The Arab Cold War (Arabic: الحرب العربية الباردة al-Harb al-`Arabbiyah al-bārdah) was a series of conflicts in the Arab world that occurred as part of the broader Cold War between, roughly, the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 that brought President Gamal Abdel Nasser to power there, and the period after his death in 1970.
On one side were newly-established republics, led by Nasser's Egypt, and on the other side were traditionalist monarchies led by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Nasser espoused secular, pan-Arab nationalism and socialism as a modern, anti-imperialist response to the Islamism and rentierism of the monarchies, as well as their perceived complicity in Western meddling in the region. He also established himself as the foremost defender of Arab and Palestinian honor against the humiliation brought on by the creation of Israel. Gradually, so-called Nasserism gained the support of other Arab presidents as they replaced monarchies in their countries, notably in Syria, Iraq, Libya, North Yemen, and Sudan. A number of attempts to unite these states in various configurations were made, but all ultimately failed.
In turn, the monarchies, namely Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, and the Gulf states, drew closer together as they sought to counter Nasser's influence through a variety of direct and indirect means.
The expression "Arab Cold War" was coined by American political scientist and Middle East scholar Malcolm H. Kerr, in his 1965 book of that title, and subsequent editions. Despite the moniker, though, the Arab Cold War was not per se a clash between capitalist and communist economic systems. What tied it into the wider conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was that the U.S. backed the Saudi-led monarchies, while the Soviets supported the Nasserist republics, even though in theory almost all of the Arab states were part of the Non-Aligned Movement, and the nominally-socialist republics ruthlessly suppressed their own communist parties.
By the 1970s, with Nasser dead, the Soviet Union unable to keep up with the U.S. in supporting its Arab allies, the continued failure to defeat Israel, and the rise of Iran as a regional power hostile to many Arab interests, the Arab Cold War is considered to have ended.
|Arab Cold War|
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Over the period, the history of the Arab states varies widely. In 1956, the year of the Suez Crisis, only Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Sudan, among the Arab states were republics; all, to some degree, subscribed to the Arab nationalist ideology, or at least paid lip-service to it. Jordan and Iraq were both Hashemite monarchies; Morocco, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and North Yemen all had independent dynasties; and Algeria, South Yemen, Oman, and the Trucial States remained under colonial rule. By 1960, Iraq, Tunisia, Algeria, and North Yemen had republican governments or Arab nationalist insurgencies while Lebanon had a near-civil war between US-aligned and Arab nationalist factions within the government.
Because conflicts in the period varied over time and with different locations and perspectives, it is dated differently, depending on sources. Jordanian sources, for example, date the commencement of the Arab Cold War to April 1957, while Palestinian sources note the period of 1962 to 1967 as being most significant to them but within the larger Arab context.
In 1952 King Farouk of Egypt was deposed by the Free Officers Movement under a program to dismantle feudalism and end British influence in Egypt. In 1953 the officers, led by Nasser, abolished the monarchy and declared Egypt a Republic. On 26 July 1956, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, following the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam, which was in response to Egypt's new ties with the Soviet Union. Britain, France, and Israel responded by occupying the Canal but were forced to back off in what is known as the Suez Crisis. Nasser "emerged" from the crisis with great prestige, as the "unchallenged leader of Arab nationalism".
Nasser employed a number of political instruments in order to raise his profile across the Arab world – from radio programs such as the Voice of the Arabs to the organised dispatch of politically-active Egyptian professionals, usually teachers.
In July 1958, the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq was overthrown, with the king, crown prince and prime minister all killed by the nationalist revolutionaries. Iraq's monarchy was also replaced by a republic with an Arab nationalist orientation. Forces supporting Nasser and nationalism seemed ascendant, and older Arab monarchies seemed in peril. In 1969, yet another Arab kingdom fell, when the Free Officers Movement of Libya, a group of rebel military officers led by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, overthrew the Kingdom of Libya led by King Idris.
In Saudi Arabia, Nasser's popularity was such that some Saudi princes (led by Prince Tala bin Abdul Aziz) rallied to his cause of Arab socialism. In 1962, a Saudi Air Force pilot defected to Cairo. There were signs of "unrest and subversion" in 1965 and 1966, "especially" in Saudi's oil-producing region. In 1969, a Nasserist plot was uncovered by the Saudi government "involving 28 army officer, 34 air force officers, nine other military personnel, and 27 civilians."
