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Geographic determinants of security policies 
in the Middle East. 

Wilt, Thornton W. 

Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School 

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Thornton W. Wilt 

December 1979 

Thesis Advisor: Claude A. Buss 

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Monterey, California 




Thornton W. Wilt 

December 1979 

Thesis Advisor: Claude A. Buss 

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4 TITLE fand Subtitle) 
Geographic Determinants of Security 
Policies in the Middle East 



Master s Thesis; December 




AU THON/ a) 

Thornton W. Wilt 



Naval Postgraduate School 
Monterey, California 93940 


December 1979 



18. SECURITY CLASS. (of thie report) 

Naval Postgraduate School 
Monterey, California 93940 

MONITORING AGENCY MAME & ADDRESSE different from Controlling Office) 


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17. DISTRIBUTION 8T ATEM ENT (ol the abetrect antered In Block 20, Y different Report) 
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19. KEY wOROS (Continue on reveree oido tf nececeeary and identify by block number) 
Middle East Geopolitics; Security Policies of: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, 

Iraq, Syria; Middle Eastern Geography; Middle Eastern Security Policies; 
Arab-Israeli Conflict; Shatt al-Arab Dispute; Kurds 

20. ABSTRACT (Continue on reverse side if neceeeary and identity by block mamber) 
This thesis examines Middle Eastern security issues and problems which are 

rooted to geographical considerations or determinants. Geography as a security 
policy determinant is also examined on a national level in selected countries 
which are the primary regional actors: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Syria, and 
Iraq. A substantial portion of the work is naturally oriented toward the Arab- 
Israeli territorial disputes. It is not, however, restricted to that theme. 
Demographic and strategic communications problems, completely separate from the 
Arab-Israeli issues, are also explored. 

DD ' hausa 1473 EDITION OF ! NOV 48 IS OBSOLETE Unclassified 

(Page 1) S/N 0102-014-6601 | E 

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Thornton W. Wilt 

Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy 
B.S., U.S. Naval Academy, 1968 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the 
requirements for the degree of 

from the 

December 11979 


This thesis examines Middle Eastern security issues and problems 
which are rooted to geographical considerations or determinants.  Geo- 
graphy as a security policy determinant is also examined on a national 
level in selected countries which are the primary regional actors: 
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Syria, and Iraq. A substantial portion 
of the work is naturally oriented toward the Arab-Israeli territorial 
disputes. It is not, however, restricted to that theme. Demographic 
and strategic communications problems, completely separate from the 

Arab-Israeli issues, are also explored. 


INTRODUCTION -------------- ------------- - ---- --- - -- -- - --- -- -- - -- 





SECURITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST ------------------------------- 
B. GEOGRAPHY AND SECURITY ------------------------------- 
C. GEO-POLITICS ----------------------------------------- 
DE THE MIDDLE EAST -------------------------------------- 
SAUDI ARABIA AND EGYPT ------------------------------------ 
EEUU sse. loses an 
1. Geographic Setting ----------------------------- 
2- Geo-Security Issue Areas ----------------------- 
B. EGYPT ------------------------------------------------ 
im Historical and Geographical Setting ------------ 
2: Modern Geo-Security Issues --------------------- 
ISRAEL ---------------------------------------------------- 
B. ISRAELI-ARAB CONFLICTS ------------------------------- 
C. CURRENT GEO-SECURITY ISSUE AREAS --------------------- 
L, Internal Divisions ----------------------------- 
2, The Sinai Peninsula ---------------------------- 
SE The Golan Heights ------------------------------ 
4, The West Bank and Gaza ------------------------- 



















A A A > ee ee ee ee A— ee A ee umm A ee ee ee ee ee ee (EEE A A A A UND A A A A ce DP es oe 

A. SYRIA -------- - ----- ---- ----- --- -- - -- -- - --- - -- --- -- - -- 

T Historical and Geographical Setting ------------ 

24 Alexandretta ----------------------------------- 

D Ihe Golan Heights and the Palestinian Question - 

4. Lebanon ---------------------------------------- 

By RRA) Gee ES. —— 

tke Historical and Geographical Setting ------------ 

2% Demographic Security Problems (The Kurds) ------ 

9« The Shatt Al-Arab Dispute ---------------------- 

as The Kuwaiti Dispute ---------------------------- 

V. CONCLUSIONS -----------------------------------------2------ 
ROTES nn nn 
SOURCES CONSULTED ---------------------------------------------- 



















SINAI PENINSULA ------------------------------------------- 

GOLAN HEIGHTS -------------------------------------2-------- 













Nobody needs to be told that the Middle East, because of its abun- 
dant petroleum reserves, is critically important to the economic well- 
being of the Western world. Consequently, the intraregional and 
national politics, which at first sight might seem insignificant 
in their international ramifications, often have profound global 
effects. But, by simply reading headlines, one could easily overlook 
the fundamental and underlying causes of the region's political 

Cardinal among the influences on the region's politics is geography. 
At every stage of the region's historical development, geographical 
determinants acted as evolutionary catalysts. Strategic waterways, 
ports, boundaries, and ethnic groups always were found at the base of 
Middle Eastern historical dynamics. 

Thus, the thesis presented in this study is that nation-states or 
countries have security policy tenets which are dictated by geography. 
And, the study of strategic geographic features can contribute greatly 
to the understanding and prediction of these policies. Therefore, 
this work will analyze the relationships between geography and the 
national security policy of selected states in the Middle Eastern 



As used in this study, the term "Geography" is not limited to the 
original Greek "geographia" meaning to describe the earth's surface, 
but is expanded to include man and his interrelationships with his 
physical environment. Social, economic, and political systems and 
their dependence or adaption to their natural settings are all encom- 
passed in this broader E The usage here, however, will be 
more restrictive in that the term "man" will be interpreted to be 
mankind in regional groupings or nations. The interrelationships will 
be, likewise, restricted to deal. only with those that concern the 
security of these national groupings and their institutions vis-a-vis 
external political focus. 

A nation-state refers to a people who are linked by an ideal, be 
it religious, linguistic, economic, social custom, political, etc., 
who occupy a defined space on our political EE These nations of 
the world are spatially delineated by geopolitical boundaries; boun- 
daries which are internationally recognized defining the exact physi- 
cal limits of each nation's sovereignty. The nations of the world 
(over 150 of them) signing the Charter of the United Nations are equal 
in their sovereignty. However, the equality ends at the UN.“ The 
world's nations are decidedly different in territorial size, population, 
topography, climate, industrial base, and military capability. These 
characteristics are determinants of power and are the ingredients of 

. ké s e 5 
policies pursued to ensure economic well-being, security and survival. 

Certain ideological, religious, economic or ethnic groups which 
do not represent any internationally recognized state (the Palestinians, 
Kurds, and others), sometimes referred to as nations, can generate and 

project power and must, therefore, be considered in security planning. 


In the pursuit of geo-security goals, it becomes expedient at times 
to look beyond the established legal boundary line. Natural boundaries 
such as mountains, rivers, water sheds, population groupings, and 
oceans often serve as the real dividers of nations. The legal boundary 
may and often does lie in the midst of the more tangible natural barrier, 
but does not provide the security of the natural buffer. 

A problem, of course, arises where one nation seeking absolute 
security occupies or uses these natural barriers to the detriment of 
the security policy of another. To quote Henry Kissinger: "Ina com 
munity of sovereign states, the quest for peace involves a paradox: The 
attempt to impose absolute justice by one side will be seen as absolute 
injustice by all others; the quest for total security for some turns 

: : ; 2 6 
into total insecurity for the remainder..." 

An ideal example of this 
security-insecurity paradox is the Israeli occupation of the Sinai. 
Control of this vast desert barrier represents something near absolute 
insecurity on the Israeli border to aa) Exploring the nature of 
such geographically related security policies will be the essence of 
this paper. 

Generally speaking, one of the most important factors affecting a 

: : ; M 8 
nation's security is the location of position of that nation. Every 

position on the politically divided globe is unique. This uniqueness 

is a product of, among other things, the limited set of relationships 
possible with those political entities occupying other positions, 
especially those adjacent positions. These peculiar relationships and 
a Similarly unique historical background couple to form an established 
order or a national identity. It is the normal tendency of such an 
order to defend or perpetuate itself, which in the case of a nation 
often translates into defending its position. And what is important 
to the security of this position or order is an assessment of external 
threat and the ability of that nation to defend itself against that 
threat. Integral to this threat-security assessment is an analysis 
of geographic features: Is it near a major trade or communications 
route? Does it have suitable harbors? What is the nature of its neigh- 
bors and their dividing frontiers? These and many Sener analytic 
factors of geography are determinants of security EI e.g. Nearly 
every developed industrial nation of the world except the Soviet Union 
is situated favorably on major ocean trade aces. S From a security 
point of view this is an Emate circumstance for Soviet Russia 
and, possible, an unfortunate circumstance for those occupying positions 
in Russia's path to the sea. These nations blocking Russia's access to 
warm water ports must, of course, be conscious of a need for defense 
or a security policy mindful of the strategic aims of the Soviet Union. 
Physical characteristics are likewise critical aspects of geographic 
related national security. Each country, when planning its defense 
posture, must pragmatically ask themselves: From where will the enemy 
invade? How can the country's critical areas be protected? The loca- 
tion of mountains, navigable rivers, deserts, and other prominent 

geographic features probably holds the answers or, at the very least, a 


fundamental part of the answers to these important defensive questions. 
Some areas are particularly vulnerable because they represent a soft 
invasion route. Others are likely targets because of their economic 
value. And yet other territory becomes susceptible to attack because 
its occupation would be a strategic asset to the aggressor. The source 
of many border disputes presently contested can be traced to attempts 
by the contenders to gain positional ademas Physical geography 
then could be a substantial tool in the hands of the security planner. 
However, the territory of some nations does not lend itself to defense. 
These countries, without national barriers or size enough to swallow 
enemy intrusions, could possibly create a system of buffers. The idea 
here is simple: Buffer areas are established between domestic land 
and the lands of those who might be enemies. The British were parti- 
cularly adept at this practice at the height of their colonial empire. 
The Ottoman Empire, Persia, and Afghanistan were all supported by the 
British in order to protect her communication routes to India. The 
long lived British Raj in India was in part made possible by a carefully 
constructed system of ECCE 

A final global feature which must be evaluated to some extent in 
every nation's security planning is the world's oceans. They can act 
as defensive barriers as depended upon for centuries by the British 
Isles and the Japanese Empires, or they can serve as communication links 
upon which the world's great seapowers have projected their offensive 
might. Regardless of naval strength, however, the ocean bordering states 
have, in essence, a wet buffer which, depending upon their expertise 

and sophistication, provides a varying degree of security. 3 There 


have been several scholarly efforts addressed at determining underlying 
constants or trends in world foreign/security policy growing out of 

geographic position. 

During the first half of this century the Englishman Halford 
Mackinder revolutionized the study of geography. He proffered a 
theory which basically stated that the inner Eurasian land mass was 
the pivot region of world politics. Mackinder went on to warn that 
world domination could result if one power were allowed to control 
the Eurasian heartland. Since he first propounded the theory in 1904, 
Mackinder updated it in 1919 to account for technological and population 
changes, but the idea was still the same. As stated by Mackinder: "Who 
rules East Europe commands the Heartland: Who rules the Heartland 
commands the World-Island: Who rules the World-Island commands the 
Eu ek 
In 1943, he again updated his theory. He then presented a North 
Atlantic unit which was equal in importance to the Heartland.  Monsoonal 
Asia and the South Atlantic Basin were also listed as significant areas 
for the parse a An American geographer and foreign policy expert, 
Nicholas Spykman, in 1944 followed Mackinder's school in expounding the 
importance of geographical considerations in security policy. He 
Stressed that the location of a given country relative to the equator, 
oceans, land masses, raw materials, and communication routes may well 
determine the potential enemies of that country. These locational 

considerations, warned Spykman, must be studied and evaluated in con- 

junction with the modifying effects of climate and topography. Security 


problems can and should be viewed in geographic terms, concluded 
Spykman, thereby being of direct and immediate use to those who must 
formulate foreign policy. Peace or security inevitably involves the 
territorial relationships of states and each state must assess its 
geographic situation to determine the best security AS 

Today, the Heartland theory has, again, been refined. Saul B. Cohen 
in Geography and Politics in a World Divided describes geostrategic 
regions. These regions are the trade-dependent Maritime World and the 
Eurasian Continental World. The theory does not hold that all political 
units comprising the regions have identical strategic or ideological 
beliefs. In the case of the Maritime World, however, it does hold that 
the economic well being of the region depends upon free trade. Thus, 
the strategic security planning of the trade dependent areas must focus 
upon communication routes. So, as much as Soviet Russia must strive 
to project her power to the oceans, those maritime nations must strive 
to ensure their own access to the seas and prohibit the Continental 
World from interdicting their lifeline. 

The central point here is that the political division and boundaries 
of the earth are a dynamic sort of man-made phenomena and the nations 
of the world would appear to fall into membership of one of just a 
very few major economic or ideological groups. The Soviet Union is, 
today, the unofficial leader of the Continental World and the United 
States by virtue of economic and military strength is in the vanguard 
of the Maritime World. The interest of some nations are so divergent 
or backward that most theoreticians would not consider them a part of 
either major group. Others, due to technical innovations and/or ideo- 

logical ferment, find it necessary or desirable to move from one group 


to another. Thus, the regional groups are ever changing in membership 

and physical size as each vies for positional advantage over the other. 
Again, positional advantage represents security or insecurity depending 
upon the interests of the viewer. So, the concept of positional advan- 
tages would offer an explanation for the seemingly inordinant interest 

of the Soviet Union in small, developing countries such as Afghanistan 

or Yemen. 

Today's national security planners might criticize the dated theories 
of Mackinder, Spykman, and even Cohen for being overtaken by technology. 
One might ask, with some merit, if modern aircraft and ships do not 
negate geographical obstacles. The answer is that, of course, scien- 
tific advances have reduced or eliminated what may have been an obstacle 
of geography in the past when Mackinder first proffered his theory. 

The nuclear submarine, for example, can today effectively operate world- 
wide for extended periods without the benefit of overseas bases. 
Technology has not, however, permitted aircraft and ships to be used 
worldwide without land based support. Without sea and air power it 
becomes extremely difficult or impossible to project, or have the capa- 
bility to project, power on land in support of security BS 

Modern technical knowledge has permitted the ultimate projection of 
force, thermonuclear destruction, without significant influence by 
geographical features. But the use of the so-called strategic weapons 
must be regarded as the failure to obtain security goals by more con- 
ventional means - means which remain profoundly affected by distance 

and ease of transport. Stated another way, geography is still a con- 
sideration in security planning. Although modern travel has reduced time 

over distance, the distance remains the same. 


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Boundary representation is 
not necessarily authoritative 

En IH 

So, accepting the previously stated ideals of Mackinder, et al 
as being viable today, we can fashion a model from these theories to 
facilitate viewing world security problems. Understanding the need 
of the "Trade-Dependent Maritime World" to have free access to their 
trade partners is a key to understanding why the strategic security 
planning of these countries must seek to protect trade/communication 
routes. Likewise, the Continental World, led by the Soviet Union, 
must in its quest for security seek at least the capability to deny 
the trade lifeline to the Maritime World. This basic confrontation of 
the Continental World led by the Soviets, and the Maritime World, 
dependent upon the open seas, centers in the Middle East. In this 
energy-hungry era when the United States, Western Europe and Japan, 
among others, are so dependent upon the petroleum from the Persian 
Gulf, the Soviet strategists have sought the power to deny, by force 
if necessary, that valuable ie, to the West and its allies. In 
oil, Soviet Russia found an even more compelling reason than their 
Czarist predecessors to expand their influence into the Middle East. 
As for the major powers in the Maritime World - e.g. the U.S., Western 
Europe and Japan - the Middle East is equally vital for their own 
survival, and they are likewise determined to perpetuate the interests 

which they have built up through the years. 


"Middle East" in this paper refers to Egypt and those countries 
lying between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea including 
Egypt (see map p. 15 ). The locational importance of this area 

cannot be overemphasized. It is a land bridge connecting three 


continents and sitting astride some of the world's most important sea- 
lanes. Major world land and sea trade routes have crossed the region 
for millenia and have been the cause of nearly constant geopolitical 
Enos Six seas and three gulfs project into this tricontinental 
area: the Caspian, Black, Aegean, Mediterranean, Red, and Arabian 
seas; and the Aden, Oman, and Persian gulfs. The importance of much 
of the land area is amplified because it connects these crucial water- 
ways. The Suez isthmus is, of course, the most flamboyant example of 
this increased land value. 

