In regard to the latter, particularly venomous was the feud between Nasser and the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nuri el-Said, for Arab leadership, with the Cairo-based Voice of the Arabs radio station regularly calling for the overthrow of the government in Baghdad. The most important factors that drove Egyptian foreign policy in this period was on the one hand, Sony VPCCA1S1E battery
a determination to see the entire Middle East as Egypt's rightful sphere of influence, and on the other, a tendency on the part of Nasser to fortify his pan-Arabist and nationalist credibility by seeking to oppose any and all Western security initiatives in the Near East.
Despite the establishment of such an agreement with the British, Nasser's position remained tenuous.Sony VPCCA1S1E/B battery
The loss of Egypt's claim to Sudan, coupled with the continued presence of Britain at Suez for a further two years, led to domestic unrest including an assassination attempt against him in October 1954. The tenuous nature of Nasser's rule caused him to believe that neither his regime, nor Egypt's independence would be safe until Egypt had established itself as head of the Arab world. Sony VPCCA1S1E/D battery
This would manifest itself in the challenging of British Middle Eastern interests throughout 1955.
In late 1954, Nasser began a policy of sponsoring raids into Israel by the fedayeen, triggering a series of Israeli reprisal operations. The raids were targeted as much at Iraq politically as against Israel militarily. Sony VPCCA1S1E/G battery
It was Nasser's intention to win himself the laurels of the foremost anti-Zionist state as a way of establishing his leadership over the Arab world. Before 1954, the principal target of Nasser's speeches had been Britain. Only after the Anglo-Egyptian agreement on evacuating the Canal Zone did Israel emerged as one of Nasser's main enemies. Sony VPCCA1S1E/P battery
At the same time, the United States was attempting to woo Nasser into an alliance. The central problem for American policy in the Middle East was that this region was perceived as strategically important due to its oil, but the United States, weighed down by defense commitments in Europe and the Far East, lacked sufficient troops to resist a Soviet invasion of the Middle East. Sony VPCCA1S1E/W battery
In 1952, General Omar Bradley of Joint Chiefs of Staff declared at a planning session about what to do in the event of a Soviet invasion of the Near East: "Where will the staff come from? It will take a lot of stuff to do a job there".Sony VPCCA1S2C/CN1 battery
As a consequence, American diplomats favored the creation of a NATO-type organization in the Near East to provide the necessary military power to deter the Soviets from invading the region. The Eisenhower administration, even more than the Truman administration saw the Near East as a huge gap into which Soviet influence could be projected, Sony VPCCA1S3C/CN1 battery
and accordingly required an American-supported security system. An American diplomat later recalled:
It's hard to put ourselves back in this period. There was really a definite fear of hostilities, of an active Russian occupation of the Middle East physically, and you practically hear the Russian boots clumping down over the hot desert sands. Sony VPCCA2AJ battery
The projected Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO) was to be centered around Egypt. A National Security Council directive of March 1953 called Egypt the "key" to the Near East and advised that Washington "...should develop Egypt as a point of strength".
A major dilemma for American policy was that the two strongest powers in the Near East, Sony VPCCA2S0E battery
Britain and France, were also the nations whose influence many local nationalists most resented. From 1953 onwards, American diplomacy had attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the powers involved in the Near East, both local and imperial, to set aside their differences and unite against the Soviet Union. Sony VPCCA2S1E battery
The Americans took the view that, just as fear of the Soviet Union had helped to end the historic Franco-German enmity, so too could anti-Communism end the more recent Arab-Israeli dispute. It was a source of constant puzzlement to American officials in the 1950s that the Arab states and the Israelis had seemed to have more interest in fighting each other rather that uniting against the Soviet Union. Sony VPCCA2SFX/R battery
After his visit to the Middle East in May 1953 to drum up support for MEDO, the Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles found much to his astonishment that the Arab states were "more fearful of Zionism than of the Communists".
The policy of the United States was colored by considerable uncertainty as to whom to befriend in the Near East. Sony VPCCA2Z0E battery
American policy was torn between a desire to maintain good relations with NATO allies such as Britain and France who were also major colonial powers, and a desire to align Third World nationalists with the Free World camp. Though it would be entirely false to describe the coup which deposed King Farouk in July 1952 as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) coup, Sony VPCCA35FA/PI battery
Nasser and his Society of Free Officers were nonetheless in close contact with CIA operatives led by Miles Copeland beforehand (Nasser maintained links with any and all potential allies from the Egyptian Communist Party on the left to the Muslim Brotherhood on the right).