In the early 1960s, Nasser sent an expeditionary army to Yemen to support the anti-monarchist forces in the North Yemen Civil War. Yemen royalists were supported by Saudi Arabia and Jordan (both monarchies). Egyptian air power struck Saudi border towns like Najran in December 1962.
By the late 1960s, Nasser's prestige was diminished by the political failure of the political union of Egypt and Syria, and the military failures in Yemen where the civil war stalemated despite his commitment of thousands of troops to overthrow the monarchists, and especially with Israel where Egypt lost the Sinai Peninsula and 10,000 to 15,000 troops killed during the Six-Day War. In late 1967, Nasser and Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal signed a treaty under which Nasser would pull out his 20,000 troops from Yemen, Faisal would stop sending arms to Yemen royalists, and three neutral Arab states would send in observers.
Though far smaller in population than Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had oil wealth and prestige as the land of Mecca and Medina, the two holy cities of Islam. To use Islam as a counterweight to Nasser's Arab socialism, Saudi Arabia sponsored an international Islamic conference in Mecca in 1962. It created the Muslim World League, dedicated to spreading Islam and fostering Islamic solidarity. The League was "extremely effective" in promoting Islam, particularly conservative Wahhabi Islam, and also served to combat "radical alien ideologies" (such as Arab socialism) in the Muslim world.
Particularly after the Six Day War, Islamic revival strengthened throughout the Arab World. After Nasser's death in 1970, his successor, Anwar Sadat, emphasized religion and economic liberalization rather than Arab nationalism and socialism. In Egypt's "shattering" 1967 defeat, "Land, Sea and Air" had been the military slogan. In the perceived victory of the 1973 war, it was replaced with the pious battle cry of Allahu Akbar. While some argue Israel's counterattack belied claims of Arab victory, the Saudi-led oil embargo was a major success.
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been suppressed by the Egyptian government and aided by Saudi Arabia, was allowed to publish a monthly magazine, and its political prisoners were gradually released. At universities, Islamists took control and drove (anti-Sadat) student leftist and Pan-Arabist organizations underground. By the late 1970s, Sadat called himself 'The Believer President'. He banned most sales of alcohol and ordered Egypt's state-run television to interrupt programs with salat (call to prayer) on the screen five times a day and to increase religious programming.
Even before he became king, Faisal turned to Islam as a counterweight to Nasser's Arab socialism. The struggle between the two leaders became an Arab cold war, pitting the new Arab republics against the older Arab kingdoms.
The 17 July Revolution was a bloodless coup in Iraq in 1968, led by General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, which brought the Iraqi Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party to power. Both Saddam Hussein, later President of Iraq, and Salah Omar al-Ali, later a Ba'athist dissident, were major participants in the coup. The Ba'ath Party ruled from the 17 July Revolution until 2003, when it was removed from power by an invasion led by U.S. and British forces. (The 17 July Revolution is not to be confused with the 14 July Revolution, a coup on 14 July 1958, when King Faisal II was overthrown, ending the Hashemite dynasty in Iraq and establishing the Republic of Iraq.)
While the exact circumstances leading up to the coup are shrouded in mystery, it appears that the non-Ba'athists Abd ar-Razzaq an-Naif and Ibrahim Al-Daoud—who were, respectively, in charge of President Abdul Rahman Arif's military intelligence and personal security—initiated the plot, and that Ba'athist conspirators including al-Bakr, Hardan al-Tikriti, and Salih Mahdi Ammash were only asked to participate in order to establish a broader coalition of support for a new government. Many of the plotters were reportedly "fond of President 'Arif"; however, the coup was motivated by rumors that Arif's Nasserist (and former Ba'athist) Prime Minister, Tahir Yahya, who was increasingly dominating Arif's "weak" government due to the political climate engendered by the costly Arab defeat in the Six-Day War, planned to formally usurp all power for himself. After his ouster, Arif was sent on a plane to the United Kingdom, and even Yahya was not executed, because "the new group ... didn't want world opinion to say theirs was just another Iraqi blood bath." However, on 30 July al-Bakr arranged for the exile of both an-Naif and Al-Daoud, and assumed the position of Prime Minister from an-Naif, solidifying the Ba'ath's control over Iraq for the next thirty-five years—as al-Bakr's deputy, Saddam Hussein, "succeeded in consolidating a formidable political regime ... where so many others had failed," including co-opting Yahya's intention to nationalize the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) with the help of the Soviet Union.1954 Syrian coup d'état
The 1954 Syrian coup d'état took place in February of that year to overthrow the government of Adib Shishakli. Leading the anti-Shishakli movement were former President Atassi and the veteran Druze leader Sultan al-Atrash.1959 Mosul uprising