In the days before steam powered ships, the trip between Britain 
to India took five to eight months when taking the route around the 
African continent. The overland routes through the isthmus, which is 
the Middle East, proved invaluable. Then, in 1869, upon the completion 
of the Suez Canal, the region took on an increased vitality. The 
waterborne communication proceeded uninterrupted to the mercantile 
ports of India and Ted E 

As trade from the far flung British, Dutch, and French colonies 
poured through the canal and the overland trade routes, along with 
it came people, ideas and trappings of varied and exotic cultures. 
Southwest Asia, the Middle East, took on a new meaning as the world's 
crossroads. Today, roughly a century later, many of the caravan routes 
have been replaced by all weather highways and railroads. Oil pipelines 
and overhead air routes have also been added to the scene. Shipping is 
certainly no less important, although periodically interrupted by 
political conflict. As the world's crossroads, it seems a natural 

phenomenon that the Middle East has, since the cold war era of the 1950's, 


emerged as a barrier between the Eurasian Continental World and the 
Maritime World. This fundamentally national struggle has sometimes 
been referred to imprecisely or simplistically as the free world versus 
the communist world. 

This barrier is strategically significant to both if only because 
of position. The significance, however, has been multiplied many 
fold as the world, especially what we have labeled the Maritime Trade- 
Dependent World, becomes more and more dependent on the petroleum 
originating from the en Soviet domination of this region could 
ruinously deprive the Trade-Dependent World of energy which would 
greatly alter the way of life known today. At the same time, such 
domination would grant to the navies of the continental powers free 
access to the high-seas threatening the very lifeline of the Maritime 

The strategic barriers of natural boundaries of the Middle East 
are generally comprised of deserts surrounding the critical areas of 
Egypt in the Southwest and across the southeastern portion of the 
Arabian Peninsula. The high plateaus and mountains of the Northern 
Tier act as a divider between Arab and non-Arab populations of the 
area. On the eastern side of the region, Pakistan and India are 
naturally separated by the Thar or Indian Desert. The Northeast is 
crowned by the Pamir Mountain Knot and the Karakoram Range. The 
Black and Caspian Seas together with the high lands of the Northern 
Tier states provide a more or less natural border between Iran and 
Turkey and Soviet Russia. Except in the East and Northeast, the entire 
area is nearly surrounded by water. As mentioned, the Black and Caspian 

Seas occupy areas in the North. The Persian Gulf and Red Sea, of 


course, flank the Arabian Peninsula. And finally, the North of Egypt 
and western boundary of the rest of the area is bound by the Medi- 

Among the more important of the critical areas are the population 
centers along the Nile in Egypt, the Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq, and 
the Persian Gulf coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The bulk of the 
region's population is found in the more hospitable climate of the 
Northern Tier. Because of the great oil industry, the entire Persian 
Gulf and surrounding land area could also be considered a critical 

Throughout recorded history the area of the Middle East has wit- 
nessed the rise and fall of many great empires including Egypt, the 
Empire of Alexander, the Seleucid Kingdom, and the competing empires 
of the Persians and the Romans. Nearly the entire area was finally 
unified by the forces of Islam in the seventh century, and Islam has 
been the dominant religion of the region since. 

The consistency to be noticed here from ancient history until 
nearly the present is that these various empires expanded along communi- 
cations or trade routes. Thevalleys of the Tigris and Euphrates 
leading to the silk route to China and the spice routes of India were 
as important to the empires of ancient and medieval times as they were 
to the British in the last three centuries. The communication links 
formed to avoid geographic obstacles have been, for the large part, 
constant through centuries. The Nile Valley, the valleys of the 
Tigris and Euphrates, the Red and Black Seas, and the Persian Gulf are 
today, as they were centuries ago, of great strategic importance. They 

are routes which connect continents and oceans, and they provide access 


to the critical areas of the Middle East. Thus, they provide a way 
to control the politics of the region. In short, the region was and 
is a fulcrum between cultures - a crossroads, if you will, of civili- 

A review of the modern history of the Middle East may help in 
establishing background and continuity for the central theme. By the 
18th century, France, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, Czarist Russia, 
and Germany all had interests in the Middle East. France began its 
commercial and cultural ties in Syria and Lebanon as early as the 
Crusades and signed the first treaty of capitulation in 1535 with the 
Ottomans. The French gained Algeria as a colony in 1830 and established 
Tunisia and Morocco as protectorates in 1881 and 1904, respectively. 
After the first world war, she administered Syria and Lebanon through 
mandates which was only one result of the long standing economic and 
cultural ties. The pervasive influence of the French is very much in 
evidence in Syria and Lebanon up 

The British influence in the area became considerable after the 
defeat of the Napoleonic forces in Egypt at the hands of the English- 
backed Ottomans in 1799. From that time the British made inroads into 
the territory of the Ottomans and the more remote areas of the Arabian 
peninsula. The goal of the British Empire was to protect the communi- 
cation routes to India, the Empire's most valued colony. After the 
opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the canal quickly became one of the 
world's most important waterways, and the British would exert consider- 
able influence to participate in its operations and profits. Asa 

natural outgrowth of the purchase of shares in 1875 of the Canal 


Company, the British came to be the protector of all Egypt. The policy 
goal of the British was not territorial acquisition, rather it was to 
insure the integrity of the Ottoman Empire as a means of protecting 
their own trade routes to India and the East from the expanding 
Russians. The British influence was at its zenith just after World 
War I when she exercised mandate authority over Palestine and Iraq and 
remained protector of Egypt. Also, she assumed positions on the Persian 
Gulf and Arabian menia dd 

Ihe involvement of Russia in Middle Eastern affairs has been long 
standing. The principal goal of the Czarist policy was the attainment 
and security of naval and commercial use of first the Black Sea and then 
the Turkish Straits to the Mediterranean. Southern Russia began rapid 
economic development in about 1830. To sustain the growth and inter- 
national trade activity of this area, the Moscow government had to' 
insure, so-to-speak, a window to the world. As the port of Odessa 
grew with increased trade, security of the Straits became tantamount 
to the economic well-being of the country itself. By 1880, 50 percent 
of Russia's international export trade activity originated on the Black 
Sea and transitted the Straits. With this increased dependence on the 
narrow waterways, came increased vulnerability and the second of 
Russia's principal policy goals: The denial of the straits to the naval 
forces of nonriparian states. Great Britain, France and later Germany 
represented the gravest threats to Russia's well-being. In other words, 
these European countries possessed the necessary power to interrupt her 

access to the high seas. S 


World War I had a profound effect upon this power balance. Germany 
and its ally, Austria-Hungary, were defeated and essentially removed 
from the geopolitics in the Middle East. But, the area did not go 
wanting for power struggles. After the Ottoman Empire was dismem- 
bered, Arab, Kurdish, Turk, Armenian, and other nationalistic move- 
ments emerged. Also, new and disrupting to the region was Zionism, 
or the growth of the Jewish nation in Palestine. The Middle East 
began to take on the political borders we see today. 

In 1927, Saudi Arabia established itself and immediately set up a 
symbionic relationship with Great Britain., The British, being the 
dominant power in the region, recognized the Saudi state and in return 
was granted a privileged position in that country. In the same year, 
the British recognized the independence of Iraq and was allowed to have 
three air bases in the new country. By 1936, Egypt was relatively free 
of Britain's domination, although a military force was left behind to 
protect the canal mea 

Syria and Lebanon were, during the same period, moving out from 
under French control. Lebanon was declared a republic in 1926 while 
Syria waited until 1936 before a treaty was ratified which ended the 
French mandate. However, France permitted little sovereign activity 
in either country. It was not until after World War II that Syria 
and Lebanon achieved de facto ea 

World War II, in fact, nearly completed the delineation of political 
boundaries of the region. In 1946, Jordan became independent and was 

followed by smaller Persian Gulf states (Kuwait became independent in 



World War II truely signalled the end of imperialistic domination 
in, the Middle East. The death-throes of this domination was probably 
seen in 1956 as France and Britain tried unsuccessfully to impose their 
will in the Suez Canal area. Although Great Britain mantained military 
outposts in the Middle East, she in truth could ill-afford the expendi- 
ture required to control the politics of the Middle East. In view of 
the rising nationalism, especially among the Arabs, it is doubtful that 
even the superpowers could exert enough force to control the Ame s 

What we see today is the Middle East emerging with a new found 
economic wealth coupled with an old and powerful religious ideology. 

It is still the bridge between the Eurasian Continental World and the 
Trade Dependent Maritime World to be sure, but its own potential power 
gives it an identity separate from the two major geostrategic regions. 
So, what is being witnessed today, is the nations of the Middle East 
taking control of their own positions. They are refusing to act solely 
as a chess board for imperialists. The convenient positions which have 
made the Middle East a prized piece of real estate for centuries com- 
pounds their contemporary national security ee a 

The year 1955 seems to be a good beginning point for massive Soviet 
involvement into Middle Eastern politics. In that year, amid cold war 
tensions, the Northern Tier countries of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and 
even Iraq chose to politically align themselves against the Russians 
("Russians" is used here vice "Soviet" because the perceived threat 
seemed to be traditional Russian Territorial expansion rather than 
ideological communist expansion). This alignment was officially stated 
in the Baghdad Pact. Because Soviet policy seemed to be checked by the 

Pact, she developed a policy which bypassed the Northern Tier. The 


Soviets sought to win the cooperation and friendliness of the Arab 
World. She extended economic aid and loans to Egypt, Syria and Yemen. 
Iraq also gained such favors in 1958 when her pro-Western government was 
removed by revolution. The huge arms deal with Egypt in 1955 was the 
most visible example of the Soviet strategy to win the Middle East. 
Every rift and ideological difference between the Arab and Western 
countries was inflamed or exploited by Soviet propaganda. Resentment 
traced to years under Western colonial domination only helped the Russian 

After the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, the Soviet Union intensified 
her efforts to gain influence among the Arab nations. She centered upon 
the nearly complete support of Israel by the United States in her pro- 
paganda campaign. Israel was presented as evidence of the still lingering 
imperialistic influence in the Middle East. Russia wanted the Arabs 
to believe that only she among the superpowers had their well-being 
in mind. This campaign certainly paid dividends, not so much because 
the Arabs believed in the good will of the Soviets, but because of the 
perceived evils of MEAS supported Ti im) impen tal isu.” 

The long range Soviet objectives were to make the Arab Middle East 
economically, technologically, and militarily dependent. She built or 
aided in building, among other projects, the Aswan Dam and Helwan Steel 
Plant in Egypt and the Euphrates Dam in Syria. Also, she and her East 
European satellites aided in oil exploration, development and refining 
in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. Additionally, these countries were equipped 
with Russian or communist bloc arms. The Soviet Union wanted, in 

summation, to make the power bases of the Arab regimes dependent upon 



her own system. This marriage of economics, if you will, would insure 
a continued Soviet presence in the Middle East and be the means to the 
even more important goal of denying this most strategic area to the 
Western "er 

Thus, at every stage of the operation of historical forces in the 
Middle East geography lay at the base. Strategic waterways, ports, 
caravan routes, demography and strategic positioning have all been at 
the root of the region's politics and security considerations. And, 
as these factors impacted in history, so are they fundamental in con- 
temporary events. The industrial world's great thirst for Middle 
Eastern oil has only served to amplify the significance of the above 
listed geographic factors. The research will now look at these geo- 
graphic determinants of security policies in three groups of Middle 
Eastern states: (1) Saudi Arabia and Egypt, (2) Israel, and (3) Syria 

and Iraq. 



1. Historical and Geographical Setting 

Saudi Arabia has become the leadoff nation in the study because 
of its great oil wealth and resulting political power. Additionally, 
occupying approximately 4/5 of the Arabian Peninsula, an area roughly 
equivalent to 1/3 of the United States, she is, in land area, the 
largest of the Arab States. 

Compared to the so-called front-line Arab states (those adjacent 
to Israel), the Saudis have remained aloof of what they consider bother- 
some, petty politics. From their own point of view, they are, after 
all, a nation of the purist, most noble Arab tribesmen who must protect 
the faith. Socially medieval by Western standards, Saudi Arabia has, 
nevertheless, been politically very stable and a consistent friend of 
the United States. She has enjoyed a long standing, excellent working 
relationship with a group of American oil companies as a member of the 
Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO). As defenders of Islam, they 
have always been very much anti-communist and unresponsive to communist 
propaganda or Russian intervention. The Saudis and Russia have conse- 
quently been without diplomatic recognition by one another for nearly 
forty "s 

For the largest part of its existence, Saudi Arabia has had 
little reason to feel insecure. A look at the size and relief features 
of this harsh and uncompromising environment indicates how extremely 

difficult it would be to invade and control the country militarily 


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(see map p. 27 ). The Western or Red Sea coast has a 15 to 75 mile 
wide desolate plain. Springing out of the plain are mountains varying 
in height from 3 to 4 thousand feet in the north to 10 thousand feet 
on the Yemen border. The northern section of the mountains and plain 
is called the Hijaz where the holy cities of Mecca and Madinah are 
located. To the south is found Asir, the only area of the entire 
country to receive regular S 

East of the mountains the terrain gently slopes to the Persian 
Gulf. The central desert area is called Majd which is the historical 
home of the ruling family and location of the capital, RISUS 

A vast uninhabitable area known as the Rub'al Khali (The Abode 
of Emptiness) bounds the south of Saudi Arabia. The entire area of 
approximately 830,000 square miles is home to only 5-7 million sêpa 
So, until the extent of the petroleum reserves was realized there simply 
were no rewards to justify any sort of military conquest - hence a 
degree of security. 

However, Saudi Arabia now has something worth protecting - 
approximately 25 percent of the world's exploitable oil reserves. The 
probability of being invaded still seems very slight. The economy, 
dependent almost solely on the oil industry, however, renders the king- 
dom vulnerable to disruption if not destruction. Oil accounts for over 
95 percent of the country's exports by value. Moreover, royalties from 
the oil companies contribute in excess of 90 percent of the government 
me Part of this oil export is transported through the Mediter- 

ranean port of Sidon via the TAPLINE passing through Jordan, Syria 

and Lebanon. The great bulk of this precious commodity, however, is 


moved by tanker from the terminal at Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf. 
Herein is found the soft belly of the Saudi economic life and that of 
nearly the entire oil producing Middle East. Blockage of the Persian 
Gulf could cripple the oil industry of the area and the energy intensive 

economies of the Maritime World. *2 

2. Geosecurity Issue Areas 

As has been mentioned above, it would be irresponsible on the 
part of the Soviet Union, as the contender of the Maritime World economy, 
not to at least develop the capability to take advantage of this acci- 
dent of geography - the capability to deny access to the Persian Gulf. 
And, it can easily be documented that the Soviet government is actively 
constructing a regional, military presence with that very interdictory 

The Soviet Navy actually entered the Indian Ocean in 1968, and 
has gradually increased its strength to the present force of about 20 
ships. This task force, however, was balanced by French, British, 
Australian, and U.S. naval ee But, oil has grown more impor- 
tant and the Russian influence more prevalent. In fact, the Russians 
seem intent on making the Horn of Africa their own armed camp. In 
March of 1978, there were 16,000 Cuban armed forces and 1000 Russian 
advisors in pana pakan Also, there is reason to believe that the 
Soviets plan to build an air base at Massawa, Eritrea. This base, 
coupled with their airfield and base facilities at Aden in Southern 
Yemen, control the southern entrance to the Red Sea. It is the concen- 
sus of NATO analysts that by building such a presence, the Soviet Union 
can threaten the oil routes from the Persian Gulf as well as Saudi 


Arabia itself. This conclusion is, in fact, the only logical one 


which can be drawn. The only strategic importance of the Horn is geo- 
graphy. It controls the approaches to the Red Sea and thus, the Suez 
Canal. Therefore, the flow of raw materials to Western Europe and the 
Red Sea states could easily be interdicted. Also, it places Russian 
military forces within easy reach of the oil producing giants and the 
jugular of the Free IES 

There is also evidence of Soviet influence, though not control, 
in Oman. This country, lying to the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula 
and controlling the Western approach to the Persian Gulf, has been beset 
by Marxist guerilla activity. The rebellious Dhofari tribesmen and the 
PFLO (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman) have enjoyed the 
support and sanctuary of South Yemen, a Russian E 

Additionally, the Saudis have reason to be leery of their 
northern neighbor, Iraq. Although the threat from Iraq seems to have 
subsided considerably, she is known to be a political radical with 
extensive stockpiles of Soviet built S Another Soviet Union 
political and geographically strategic move which proved to be uncom- 
fortably close to the Saudi's interests, was the imposition of Mohammad 
Taraki's communist regime in caia 

If we consider the Soviet influence in Libya and the Soviet 
naval power in the Mediterranean, it becomes easy to visualize communist 
Russia's strategy of encirclement to control the land bridge that is 
the Middle East. More importantly, a quest for military dominance cap- 
able of closing the Red Sea and Persian Gulf is obvious. Security to 

Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis the Soviet Union or any other potential external 

enemy can be simply stated as protection of the oil fields and freedom 


of access to the high seas. The fact that Saudi Arabia has oil and 
requires unrestricted passage through strategic sealanes to market that 
oil and receive consumer goods is a factor of geography or a measurement 
of power. These factors are critical to the Saudi way of life and must 
be central in their national security policy considerations. 

