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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 program Mr. Thompson discusses events from the beginning of the Egyptian blockade in the Straits of Tiran to the actual outbreak of hostilities on June 5th. Here now is James Thompson the 22nd of May marked a turning point in the Middle East crisis which was clearly a much more dangerous than the massing of Egyptian troops along the Egyptian-Israeli front. That was the day President Nasser announced the closing of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships or to ships carrying strategic materials to Israel. One doesn't have to accept the conviction of the editor of Colorado's influential newspaper alakazam that from then on the war became inevitable. But once it had withdrawn the UN forces and President Nasser had
imposed his blockade certain consequences became if not inevitable at least predictable. It was for example predictable that Israel having previously proposed a mutual reduction of Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Sinai desert would demand the removal of the Egyptian stranglehold on the Gulf for lack of an equally predictable was the policy of the British and American governments which also called for the removal of the blockade. Not so much because they fear the effect it would have on Israel's economy as because they were alarmed by what the editor of Allah had called the challenge of war. But the Arab governments or at least the self-styled revolutionary governments of Syria Algeria Iraq and the US are interpreted the Anglo-American attempts to gain the support of the album at a time missions as proof of Anglo-American collusion with Israel.
This too was predictable. But even if the Adams did feel they had historical and political grounds to suspect British and American motives they had no justification whatsoever for assuming that Britain and America were inciting Israel to accept the Arab challenge. These assumptions were based on evidence that was partly imagined partly distorted and partly suppressed. In accusing only Britain and America of supplying arms to Israel for example it was conveniently forgotten that Israel's most effective weapon efforts consisted entirely of aircraft bought from France Britain's pop 9 the SU is episode of 1956. The fact that the United States government had been largely responsible for bringing that episode to an end was seldom mentioned. The fact that without arms from Russia and Czechoslovakia Israel would never have got as far as the Gulf of Aqaba in the first Arab Israel war in
1989 was never mentioned at all and Jordan radio still free to question what was rapidly becoming accepted doctrine remarked pointedly. We are used to hearing curses against America and America's response to the curses by granting more learns more aid more wheat more supple supplies. Such dissenting voices already few and far between was soon silenced altogether. War had broken out on the radio front with Carter's voice of the Arabs in the lead. It was a ferocious yet at the same time selective offensive in which Israel was naturally enemy number one. The Anglo-Americans joint enemy number two. But close behind came those Arab states which did not merit the name revolutionary. That kind of Damascus should continue their violent attacks on other Arab governments at a time when Arab unity in the face of a common
enemy seemed essential. Argues a remarkable degree of confidence that the more militant Republican governments alone could wage and win the war on the twenty sixth of May President Nasser himself said. The battle will be a general one. And our basic objective will be to destroy Israel. And he went on I could probably not have said such things five or even three years ago. Today some 11 years after 1956 I say such things because I am confident. At this point Arab unity seemed as far away as ever the earlobe rift between the revolutionary Republican states led by Egypt and Syria and the more traditional monarchist states like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The rift between them seemed as deep as ever. For instance while Jedediah Kuwait and Jordan radios were appealing for an end to into Arab disputes. The Syrian foreign minister amongst others was
calling for revolutionary action by the toiling masses in Jordan Saudi Arabia and in every part of the Arab homeland with a view to putting an end to these reactionary regimes. And it seemed as if any possibility of a united Arab front against Israel was finally ruled out by the Republican countries on the 21st of May when the UN are refused to agree to an imaginary meeting of the Arab joint defense council. One of the reasons given was that the U.S. government could not discuss its plans with and I quote reactionary States which coordinate their policies with London and Washington and which are completely subservient to imperialism. The creator of Israel. But Israel also was divided between a growing popular demand to accept the Arab challenge singlehanded and a persistent fading hope that Britain and America might take up the challenge on their behalf. Or even
that the Soviet government might persuade President Nasser to withdraw it. Unfortunately the Russians showed no signs at least outwardly but they were prepared to counsel restraint in Cairo and Damascus and they rejected the French proposal. What a four part meeting attempts by the British government to persuade the other maritime nations to agree at least on a joint statement of principle on the Gulf of Aqaba came to nothing. Ever since its first abortive meeting while Luthor was in Cairo the Security Council had been engaged in extensive but pointless kill machine and the Israeli Foreign Minister failed to obtain from the American government any assurance that it would if necessary take unilateral action. There is no government as one observer put it to the end of May was bending under the strain as an end he called the editor of hologram and Carter predicted that a war cabinet would be formed with Ben-Gurion at its head
and general mushy Dayana as minister of defense. A few days later on June the 1st his prediction came at least partly true with Gen. Diane's appointment what he does not appear to have foreseen however was that King Hussein of Jordan who had also been bending under the strain would sign a defense agreement with President Massa on May 30th with the consequent inclusion of the Jordan army in the unified Arab command. The Arab Israel confrontation in the north and the suburbs was extended to Israel's long Eastern Front. But if King Hussein had in return received assurances from President Nasser that revolutionary propaganda from Cairo would cease. Syria was obviously not prepared to sacrifice revolutionary fervor to a military expediency. Meanwhile token forces from other Arab countries had started moving closer to the front line. It was clear now that the Egyptian army had assumed the main
responsibility backed if necessary by the Jordanians and the Syrians as a second line of attack. In the event of any Anglo American support for Israel the I don't producing countries agreed to cut off their oil supplies that they would be required to do so was already a foregone conclusion. There was widespread speculation in London and Washington up to the last moment whether General Diane's appointment as Israeli minister of defense marked a victory for the Hawks or the Dubs. There was no such speculation in Cairo and Damascus where his appointment was simply regarded as confirmation of what he'd been saying all along that war was inevitable. And by the 5th of June despite continued activities on the wider international stage the Arab and Israeli fronts had hardened to the point where war was in fact inevitable.
You heard James Thompson BBC specialist in Middle Eastern affairs in another program analyzing the recent Middle East war on our next program Mr. Thompson will describe the fighting itself and discuss the Arab allegations of Anglo-American intervention. 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: 00:09:29
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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 April 25, 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. April 25, 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