The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East

By Richard Bordeaux Parker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
3
THE EGYPTIAN REACTION

Actually, I was authorized by the Supreme Executive Council to implement the plan at the right time. The right time came when Syria was threatened with aggression. Gamal Abdul Nasser, May 26, 1967

Much writing has been done on the causes of the June 1967 War and the reasons for Egypt's reaction to the Soviet report, but until recently little direct evidence has been available about the motives and thoughts of the Egyptian leaders. The two principal figures, President Nasser and his first vice-president, Marshal ÓAmr, died not long after the event, apparently without leaving any memoirs or written explanations of their actions.

A number of senior members of the Nasserite establishment, however, have since spoken out in one way or another. Memoirs have been published by, among others, Anwar Sadat; Mahmoud Riad, the foreign minister at the time; Sayyed Marei, who was Sadat's deputy in the National Assembly; General Muhammad Fawzi, the chief of staff; and General Abdul Muhsin Murtagi, commander of the Sinai front in 1967. Mo hamed Hassanein Heikal , the one-time publisher of Al-Ahram and Nasser confidant, has not published his own memoirs but has written extensively on the period, drawing on his private collection of official documents, which seems to be vast and comprehensive, as well as on Egyptian government archives and other sources. While he had unparalleled access to Nasser and is uniquely qualified to comment on the latter's state of mind, he tends to be selective in his use of the material he has and is not as careful as he should be about checking facts. As a result, while he has given us the most fascinating insights to date on what went on in Egypt during the Nasser period, it is sometimes impossible to know what to believe. The most important of his revelations to date appear in 1967— Al-Infijar ( 1967—The Explosion), from which I have already quoted extensively. Published in Arabic in 1990, it is over one thousand pages long and contains photocopies of various documents that Heikal uses to support his contention that Egypt fell into a well-laid U.S.-Israeli trap that

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The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Maps vi
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • The June War 1
  • The Soviet Warning 3
  • Moscow's Explanations 21
  • The Egyptian Reaction 36
  • From Deterrence to Disaster 59
  • The American Role 99
  • The War of Attrition 123
  • War and Nonwar 125
  • Misjudgment on the Nile 148
  • The Israel-Lebanon Peace Agreement of 1983 165
  • The Israeli Invasion of 1982 167
  • The Negotiations 179
  • The Final Reckoning 193
  • Conclusion 212
  • Appendix 224
  • Notes 247
  • Annotated Bibliography 263
  • Index 270
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