Obviously, a country possessing the monetary wealth of Saudi 
Arabia would not sit idle while they perceived the threats accounted 
above. The Saudis have taken actions to counter the Soviet expansion 
in the region which include: (1) Granting aid to Syria to help check 
radial Iraq. (2) Using money to persuade Yemen to stop supporting the 
Dhofar rebels in Oman. (3) Sold oil to Taiwan at reduced prices because 
of their strong anti-communist politics. (4) Backing secessionists in 
Eritrea as a direct counter to the Soviets establishing bases in that 
province. (5) Supplying money and arms to Somalia to aid in the fight 
against Soviet/Cuban backed rey RS 

At home, the Saudis have stepped up their own arms modernization 
program including the highly publicized F-15 —À Additionally, 
there was an unofficial, unspoken alliance among Saudi Arabia, Iran, 
the Gulf states and the United States. Where the freedom of the Gulf 
and oil transportation are concerned, the interests of these above 
listed states are parallel and they conveniently jell to balance the 
Soviet Dec S 

Unfortunately, not all American and Saudi Middle Eastern poli- 
cies parallel so nicely. The United States, on one hand, is committed 
to the support of Israel, and the Saudis, on the other, consider Zionism 
one of the greatest threats to the stability of the region. This per- 

ceived threat of Zionism was seemingly repressed or ignored by the 


Saudis while they concentrated on the then more dangerous hazard of 
Soviet expansion. However, two seemingly unrelated events - the 
Egyptian-Israeli treaty and the fall of the Shah apparently caused a 
major shift in Saudi Arabian foreign policy and related security 

When Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, the rest of the 
Arab world, particularly the more radical front line states, felt that 
Egypt had bought their peace, at the insistence of the United States, 
with the land of the Palestinians (see p. 49 ). Most of the Arab 
nations were, therefore, lining up politically behind the Palestinians. 
The Saudis, whether it be because of religious or pan-Arabic feelings 
or a combination, have fallen in line with the other Arab states in 
protesting the peace E 

Across the Persian Gulf, in the closing months of 1978, the 
37-year reign of the Shah of Iran was falling apart. It was not col- 
lapsing because of direct Soviet involvement or because the country 
was economically backward. Additionally, the Shaw was, after all, a 
long time ally of the United States. One cause the Saudis saw in this 
political disintegration of Iran was American backed modernization at 
a too rapid pace. Furthermore, the Americans were unable to control 
events in the area to their own security NG ah 

Two Saudi Arabian political spokesmen, Sheikh Abdul Rakman Al 
Ghadhi and Prince Saud, have broken from the American position that 
the Soviet Union is the major destabilizing force in the region. Now 
the official Saudi position is that Zionism is the worst threat to 

Middle East security. Additionally, there have been repeated hints 


that Saudi Arabia will, after a break lasting some 40 years, resume 
diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union (the Saudis at this time 
recognize no communist E 

The Russians do not appear altogether opposed to the idea of 
increased dialogue with the Saudis. After years of standard propaganda 
statements referring to the Saudis as "reactionary" and "feudal", the 
leading Middle East expert in the Soviet Union, Igor Belyaev, has 
recently stated that the Soviet's and Saudi's views of the needs and 
goals of the Arab peoples are congruent and constitute a sound basis 
for cooperation. Another example of a softening of attitudes between 
the two countries, is the fact that in April, 1979, the Soviet Union's 
nation airline has resumed flights into Sanaa, the capital of North 
Yemen. This resumption is significant because it had to be done with 
the Saudi's EE 

Trying to interpret these new Saudi policy moves is, of course, 
difficult. But it is evident that they feel that their staunch align- 
ment with American policy is too costly. Standing too close to the 
United States would mean losing friends and leadership in the region. 
If the Iranian model has been read correctly, the security partnership 
with the Americans carries no guarantee of internal security. The 
Saudis have, obviously, decided to stand by their Arab and Muslim bro- 
thers. Egypt is, of course, left out of the fold but the Saudis must 
feel that they have taken the most stabilizing position. Further, 
they have not completely abandoned the American position. Many interests 
of the two countries are coincidental. Only in the Palestinian- 
Zionism question are they divergent. Closer association with the Soviet 

Union has already stopped much of the disturbing Soviet propaganda. 


And there are indications that the Saudis may "play the China card" to 
check the bothersome Soviet-Cuban intervention in the region. 

Russia also stands to win if diplomatic relations are estab- 
lished with Saudi spes The Soviets have an Islamic population of 
about 45 million of which they are, in light of the recent revolution 
in Iran, somewhat afraid. It would be a legitimatizing factor for the 
Soviets in the eyes of their own Muslims to have the recognition of 
Saudi an 

Behind these policy considerations, lay the determining factors 
of geography. And the trade lines through the Persian Gulf and Red 
Sea are the basic determinants in the diplomacy not only of the Saudis 
but everyone of the external powers who depend upon Saudi oil. Saudi 
Arabia's security policy is consequently oriented toward the protection 
of these areas. 

If relations between the Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia are 
warming somewhat, even to the point of diplomatic recognition, it 
should not be interpreted as a great strategic victory of geopolitics 
for the Soviets. They will not have increased their ability to project 
power in the area nor will the Free World's ability have been diminished. 
To the Saudis, the communist government of Russia remains "godless" and 
fundamentally opposed to the principles of Islam. The Soviets, after 
all, have opposed Arab League member, Somalia, in its armed conflict 
with Ethiopia and it forced the communist regime of Nur Mohammad Taraki 
on the unwilling Muslims of Afghanistan. The Saudis may make accommo- 
dations with Russia, China, the United States or others if it is in 
their national interest to do so. However, a close alliance with the 

2 : h 59 
Soviets is not in their interest and will not be in the forseeable future. 


1. Historical and Geographical Setting 

Egypt has been linked in the research with Saudi Arabia because 
of similar power in world politics. Egypt's influence, however, was and 
is not a result of mineral wealth but primarily of strategic positioning, 
strategic waterways and demography. 

Located on the northeastern tip of the African continent, 
Egypt was described in the fifth century B.C. as "the gift of the eese 
The river, in fact, gave rise to agriculture as early as 5100 B.C. (this 
was some 2000 years before such deliberate use of crops and livestock 
appeared anywhere else in the world). The Egyptian Nile Valley was 
politically unified about 3100 B.C. and, unlike other early civili- 
zations which sprang up and died out throughout the course of history, 
the community along the Nile has continued uninterrupted. It is impos- 
sible to overemphasize the importance of the life-giving Nile. Without 
this geographical accident, Egypt could not exist. The country is 
desert wasteland which is divided by the oasis-like river aaa 
The virtually rainless, uninhabitable desert comprises nearly 96 
percent of Egypt's 386,000 square mile area (the area is roughly 
equivalent to one-half again the size of Texas). After subtracting the 
land area covered by urban development and inland water, there is left 
only about 3.5 percent of the total area to support a population of 
over 40 million CONT n This entire population, save about 4 percent, 
is found in the narrow Nile Valley and protruding delta (nearly two- 

thirds of the people are located in the TS 


Egypt enjoys, compared to her Middle Eastern neighbors, a very 
homogenous population. Over 90 percent are of Eastern Hamite stock 
with minorities composed principally of Greeks, Italians, and Syro- 
Esse. 0^ The significance of these seemingly endless statistics 
about the rivers, land, and population is that they point out the nearly 
absolute dependence of the country upon the Nile. The entire valley 
running south to north through the length of the country is the essence 
of what the geographers term, a critical area. 

The Nile and its associated agriculture and communications net- 
work permitted or caused the homogenuity of the population and the 
early development of the entire valley as a single, political unit as 
opposed, for instance, to the city states of Mesopotamia. Additionally, 
the surrounding terrain would support or hide secessionist activity. 
Therefore, once central authority was established, its continuance was 
relatively Spee 

The agriculture activity of the ancient Nile community did, 
however, have at least one drawback: [It attracted foreign conquerors. 
Egypt, until 1952, had, in fact, been under 2500 years of foreign 
domination including Persians, Greeks, Romans, Circassians, Arabs, 
Turks, and finally the British. Each of these conquerors certainly 
left some of their own culture to blend with that of Egypt. The Arabs, 
however, profoundly altered the social institutions of the country. 

Arab soldiers first raided the Nile Delta in 639 A.D. By 641, they 
had seized control from the occupying Byzantine forces and established 
a permanent camp at Al Fustat, present day Cairo. In a relatively brief 

two and three centuries, the Arab-Islamic culture had all but supplanted 


the traditional-Coptic social structure. This Arab-Islamic social and 
religious order continued through the domination of the Turks and the 
British. Today, the country is officially an Arab nation with Islam 
being the national SO 

This brief, highlighted, geosocial/geopolitical background, 
exerts its influence on the modern security problems and policies 
arising out of Egypt's geographical features. Unlike previous con- 
querors who were attracted by agricultural abundance or were using 
Egypt as a bridge to reach further destinations, the British valued 
Egypt only for its strategic geographic position. This time period, 
characterized by the above mentioned contrast in goals, and a globally 
awakening world is a logical place to p 

In the closing years of the eighteenth century, Egypt was 
under the loose suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, 
however, did not have the strength nor the ion to deny access 
to the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte of France in 1798. France, for 
her part, was not primarily after Ottoman territory. Rather, her in- 
vasion of Egypt was a strategic ploy aimed at the British Empire. 
She hoped to restrict the easy movement and commercial links from 
Great Britain to Asia and, in turn, enhance her own position with 
respect to Asia. In the same year they arrived, the French fleet was 
destroyed by British seapower, and finally in 1801 the remainder of the 
French forces were routed out of Egypt by combined British and Turkish 
forces. The importance here should not be placed on the expulsion of 
the French, but on the fact that Egypt, because of her geographic 

Hi i a 6 
position, was thrust into the geopolitics of Europe. 


To Britain, the Middle East was simply a bridge to her Asian 
Empire, albeit an extremely weak bridge which required constant British 
maintenance. The Ottoman Empire controlling Russia's access to the sea 
at the Turkish Straits and checking the Czar's historical desire to 
expand southward, was constantly supported by Great Britain. By infu- 
sing strength into the Ottomans, the British were able to protect the 
routes to Asia through the Middle East. The acquisition of Cyprus by 
the British and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, however, changed 
the security policy of Great Britain and their primary communication 
routes to the East. It was no longer so important to prop up the 
Ottomans. The concentration of the British shifted to Egypt and Suez. 
Keeping the canal open, in fact, became an overriding principle of the 
trade-dependent Empire. When, in 1882, antiforeign riots led by Arabi 
Pasha threaten the safety of British interests, specifically the canal, 
Britain occupied the Nile Delta ostensibly to restore peace. But the 
British soon extended their military domination throughout the Nile 
Valley and into the dern 

Believing that her very economic life depended upon it, Britain 
clung to Egypt, the Suez Canal and her influential position throughout 
the Middle East even after her Asian Empire had all but disappeared. 

The Zenith of British influence in Egypt was during World War 
I. With her Empire still intact but severely threatened, Britain, 
ignoring Ottoman sovereignty, claimed to be the protector of Egypt. 
Almost immediately after the war, however, British control was to be 
seriously questioned. Nationalistic urgings were maturing within Egypt 

ve — o 70 
in opposition to British rule and military presence. 


In an effort to placate these nationalist movements, the British, 
in 1922, declared Egypt, with certain selfserving reservations, to be 
independent. Great Britain, to insure her geographic advantage in 
Egypt, insisted upon, among other things, the secure communications 
of the British Empire in Egypt and the right to protect Egypt against 
foreign aggression. Without complete sovereignty, the various nationa- 
lists would not be stilled. The Egyptian position was softened, however, 
when the Italians imposed their rule on Ethiopia. The need for British 
military presence to deter the ambitious Mussolini, for the time being, 
outweighed their political aspirations. Thus, on August 26, 1936, the 
Anglo-Egyptian treaty was signed recognizing Britain's vital interest 
in the Suez Canal and her right to protect this most crucial of the 
world's e 

The strengthening forces of nationalism following World War II 
proved to be far too powerful for the weakened British to control 
effectively. Great Britain tried desparately to facilitate an agree- 
ment which would satisfy the nationalistic ambitions of the Egyptians 
while allowing the British to protect her commercial and military inte- 
rests in the Canal Zone. This time, the security of the Canal was 
not the stumbling block to an agreement. The impasse was caused by 
Egyptian claims in the Sudan. The central consideration here was the 
Nile, Egypt's vital waterway. The Egyptians were afraid that if they 
had no say in the political processes in the Sudan, that it was con- 
ceivable that the life-giving Nile waters could be denied to Egypt. 
This geographical problem, from the Egyptian point of view, was one of 
Strategic national interest. As a consequence, the Anglo-Egyptian- 

Sudanese difficulties continued until February 12, 1953, when it was 


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agreed that the Sudan would enjoy self-determination after a three year 
transitional period. On October 19 of the same year, the final agree- 
ment on the disposition of the Canal was signed. Under this agreement, 
British troops were to completely evacuate Egypt, but Britain retained 
the right to reintroduce military strength into the canal zone in the 
event of panes 

Although it seemed that Egypt was to take charge of her own 
security policy for the first time in many years, she could not escape 
the fact that her position kept her in the midst of world geopolitics. 
As Egypt was wrestling free of British suzerainty, the so-called cold 
war between the world's "free" countries, championed by the United 
States and the Russian-led communist world, was dominating the security 
planning of all of the world's powers. And, as could be expected of the 
strategically situated Egypt, she was soon the fulcrum of the cold war. 

Egypt, traditionally identified with Western political ideology, 
was moving under the leadership of Gamal Abd Al Nasser to neutralisn. 
The Western-sponsored Baghdad Pact, for instance, was opposed by Nasser 
because of the likelihood of the Pact drawing the Arab world into an 
"imperialistic" war. This political shift toward neutrality on the 
part of Egypt was distressing to the United States but consistent with 
Soviet policy eats. > 

2. Modern Geosecurity Issues 

Superimposed on the cold war politics of the Middle East and 
Egypt was the Arab-Israeli conflict. On February 28, 1955, the Egyptians 
suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Gaza Strip, as their headquarters 
were raided by the Israelis. In the long term, this raid is only impor- 

tant because it precipitated arms shopping by Nasser. He naturally 


turned to the West, Washington specifically, for his desired purchase. 
When Egypt was refused weapons by the United States, she concluded the 
now famous Czeck arms deal. The West immediately had visions of the 
communication routes and energy reserves of the Middle East being 
controlled by the communists. The Russians, on the other hand, hoped 
that they had outflanked the Baghdad Pact. One result of this situation 
was that the Egyptian-Israeli regional conflict was taking the appear- 
ance of surrogate world al? 

