Chapter

Introduction

Michael Doran

in Pan-Arabism Before Nasser

Published in print April 1999 | ISBN: 9780195123616
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854530 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195123616.003.0001

Series: Studies in Middle Eastern History

Introduction

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Egyptian foreign policy has traced a pattern that poses a riddle for historians. Consider, for instance, the first Arab-Israeli war. During the period 1947–1948, leaders in Cairo recoiled time and again when other Arab statesmen asked them to participate in military operations against the emerging state of Israel. In fact, Cairo did not decide to send troops into Palestine until May 11, 1948, just four days before the end of the British Mandate. When their war fortunes had soured in early 1949, Egyptian statesmen abandoned the fight and became the first Arab leaders to sign an armistice agreement with the Israelis. Egypt jumped in last, took charge, then jumped out first. This pattern—ambivalence, leadership, abdication—is characteristic of more than just the actions of Cairo during eight or nine months in 1948. It also describes the trajectory of Egyptian policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict in general. The ambivalence-leadership-abdication pattern emerges not just in the policy of Cairo toward the Arab-Israeli conflict but, in addition, in its policy toward the Middle East in general.

Keywords: Egypt; foreign policy; Israel; Palestine; Middle East; ambivalence; leadership; abdication

Chapter.  2299 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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