The 1959 Mosul Uprising was an attempted coup by Arab nationalists in Mosul who wished to depose the then Iraqi Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim, and install an Arab nationalist government which would then join the Republic of Iraq with the United Arab Republic. Following the failure of the coup, law and order broke down in Mosul, which witnessed several days of violent street battles between various groups attempting to use the chaos to settle political and personal scores.1969 Libyan coup d'état
The 1969 Libyan coup d'état, also known as the al-Fateh Revolution or the 1 September Revolution, was a military coup d'état in Libya carried out by the Free Officers Movement, a group of military officers led by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, which led to the overthrow of King Idris I.ASEAN Declaration
The ASEAN Declaration or Bangkok Declaration is the founding document of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was signed in Bangkok on 8 August 1967 by the five ASEAN founding members, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as a display of solidarity against communist expansion in Vietnam and communist insurgency within their own borders. It states the basic principles of ASEAN: co-operation, amity, and non-interference. The date is now celebrated as ASEAN Day.Al-Wadiah War
The al-Wadiah War was a military conflict which broke out on 27 November 1969 between Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of South Yemen after PRSY forces seized the town of al-Wadiah on the PRSY-Saudi Arabian border. The conflict ended on 6 December when Saudi forces retook al-Wadiah.Asian Relations Conference
The Asian Relations Conference took place in New Delhi in March-April 1947. It was hosted by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who then headed a provisional government that was preparing for India's Independence, which came on 15 August 1947. The Asian Relations Conference brought together many leaders of the independence movements in Asia, and represented a first attempt to assert Asian unity. The objectives of the conference were "to bring together the leading men and women of Asia on a common platform to study the problems of common concern to the people of the continent, to focus attention on social, economic and cultural problems of the different countries of Asia, and to foster mutual contact and understanding."
In his writings and speeches, Nehru had laid great emphasis on the manner in which post-colonial India would rebuild its Asia connections. At this conference Nehru declared: "... Asia is again finding herself ... one of the notable consequences of the European domination of Asia has been the isolation of the countries of Asia from one another. ... Today this isolation is breaking down because of many reasons, political and otherwise ... This Conference is significant as an expression of that deeper urge of the mind and spirit of Asia which has persisted ... In this Conference and in this work there are no leaders and no followers. All countries of Asia have to meet together in a common task ..."Corrective Movement (Syria)
The Corrective Movement (Arabic: الحركة التصحيحية al-Ḥaraka at-Taṣ'ḥīḥiya), also referred to as the Corrective Revolution or Glorious Corrective Movement, was a political movement in Syria, initiated by a coup d'état, led by General Hafez al-Assad on 13 November 1970. Al-Assad's program of reform, considered revolutionary in Syria, aimed to sustain and improve the "nationalist socialist line" of the state and the Ba'ath party. Al-Assad would rule Syria until his death in 2000, after which he was succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad.Egypt–Iraq relations
Egypt–Iraq relations are foreign relations between Egypt and Iraq. Iraq's relations with the Arab world have been extremely varied. The relationship between Iraq and Egypt soured in 1977, when the two nations broke relations with each other following Egypt's peace accords with Israel. In 1978, Baghdad hosted an Arab League summit that condemned and ostracized Egypt for accepting the Camp David accords. However, Egypt's strong material and diplomatic support for Iraq in the war with Iran led to warmer relations and numerous contacts between senior officials, despite the continued absence of ambassadorial-level representation. Since 1983, Iraq has repeatedly called for restoration of Egypt's “natural role” among Arab countries. In January 1984, Iraq successfully led Arab efforts within the OIC to restore Egypt's membership. However, Egypt–Iraq relations were broken in 1990 after Egypt joined the UN coalition that forced Iraq out of Kuwait. Relations have steadily improved in recent years, and Egypt is now one of Iraq's main trade partners (formerly under the Oil-for-Food Programme).Glasnost
In the Russian language the word Glasnost (; Russian: гла́сность, IPA: [ˈɡɫasnəsʲtʲ] (listen)) has several general and specific meanings. It has been used in Russian to mean "openness and transparency" since at least the end of the eighteenth century.In the Russian Empire of the late-19th century, the term was particularly associated with reforms of the judicial system, ensuring that the press and the public could attend court hearings and that the sentence was read out in public. In the mid-1980s, it was popularised by Mikhail Gorbachev as a political slogan for increased government transparency in the Soviet Union.Guerrilla war in the Baltic states
