The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East

By Richard Bordeaux Parker | Go to book overview
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Quoted in Ramses Nassif, U Thant in New York ( London, 1986), p. 75.
In Embassies in Crisis ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1968), p. 1, however, Michael Bar Zohar claims that "early in the evening of May 12, 1967, the highly sensitive receiving apparatus of an information service somewhere in Western Europe picked up a coded message. . . . It was a report from the Soviet embassy in Cairo, signed by Ambassador Dimitri Podyedyeev [sic] and intended for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow. . . . When first read, the telegram seemed merely another daily report . . . [but] the next to the last sentence read: 'Today we passed on to the Egyptian authorities information concerning the massing of Israeli troops on the northern frontier for a surprise attack on Syria. We have advised the UAR government to take the necessary steps.'" A footnote says the text of the message was obtained by an American whom Bar Zohar had interviewed in New York on November 8, 1967, and asks the reader to consult the bibliography at the back of the book. The bibliography lists five Americans he may have seen in New York: Maxwell Finger of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations; Roderick MacLeish of Westinghouse Broadcasting Company; Richard H. Nolte, former U.S. ambassador-designate to Egypt; William Stricker of the Foreign Correspondents Center; and Leon Volkov of Newsweek. Of these five men, only Finger might have been in a position to see a message of the sort described, had it been intercepted. But Finger has no recollection of meeting Bar Zohar or of ever seeing such a message. Queries to a number of persons who would have been in a position to know about such things at the time make me doubt whether such a message was ever intercepted by anyone. On June 14, 1989, I interviewed Bar Zohar, now a member of the Israeli Knesset, and asked him about his source. He said he could not remember and had not seen the report; it had been read to him. Anything is possible, and until we see the official record we cannot be sure that there has not been some confusion about the date in Cairo, but as of now I assume that the May 13 date (not May 12) is correct.
Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Report, May 25, 1967, p. B-2.
Ghorbal says he was not present at this meeting. He was preoccupied with administrative arrangements for his imminent departure for Washington, where he was to be minister counselor at the Egyptian Embassy (al-Feki was to be ambassador), and had not gone to the office for some days. (Author's conversation with Ghorbal, April 24, 1990.).
Author's Conversation with al-Feki, Alexandria, June 5, 1989.
Anwar al-Sadat, In Search of Identity ( New York, 1977), pp. 171-72.
Nasser was officially designated as commander-in-chief and 'Amr as his deputy, but in fact 'Amr had absolute control over military affairs and was commander in all but name.
Mohamed Heikal, 1967—Al-Infijar ( Cairo, 1990), p. 447.
Communication to the author of April 8, 1990, from Salah Bassiouny and author's conversation with him on June 4, 1992. Letter of May 11, 1992, from Ashraf Ghorbal.
Heikal, Al-Infijar, p. 445. The July 1966 Cairo diplomatic list of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry shows four "counselors" whose functions are not otherwise


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