Read this article to learn about the status of the Arab world after World war two!
Israel as a Major Factor:
The main cause of conflicts in the Arab world during the post-war period was the hostility of the United States and her allies to the spread of Arab nationalism.
This was done in the name of preventing the spread of communism and the influence of the Soviet Union in the region.
The Western countries’ were determination to retain their control over the oil resources of this region. Another major source of tension in this area, and the main ally of the US, was the state of Israel. There was conflict between Britain and nationalism of the Arabs over the question of Jewish immigration to Palestine and the creation of a Jewish “national home” there. In November 1947, the United Nations had agreed to partition Palestine into two separate states—an Arab and a Jewish state.
However, on 14 May 1948, Britain which held Palestine as a mandate withdrew from there before partition could be affected. The Jewish state of Israel was proclaimed which was recognised by the United States the very next day. The establishment of the state of Israel was followed by an Arab-Israel war in which the Arabs were defeated.
The Palestinian Arabs were deprived of their lands and homes and over a million of them had to live as refugees in other Arab countries. Jordan, formerly Transjordan, had become an independent kingdom in 1946. In 1949, she occupied the territory of Palestine which lay to the west of the Jordan River, popularly called the West Bank.
With the help of the US, Israel started developing its technical and military power and emerged as the most powerful state in the region. The Arab states refused to recognise the state of Israel and the Arab nationalists viewed her as an instrument to curb the rising strength of Arab nationalism.
The Suez War:
Egypt, under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser, represented the forces of nationalism in the 1950s and the 1960s. Britain, in 1954, was asked to withdraw her troops from Egypt. At this time, Egypt also began to build her independent military strength with the help of arms from the Soviet Union.
The US had offered to help Egypt build the Aswan Dam across the river Nile. However, when Egypt started receiving Soviet arms, US aid for the Aswan Dam was stopped. On 26 July 1956, the Suez Canal was nationalised.
On 29 October 1956, Israel invaded Egypt and on the next day British and French troops were landed there to occupy the Suez Canal. The British- French-Israel invasion of Egypt aroused world-wide protests, including protests in Britain and France.
The United Nations, with the support of the US, also condemned the invasion. On 5 November, the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to the invaders to withdraw from Egypt and threatened to use missiles to defend Egypt. On 7 November 1956, the British-French military operations in Egypt were ended and their troops were withdrawn. Egypt and Israel agreed to a cease-fire.
The Eisenhower Doctrine:
The end of the 1956 war in Egypt was acclaimed as a victory of Arab nationalism. It also led to the strengthening of the Soviet influence in the region. Egypt had now turned to the Soviet Union for help in building the Aswan Dam. Nasser also tried to strengthen Arab unity by uniting various Arab states.
The US, alarmed at this development, proclaimed what is called the Eisenhower Doctrine, named after the US President. According to this Doctrine, the US decided to give economic and military aid to the countries in this region to protect them from what it called “international communism”. In July 1958, however, the pro-Western government in Iraq was overthrown. US and British troops were sent to Lebanon and Jordan to prevent the pro-Western governments of these countries from falling. The US also continued to arm Israel.
The Arab-Israel Wars:
In 1967, another war broke out between Israel on one side and Egypt, Jordan and Syria on the other. This is known as the Six Day War. The Arab states were defeated and Israel occupied Egyptian territory in the Sinai Peninsula, the Palestinian territory on the West Bank of the river Jordan (from Jordan) and Gaza Strip, and a part of the territory of Syria called Golan Heights. Israel also established her control over the entire city of Jerusalem.
In 1973, there was another Arab-Israel war. During this war, the oil-producing Arab states announced that they would stop shipment of oil countries which were supporting Israel. This meant mainly the United States and her NATO allies.
The European members of NATO, however, refused to align themselves with the US in her support to Israel and US herself was compelled to persuade Israel to agree to a cease-fire. Israel has refused to vacate the many Arab territories that she occupied during the wars in 1956, 1967 and 1973.