Nasser's friendship with certain CIA officers in Cairo led Washington to vastly overestimate its influence in Egypt. Sony VPCCA35FF/P battery
That Nasser was close to CIA officers led the Americans for a time to view Nasser as a CIA "asset". In turn, the British who were aware of Nasser's CIA ties deeply resented this relationship, which they viewed as an American attempt to push them out of Egypt. Sony VPCCA35FG/PI battery
The principal reason for Nasser's courting of the CIA before the July Revolution of 1952 was his hope that the Americans would act as a restraining influence on the British should Whitehall decide on intervention to put an end to the revolution (until Egypt renounced it in 1951, the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian treaty allowed Britain the right of intervention against all foreign and domestic threats). Sony VPCCA35FH/D battery
In turn, many American officials, such as Ambassador Jefferson Caffery, saw the continued British military presence in Egypt as anachronistic, and viewed the Revolutionary Command Council (as Nasser called his government after the coup) in a highly favorable light.Caffery was consistently very positive about Nasser in his reports to Washington right up until his departure from Cairo in 1955. Sony VPCCA35FN/R battery
The regime of King Farouk was viewed in Washington as weak, corrupt, unstable, and anti-American, so Free Officers' July coup was welcomed by the United States. As it was, Nasser's contacts with the CIA were not necessary to prevent British intervention against the July coup as Anglo-Egyptian relations had deteriorated so badly in 1951–52 that the British viewed any Egyptian government not headed by King Farouk as a huge improvement. Sony VPCCA35FW/B battery
In May 1953, during a meeting with the American Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, who asked Egypt to join an anti-Soviet alliance, Nasser responded by saying that the Soviet Union has never occupied our territory..but the British have been here for seventy years. How can I go to my people and tell them I am disregarding a killer with a pistol sixty miles from me at the Suez Canal to worry about somebody who is holding a knife a thousand miles away? Sony VPCCA35FW/W battery
Dulles informed Nasser of his belief that the Soviet Union was seeking world conquest, that the principal danger to the Near East came from the Kremlin, and urged Nasser to set aside his differences with Britain to focus on countering the Soviet Union. In this spirit, Dulles suggested that the Nasser negotiate a deal that would see Egypt assume sovereignty over the Canal Zone base, Sony VPCCA36EC battery
but then allow the British to have "technical control" in the same way that Ford auto company provided parts and training to its Egyptian dealers.
Nasser did not share Dulles's fear of the Soviet Union taking over the Middle East, and insisted quite vehemently that he wanted to see the total end of all British influence not only in Egypt, but all the Middle East. Sony VPCCA36EC/W battery
The CIA offered Nasser a $3 million bribe if he would joined the proposed Middle East Defence Organization; Nasser took the money, but then refused to join. At most, Nasser made it clear to the Americans that he wanted an Egyptian-dominated Arab League to be the principal defense organization in the Near East, Sony VPCCA36FA/B battery
which might be informally associated with the United States, and most of all, he wanted the United States to supply arms on a generous scale to Egypt. Nasser refused to promise that any U.S. arms he might buy would not be used against Israel, and rejected out of hand the American demand for Military Advisory Group to be sent to Egypt as part of the price of arms sales. Sony VPCCA36FG/B battery
After he returned to Washington, Dulles advised Eisenhower that the Arab states believed "the United States will back the new state of Israel in aggressive expansion. Our basic political problem...is to improve the Moslem states' attitudes towards Western democracies because our prestige in that area had been in constant decline ever since the war".Sony VPCCA36FH/W battery
The immediate consequence was a new policy of "even-handedness" where the United States very publicly sided with the Arab states in several disputes with Israel in 1953–54. Moreover, Dulles did not share any sentimental regard for the Anglo-American "special relationship", which led the Americans to lean towards the Egyptian side in the Anglo-Egyptian disputes. Sony VPCCA36FW/B battery
During the extremely difficult negotiations over the British evacuation of the Suez Canal base in 1954–55, the Americans generally supported Egypt, though at the same time trying hard to limit the extent of the damage that this might cause to Anglo-American relations. Sony VPCCA36FW/W battery
While the Americans were attempting to erect an alliance in the form of the still-born Middle East Defence Organization to keep the Soviet Union out of the Near East, the Soviet Union under the new leadership of Nikita Khrushchev was making a major effort to win influence in the so-called "third world".Sony VPCCA37EC battery
As part of the diplomatic offensive, Khrushchev had abandoned Moscow's traditional line of treating all non-communists as enemies and adopted a new tactic of befriending so-called "non-aligned" nations, which often were led by leaders who were non-Communists, but in varying ways and degrees were hostile towards the West. Sony VPCCA37EC/B battery
Khrushchev had realized that by treating non-communists as being the same thing as being anti-communist, Moscow had needlessly alienated many potential friends over the years in the third world. Under the banner of anti-imperialism, Khrushchev made it clear that the Soviet Union would provide arms to any left-wing government in the third world as a way of undercutting Western influence.Sony VPCCA38EC battery
The Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai who met Nasser at the 1955 Bandung Summit and was impressed by him, recommended that Khrushchev treat Nasser as a potential ally. Zhou described Nasser to Khrushchev as a young nationalist, who though no Communist, could if used correctly do much damage to Western interests in the Middle East. Sony VPCCA38EC/R battery
Marshal Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, who also come to know Nasser at Bandung told Khrushchev in a 1955 meeting that "Nasser was a young man without much political experience, but if we give him the benefit of the doubt, we might be able to exert a beneficial influence on him, both for the sake of the Communist movement, and...the Egyptian people".Sony VPCCA3E1E battery
Traditionally, most of the equipment in the Egyptian military had come from Britain, but Nasser's desire to break British influence in Egypt meant that he was desperate to find a new source of weapons to replace Britain. Nasser had first broached the subject of buying weapons from the Soviet Union in 1954. Sony VPCCA3S1E battery
Instead of siding with either super-power, Nasser took the role of the spoiler and tried to play off the super-powers in order to have them compete with each other in attempts to buy his friendship. Nasser's first choice for buying weapons was the United States, but his frequent anti-Israeli speeches and his sponsorship for the fedayeen who were making raids into Israel had made it difficult for the Eisenhower administration to get the approval of Congress to sell weapons to Egypt. Sony VPCCA3SFX/R battery
American public opinion was deeply hostile towards selling arms to Egypt that might be used against Israel, and moreover Eisenhower feared starting a Middle Eastern arms race. Eisenhower very much valued the Tripartite Declaration as a way of keeping peace in the Near East. In 1950, in order to limit the extent that the Arabs and the Israelis could engage in an arms race, Sony VPCEH13FX/B battery
the three nations which dominated the arms trade in the non-Communist world, namely the United States, the United Kingdom and France had signed the Tripartite Declaration, where they had committed themselves to limiting how many arms they could sell in the Near East, and also to ensuring that any arms sales to one side was matched by arms sales of equal quantity and quality to the other. Sony VPCEH13FX/L battery
Eisenhower viewed the Tripartite Declaration, which sharply restricted how many arms Egypt could buy in the West, as one of the key elements in keeping the peace between Israel and the Arabs, and believed that settling off an arms race would inevitably lead to a new war.
Nasser had let it be known in 1954–55 that he was considering buying weapons from the Soviet Union as a way of pressuring the Americans into selling him arms he desired. Sony VPCEH13FX/P battery
Nasser's hope was that faced with the prospect of Egypt buying Soviet weapons, and thus coming under Soviet influence the Eisenhower administration would be forced to sell Egypt the weapons he wanted. Khrushchev who very much wanted to win the Soviet Union influence in the Middle East, was more than ready to arm Egypt if the Americans proved unwilling. Sony VPCEH13FX/W battery
During secret talks with the Soviets in 1955, Nasser's demands for weapons were more than amply satisfied as the Soviet Union had not signed the Tripartite Declaration. The news in September 1955 of the Egyptian purchase of a huge quantity of Soviet arms via Czechoslovakia was greeted with shock and rage in the West, where this was seen as major increase in Soviet influence in the Near East. Sony VPCEH15EG/B battery
In Britain, the increase of Soviet influence in the Near East was seen as an ominous development that threatened to put an end to British influence in the oil-rich region.
In the same report of May 1953 to Eisenhower calling for "even-handedness", Dulles stated that the Egyptians were not interested in joining the proposed MEDO; Sony VPCEH15EN/W battery
that the Arabs were more interested in their disputes with the British, the French, the Israelis and each other than in standing against the Soviets; and that the "Northern Tier" states of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan were more useful as allies at present than Egypt. Accordingly, the best American policy towards Egypt was to work towards Arab-Israeli peace and the settlement of the Anglo-Egyptian Sony VPCEH16EA/P battery
dispute over the British Suez Canal base as the best way of securing Egypt's ultimate adhesion to an American sponsored alliance centered around the "Northern Tier" states.
The "Northern Tier" alliance was achieved in early 1955 with the creation of the Baghdad Pact comprising Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq and the United Kingdom. Sony VPCEH16EF/B battery
The presence of the last two states was due to the British desire to continue to maintain influence in the Middle East, and Nuri Said's wish to associate his country with the West as the best way of counter-balancing the increasing aggressive Egyptian claims to regional predominance. he conclusion of the Baghdad Pact occurred almost simultaneously with a dramatic Israeli raid on the Gaza Strip on 28 February 1955 in retaliation for fedayeen raids into Israel, Sony VPCEH16EG/W battery
during which the Israeli Unit 101 commanded by Ariel Sharon gave the Egyptian Army a bloody nose.The close occurrence of the two events was mistakenly interpreted by Nasser as part of coordinated Western effort to push him into joining the Baghdad Pact. The signing of the Baghdad Pact and the Gaza raid marked the beginning of the end of Nasser's once good relations with the Americans. Sony VPCEH16EH/W battery
In particular, Nasser saw Iraq's participation in the Baghdad Pact as a Western attempt to promote his archenemy Nuri al-Said as an alternative leader of the Arab world.
