Involvement of the superpowers significant in the Arab-Israeli conflicts of the 20th century

Arab- Israel conflict started early in the 20th Century and is going on till now. There were periods when there was some peace and periods where there was heavy shelling. The super powers of worlds played a role to broker peace. However the super powers took sides and spoke for the side they supported. Sometimes this has escalated the problems in that region. Till the UN was formed only British was taking a call on the affairs of Arab-Israel conflicts. This was because that region was under the British. At different points Arabs and Jews were promised a land by the British. The British did it good spirit but they did not realise they had stirred a hornet’s nest. The Jews and the Arabs were unwilling to accept the borders fixed. Arabs were intimidated by the Jews all over the world migrating to Israel. After World War II there was widespread sympathy for the Jews as they had been the victims of Hitler’s racist policy. They moved out in millions from different European countries and wanted a place to stay. Israel was the right place for them. Arabs were also staking a claim on Palestine and finally they resorted to violence to reach their goal. Once the PLO was formed there was more violence. Many lost their lives. After the World War UN began its peace process in the region and they were helped by the super powers like the US, Russia and others

Involvement of Super Powers

The Great Powers who were involved in the peace process in the Arab- Israel conflict were France, United States, Britain and Soviet Union. Other smaller countries like Egypt, Jordan and countries in the Middle East were also a part of peace process as well a partner in wars. There were two dimensions to the conflict. One was Israeli-Palestinian and the other was Israeli-Arab. The Jews wanted a homeland in Palestine but this proposal met with opposition from the Arabs who also occupied Palestine. Arabs got support from other Arab countries and so it also became Israeli-Arab conflict. Since there were other countries involved in the conflict and most of them were targeting the Jews, the Super Powers had to step in to bring peace in the region. But in and through all the support there was always a personal agenda.

United States

  • The void left by Britain and France was filled by the US and they used the opportunity to do trade here.
  • Suez Canal was built to link to the Far East.
  • US depended in this region for oil and they invested in Jordan, Saudi, Egypt and Iran.
  • They befriended the Arabs to counter Hitler and Germany’s need for oil.
  • There were Jews to lobby their cause in the US, so the people of US gave their support to the Jews.
  • US supported the Jewish migration to Palestine and money from the US was directed to support Jews and Zionism.
  • US showed their interest in this region and in the Middle East to keep away the influence of USSR.
  • US would support anyone if they could oil to the US, even if they were corrupt and autocrats.
  • US showed interest in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran and they were Arabic countries. So they had alliance with the enemies of Israel and this confused Israel.
  • US even supplied weapons to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
  • US was always concerned about their access to the Suez Canal, so they did not want to support Israel and lose the goodwill of other countries of the Middle East.

Soviet Union

  • Like the US, USSR also wanted an access to the Suez Canal.
  • They always had an interest in the waterway between Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
  • USSR realised that this region was an excellent sphere of influence and kept the interest in this region going on.
  • USSR allowed their Jewish population to migrate to Israel.
  • USSR had historical connections with the Arab countries like Iran and Turkey. However they were wary as they did not want the spread of Muslims.
  • During the Suez Crisis USSR threatened Britain and France of rocket attacks and questioned Israel’s right to exist.
  • Later on they gave full support to Egypt. Tried to mobilize world to support the cause of Egypt.
  • USSR supplied weapons to Egypt, Iraq and Syria.
  • After the Suez Crisis, in the Security Council of the UN, USSR supported the Arabs and asked Jews to withdraw from Sinai and worked to end fights in the region.

Europe

  • Britain and France had a lot of interest in Middle East. But in their support for the Jews they did not get support of the Arab population.
  • Britain’s interests in the region were three-fold. Oil, prestige and strategy. Oil was absolutely essential for all the industries. Britain had always dictated terms in that area, so wanted to hold on the past glory. Britain also realised when US and USSR are always watching the area, it would be a good strategy to be one of the players in the affairs of the Middle East. However after WWII, they scaled down their interest.
  • Britain did not encourage Jewish emigration. They had put a seal on the number of emigrants when it was under their control.
  • After US became a Super Power Britain was influenced by the policies of the US and did not do support the cause the Israel or Arabs without consulting US.

More Articles:  Actions of the Palestinian Arabs in response to British actions

Looking at history it is very obvious that all powers in the world support or retract support only for personal benefits. Britain was called “The Land Where The Sun Never Sets” as they had colonies all over the world. Slowly they had to give up their hold. The people of Britain sympathised with the people who were ruled by them. Towards the end of 20th Century Britain stopped their influence over other countries. The same was true for France. USSR disintegrated into different countries and their influence over the rest of the world came down. To this day US continues to be a super power and acts as big brother in the affairs of world.

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