While the actual battles seeking territorial conquest and 
control were of genuine concern in terms of superpower geopolitics, they 
represented crucial geostrategy to the regional contenders, in this case, 
Egypt and Israel. There have been four major confrontations between 
these two Middle Eastern nations and they all resulted from geographic 
determinants. The proximity of the Egyptian border to Israel's critical 
areas places Israel in an extremely insecure position militarily (i.e. 
Tel Aviv is 130 kilometers from the Egyptian border). In the 1956 and 
1967 wars, the Israeli strategy, vis-a-vis Egypt, was to carve a buffer 
out of Egyptian territory. In both cases, Israel occupied the Sinai 
peninsula. The net effect here was to place Cairo only 130 kilometers 
from the military forces of Israel. Hence, Egypt was placed in an 
insecure position, vis-a-vis Israel. The effect of such a positional 
disadvantage on an economically developing country such as Egypt could 
be catastrophic. Her security objectives were forcibly changed to 
compensate for the loss of the Sinai. Egypt had to devote more resources 
to her armed forces. She had to increase the strength and efficiency 
of these forces while acquiring modern sophisticated weapons without 

unacceptable political compromises. And, most importantly, Egypt had 


recover the ee It could even be argued, rather well in fact, 
that this economic hardship and military insecurity led to the Egyptian 
armed forces crossing the Canal in October of 1973. President Sadat 
had good reason to believe that the superpowers would not let either 
side gain too great of a military advantage. But he also probably 
believed that he could only improve his security elon. 

Another move by Sadat, possibly caused in part by his country's 
insecurity, vis-a-vis Israel, was to bring his policies more closely 
parallel to the influential political and economic powers of the area 
(e.g. Saudi Arabia and Iran). The assumption here was that the United 
States would not pressure Israel into an equitable settlement because 
the Arabs had brought the Russians into the Middle East. So it was 
concluded that if Egypt followed the lead of the anti-communist 
Saudis and Iranians, the Americans would no longer be dependent on the 
Israelis as a balance in the Middle East and would, therefore, be 
free to shape a Pax Americana. The net result of this Egyptian policy 
shift was the abrogation, on May 5, 1976, of their treaty with the 

The most recent product of Egypt's foreign/security policy 
was the peace treaty with Israel. Unfortunately for Egypt, the unof- 
ficial alliance with which she had cast her security policy was falling 
apart. With the demise of the Shah's regime in Iran, it seems evident 
that Iran (and possibly Saudi Arabia) have been moving away from their 

close association with the United States. Egypt has, consequently, 

been left without any regional support. 



In summary, it seems clear that the history of Egypt is the 
child of geography. Egypt became a nation largely because of the Nile. 
She could contribute her early success as a unified nation to her unique 
geographical environment. In the modern world, the strategic geo- 
graphical position of Egypt controlling access to the Middle East's 
communication routes caused her many years of foreign domination. 

Even after winning her freedom, she could not escape superpower in- 
fluences. Executing a security policy seeking territorial integrity, 
political independence and national defense proved to be extremely 
difficult. The superpowers sought influence in Egypt because of.her 
strategic geographical position. Israel's territorial conquests 

into Egypt were designed to grant geographical security. And, in 
contemporary times, Egypt is seeking security for her two critical areas, 
the Nile Valley and Delta and the Suez Canal. To that end, her attempts 
to pacify her border with Israel have been central. She cannot ignore 
the possibility of threats coming from other quarters but she can 

depend on her vast deserted lands to afford a degree of protection. 

As for Russia and the United States involved in the Continental 
World-Maritime World struggle, their interest in Egypt has always been 
one of geography. When any of the Soviet leaders speak of the Middle 
East, they usually mention their "legitimate interests" based on geo- 
graphic AS The recent importance of Middle Eastern oil has 
only served to heighten the interest of Russia, the United States and 

every other major oil-consuming nation in Egypt's vital position. 



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If, as has been stated, the Middle East is the world's crossroads, 
Israel would seem to be the point of convergence. To be sure, she 
connects, along with Egypt, the Asian continent with Africa and borders 
both the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea (see map p. 44 ). But in 
a less tangible sense, though equally real, Israel has become the 
focal point of the region's geo-politics. When modern Israel was 
established in Palestine, at a time when indigenous nationalism was 
growing into maturity, she was the embodiment of western imperialism 
and, therefore, insecurity to her surrounding Arab neighbors. The 
net result of Palestine's geographic location to the Zionist movement 
was that Israel was born into a hostile environment. Her geographic 
position left the defense strategists with a seemingly impossible 
onem. S 

Historical events of the Jewish peoples and Palestine must be 
recounted in order to understand the geographical security position 
of modern Israel. 

From the beginning the close relationship of geography and history 
is inseparable. Establishing the Zionist movement and connecting it 
with Palestine is rooted to the very beginning of Jewish history. 
Biblical texts tell of Abraham, the oldest of the Jewish patriarchs, 
leading his people into Canaan, later known as both Israel and 

Palestine. These Semitic migrations are thought to have occurred about 


2000 B.C. and in Jewish theology gave rise to the "Chosen People" 
belief. In Genesis 12, it is related that Abraham received a divine 
covenant granting the land to the Jews:  "...Unto thy seed will I 
give this dut 

There was a later migration of the Jewish peoples into Egypt (pro- 
bably in the 18th century B.C.) where they remained, according to 
Jewish tradition, for 400 years. Probably during the reign of Pharoah 
Rameses II (c. 1304-1237 B.C.) they left Egypt under the leadership of 
Moses seeking the land promised to Abraham in Genesis pa aes AIG 
I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your 
sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession..." 
Further historical or biblical identification of the Jewish people 
with the land of Israel is ascribed in Numbers 33: 

...And the Lord said to Moses in the plains of Moab by the 
Jordan at Jericho, "Say to the people of Israel, When you pass 
over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive 
out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy 
all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, 
and demolish all their high places; and you shall take pos- 
session of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land 
to you to possess it... 

The Jewish nation did become a state and flourished until 722 B.C. 
when the northern half fell to the Assyrians. The southern half fell 
about a century later to the Babylonians. Both of the conquerors 
deported thousands of the Jews as slaves. Those remaining in Palestine 
lost their identity as a nation. 

The Jewish community was maintained by some of those in captivity 

in Babylon until Cyrus II of Persia defeated the Babylonians in 539 B.C. 

and allowed voluntary return of the Jews to their "Promised Land." 


Palestine passed from Persian control to that of the Greeks and sub- 
sequently to the Romans. Under the Roman emperor, Hadrian (A.D. 117- 
138), the Jews were again repressed. Seeking cultural uniformity, 
Hadrian forbade the Jews from following their traditional ways and 
later dispersed them throughout the known world. The religion, litera- 
ture and culture survived in Dispora but the Jewish way of life was 
all but extinct in Den 

In 1832, three Zionist colonies, Rishon le Zion in Judea, Zichron 
Jacob in Samaria, and Rosh Pina in Galilee, were established in Pales- 
tine beginning anew the quest for a Jewish one eaa These settle- 
ments were the vanguard of what has come to be całled the First Aliyah - 
the first immigration wave. The catalysts for this demographic movement 
were many, but principal among them were increased anti-Semitic trends 
in Europe coupled with the financial backing and expertise of Baron 
Edmond de Rothchild and the leadership of the internationally reknown 
writer, Theodor Herzl.  (Herzl's book, Der Judenstaat published in 
Vienna in 1896, spread the idea of Zionism throughout Euro sc) d 

A second wave of immigration started arriving in Palestine in 
1904 driven by the mass pogroms in Kishinev and Gomel in Russia. 
By the outbreak of World War I, there were eighty-five thousand Jews 
in the "Promised Land." However, the possibility of a Jewish state 
in Palestine seemed very remote, indeed. In the first place, the 
land being inhabited by the Jewish immigrants was the sovereign 
property of the Ottoman Empire. Secondly, the indigenous Arab resi- 
dents were beginning to feel nationalistic tendencies of their own 
and were not prepared to give up what they considered their own land 

to Europeans. 


World events probably more than personalities allowed the Jewish 
state movement to gain political power. The Ottoman Empire was allied 
with Germany against, among others, Great Britain in World War I. 

At a time when the war was not going well for the British they were 
willing to, and in fact did, make contradictory bargains with both 

the Jews and Arabs in order to enlist aid in the fight against Germany. 
Mindful of the eternal geographic importance of the Middle East to 

the Arabs, the British promised postwar support for independence. The 
territorial boundaries of state were not explicitly defined but the 
Arabs were certain that it included all of pandak ine. 

Meanwhile, the political leverage gained by explosives expert, 

Dr. Chaim Weizmann, through his potential value to the British war 
effort won Great Britain's support for the Zionist movement. The 
British government officially promised to view with favor the estab- 
lishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. 
Concerning this home, in what has come to be known as the Balfour 
Declaration the British stated in a simple letter from the foreign 
secretary, Arthur James Balfour, to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, a 
leading British Zionist, the following: 
"Dear Lord Rothschild, I have much pleasure in conveying 

to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government the following 

declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which 

has been submitted to, and approved by, the cabinet:  'His 

Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in 

Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will 

use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this 

Object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done 

which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing 

non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and poli- 

tical status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.' I should 

be grateful if you would bring ths declaration to the know- 
ledge of the Zionist Federation. 




Following the war, Great Britain was made the Mandatory Power for 
Palestine. Under "E. of the Mandate the historical connection 
between the Jewish people and the land of Palestine was recognized. 
The pledges made by the British during the war years to the Arabs and 
to the Jews were, however, mutually exclusive. In fact, the Balfour 
Declaration, itself, contained contradictory ideas. How could a 
"Jewish National Home" be created in Palestine without prejudicing 
the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities - 
especially considering that these communities comprised nearly 92 
percent of the Palestinian population? The central point here is 
that the Arabs of Palestine were very apprehensive about the newly 
established national home of the Jews. As the immigration into 
Palestine increased the apprehension o a 

The mass immigrations forced by Hitler's Germany only worsened 
Britain's mandate problems. The Arabs becoming more and more anxious 
because of what they perceived as a seizure of political power by the 
Zionists declared a general strike. The Peel Commission, enatched 
in response to the strike, found the differences between the Arabs 
and Zionists to be irreconcilable and Great Britain's position between 
the two as ue T 

World War II delayed the inevitable. But after many commissions, 
studies and conferences the British government announced in February 
1947 that the problem would be turned over to the United Nations. 

On the 14th of May 1948 the British lowered the Union Jack in Jeru- 
salem and the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel was 

read by David a ee a 



Geographic determinants existed from the day Israel was born. The 
new Jewish state immediately had security problems which threatened its 
very survival. Israel, on its first day of official existence, was 
invaded by a combined Arab army. (The invading force consisted of 
approximately 10,000 Egyptians, 4,500 Arab Legionnaires, 7,000 Syrians, 
8,000 Iraqis, and 3,000 Lebanese). The Israelis had roughly 30,000 
troops to defend their ill defined country. These forces - nine 
brigades - were carefully allocated to defend what the Israelis thought 
to be their critical EE Three of the brigades were designated 
to protect the north. Two were held in the central coastal plain to 
guard Tel Aviv. Two more were dispatched against the Egyptian threat - 
one in Rehovot Isdend and another in the northern Negev. And, finally, 
to protect the Holy City, a brigade was designated to protect Jeru- 
salem and another for the highway in the Jerusalem Ga 

Thus, the defensive deployments were designed to protect two main 
geographical areas. First, the coastal plain and its burgeoning new 
city, Tel Aviv. With a swelling population of over a quarter-million, 
Tel Aviv housed nearly three times the Jewish population of New Jeru- 
salem and was perhaps the Middle East's most technologically advanced 
city. The survival of this city in the Palestine War or the War of 
Independence was tantamount to the survival of the young "m 

Jerusalem was the other key element to be defended. The historical 
identification of the Jewish people was inextricably tied to the Holy 
City. The term, "Zionism", is said to have originated, after all, 

from a poem written by a Hebrew who was forced into Babylonian slavery. 


ilem-Holy Places 



Mt. Scopus 
(demilitarized area) 

Rockefeller Museum 

804 meters, 

No man's land 


Church of the Tomb 
of the Virgin 


| \ 

Garden of Gethsemane 
turchr of All Nations 

nan of 

E B d F d - a 
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A — City wall 
: 0 V4 Kilometer 
P€XORo o —————, 
Mount Zion | 0 Ya Mile 
330” 35?14'30" 



He wrote of his longing to return to Jerusalem and Mt. Zion (see 
ee. 51 ).2° 

Another fundamental element in the defense of Israel and the 
eventual determinants of Israel's international borders was the 
kibbutzim. These agricultural villages had literally been staking 
out the Jewish claim to the Palestinian territory for over 60 years 
prior to the 1948 war. The area and shape of Israel, until June 
1967, was largely a result of the kibbutzim's location. These 
colonies, most importantly, performed a semi-military role. They 
acted as a defensive picket line preventing or at least signaling 
enemy invasion or infiltration. A secondary and passive role of these 
settlements was offering a means of dispersing the population. Speci- 
fically, the kibbutz gave Israel a place to send new immigrants, thus 
preventing concentration in the central plain and demographic inse- 

The war was extremely taxing on the economics and resources of all 
the contenders. Compounding the difficulties of the Arab side, the 
individual nations were pursuing different goals. The Syrians, for 
instance, were principally attempting to settle territorial claims 
against Palestine which were lingering since the 1919-20 Paris Peace 
Conference. King Abdullah of Transjordan, on the other hand, was 
interested in controlling Jerusalem. By so doing, he could regain 
some of the stature lost from his Hashimite family when his father 
surrendered Mecca and Medina to the Saudis in 1925. This lack of 
central effort and leadership coupled with the economic ramifications 

served to frustrate the Arab cause or causes. 


laza Strip 

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Israel for her part was, as stated above, severely strained by her 
War of Independence. But, she was contradistinguished from her Arab 
enemies by her singleness of purpose. Israel was fighting for her 
independence and, in fact, her very existence. 

In December of 1948, Israeli forces drove the Egyptians into the 
narrow Gaza Strip (see maps p. 53-54 ) and started into the Egyptian 
Sinai. To preserve their territorial integrity the Egyptians asked 
for a cease fire. The subsequent armistice between Israel and Egypt 
established a temporary frontier separating the two. Egypt retained the 
Gaza Strip but the arbitrary lines kept many Arab villages from their 
farmlands. 100 

An armistice between Israel and Lebanon recognized the pre-war 
frontier and demilitarized each side. The Syrian boundary took a while 
to be settled but finally ended as they were drawn in 1920 - the Sea of 
Galilee and the upper Jordan remain, for the most part, in Israel. 

The exception was the Lake Hulah marsh which became a demilitarized 
- 101 

The frontier with Transjordan was perhaps the most difficult to 
settle. The western powers in the United Nation debates agreed that 
King Abdullah should annex the remainder of Arab Palestine. Israel, 
however, was unwilling to give up the Negev. The demarcation finally 
agreed upon, like the one in Gaza, separated Arab farmers from their 
ng, > 

Having successfully defended herself, Israel now had the luxury to 

reflect on future geographic security policy. She ignored the cease 

fire arrangement in Jerusalem and later the armistice with Egypt to 


push south hoping to gain access to the Gulf of Aqaba. Such a position 
would permit Israel to bypass the Suez Canal and open a route to the 
Orient. For a country so recently struggling for its very survival, 
this acquisition of the port (now known as Eilat) was very sophisticated 
geographical security policy need, 

In May 1948, following the Rhodes Armistice agreements, Israel 
gained membership in the United Nations thus achieving status as a 
sovereign nation. Her international borders were defined by the Rhodes 
Armistice demarcation line. However, these boundaries, as mentioned 
above, were in places thoughtlessly delineated and were, consequently, 
the source of nearly constant conflict. Israel, in fact, shared 600 
miles of frontier with avowedly hostile neighboring states. Occupying 
only 8000 square miles, she could not rely on territorial depth for 
defense. Only in the Negev could an Israeli citizen withdraw more than 
20 miles from an Arab border. Contributing to her vulnerability, 
Jordan would only have to move 9 to 10 miles toward the Mediterranean 
Sea to cut Israel in half. Or, in a coordinated attack, Egypt and 
Jordan would only have to move approximately 25 miles to sever the 
Negev and the strategically important Eilat from the remainder of the 
mum os 

The corridor to Jerusalem narrowed at points to only 10 miles and 
the Jewish Quarter of the city was surrounded by hills and could easily 
be menaced by Jordanian artillery. Syrian artillery, likewise, threatened 


settlements in Galilee from their positions on the Golan Heights. The 

security situation of Israel was probably best summed by Moshe Dayan: 


The area of the country is only 8,100 square miles. But 
owing to the configuration of its territory there are 400 miles 
of frontier. Three-quarters of the population of Israel lives 
in the coastal plain...The country's main roads and railways are 
exposed to swift and easy incursion. Scarcely anywhere in Israel 
can a man live or work beyond the easy range of enemy fire... 

