and Israel began along the Suez Canal. In March 1970 this culminated in an unprecedented Soviet military intervention to protect Egypt against Israeli deep penetration raids. This dramatic geo-political shift forced analysts to question Egypt’s commitment to peace and independence and Soviet willingness to escalate the Cold War. The literature published on this issue thus far suggests that analysts ‘failed’ to predict the Soviet intervention. This chapter reveals that contrary to our conventional understanding, British analysts warned that Arab ‘honour’ would never accept Israeli use of the east bank of the Suez Canal and that attacks on Egypt’s heartland would provoke an intervention by the Soviet Union. The documentary record makes it clear that policy-makers on both sides of the Atlantic ignored or dismissed the assessments of their analysts. In the aftermath of the intervention, intelligence analysis played a key role in quelling the fears of policy makers, arguing that the Soviet Union felt obliged to react to the Israeli offensive and was not seeking to escalate the Cold War. Nor, analysts argued, could Egypt be regarded as a Soviet client state, as the expulsion of the Russian advisors only two years later would aptly demonstrate.

Keywords:   Egypt, Israel, attrition, Soviet, invitation, deep-penetration

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