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American Foreign Policy and Pan-Arabism from 1950 to 1961

The way leading to Arab-Israeli tension was very complicated. It was the outcome of the’ old ’empires’ decline and the promotion of others. Trying to rephrase the idea of Bruce Robelett Konilholm in his work “The origins of the Cold War in the Near East”, I could say that the struggle for power in the Arab World as an important forefront in the region, was a contributing factor to the development of the Cold War, since the region’s components are bound to each other by physical and abstract realities. I argue that the spiral of conflicting policies between the great powers towards countries of the Northern Tier (1) and Baghdad Pacts (2), as well to others such as Egypt, contributed to the formation of fundamentally confrontational rapport between the United States and the Soviet Union, a rapport outlined in the terms “Cold War”.

Examining it from the post-war great powers’ point of views, Bruce Kunilholm further shows that this very rapport put an end to the historical rivalries between Britain and Russia over the region and opened the way to new kind of conflicts, their actors are an ideological foundation called the Soviet Union versus the insatiable United States.

While continuing this line of thought my area of concern will narrow down to US-Egypt’s relation up to 1961, the date marking the end of the United Arab Republic (UAR). I will try to answer a central question: How far was the American foreign policy objective in dealing with Cairo’s file from the early 1950s to 1961? I will try to highlight Eisenhower Doctrine forged

1. Northern Tier: British made alliance gathering Greece. Turkey and Iran. Its main objective was containing the Soviet expansion over the Middle East.
2. Baghdad Pact: It is also called the Central Treaty Organisation or Middle East Treaty Organisation. It was made up of Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran. It was also an anti-Soviet alliance.

especially for “the Middle East”. Bearing in mind Arab cause, I will try to answer if the US was a friend, an enemy or neutral power to Arabs.

Since unlike conventional wars, the Cold War has no definite beginning. Important to my cause, I will briefly shed the light on the period covering WWII and its aftermath. My immediate need before answering my central questions is a working definition for both phrases “Cold War” and “Pan-Arabism”.

Yezid Sayigh and Avi Shlaim generate three principle features to the understanding of the first phrase: bipolarity, nuclear weapons, and ideology.

International arena in post WWII was bipolar as, it was determined by two considerable weights; the United States and the Soviet Union. Such a system had resulted in “mutual suspicion, antagonism and dividing Europe and much of the world into rival spheres of influences” (Sayigh, 1997).

Both of them further explain that nuclear weapons generated fear and danger into this system temperate by contrasting policies. What was obvious also is nuclear diplomacy was influencing super powers’ decision making.

Finally they explain that ideological confrontation was an additional feature of the Cold War. It was a mark of loyalty to one of the super powers.

Giving the definition of the term “Cold War”, I will try to depict the meaning of “Pan-Arabism”. In fact it was Arab nationalistic wave concentrating on two main axes: Arab Unity Project, and freeing Arab World from foreign control in general, and Zionist colonization in particular. It regarded Arabhood as the main stamp. Worth noting is that Pan-Arabism was generated by Ottoman Empire’s oppression against non-Turks’ subjects, among whom where were Arabs.

The coming of Colonel Jamal Abd-Ennasser heading the Free Officers group taking power in Egypt in 1952, gave Pan-Arabism a strong push to the forefront of international arena. Arab determination to eliminate the state of Israel was also engulfing western interest mainly when they closed the communist bloc.

Committing itself since the late 1940, in favour of Israel’s survival, the United States had had to intervene in this confrontation. It had also to save its interest to be lost in the region’s turmoil. Therefore, Washington introduced Truman Doctrine and upheld it by Eisenhower one.

I will try to more illustrate these guidelines. Meanwhile I will try to answer these questions: If Pan-Arabism was not associated with socialism as many circles described it, would the United States fairly solve Arab problem especially the Arab-Israeli conflict? In other words, if there were no Soviet threat on the region, would America be a fair power in the “Middle East”? Would it, for example, at least be neutral?
Pushing further my idea, if there is no Soviet threat and Israel does not exist, would the US leave the region free in choosing its own agenda and implementing it? Would it respect its sovereignty?

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