Thus the term frontier security has little meaning in the 
context of Israel's geography. The entire country is a fron- 

tier, and the whole rhythm of national life is affected by 
any hostile activity from the territory of neighboring states. 


Parenthetically, there is a significant difference between the 
600 mile border sighted above and the 400 miles mentioned by Moshe 
Dayan. At the time of independence the Israeli boundaries were as 
follows: 49 miles with Lebanon in the north; 47 miles with Syria 
in the northeast; 332 miles with Jordan and 165 miles shared with 
Egypt. The total was then 593 miles. 

In demographic terms, the surrounding Arabs populations out- 
numbered Israel's by forty to one, and the proportion of uniformed 
fighting men was eight to one in favor of the Arabs. And from the 
Israeli point of view the Arabs were seeking to manifest their geo- 
graphic advantage and population superiority in the complete destruc- 
tion of Israel as an independent state. Thus, Israel perceived herself 
as being extremely vulnerable and this vulnerability was and is a pre- 
occupation in her security policy do S LU 

It did not take long after the Arab-Israeli General Armistice 
Agreements went into effect in 1949 before they began to unravel. 

The Arabs emphasized those parts of the agreements which stated that 
the demarcation lines were not to be construed in any way as political 

or territorial boundaries. Israel countered by stressing that the 

Arab economic boycott against her was an illegal act of war. As time 


passed, Israel began to claim that the demarcation lines were, in 
fact, legal borders and the demilitarized zones were part of her 
sovereign E? 

The hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees created by the 
war were also a continuing source of animosity. Egypt and Lebanon, 
for instance, already had an overpopulation problem and were unable 
to easily absorb those fleeing Israel. Many would attempt to reenter 
their homeland only to be shot or expelled as infiltrators by the 
Israelis. Some of the refugees did in truth reenter with terrorist 
objectives which started a vicious cycle of retaliations. Before too 
long these border incidents and retaliatory raids were very much 
official policy being carried out by regular military a 

More and more the Arab leadership was speaking of a "second round" 
in which Israel would be pushed into the sea. Meanwhile, Israel's 
leaders, especially those of the Hernt Party - were insisting upon 
expansion to take Akaba, all of Palestine and even Transjordan. In 
sum, both sides felt threatened by the other; they completely dis- 
trusted one another and unfortunately were both quite inflexible in 
policy toward the si 

The large amounts of Czech or "Soviet bloc" arms going to Egypt 
in 1955 started a chain of events which proved impossible to stop 
short of war. The apparent move of Egypt toward Russia in the cold 
war atmosphere caused the United States to withdraw financial support 

from Nasser's Aswan dam project. Nasser, in response, nationalized 

the Suez Canal. In order to protect interests in the Suez, Britain 


and France, in turn, started a heavy military buildup on Cyprus. Nasser 
countered the British and French by moving 60,000 men and her large 
weapons to protect Cairo and Alexandria. The net result was that the 
Sinai and Gaza were left practically without armed ana 

As the region's military situation was altered by the Suez Canal 
nationalization, Israel felt that she was near an impasse with her 
military and economic situation vis-a-vis the Arab world. The fedayeen 
raids were becoming increasingly numerous and violent; with the large 
arms imports into Egypt the military balance was shifting; and her 
commerce through the Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba was severed. Addi- 
tionally, with Aqaba and the Strait of Tiran closed to her shipping, 
Israel's oil supply lines were interrupted - an act directly threatening 
her e 

The recourse was to initiate a "preventive war." Israel had warned 
in July of 1955 that she would use force if Egypt sought to restrict 
or hamper the flow of essential goods to Eilat. Thus, Israel's main 
objective in launching the war was to ensure free transit through the 
Gulf of Aqaba. She also hoped to destroy fedayeen bases and some of 
Egypt's newly acquired weapons. Additionally, it was Israel's desire 
to take conquered Egyptian territory to the bargaining table to barter 
for a lasting peace settlement on her own Bas, 

With British and French support, the Israelis resorted to war. 
The campaign was, from the Israeli point of view, well executed and 

the military objectives were acquired. Few of the political objectives, 

however, became reality. The Suez Canal remained closed to Israel; 


United Nations intervention prevented her from using the conquered 
territory as the desired political lever; Egypt's arms stockpiles 
were replenished by Russia and captured British materials; and the 
border problems continued. However, Israeli shipping through the 
Strait of Tiran and Aqaba to Eilat was restored thus assuring the 
geographical advantages of that southern RE 

The war of 1956, usually designated as the Sinai war did very 
little to change the attitudes and strategic positions between the 
Arabs and Israelis. If there was a change, it was probably that 
relations became more hostile. Border infiltrations by the Palestinian 
refugees steadily grew in frequency and organization. A small militant 
group known as al-Fatah composed of young Palestinians familiar with 
Israeli territory spearheaded this new wave of terrorist activity. 
Although al-Fatah selected targets carefully and usually chose to 
interrupt Israeli water projects their primary goal was to keep alive 
emotional attachments of the refugees to their "cU RE 

From the Israeli point of view, the incessant al-Fatah raids served 
to exemplify their geographic security problems - the lack of depth, 
and long, difficult to defend frontiers. Israel, on the other hand, 
raised the ire of the Arabs, particularly the Syrians, by trying to 
agriculturally develop contested territory. On the 7th of April 1967, 
perhaps the most serious of these clashes took place. From Israel's 
perception, the Syrians opened fire on an "unarmed" tractor working on 
"Israeli lands." The Syrians, of course, saw the circumstances a 

little differently. She claimed that the Israelis sent an "armed" 

tractor on "disputed" lands and opened fire on Syrian positions. The 



truth is not as important as the results. What started with small 
arms fire escalated to an artillery and mortar duel. Finally, before 
a cease-fire was arranged by the United Nations Truce Supervision 
Organization (UNTSO), Israeli jets strafed and bombed Syrian positions 
and caused extensive property damage and loss of life. As a conse- 
quence, the Arab countries closed ranks and pledged support for 


As the border situation between Syria and Israel became more tense, 
Syria indicated that she would invoke her defense treaty with Egypt. 
Nasser and his Arab leadership, as an exhibit of solidarity, on May 
15, 1967, placed the Egyptian armed forces on alert. With United 
Nations Emergency Forces in position in the Sinai, the alert was a 
meaningless demonstration.  Nasser, therefore, on the following day 
asked the U.N. to remove their forces and he began a buildup in the 
Sinai with his own troops. Now in a position to again stop Israeli 
shipping Egypt was under extreme pressure from her Arab neighbors to 
prevent Israel's ships from passing through the Strait of Tiran. 
Nasser announced the closure on May a 

Another strategic development which threatened the security of ~ 
Israel took place on 30 May 1967. King Hussein of Jordan signed a 
defense pact with Egypt. Under the agreement the Jordanian forces 
were placed under the command of the Egyptian, Major-General Abdul 
Munim Riad. Also, Iraqi and other Arab troops were allowed on 
Jordanian soil. Israel's defense depended, in part, on quick mobility 
from one frontier to another in order to meet the attacking enemy 
with the maximum force. Having the Arab armies under a unified 

Command made a multi-fronted war a greater possibility, thus weakening 


Israel's strategic posture. On the third of June the Israeli cabinet 
voted overwhelmingly in favor of launching a "preventive CE 

It would be difficult to cite which one event or combination of 
events caused the Israelis to go to war. But, many observers and 
analysts believe that the Arab attempt to neutralize the geographical 
advantages of the Red Sea port at Eilat galvanized Israel into action. 
Premier Eshkol called the blockade an act of aggression. The loss of 
free navigation to and from Eilat connecting Israel to her markets in 
Japan and the rest of Asia, and to the Persian Gulf oil was so threat- 
ening to her security and survival that Israel declared that she would 
fight rather than let Nasser cut her communications sonas EA 

Also, concerning Israel's motivations for waging a preventive 
war Edgar O'Ballance in his book, The Third Arab-Israeli War, stated 
the following: 

'"...My considered opinion is that the closing of the Straits 
of Tiran and the attempted strangulation of the southern port of 
Eilat made war certain. ...The Israeli Government's reaction 
to the closure of the Straits of Tiran was one of shock and 
anxiety. Premier Eshkol took the ypusual step of consulting 
leaders of opposition parties..." 

The restriction placed on the viability of Eilat was cited before 
as a principal cause of the 1956 Sinai War. This decision by Israel 
to go to war was an example of security policy dictated by geographic 
concerns. The June 1967 War was even a more flamboyant example of 
such a policy. By attacking and militarily defeating their Arab 
antagonists Israel hoped not only to reassert their position in Eilat, 

but to also correct geographic related security problems on nearly all 



Initially, the policy goals were probably limited to stopping 
terrorist raids and border conflicts; to destroying as much military 
capability of the confronting Arab armies as possible; to opening 
crucial sealanes; and to forcing a peace settlement with her Arab 
neighbors. However, the Israeli policy goals became more ambitious 
as their military successes BE 

Israel, in the Six Day War, conquered territories nearly six times 
her own size and, by so doing, altered significantly her geo-security 
situation. By occupying Sinai she completely reversed her strategic 
position vis-a-vis Egypt. Egypt and Jordan could no longer easily 
unite their forces and sever Israel at the waist. Tel Aviv was now 
some 300 miles from Egypt's armed forces. And as Tel Aviv and the 
rest of Israel gained in security because of the Sinai buffer Egypt 
became more nerabe, 

A similar reverse in strategic positioning was enjoyed by Israel 
on the Golan Heights. By winning control of the heights, Israel removed 
many of her citizens from their hostage position under Syrian artillery. 
She also gained a commanding position over the coveted head waters of 
the Jordan River and moved her military to within 40 miles of the 
Syrian capital of Damascus. Perhaps the most important aspect of the 
victory on the Golan to Israel's security was that Syria was denied 
an easy invasion m 

Jordan also lost strategic positioning to Israel. With the West 
Bank now being occupied by Israel, key Jordanian bases and staging 
areas were neutralized. Amman, Jordan's capital, like Cairo and 
Damascus, also became more vulnerable to Israeli air power. (Israel's 

new frontiers were 25 miles from Aman t 


Israeli officials were quick to let it be known that they would 
handle the newly occupied lands according to their own security dic- 
tates. The government clearly intended to hold on to the conquered 
lands until peace was guaranteed. In short, land was to be bartered / 
for security. The Sinai clearly fell into this category. Prime 
Minister Rabin concisely stated Israel's geographic security considera- 
tion in the Sinai as follows: 

"T am in favor of making far reaching concessions, parti- 
cularly in the Egyptian sector, in return for peace...I have 
neither an historical attachment, nor any other attachment to 
Sinai. For me Sinai is mainly a card for bargaining in order 
to achieve peace, or in order to achieve a significant move 
toward peace, and it is worthwhile to yield for the sake of 

In the absence of peace, Sinai provides us with strategic 
depth and the ability to defend ourselves against the largest 
and strongest of the Arab states." 

Portions of the conquered lands, however, were not to be placed 
on the bargaining table. Jerusalem, for example, was considered a part 
of Israel and definitely not a bargaining item. When defense minister 
Moshe Dayan entered Old Jerusalem shortly after its capture he announced, 
"We have returned to all that is holy in our land. We have returned 
. . 2:125 
never to be parted from it again. 

The acquisition and incorporation of the Old City was accomplished 
primarily because of historical and religious identification. The 
Golan Heights, however, was incorporated because of its security 
implications. Concerning this area Prime Minister Rabin said, ..."As 
for the Golan Heights, my view is that even in return for peace, the 
State of Israel cannot, from a security point of view come down from 


the Golan Heights. Thus, the disposition of the captured territory 


became a vivid example of security policies arising from geography. 
In this example, though, Israel had the unique ability to alter both 
the policy and the geography. 

As a geo-strategic overview, the 1967 war greatly altered Israel's 
position. Although increasing her area, the land borders of Israel 
were reduced by more than one-third. The boundary with Jordan was 
now only 50 miles while that with Egypt went from 165 to a mere 60 
miles. The new frontiers tended to follow natural boundaries. The 
barrier between Egypt and Israel became the Suez Canal; the Jordan 
River because of Israel's conquests became the defacto demarcation 
between Jordan and Israel; and finally, the promontory position 
enjoyed by Syria on the Golan Heights was reversed when the war 
redefined the frontier between Syria and Rel 

Although the hostilities won some of Israel's security objectives, Y 
she did not achieve space. She increased her defensive depth and 
military maneuvering area; she destroyed Arab armaments and military 
equipment; and she regained access to the southern sea lanes. But, 
the Arabs apparently were unwilling to settle their differences with 
Israel in exchange for the return of their captured lands. The sur- 
prise and humiliation suffered by the Arab armies seemed only to 
heighten their hatred and resolve.  Hasanaya Haikal, editor of Cairo's 
daily, Al-Ahram, verbalized the Arab's feelings thusly: 

"There is one Arab nation which lives on a territory stretching 
from the Arab Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean and numbers 100 million 
souls. The unity of this nation is not a subject for debate...At 
the heart of this nation a foreign unit has been formed, in the 
shape of a sharp-angled triangle...this triangle separates the 
eastern Arab territory and peoples from the western Arab territory 
and peoples...In this way, Israel's geographic location forms an 

artificial the midst of the Arab ocean. This situation 
cannot persist no matter what extraordinary resources are supplied. 


The waves on both sides will continue to beat against this 
artificial island and in the course of time will wear it down 
until it breaks and falls apart and is swept away in the mighty 
expanse of the ocean." 

The attitude exemplified by Haikal's writing characterized the 
interim between the 1967 war and the October war of 1973. This period 
was not unlike the previous interim periods which were typified by 
terrorist activity with Israeli retaliations. Perhaps the geo- 
strategic change was that the Israelis rushed to build kibbutzim on 
the captured land in order to fully enjoy the protective security of 
their new territorial depth. 

The October War, in fact, did very little to alter the geo- 
strategic situation. The frontier shared with Egypt was forced 
eastward and Egypt again controlled both sides of the canal. 
However, the coordinated attack by Egypt and Syria was strategically 
important to Israel for other reasons. The long standing policy of 
facing one enemy at a time was dealt a serious blow by the well 
rehearsed, simultaneous attacks by the two Arab antagonists. The 
latest war convinced many in Israel that their survival depended 
upon holding the captured lands. They reasoned that an Israel with 
pre-1967 borders would not have survived the attack. > 

Another strategically important development arising out of the 
October War was again centered on Israel's access to the sealanes 
via the Red Sea. Just as Nasser had used Sharm al-Sheikh in 1967 to 
stop Israeli shipping at the Strait of Tiran, Sadat sought to embargo 
Israeli trade at the Bab al-Mandeb Strait near the mouth of the Red 

Sea. Egypt leased the island of Perim from the People's Democratic 

Republic of Yemen from which to command the strait. The embargo was 


mot in force long enough to be telling and it was overshadowed by the 
struggle in the Sinai and on the Golan Heights. However, it did drama- 

tize the continued geographic vulnerability of Tran 

1. Internal Divisions 
Surely the major security problem facing Israeli leadership 
since the 1973 War has been and is finding a peaceful solution, an 

accord if you will, with the Arab world. How can Israel continue to 

exist as a Jewish state with desired security and prosperity while 

surrounded by nations bent on its destruction; this is the problem. 
The correct path toward obtaining these economic, political and reli- 
gious security goals, in essence the security of the state, is of course 
a subject of great debate in Israel's policy-making process. Looking 
into this process is beyond the scope of this research but the author 
will look briefly into two general suggested solutions: (1) the peace 
movement and (2) the Land of Israel (Eretz Israel) eL 
The ideological basis of both of these above mentioned movements 
deal with the disposition of the lands captured in the 1967 June War. 
The peace movement is basically in favor of Israel making concessions 
to their Arab neighbors in order to achieve a lasting peace settlement. 
These concessions are mainly meant to be the return of captured Arab 
lands compensated by security guarantees. There are two major problems 
which have prohibited any cohesion in this movement. The first diffi- 
culty is determining what borders are acceptable to Israel. How much 

land can be given back and still permit Israel to maintain her security 

should bartered peace treaties break down? The second problem is that 


any concession requires Arab cooperation. Unilateral action on the 
part of Israel is simply out of the question. Thus, without Arab 
participation the only specifics this movement can support is that 
Israel should return to borders roughly equivalent to those which 
existed prior to the June War. Such a concession would be agreed 
upon in return for assurances of nonbelligerency from the major 

Arab nations. In spite of the problem areas noted it is important 
to point out that virtually all major political groups in Israel are 
willing to return to June 4, 1967 borders in exchange for security 
WE neces. 1>”. 