The Guerrilla war in the Baltic states or the Forest Brothers resistance movement was the armed struggle against Soviet rule that spanned from 1940 to the mid-1950s. After the occupation of the Baltic territories by the Soviets in 1944, an insurgency started. According to some estimates, 10,000 partisans in Estonia, 10,000 partisans in Latvia and 30,000 partisans in Lithuania and many more supporters were involved. This war continued as an organised struggle until 1956 when the superiority of the Soviet military caused the native population to adopt other forms of resistance. While estimates related to the extent of partisan movement vary, but there seems to be a consensus among researchers that by international standards, the Baltic guerrilla movements were extensive. Proportionally, the partisan movement in the post-war Baltic states was of a similar size as the Viet Cong movement in South Vietnam.Jamaican political conflict
The Jamaican political conflict is a long standing feud between right-wing and left-wing elements in the country, often exploding into violence. The Jamaican Labor Party and the People's National Party have fought for control of the island for years and the rivalry has encouraged urban warfare in Kingston. Each side believes the other to be controlled by foreign elements, the JLP is said to be backed by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the PNP is said to been backed by the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro.Johnson Doctrine
The Johnson Doctrine, enunciated by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson after the United States' intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, declared that domestic revolution in the Western Hemisphere would no longer be a local matter when "the object is the establishment of a Communist dictatorship". It is an extension of the Eisenhower and Kennedy Doctrines.Malcolm H. Kerr
Malcolm Hooper Kerr (October 8, 1931 – January 18, 1984) was a university professor specializing in the Middle East and the Arab world. An American citizen, he was born, raised, and died in Beirut, Lebanon. He served as president of the American University of Beirut until he was killed by gunmen in 1984.Middle Eastern Cold War
Middle Eastern Cold War may refer to:
The 1952–1991 Arab Cold War, new republics led by Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and traditionalist kingdoms, led by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia
The 21st century Qatar–Saudi Arabia diplomatic conflict, between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, sometimes called the Second Arab Cold War
The 21st century Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict, sometimes called the Iran–Saudi Arabia Cold War, the Middle East Cold War or the Second Arab Cold War, even though Iran is not an Arab country
The 21st century Iran–Israel proxy conflict, sometimes called the Iran–Israel Cold WarMutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen
The Mutawakkilite Kingdom (Arabic: المملكة المتوكلية al-Mamlakah al-Mutawakkilīyah), also known as the Kingdom of Yemen or, retrospectively, as North Yemen, was a state that existed between 1918 and 1962 in the northern part of what is now Yemen. Its capital was Sana'a until 1948, then Taiz. From 1962 to 1970, it maintained control over portions of Yemen (frequently most) until finally defeated in the North Yemen Civil War. Yemen was admitted to the United Nations on 30 September 1947.NDF Rebellion
The NDF Rebellion was an uprising in the Yemen Arab Republic by the National Democratic Front, under Yahya Shami, between 1978 and 1982.Ulbricht Doctrine
The Ulbricht Doctrine, named after East German leader Walter Ulbricht, was the assertion that normal diplomatic relations between East Germany and West Germany could occur only if both states fully recognised each other's sovereignty. That contrasted with the Hallstein Doctrine, a West German policy which insisted that West Germany was the only legitimate German state.
East Germany gained acceptance of its view from fellow Communist states, such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria, which all agreed not to normalise relations with West Germany until it recognised East German sovereignty.
West Germany eventually abandoned its Hallstein Doctrine, instead adopting the policies of Ostpolitik. In December 1972, a Basic Treaty between East and West Germany was signed that reaffirmed two German states as separate entities. The treaty also allowed the exchange of diplomatic missions and the entry of both German states to the United Nations as full members.Western Bloc
The Western Bloc during the Cold War refers to capitalist countries under the hegemony of the United States and NATO against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The latter were referred to as the Eastern Bloc. The governments and press of the Western Bloc were more inclined to refer to themselves as the "Free World" or the "Western world", whereas the Eastern Bloc was often called the "Communist world or Second world".
Arab Cold War
After the death of Nasser
This list includes post-WWI conflicts (after 1918) of at least 100 fatalities each
Prolonged conflicts are listed in the decade when initiated; ongoing conflicts are marked italic and conflict with +100,000 killed with bold.