Britain's close relationship with the two Hashemite kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan were of particular concern to Nasser. In particular, Iraq's increasingly amicable relations with Britain were a threat to Nasser's desire to see Egypt as head of the Arab world. Sony VPCEH16EN/B battery
The creation of the Baghdad Pact in 1955 seemed to confirm Nasser's fears that Britain was attempting to draw the Eastern Arab World into a bloc centred upon Iraq, and sympathetic to Britain. Nasser's response was a series of challenges to British influence in the region that would culminate in the Suez Crisis. Sony VPCEH17FG/B battery
Starting in 1949 owing to shared nuclear research, France and Israel started to move towards an alliance. Following the outbreak of the Algerian War in late 1954, France began to ship more and more arms to Israel. In November 1954, Shimon Peres visited Paris, where he was received by the French Defense MinisterMarie-Pierre Kœnig, who told him that France would sell Israel any weapons it wanted to buy. Sony VPCEH17FG/L battery
By early 1955, France was shipping large amounts of weapons to Israel. In April 1956, following another visit to Paris by Peres, France agreed to totally disregard the Tripartite Declaration, and supply even more weapons to Israel. During the same visit, Peres informed the French that Israel had decided upon war with Egypt in 1956. Sony VPCEH17FG/P battery
Peres claimed that Nasser was a genocidal manic intent upon not only destroying Israel, but also exterminating its people, and as such, Israel wanted a war before Egypt received even more Soviet weapons, and there was still a possibility of victory for the Jewish state. Peres asked for the French, who had emerged as Israel's closest ally by this point, to give Israel all they help they could give in the coming war. Sony VPCEH17FG/W battery
In January 1956 in an effort to end the incipient arms race in the Middle East set off by the Soviet Union selling Egypt arms on a scale unlimited by the Tripartite Declaration and with France doing likewise with Israel, which he saw as opening the Near East to Soviet influence, Eisenhower launched a major effort to make peace between Egypt and Israel. Sony VPCEH17FJ/W battery
Eisenhower sent out his close friend Robert B. Anderson to serve as a secret envoy who would end the Arab-Israeli dispute once and for all. During his meetings with Nasser, Anderson offered bountiful quantities of American aid in exchange for a peace treaty with Israel, only to see his offer rejected as unacceptable to Egypt. Anderson was no more successful in his talks with the Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. Sony VPCEH18FA/B battery
A second round of secret diplomacy by Anderson in February 1956 was equally fruitless. Nasser sometimes suggested during his talks with Anderson that he was interested in peace with Israel if only the Americans would supply him with unlimited quantities of military and economic aid and ensure that Israel accepted the return of the Palestinians displaced in 1948–49. Sony VPCEH18FF/B battery
It is not clear if Nasser was sincerely interested in peace, or just merely saying what the Americans wanted to hear in the hope of obtaining American funding for the Aswan high dam and American weapons. The truth will likely never be known as Nasser was an intensely secretive man, who managed to hide his true opinions on most issues from both contemporaries and historians. Sony VPCEH18FG/L battery
However, the British historian P.J. Vatikitos noted that Nasser's determination to promote Egypt as the world's foremost anti-Zionist state as a way of reinforcing his claim to Arab leadership did not bode well for the prospects of peace.
Throughout 1955 and 1956 Nasser pursued a number of policies that would frustrate British aims throughout the Middle East, and result in increasing hostility between Britain and Egypt. Sony VPCEH18FH/P battery
Nasser saw Iraq's inclusion in the Baghdad Pact as indicating that the United States and Britain had sided with his much hated archenemy Nuri as-Said's efforts to be the leader of the Arab world, and much of the motivation for Nasser's turn to an active anti-Western policy starting in 1955 was due to his displeasure with the Baghdad Pact. Sony VPCEH18FJ/B battery
For Nasser, attendance at such events as the Bandung conference in April 1955 served as the both the means of striking a posture as a global leader, and of playing hard to get in his talks with the Americans, especially his demand that the United States sell him vast quantities of arms.
Nasser "... played on the widespread suspicion that any Western defence pact was merely veiled colonialism and that Arab disunity and weakness—Sony VPCEH18FJ/P battery
especially in the struggle with Israel—was a consequence of British machinations." He also began to align Egypt with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia—whose rulers were hereditary enemies of the Hashemites—in an effort to frustrate British efforts to draw Syria, Jordan and Lebanon into the orbit of the Baghdad Pact. Sony VPCEH18FJ/W battery