On the other end of the argument is the Land of Israel Move- 
ment. The security stance invisioned by this group is simply to 
retain all occupied lands. In the long run, they want these lands to 
be formally and legally brought into the Israeli state. Their hard 
line position is based on a gambit of justifications ranging from 
national security goals to divine right. Although the Land of Israel 
Movement is not widely embraced there have been extensive Jewish settle- 
ment activity in all of the occupied areas. 

Central government policies concerning the captured lands is 
more in line with that of the peace movement. Although these policies 
are constrained and influenced by the problems cited above and the more 
radical politics of the Land of Israel Movement. They reflect the 
security strategy of Israel - a strategy based largely on geography. 
Looking at the captured territories one at a time, the contemporary 

geo-politics of Israel will be examined. 



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2. The Sinai Peninsula 

Turning first to the Sinai peninsula, Israel had cut the 
invasion routes through the coastal passageway and the Mitla and 
Gidi Passes far forward at the Suez Canal in the Six Day War of 1967. 
The Suez line was breached, however, by Egypt in the October War. 
Israel, subsequently, withdrew in January 1974 in the "first step" 
Disengagement Agreement (see map p. 69 ). The best fall-back position 
was, of course, the occupation of the passes. These, however, were 
given up in the "second step" of September 1975. Consequently, 
Israel through airpower, sought to keep the Sinai free of Egyptian 
military power - the Sinai became a emiten > So, Israel's security 
does not depend upon an occupied Sinai, but a demilitarized Sinai. 
This view was reflected during the Camp David talks in the fall of 
1978 when Israel expressed a willingness to almost totally withdraw 
and return the peninsula to Egyptian sovereignty in return for guaran- 
tees of demilitarization northeast of the Gidi and Mitla De 
(Israel also wanted assured access to the Gulf of Aqaba, but this pre- 
Occupation diminished ANS when during the October War they saw 
that their shipping was vulnerable as far south as the Bab al-Mandeb. 
Being beyond their power projection capabilities, Israel had to 
depend on retaliation or third power intervention to gain freedom of 

the T NE 

3. The Golan Heights 

Ihe situation on the Golan Heights differs from that in the 
Sinai. Syria was prevented from shelling Israeli settlements in the 

Huleh Valley only by Israel's occupation of the Golan. And, compared 


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to the Sinai, the Golan Heights does not have the area to be an effec- 
tive buffer. Even if demilitarized, the Golan Heights would not, in 
terms of warning times and maneuvering distance, provide Israel with 
any degree of security on her border with Syria. As was mentioned 
before, Israel cannot afford to come down from the Golan. Some critics 
of Israel's Golan policy say that she has given up the buffer advantage 
by allowing settlements in the area (see map p. 71). In other words, 
by settling the Golan Heights the Israeli population is again vulnerable. 
But subscribing to that theory would be forgetting the military early 
warning advantages offered by the Kibbutzim. Thus, the Golan Heights 
is not a strategic asset to Israel unless occupied by Israel. From a 
security point of view, Israel cannot change her Golan policy unless 
she is sure that Syrian policy toward her has favorably ze. 
4. The West Bank and Gaza 

Unlike the Sinai and the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the 
Gaza Strip cannot be viewed as frontier or geographical problems. 
The threat to Israel from these areas is demographic. Terrorist attacks 
on Israel originating from the West Bank and Gaza will undoubtedly 
continue whether Israel or Arab governments control the predominantly 
Palestinian regions. The same problems would probably exist if Israel 
returned some, all, or none of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Arab 

If, through emotional attachment, Israel should choose to annex 
these areas the large Arab population would, in the long run, alter the 
character of Israel and adversly affect her internal security. The 

best Israel could hope for would be to retain the maximum amount of land 

and return the maximum number of people. For example, if Israel could 




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Base 502878 1-76 


reach an accord with Jordan whereby the Arab towns of Nablus, Ramallah, 
Hebron and Jericho were turned E to Jordanian administration while 
Israel held the remainder of the West Bank, she would have a half 
million fewer Arabs and would be in a better position to control her 
population dynamics. However, it seems that Israel's long term security 
would be best served by restoring Arab authority over the Gaza Strip 
and the West Bank. Only a legitimate Arab government at peace with 
Israel could effectively control the Arab TORT a 
In summary, the importance of geography has been revealed 
throughout the entire history of Israel from Biblical to modern times. 
Her borders have always been vulnerable on all land-bound sides and 
her access to needed raw materials has been seriously threatened. This 
geographic insecurity was eased in 1967 when Israel acquired, through 
military conquest, new lands and new frontiers. This new geography 
did not, however, fully solve Israel's security problems. She did 
allow herself, through the territorial conquests, some warning of 
coming attacks and space in which to counter them.  Concisely, Israel, 
by acquiring Arab lands, enhanced her defense. But, the fact that a 
military defeat could well cost Israel her existence remained. Her 
security policies were and are, consequently, bound to her geographic 
vulnerabilities. As is evidenced by the ongoing return of the Sinai 
to Egypt, Israel will not give up territory without reasonable security 
guarantees including demilitarization of the returned land. As yet, 
Israel has been unwilling to retreat from her positions on the Golan 

Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. And until she feels that 


her security does not depend on these positions she is not likely to 
return them to Arab sovereignty. 

The hostilities between these two peoples, the Arabs and the 
Jews, arose at least partially because Zionism and national awareness 
among the Arabs were born and grew at the same time in the same geo- 
graphic area. Additionally, the initial immigrations, primarily from 
Europe, were accomplished because of western European influence and 
support. This association naturally brought on accusations of Euro- 
pean colonialism and imperialism from the Arab world. The Arabs having 
been Ottoman subjects and later under European domination were probably 
becoming a little xenophobic. The Jews, at the same time, were escaping 
persecution. Thus, each group was exclusivist. Their respective reli- 
gions, after all, taught each that they were chosen people. Both are 
anti-imperialist, but, ironically, each appears to the other as expan- 
Sionistic and aggressive. The point here is that the hostilities between 
these two nations cannot be reduced to simple terms. The dynamics of 
geographic oriented security policy are, undoubtedly, an aid in 
understanding this most complex problem. And, to be sure, frontier 
adjustments and related security policy refinements will continue on 

both sides until the Arab world and Israel find DeC 



1. Historical and Geographical Setting 

The Syrian Arab Republic occupies only a fraction of the geo- 
graphical area known as greater or geographical Syria. Historically, 
the name Syria refers to the geographical region lying at the Eastern 
end of the Mediterranean Sea between the Sinai and Turkish peninsulas. 
This region was a part of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 until the end of 
World War I. Today the states of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel 
occupy this area known as greater Sr, 

Greater Syria is delineated by natural boundaries. The northern 
barrier of the region is the Taurus mountains, which are met in the west 
by the Mediterranean Sea. The eastern desert runs through Arabia to the 
Sinai Peninsula and bounds the region to the south. The four modern 
countries which make up the region, however, are for the most part 
separated from each other by artificial a | AN 

The artificial boundaries cited above were products of British 
and French geo-politics during and immediately after World War I. In 
the Sykes-Picot agreement of May 16, 1916, Britain and France agreed 
to give paramount influence in Syria to the French while Jordan and 
Palestine went to the British. This dividing of the spoils, as it were, 
ran counter to another British agreement in which the aid of Sharif 

Husein of Mecca, the de facto leader of much of the Arab world, was 

entitled against the Ottomans. In return for his support, Husein 


demanded the independence for Iraq, the Arabian peninsula (with ‘the 
exception of Aden), and for all geographic Syria. Sir Henry McMahon, 
the British High Commissioner in Egypt, agreed to Husein's non 

In October 1913, Prince Faysal, the son of Sharif Husein, 
entered Damascus as a popular hero and assumed that part occupied by 
French troops, and in July of the following year proclaimed Syria to 
be independent. But, this independent greater Syria proved to be 
short lived. The geo-strategies of France and Great Britain were not 
compatible with the nationalistic goals of Husein and his TOUS C A 

Problems facing the Arab's quest for statehood in Syria included 
Britain's desire to maintain a foothold in the area in order to counter 
Russian encroachments and to protect oil interests. Additionally, 
France was determined to remain a power in the Middle East, and would, 
therefore, not give up what she considered to be her colonies. But, 
the most unsettling, long term hinderance to the formation and main- 
tenance of a Syrian state was Zionism, the emergence of the Jewish state 
in Palestine. The consequence of these European imperialistic poli- 
cies was that Husein's declaration of independence was ignored, and at 
San Remo, Italy in April 1920, France and Great Britain divided greater 
Syria into mandates. In the region Britain gained mandate authority 
over Palestine and Transjordan while the French were awarded the area 
now occupied by Syria and Wk anon 

The purpose of recounting the political maneuvering leading to 
the division of greater Syria into four smaller states is to show the 

bonds which link the artificially delineated Syrian Arab Republic to 

the more natural entity of greater Syria. The central point here is 


that geographical security policy originating in Damascus, Syria's 
capital, is often based on the nationalistic concept of greater Syria. 
Thus, Syria's geo-security policy is frequently manifested in the 
irredenta. In her recent history Syria has repeatedly demonstrated that 
geography, particularly this irredenta, is an integral if not the central 
tenet of their security policy. To support this thesis the study will 
investigate three Syrian policy issue areas: (1) Alexandretta, 
(2) Israel/Palestine and (3) Lebanon. 
2. Alexandretta 

The first geo-security problem facing the new Syrian state was 
the severance of Alexandretta. As the post-war settlements broke 
geographic Syria into fragments, the French used a similar dismember- 
ment tactic to weaken the Syrian nationalistic sentiment and foster 
regionalism. Thus, the northwest province of Alexandretta was given a 
Separate government responsible to the French high commissioner in 
Mur 140 

Turkey, ostensibly seeking to protect the large Turkish popu- 
lation of Alexandretta but in reality seeking the geographical advan- 
tages offered by the regions excellent port ee requested 
the cession of the district known in Turkey as Hatay. Because of 
Syrian protest, France put the question to the League of Nations. The 
League's commission recommended local autonomy in Alexandretta but 
suggested that Syria remain the guardian in international affairs. 
The League's findings, however, soon became moot when on 23 June 1939, 
France, in violation of her Syrian Mandate agreement, ceeded Alexandretta 

to Rs 


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The Syrian nationalists naturally saw the cession of Alexandretta 
as a threat to their geographic security. Additionally, with Palestine 
being under the British Mandate and Lebanon being separated from Syria 
by the French, the loss of Alexandretta was beginning to threaten 
Syria's access to the sea. Being under the French Mandate, Syria had 
no legally recognized recourse. The disapproval continues today along 

with the hope that Hatay might someday be retroceded to NE 

3. The Golan Heights and the Palestinian Question 

Ihe most important security issue involving geographic deter- 
minants facing Syria today is the recovery of the Golan Heights which 
has been occupied by Israel since June 1967. The strategic value of 
the Golan Heights has been discussed earlier in this work, but con- 
cisely, its value lies primarily in its military significance. - The 
access to the plateau from Israel is extremely restricted, while its 
elevation (400-1700 ft. above the Huleh Valley) permits a commanding 
view of Israel's agriculturally rich Huleh Valley and menaces the 
industrial area of Haifa-Akko only 60 miles distant (see map p. 79 ). 
Although the occupation of the Golan places Israeli forces closer to 
Damascus, the worth to Israel is one of denial. In other words, 
Israel is much more secure by denying Syria access to the Golan 

The value of the Golan Heights to Syria is a very complex 
issue and encompasses the larger Palestinian question. As illustrated 
above, Syrians cannot divorce the Palestinian territorial problems from 
their own. Palestine was after all a part of greater Syria, and there 

are many refugees from occupied Palestine living in Syria today. Further, 


though less tangible, Syria claims to be the center of the Arab world 
and the consequent leader in the fight against Israel. Syrian senti- 
ments on Palestine were probably best summed by President Assad in 
the following statement: 
It might be useful to remind those in power in Israel 

that Palestine is not only part of the Arab homeland but 

is a principal part of Southern Syria...Palestine will 

remain part of the libegated Arab homeland and part of our 

country - Arab Syria, or more concisely: Palestine 

is Southern Syria. 

Syria's geo-security policy did suffer a setback at the hands 
of Israel in the June War of 1967; she lost the strategic advantage 
afforded by the Golan Heights. But possibly more damaging, her per- 
ceived status as leader of the Arab world was diminished by the 
humiliating territorial loss. Syria's policy arising from the Golan 
situation is simple, straightforward, and, from the point of view of 
most Syrians, without alternative - recapture the occupied territory. 
The only issues yet to be reconciled then are the means and timing 
of the ey... 

Most recently, Syria's overriding policy to regain sovereignty 
over the Golans has been dealt a serious blow. The peace accord 
between Egypt and Israel has left Syria in the impossible position of 
confronting Israel alone. Syria blames the untenable position on the 
United States. In the words of a Syrian official: "The U.S. is trying 
to divide the Arabs, ignore the Palestinians and engineer a separate 
peace between Egypt and Israel, while making Israel so strong militarily 

LaS Thus, the Syrian secu- 

that she will never give us our land back." 
rity policy which is rooted in geographical considerations is also a 

determinant of Syrian-U.S. relations. 


Another significant fallout of Syria's Golan policy is growing 
Meet influence in the country. If, as cited above, the U.S. is 
perceived to be responsible for the continued occupation of Syrian 
territory, the perception offers an opening for increased Soviet 
Suasion. The Syrians, in fact, depend upon the Soviet Union for 
military material, training and support. In the past, Syria has been 
- unable to prosecute any policy without Soviet backing, and it is 
reasonably certain that any actions taking place in the short term 
future will be subject to a degree of Soviet Ao y 

4. Lebanon 

Nowhere is Syria's geo-security policy more evident than in its 
actions toward Lebanon. The maintenance of a healthy Lebanese state is 
a fundamental tenet of Syrian policy. President Assad said the following 
about the well-being of Lebanon, "It is difficult to distinguish between 
the security of Lebanon, in the wider sense of the word, and the security 
of Ep» Another Syrian offical, Zuheir Muhsin, had this to say 
about Lebanon: "The defense of Lebanon is an integral part of the 
defense program of Syria and the Palestinian pese cron tgo But, 
recently Lebanon's health has been threatened by the disruption of the 
delicate internal demographic balance and resultant civil war. 

France planted the seeds, so to speak, of these demographic 
problems when she, as mandate authority, carved the Lebanese state from 
greater Syria. Lebanon, in 1920, was created in order to separate 
Syria's predominantly Christian populated areas from the predominantly 
Muslim areas. France arranged to include the Muslim populated port of 

Tripoli in the new Lebanese state and thus diluted the Christian 


majority. By 19/75 the Christians had lost their majority. Political 
Stability probably could have been maintained if large numbers of 
Palestinian refugees had not placed disproportionate weight on the 
demographic muc 

Ihe immediate cause of Lebanon's security problems was the 
large influx of Palestinians following the 1967 June War and, more 
directly, after "Black September" (the expulsion of the Palestinian 
Liberation Organization from Jordan) in 1970. The mostly Muslim 
Palestinians altered Lebanon's social structure, and their commando 
activities directed against Israel brought disruptive retaliatory raids 
and shelling from Israel. The now minority Christians, particularly 
those in southern Lebanon, began to fear the loss of their political 
power base. Some even became allied with the Israelis because of 
their common anti-PLO feelings. The net result of the social and poli- 
tical pressure caused by the Palestinian refugees was the 1975-76 
civil ia 

The hostilities in Lebanon presented serious threats to 
Syria's geographic-security system for three reasons. First, the 
mountains of southern Lebanon provide Syria with a natural defensive 
boundary. If the political disintegration of Lebanon permitted Israel 
to annex this southern area, Syria would be seriously menaced. A 
second threat arose repeatedly during the civil war when some Christian 
parties presented partition as a solution to the hostilities. Syria's 
response to this partition suggestion was that another Israel-like 

state was not needed in the area. The military disadvantages to Syria 

from such a solution would obviously be similar to that of Israeli 


annexation, but the probable domestic political ramifications presented 
a third problem area. If the Syrian government permitted such a 
minority group secession, even in Lebanon, she would loosen the 

control over her own many minority — 

Syria's response to Lebanon's political and social disinte- 
gration was to dispatch various military units including Syrian-backed 
Palestinian units and regular Syrian army units into the troubled 
country. Ostensibly, these troops were sent to "keep the peace," but 
they, in fact, aided the Christian Phalangists against the Palestinians 
and Lebanese E 

Ihe Syria strategy, in supporting the Phalangists, was to 
ensure the geographical integrity of Lebanon. Syria obviously felt 
that if the Christians were defeated or greatly weakened by the com- 
bined Palestinian and leftist forces Israel would be galvanized into 
military intervention. The danger, from Syria's point of view, was 
that a joint Christian and Israeli action would eventually separate 
southern Lebanon from central government control and, by so doing, 
give Israel the highly valued geographic A 

In 1978, the civil strife in Lebanon again broke into hostile 
conflict. But, by this time, Israel and the Christian militiamen of 
Lebanon had formed a symbiotic relationship. The Christians depended 
upon Israel for their arms supply and, in return, the Christians kept 
the Palestinians militarily off balance. The result of this relation- 
ship was that Israel had gained a certain degree of geographic security. 

