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National Educational radio in cooperation with the British Broadcasting Corporation presents an analysis of the recent Middle East war by James Thompson BBC specialist in Middle Eastern affairs. In these talks Mr Thompson covers the preview to the war the war itself and its aftermath. On this first program Mr. Thompson discusses the background to the war and the events leading up to the withdrawal of the United Nations forces from Sinai and Sharm el Shaikh. Here now is James Thompson. The latest Arab-Israeli war for this was the third in less than 20 years. Was it ever a quick let that one almost feel suspicious. After all the talking and posturing that had preceded it the brevity of the actual conflict dramatically it was was also something of an anti-climax. Comparisons were naturally drawn with the 1956 campaign. They are have an IT comparable in the narrow strategic sense that the Israelis appear to have adopted the same overall plan of attack in
Sinai as they did in 1956. As for the Anglo French intervention in 1956 it was planned in such secrecy that it remained unbelievable until it actually happened. I was on the other hand nothing unbelievable about the outbreak of hostilities on June 5th of this year. The massing of troops issuing of challenges the movements of envoys developed over the weeks and by the time the first decisive shot was fired. Not only had the opposing military forces reached a high degree of mobilization but popular emotions and international sympathies had also been mobilized. Now these emotions and sympathies have 50 years of history behind. Even if the vast majority of people who are emotionally or sympathetically involved have never read the Balfour declaration of 1917 in which the British government of the day declared its support
for a Jewish homeland. History like war may be planned by rational knowledgeable men but it's not made by them. It's a fact of life which is crucial to any assessment of the present crisis that the Arab countries have always refused to recognize the state of Israel and openly are valid their intention to destroy it. At least in its present form and have been actively supported by other member countries of the United Nations principal of the Soviet Union. If the present crisis did not begin it at least made World News with reports of large Egyptian troop movements into the Sinai desert in the middle of May. This was immediately followed by Egypt's demand for the removal of the United Nations emergency force from the Sinai desert and from the Straits of Tiran this emergency falls you ne F had been set up in 1956 after the SU is war to keep the two sides apart in
Gaza and inside out. Why have the Egyptians now decided to mass troops on a front which with only a skeleton United Nations falls to perturb it had remained quiet since 1956. Their only explanation is that they had received reliable information to the effect that Israel with the backing of the United States was planning a major attack on Syria and had concentrated 11 armored and infantry brigades in the north. For this purpose. The only sources we have for this report are Cairo and Damascus Israel and the United States denied that any such plan existed. The Arabs were naturally more disposed to believe Cairo and Damascus than Tel Aviv and Washington. After all only a few weeks before Israeli aircraft had shot down several Syrian planes in an Arab battle it was Syria and this was followed by a provocative speech by the Israeli prime minister in which
he warned Syria that Israel would choose the time the place and the means to counter the aggressor and memories of the Israeli attack in 1056 were still very much alive. These incidents were no proof of course that Israel was planning a major attack on Syria and so far no proof has been offered but they at least made the Egyptian and Syrian reports credible and credibility is a much more powerful motive of action than objective accuracy. In fact if the Egyptians had confined themselves to confronting the Israelis in the Sinai desert their declared intention to forestall an Israeli attack on Syria would have made military sense and would probably have satisfied public opinion in the Arab world. But the ban on Israeli shipping on ships carrying strategic materials to Israel through the Straits of Tiran was more than a deterrent. It was a provocation
which the Arabs welcomed with glee while the Israelis want them. But this was aggression. What is not clear and may never become clear is whether when the Egyptians demanded the withdrawal of the you any effort from the Straits of Tiran this policy of deliberate provocation had already been decided on in Cairo. If it had not then who thousands prompt agreement to withdraw the UN e f Plaisted Gyptian is in a position which was in itself a challenge and a challenge they could not afford to ignore. If on the other hand they had already decided not merely to confront Israel but to twist arms then the withdrawal of the UN was tantamount to pulling not merely the seconds but also the referee out of the ring. And of course the UN force only patrol the Egyptian side of the frontier. Israel has never allowed the UN E F on her side. There can be no
doubt that 2002 is perfectly correct in saying that the United Arab Republic had every right to demand the withdrawal of the UN E F but the model and legal listicle arguments were frankly irrelevant by comparison with the practical issues involved. Many countries like Britain and Canada for instance protested that as the UN E F had been established with the full concurrence of the United Nations. It should only have been withdrawn after consultation with the countries concerned. They were not denying the right to the United Arab Republic to demand the UN EFC withdraw but simply questioning the secretary general's wisdom in exceeding to the demands so promptly and on his own initiative. It was almost certainly under pressure from certain countries principally India and Yugoslavia to exceed to the Egyptian democracy. The objection was that it will need to provide a breathing space however brief if there was an argument
it should have been brought out into the open. Well the war would have been averted is of course a matter for speculation. What cannot be ducted is that with the withdrawal of the UN E.F. from Sharm O'Shea the safety catch was removed for control of the peninsula. Sharm el-Sheikh gave Egypt control of the Straits of Tiran and enabled Egypt to stop Israeli ships sailing to. Consequently the Arab-Israeli confrontation along the Sinai boda ceased overnight to be merely defensive and such chances as their way of negotiating a detente within the forum or in the lobbies of the United Nations were virtually destroyed. When 2000 flew to Cairo for talks with President Nasser on the 22nd of May Israel and the United Arab Republic had already called up their military reserves. Syria and Jordan had mobilized crowd in Cairo greeted the secretary general on his
arrival with the cry. We want to go to war. The voice of the Arabs had announced that a gigantic massed force was ready to drive the enemy to his tomb and the commander of the Egyptian forces in the Sinai desert had confirmed in more restrained but no less confident terms that our forces are fully prepared to carry the battle outside the borders of the US. As we now know the battle was carried in the opposite direction but by now the dispositions had been made and the stage was set. The weather wall was inevitable is another question. You have heard James Thomson BBC specialist in Middle Eastern affairs in the first of five programs analyzing the recent Middle East war on our next program Mr. Thompson will discuss events from the beginning of the Egyptian blockade in the Straits of Tiran to the actual outbreak of hostilities on June 5th. These programs were produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation and distributed by
national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
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The Middle East War
Analysis, part two
Producing Organization
British Broadcasting Corporation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the first part of an analysis of the Six-Day War.
Episode Description
This program presents the second part of an analysis of the Six-Day War.
Episode Description
This program presents the third part of an analysis of the Six-Day War.
Series Description
A series of five 10-minute analyses of the Six-Day War by British Broadcasting Corporation Middle East correspondent James Thompson.
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Media type
Producing Organization: British Broadcasting Corporation
Speaker: Thompson, James
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-Sp.10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:09:52
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Chicago: “The Middle East War; Analysis, part two,” 1967-06-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 19, 2024,
MLA: “The Middle East War; Analysis, part two.” 1967-06-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 19, 2024. <>.
APA: The Middle East War; Analysis, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from