This Israeli gain, of course, translated from the Syrian view point into 

geographic insecurity. Thus, Syrian troops entered the renewed 


Lebanese conflict supporting regular Lebanese troops and Palestinians 
against the Christians. The goal, as in the 1975-76 civil war, was to 
ensure the geographic integrity of their buffer. Thus, the Syrians 
were not seeking to advance an ideology or bolster a religion or 
government. Rather, they were prosecuting their own national security 
policy based on the geographic buffer of ae A 

At the date of this writing, Syria still has more than 20,000 
"peace keeping" troops in Lebanon while Syrian jets periodically 
clash over Lebanon with Israeli air forces. Syria is, thereby, 
fulfilling two basic strategic needs. First, by keeping herself 
militarily active against Israel, she fulfills her self-appointed role 
as leader of the Arab's war against Israel and exhibits no acquiescence = 
in her policy to regain the Golan Heights. Secondly, Syria continues 
to maintain, albeit weakly, the territorial integrity of boca 

Thus, it has been demonstrated that Syria's security policy 
has been and is principally based on geographical consideration, 
particularly the recovery of irredenta. Additionally, she strives to 

hold together the Arab countries of greater Syria to form a buffer 

system and an unofficial alliance against Israel. 


1. Historical and Geographical Setting 

Long in the backwater of Turkish and world geo-politics, the 
modern state of Iraq emerged from the defeated Ottoman Empire following 
World War I. The country, made of three Ottoman provinces, Basrah, 

Baghdad and Mosul, located primarily in ancient Mesopotamia, was an 


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Hase 202880 1-76 



artificial creation of European politics. Significantly, she was not 
a naturally evolved nation; she was rent with ethnic and religious 
schisms and her borders were established largely to satisfy the needs 
of external Es 

To understand the origins of Iraq's geographic and demographic 
situation and the resulting geo-security policy it is necessary to 
investigate, if only briefly, the geo-strategy of the competing world 
powers during the years leading up to the first world war and the sub- 
sequent Iraqi independence. 

In 1899 Germany obtained from the Ottoman Empire a concession 
to build a railroad from southwest Turkey to Baghdad; another concession 
was granted in 1902 to continue the railroad from Baghdad to Basrah on 
the Persian Gulf. The German goal in these concessions was, of course, 
to gain commercial and political influence in the Middle East Region. 105 

Great Britain looked upon Mesopotamia, Persia and Afghanistan 
as vital geographic links between the Mediterranean and her most prized 
colony, India. England felt that her influence had to be paramount in 
these areas in order to ensure the security of India. Additionally, 
Britain was concerned about the safety of her Persian oil interests. 
Thus, the rise of German influence, represented by the Berlin-Baghdad- 
Basrah railway, threatened Britain's paramountcy and, consequently, the 
well-being of her mercantile system. 

A third world power whose geo-strategy ran counter to the aspira- 
tion of both Germany and Great Britain was Russia. The Czars' long 

standing quest to expand southward to warm water was inconsistent with 

the commercial and security goals of the other two imperialistic powers. 


Russia was, however, exhausted from her war with the Japanese (1904- 
05) and was temporarily unable to compete with her rivals. Through 
diplomacy she was able to cut her losses by gaining a sphere of 
influence in northern Persia. The British permitted this Russian 
sphere of influence officially in the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 
1907, and by so doing, Britain greatly enhanced her own Middle Eastern 
position. As a quid pro quo the war-weakened Russians had no choice 
but to acknowledge British influence and special interests in the 
Persian Gulf ae! 

The net effect of the Anglo-Russian Agreement in the Iraqi 
area was that only Germany and Britain were left competing Pome nance: 
The British, exercising considerable political power with local leaders, 
were able to neutralize the German nee and, consequently, stall 
the Berlin-Baghdad-Basrah railroad construction. Thus, the battle 
lines for the first world war were beginning to emerge in Middle 
Eastern eS 

World War I facilitated the Arab independence or nationalistic 
movement. Represented by Husein ibn Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the Arabs 
agreed to support the Arab independence movement following the war. 
However, the allies, specifically the British and French, were less 
inclined to make good their promises after victory was achieved. Iraq 
and the other Arab countries were, in fact, liberated from the defeated 
Ottoman Empire, but Great Britain was unwilling to allow self-determination. 
Iraq was still an asset in the geographic security system of the British 
Empire, and influence in that Middle Eastern nation would not readily 

be surrendered by Great Min 


When the allied powers met in San Remo, Italy (28 April 1920) 
following the war, France and Great Britain were awarded Mandates over 
Arab territories of the fallen Ottoman Empire. Iraq and Palestine 
were placed under the British Mandate and Syria was mandated to France. 
However, there was some problem in establishing the borders between 
the two Mandates. Mosul and a large portion of the northern territory 
of present day Iraq were originally designated for French influence. 
The British saw this would-be French controlled territory as a buffer 
between themselves and the Bolshevik Russians. But, it soon became 
clear that Russia would be unable to achieve territorial dominance 
in the Middle East as she had hoped. In short, the British found 
that she would not have to share any frontiers with the powerless 
Russians and would, therefore, not need the French BECA 

Britain, seeing the Russians as helpless in her Middle Eastern 
sphere of activity, reasserted her influence in Mosul (British troops, 
to strengthen her bargaining position, occupied Mosul after the armi- 
stice was signed with Turkey on 30 October 1918.) The French, of course, 
resisted these British power politics, but acquiesced in return for 
promised security backing in Europe, British concessions in Syria and 
a share in Mosul oil wealth. Thus, the Ottoman territory was transferred 
to Great Britain instead of France and the northern border of Iraq was 

The nomadic desert tribes also presented border problems. It 
was impossible to determine a boundary with Saudi Arabia which would 
not hinder the seasonal movements of these tribes. Treaty arrangements 

were, therefore, made with the Saudis which allows the Muntafiq, Dhafir 


and Amarat tribesmen to enter Iraq. The same tribal problem existed 
on the Syrian frontier. The difficulties here were compounded by ques- 
tions of Tigris and Euphrates water rights. All negotiations, in this 
instance, were handled by the British and French High Commissioner for 
their respective Mandates. Not until 1932 did these negotiators reach 
a satisfactory aaa mone 

Perhaps the most difficult settlement for the British to achieve 
was over the Iraqi border with Turkey. Under Kemal Ataturk, Turkey, 
like Iraq, was also involved in nation-building and was reluctant to 
give up strategic territory to a conceivably hostile neighbor. Thus, 
Turkey greatly preferred southern borders which extended far enough 
south to allow easy access into the Mesopotamia plain. And, naturally, 
Iraq and the British wanted to deny such a strategic advantage to the 
Turks. The issue finally had to be resolved by the League of Nations 
which ruled in favor of the British. The ruling gave Iraq a significant 
geographic advantage but it also placed a large Kurdish minority in 
Iraq. The remaining border with Persia presented no legal problems 
so long as Britain exercised extensive influence on both sides of the 

The Mandate of Iraq awarded to the British under the San Remo 
Agreement provoked extensive protest in Iraq. Arab nationalism which 
began under Ottoman domination continued and perhaps intensified under 
the non-Muslim British. This dissatisfaction with foreign rule, by 
July 1920, had reached explosive levels. An anti-British revolt broke 
out in the south of Iraq and soon spread through one-third of the 



In an effort to defuse the revolt a provisional Arab government 
was then Eee. This government came into being in October of 1920 
and operated under the direction of the British High Commission for 
Iraq. Prince Faisal, the son of Husein ibu Ali and descendant of the 
Prophet was installed as monarch in order to lend legitimacy.  Faisal 
was approved in a referendum of the Iraqi elite by near unanimity and 
on August 23, 1921, was proclaimed ing. > 

The British government, however, was still not able to win 
approval for their own presence; in fact, the disapproval was growing 
even in Great Britain. Thus, as dictated by circumstances, the British, 
after many attempts to soften the Mandate relationship, supported Iraq's 
entry into the League of Nations and thereby granted full sovereignty 
and independence to Iraq. Britain was able to maintain the Iraqi 
link to her security system, despite Iraq's independence, through the 
Anglo-Iraqi Treaty which took effect on October 3, 1932, the day of 
independence. This alliance was designed to last for 25 years, guaran- 
teeing mutual assistance in time of war and "full and frank consultation 
Min all matters of foreign policy." The treaty, incidentally, was 
utilized by the British in 1941 to justify their reoccupation of Iraq 
during World War II. Again, Great Britain was protecting strategic 
interests in the Persian Gulf oil fields and the routes to India. At 
a time when it appeared very likely that the Arabs would cast their 
lot with the Germans the British took the only prudent strategic move 
and denied the geographically important Iraq to the en E 

Thus, it has been exhibited that Iraq was created largely as 

an instrument of European geo-security policies. Her international 


boundaries exist as a result of Great Britain's power and influence. 

But, in many respects, the best interests of Iraq and Britain were 

parallel. The Iraqi state that was carved out of the dying Ottoman 

Empire was and is geographically very fortunate. She has, perhaps, the 

greatest agriculture potential of any country in the Middle Eastern 

region and her oil reserves are among the world's richest. . . Additionally 

she haS easy access to the world's markets through the Persian Gulf. 

However, the artificial delineation of Iraq's international borders 

wrought significant internal and frontier security proble 
Demographically speaking, Iraq is in an unstable position. She 

is a mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, religious and regional differences - 

differences which, at times, have threatened the security of the nation. 

The population of approximately twelve and a half million is comprised 

of roughly 71% Arabs, over 18% Kurds, 2 1/2% Turkomans, .7% Assyrians 

and Bener. L7? The political control of the country is, of course, 

held by the Arabs. But, the authority of the central government has 

been repeatedly challenged by the above listed minority groups. Signi- 

ficant among the challenges are those mounted by the ee 

2. Demographic Security Problems (the Kurds) 

The insecurity caused by the autonomy seeking minority groups 
is one of two major national security problem areas which are rooted 
in Iraq's geography. The second is guaranteeing her opening to the 
Persian Gulf and the high seas. The policy and concern arising from 
Iraq's small, vulnerable opening to the Gulf at the mouth of Shatt al 

Arab has been the catalyst in long term disputes with the Iranians and 


Kuwaitis. The Kurdish, Shatt al Arab and Kuwaiti issues are all a 
result of Iraq's geographic situation. Additionally, these issues 
have dominated in recent years the security policy of Iraq. Thus, 
to further illustrate their significance and support of the thesis, 
the Kurdish problem and the Shatt al Arab and Kuwaiti issues will 
be examined in more Meee Oe 
As cited above, the main minority ethnic groups is that of the 
Kurds. Most of the Iraqi Kurds live in the north and north-east areas 
of the country. Small Kurdish groups also live in Syria and Soviet 
Russia, but the Iraqi Kurds are a part of approximately six million 
who extend into Turkey and Iran. Although Iraq has far fewer Kurds 
than either Turkey or Iran, the percentage of the total population is 
much greater in Iraq and, therefore, more politically UE E 
When the multinational Ottoman Empire was being dismembered 
following World War I the Wilsonian principle of self-determination 
stirred the national aspirations of the Kurds. Primarily as a result 
of their friendly relations with the British the Kurds were promised, 
under the Treaty of Sevre's, an autonomous and possibly independent 
Kurdistan. The designated territory for Kurdistan fell mainly in 
what is today eastern Turkey. But, the artificial line separating 
these Kurds in eastern Turkey or Kurdistan from the kinsmen in Iran, 
Iraq and Syria did not curb the nationalism on either side of the we 
The Kurdish national aspirations were manifested in a revolt or 
series of revolts. In Turkey the rebellion lingered for 12 years until 

crushed by the Turkish military in 1947. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Kurds 

were demanding autonomy from the British who were exercising Mandate 


authority over the country. But, Great Britain was not about to give 
away any strategic or economic oil influence in the area. The Kurd's 
recourse was rebellion which was intermittent and widespread in 1919, 
1927 and during the 1930-32 period. There was very little or no success 
to which the Kurds could rally. They had no outside sponsor to aid 
them against their relatively powerful British and Iraqi opponents. 
However, this situation changed when the Russians, with all their 
newly-acquired strength, occupied Azerbaijan during World War II. 
Moscow offered its protection and encouragement to various independence 
seeking groups in Iran. In January 1946 the Iranian Kurds under 
Russian guidance declared their independence as the Republic of Mahabad. 
Being contiguous to Mahabad the Kurdish movement in Iraq was naturally 
MEC cracea 1?? 

Mullah Mustafa al-Barzani, who led the Kurdish rebellion in 
Iraq from 1943-45, moved several thousand of his tribal revolutionaries 
into Mahabad to support the national effort. They were soon forced to 
flee into Russia. The absence of Barzani and his troops essentially 
killed the rebellion in Iraq from 1945 until OE 

Turkey, Iran and Iraq acted in concert to suppress the Kurds, 
and were consequently able to keep to a minimum any separatist acti- 
vity. This cooperation fell along the Iraqi monarchy, in 1958. Under 
the new Qassem government al-Barzani and his remaining 855 followers 
were allowed to return to Iraq on October 6, 1959. Qassem's warming 
to al-Barzani and the Kurds was indicative of growing Iraqi-Soviet 

friendship. As this friendship cooled so did the political fortunes 

of the Kurds. But, the Soviet relationship was not the absolute barometer; 


in fact, the nationalistic tendencies of the Kurds were simply too 
divergent from the goals of the Arab controlled central E 
The rebellion was rekindled when, in July of 1961, Kurdish 
demands of autonomy were rejected by the Qassem regime. The rebellion, 
backed extensively by Iran, lasted until May 1975. The Kurds lost the 
wherewithal to carry on their revolt when Iran and Iraq reached a 
detente. As a consequence of the Iran-Iraqi rapproachement, Iran 
stopped all military and financial aid to the Kurds. Thus, in a very 
short while, the rebellion ended and the Kurds were again suppressed 
by the cooperative efforts of Turkey, Iran and 1d 
Thus, the Kurds, by accident of arbitrary boundaries, became 
a nation without legally-recognized territory. Their quest for state- 
hood and autonomy is in direct opposition to the security goals of 
the central Iraqi government. The basic problem between the Arab 
and Kurd ethnic groups of Iraq is one of complete distrust. The 
Iraqis are convinced that the real goal of the Kurds is to create 
their own independent state in the oil-rich north-eastern region of 
the country. The Kurds, on the other hand, deny that they want to 
secede. They contend though that the central government wishes to 
deprive them of their rights, specifically their rightful share of the 
oil wealth. The officially-backed immigration of Arabs into the 
Kirkuk region seems to substantiate their fears. 
The Arabs, to support their suspicions, need only to point 
to a provocative interview given by al-Barzani, the Kurdish leader, to 

an American correspondent. In the interview Barzani said that for 

humanitarian or military help the Kurds would take the Kirkuk oil 


fields and turn them over to the Americans to operate. Because the 
Kurds are ethnically different and they are so regionalized they present 
a demographic and geographic security problem to Iraq. Kurdish mili- 
tancy can only be effective with outside help; they have therefore 

been used as an instrument of Iranian and Soviet policy to exert 
influence or power on Iraq. Concisely, the Kurdish quest for auto- 
nomy has been a source of conflict, political instability and a serious 
drain on the country's resources. The Kurdish issue is a major national 
security problem in Iraq. The Kurds and their goals are a constant 

in the politics of this volatile region. It seems to be only a ques- 
fion of time before this minority ethnic group again threatens Iraqi 

N 188 

3. The Shatt al Arab Dispute 

The Shatt al Arab issue is a boundary dispute between Iraq 
and Iran. The origins of this dispute go back to the Ottoman Empire 
which controlled both sides of the Tigris and Euphrates estuary known 
as the Shatt al Arab. When Iraq became independent in 1932 she also 
claimed, as a legacy of the fallen empire, both sides of the river. 
Iran, however, has long claimed that the proper border demarcation should 
run through the center of the estuary. As the oil shipping increased 
from the ports of Basrah, Abadan and Khorramshahr the issue became 
more heated. With the international boundary on the Iranian side of 
the river all trade, even that exclusively in Iranian ports, came 
under the control of en Iran, whose economic well-being depended 
so greatly on oil revenues, looked upon her position on the Shatt al 

Arab as unacceptable. Consequently, she unilaterally declared her 



border with Iraq to be the middle of the river. After many incidents 
and accusations, a compromise was reached on the boundary issue in 
1937. A treaty between the contending kingdoms was signed confirming 
Iraq's sovereignty over the 100-mile stretch of the estuary which 
divides the two countries. Iraq also retained exclusive navigational 
rights up to the low water mark on the Iranian side. Iran, however, 
did win a boundary line adjustment in front of her key ports of Abadan, 
Khorramshahr, and Khosrowabad where the line was moved to the "thalweg" 
(line of greatest depth or fastest current in the oa 

The 1937 Shatt al Arab treaty also had provisions confirming 
navigation rights to ships of all nations. Iran and Iraq also agreed 
to establish a convention regarding pilotage and installation and main- 
tenance of navigational aids. The convention was to be worked out by 
a commission with equal Iranian and Iraqi representation. Agreement, 
however, broke down when Iran insisted that the commission should have 
the executive powers to establish the convention. Iraq, having sove- 
reignty over most of the waters of the Shatt al Arab, thought that the 
commission should have only consultative rights. Because of this 
seemingly insignificant disagreement, no convention was ever reached 
and the validity of the treaty remained in doses ^d 

The Hashimite dynasty in Iraq and the Pahlavi dynasty of Iran 
maintained friendly relations until 1958, when the Hashimites fell in 
a coup. During this time there was very little dispute over the 
Shatt al Arab boundary. But, as trade and associated seaborne traffic 

. . ° T 
increased and oil revenues became more and more crucial to Iraq sS 

economic well-being, the value of her sovereign rights over the Shatt 


al Arab, the only access of the otherwise land-locked nation to the 
open sea, became strategic in meter ones = 
After the Qassem coup in 1958 Baghdad's relations with Iran 
began to fray; in December of 1959, the Iraqi government questioned 
the validity of the 1937 boundary treaty and demanded that the terri- 
tory concessions granted to Iran in that treaty (that part of the Shatt 
al Arab roadstead opposite Iran's three major ports) be returned to 
Iraqi sovereignty. These political actions by Iraq initiated a series 
of minor border skirmishes leading to an Iranian invalidation of the 
1937 agreement and a counterclaim of Iranian sovereignty to the thalweg. 
Mounting tensions on the border eventually led to complete stoppage 
of Iranian shipping on the Shatt al-Arab in early ol 
From 1961 until 1969 relations between Iran and Iraq remained, 
for the most part, strained. Two notable exceptions occurred during 
the regimes of Abdul Salom Aref (November 1963-April 1966) and after 
the July 1968 coup of President Bakr when the contested boundary was at 
least negotiated. But by April of 1969, Iran's military superiority 
was sufficient enough to assert her claims on the Shatt al-Arab. She 
dispatched a cargo ship with naval and air protection through the estuary 
to the Persian Gulf. For the next six years there was no movement 
toward a permanent settlement. Iran, in fact, kept the Iraqis militarily 
off balance by supporting the Barzani-led Kurdish rebellion. Iraq's 
internal security and her Persian Gulf access were threatened as a 
direct result of this long standing boundary dispute. 

Quite unexpectedly, Iran and Iraq reconciled their differences 

when in March of 1975, the Shah or Iran and Iraq's Vice President 


Takriti reached an agreement. The reconciliation cost the Kurds their 

Iranian support and Iraq, consequently, enhanced her security poet” 

4. The Kuwaiti Dispute 

The Shatt al-Arab issue demonstrated Iraq's geographic vulnera- 
bility - her access to the open seas could hardly be more fragile. This 
insecurity brought about by her limited access to the sealanes perhaps 
explains, at least in part, the Kuwaiti issue. In June of 1961, the 
sheikdom of Kuwait and Britain signed an instrument terminating the 
1899 Anglo-Kuwait agreement that had given the British hegemony over 
that small state. Six days later, on June 25, 1961, Prime Minister 
Qassem of Iraq claimed sovereignty over oil-rich Kuwait. The claim was 
justified on the grounds that Kuwait was once a part of the province of 
Basra in the now defunct Ottoman Empire. Qassem further stated that 
the British recognized the Kuwaiti attachment to Basra in the 1899 
treaty. Kuwait, Great Britain and the League of Arab States all 
rejected Iraq's claim, and a number of Arab states, in fact, sent 
military contingents to Kuwait to replace British AR 

The central point in recounting the Iraq-Kuwait issue is to 
show policy and motives in defending their respective interests which 
are so largely dependent on geography. Qassem's motives in trying to 
gain control over Kuwait were, of course, in part economic - the oil 
reserves of Kuwait were and are substantial. But, very important 
strategically to Iraq was that sovereignty over Kuwait would broaden 
her opening to the Persian Gulf - again the policy grew out of geography. 

Again, in pursuit of the same geographic goals, Iraq on December 

11, 1972, sent a road-building crew with military protection into Kuwaiti 


territory and began building a road to the Persian Gulf. This time the 
aggressive act was justified, according to Iraq, because of the mili- 
tary threat from Iran. Again, political pressures from other Arab 
leaders forced Iraq to withdraw. But Iraq, persistent and undisturbed 
by the growing resentment among her fellow Arabs, moved forces into 
Kuwait only three months after the road-building incident. This time, 
a violent confrontation resulted in two dead and four injured Kuwaiti 
border policemen. But, Iraq apparently won Kuwaiti acquiescence to use 
her neighbor's territory for strategic purposes. Iraqi goals evidently 
were to acquire a strip of Kuwait's coastal territory and the islands 
of Warba and Bubiyan. Such an acquisition would have provided protec- 
tion for Iraq's new deep-sea port of Um Qasi. Kuwait was supposedly 
willing to lease this territory to Iraq as long as Iraq recognized 
Kuwaiti sovereignty over the leased r 

Today, there is still no permanent solution between Iraq and 
Kuwait. But, with the Islamic revolution weakening the military strength 
of Iran, Iraq's threat perception has undoubtedly lessened. President 
Saddam Hussein of Iraq has, in fact, been supporting the Arab rebellion 
in the Iranian state of Khuzestan and is believed to be supporting 
Iranian Kurds. Also, Iraq has warned that she intended to withdraw from 
the 1975 peace agreement with Iran. In short, Iraq's sea~borne trade 
is today possibly more secure than at any time since her en 

To recount, Iraq in 1932 joined the family of nations with two 

major security debits - the would-be Kurdish state within Iraq and her 

small vulnerable access to the Persian Gulf through the Shatt al-Arab. 


Ever since that date, the national security policies and actions of 
Iraq have been directed principally at overcoming these two geo- 

graphically oriented threat areas mentioned above. 



This study was undertaken to examine the thesis that nation- 
states or countries, particularly Middle Eastern countries, have secu- 
rity policy tenets which are dictated by geographical considerations. 
Before progressing into the research it seemed intuitively pleasing 
to allow that security policy had to be affected, if only tangentially, 
by geographic characteristics. Policy designers must, after all, seek 
to protect the geographical entity which constitutes the state. At 
closer inspection, however, not erie ES the thesis substantiated but 
geography was found to be at the very heart of much of the Middle East's 
security problems and policies. 

The research revealed that Saudi Arabia has two geographic features 
ch makes her vulnerable to aggression: Her oil fields and her 
communication routes to the high seas. The Saudi geo-security policy 
is designed, above all else, to safeguard these areas, and all other 
security policy of Saudi Arabia seems to be rooted to this basic tenet. 

Egypt's security policy makers, it was discovered, must be ever 
mindful of her critical areas, the Nile River and its delta and the 
Suez Canal. The Nile Valley and delta allows Egypt to exist as a 
nation in the middle of an otherwise uninhabitable desert. And the 
Suez Canal is a geographic asset which contributes greatly to the. 
economic well-being of the country. The security policies of Egypt 
are to a great degree bound to this geographic situation. Additionally, 

the geo-security policies of various external powers were shown to extend 


to Egypt and the Suez Canal. Egypt is strategically important to 
world politics simply because of her position. 

Israel, it was found, is an ideal example of geography determining 
security policy. Her very existence or survival as a nation depends 
upon the maintenance of secure borders and free trade/communications 
routes. She has fought a series of wars with her Arab neighbors with 
the objective of protecting her very limited geographic assets. 

In the case of Syria and Iraq, certain strategically important 
geographic positions were shown to dictate much of their international 
and domestic politics. These two countries, in particular, have 
policies which are determined by demography. Syria and Iraq are a 
group of old nations occupying new states. Maintaining a legitimate 
central government in the midst of competing nations has been central 
in the security policies of these countries. 

In short, this study revealed ample evidence that geographic 
considerations permeate security policies in the Middle Eastern region. 
The importance of these considerations have not been diminished by 
modern technology or communication. They have perhaps become, in 

instances, more subtle but not less crucial. 



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en 650-652. 

101 bid. 

ie History of Israel, p. 350. 

Ta her, The Middle East, p. 652. 


History of Israel, p. 429. 


Moshe Dayan, "Israel's Border and Security Problems," 

Affairs, vol. 33, no. 2, (January 1955), p. 250. 

Sacher, History of Israel, pp. 429-430. 

bla... pp. 430-432, 
mum uri, Dilemma, pp. 183-205. 
mer, Wae Middle East, p. 665. 
o uri: Dilemma, p. 210. 
WP? A 

Fisher, The Middle East, pp. 667-668. 
curi. Dilemma, pp. 212-219. 
m bid., pe 229. 
DAA... pp. 242-244, 

Edgar O'Ballance, The Third Arab-Israeli War, (Hamden: 
Books, 1972), pp. 23-35. 

Bic See also Fisher, The Middle East, p. 671. 

e OBS lance, The Third War, pp. 23-28. 

TC Dilemma, p. 259. 



Ao aurin, Foreign Policy, pp. 214-215. 

x History of Israel, p. 6073. 

KI Mek arin, Foreign Policy, p. 215. 


Brecher, Foreign Policy System, pp. 65-66. See also Sacher, 



Joseph Churba, The Politics of Defeat: America's Decline in the 
Middle East, (New York:  Cyrco Press Inc., 1977), pp. 104-105. 

Breecher, Foreign Policy System, p. 67-68. 

U.S. Congress House Committee on Foreign Affairs, The Impact of 
the October Middle East War, (Washington, D.C.: GBO, 1979) pp: 5-2 

Eu, History of Israel, p. 766. 

Rael Isaac, Israel Divided: Ideological Polities in the Jewish 
State. (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1976). 

Eid., pp. 73-102. 
bid, pp. 45-72. 

Col. Merrill A. McPeak, "Israel: Borders and Security," Foreign 
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13/«mo Wants What," Newsweek, 11 September 1979, p. 39. 


m epeak, "Borders", p. 434. 

BL rca Y. Ismael, The Middle East in World Politics, (Syracuse: 
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COTES Petau, Syria, (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972), 
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Richard F. Nyrop, et al. Area Handbook for Syria, (Washington: 
HEOSSU971), pp. 7-13. 

I perran. Sala. pp. 231-56. 
luu The Syrian Arab Republic, pp. 19-21. 

Nyrop, Area Handbook, pp. 40-42. 

MES dney Nettleton Fisher, The Middle East: A History, 2nd ed. 
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969), p. 414. 

ME orco Lenczowski, The Middle East in World Affairs, 3rd ed. 
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A. al-Marayati, The Middle East: Its Governments and Politics, (Belmont: 
Duxbury Press, 1972), p. 396. 


148 ; 
Robert C. Kingsbury and Norman J. G. Pounds, An Atlas of Middle 

Eastern Affairs, (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963) mp. 60: 

1,45 M 
Sinai, The Syrian Arab Republic, pp. 130-31. 

BA bid., p. 147. 


n7 ; 
R. D. McLaurin, Mohammed Mughisuddin and Abraham R. Wagner, 

Hereign Policy Making in the Middle East: Domestic Influences on 

Policy in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, and Syria, (New York: Praeger Pub- 
lishers, 1977), pp. 242-244, 

153 ; ; ; 
Dennis Mullin, "Syria's Assad: Running Out of Friends," 

U.S. News and World Report, 27, August 1979, pp. 39-40. 

eL aurin, Foreign Policy, p. 254. 

Sinai, The Syrian Arab Republic, p. 148. 


lk kang sbury, Atlas, p. 66. 

scr The Syrian Arab Republic, pp. 40-41. 

EUER, Foreign Policy, p. 260. See also Sinai, The Syrian 

Arab Republic, pp. 40-41. 

E: crim Foreign Policy, p. 260. 

Eason Morris, "Three-Layer Buffer Keeps Israelis, Syrians 
Apart," Christian Science Monitor Service, as printed in the Monterey 
Peninsula Herald, 16 September 1979, p. c-5. 

TE. Worst Week," Newsweek, 16 October 1978, pp. 46-47. 
See also Morris, 'Three Layer Buffer." 

E "Syria's Assad." 

O4 Abid A. Al-Marayati, et al., The Middle East: Its Governments 

and Politics (Belmont: Duxbury Press, 1972), p. 169. 

en H. Smith, et al., Area Handbook for Iraq (Washington: 
CAPO 1071), pp. 35-36. 

En Tilton Penrose and Ernest F. Penrose, Iraq: International 

Relations and National Development (Boulder: Westview Press, 1978), 
pp: 12-17, 


nen. Area Handbook, pp. 35-36. 


WA enrose, o >32, 

M sa, 

I mia. 



E conn, Area Handbook, pp. 37-38. 

WA Tai. 

Wina. pp. 39-43. 

Wk cor Beaumont, Gerald H. Blake, and J. Malcolm Wagstaff, The 

Middle East: A Geographical Study (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 
iyo, p. 321. 

neral Intelligence Agency, National Basic Factbook (Washington: 

END. 1978), p. 97. 

Er act. The Middle East, pp. 176-177. 

Lot D. McLaurin, Mohammed Mughisuddin and Abraham R. Wagner, 

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in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, and Syria (New York: Praeger Publisher, 
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er The Middle East, p. 176. 

E eiclaurin, Foreign Policy, p. 150. 

Ibid., p. 131. 

ea, The Middle East, p. 176. 

185 pid. 

E laurin, Foreign Policy, p. 139. 

18/ Peter Mansfield, The Arab World: A Comprehensive History (New 
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188 id. 


darles A. Fisher, ed., Essays in Political Geography (London: 
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190 vid. 

ander Melamid, "The Shatt al-Arab Boundary Dispute," The 

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McLaurin, Foreign Policy, p. 142. 
emita, Area Handbook, p. 213. 
194 : : 

McLaurin, Foreign Policy, pp. 142-143. 
195 : 

Mansfield, The Arab World, p. 430. 

Penrose, Iraq, pp. 274-276. 

McLaurin, Foreign Policy, pp. 144-145. 

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Defense Documentation Center 
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Library, Code 0142 
Naval Postgraduate School 
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Department Chairman, Code 56 

Department of National Security Affairs 
Naval Postgraduate School 

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Prof. Claude A. Buss 

Code 56Bx 

Department of National Security Affairs 
Naval Postgraduate School 

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LCDR Thornton W. Wilt, USN 
VQ-3, Box 65 
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Exor. Boyd Huff 

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Monterey, California 93940 

Prof. Kamil Said 

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| | — 

a 2 HOY 88 | 
| | Thesis | 90/29 

| W64433 Wilt 

| c.2 Geographic deter- 

If minants of security 
policies in the ‘Middle 


| East. 

|| - =o hel Sas ME, 

| 5 MAR G2 280382; 
3 MarR 82 28109 
16 MAY 84 296537 
2 Wo 68 32732