Section 13. Situation in the Middle East and Africa
1. Middle East
(1) Arab-Israeli relations
As for the Middle East situation, tensions continued in 1972 because of the radical actions of Arab guerrillas and Israel's frequent military operations against Syria and Lebanon, although a state of cease-fire had existed since the Middle East war five years before. In 1972, there were such developments as (i) the cooling-off of relations between the Soviet Union and Egypt, (ii) increased fluidity in the domestic situation in Egypt and (iii) increased Soviet aid to Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
There were no signs of concrete progress toward peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The following reasons can be given for the lack of progress:
(i) The contentions of both sides remained far apart.
(ii) Interests of the Arab nations were complicated, and they could not take joint action toward peace.
(iii) The United States could not take the positive initiative in bringing about peace because of the U.S. presidential election, and the United States put emphasis on the handling of the Vietnam problem in its diplomacy.
(iv) In addition to the fact that the Soviet Union was not particularly affected by the situation in the Middle East which was neither in a state of war nor in a state of peace, the Soviet Union had no strong motive for causing a change in the situation in the Middle East because of its own domestic problems, such as the poor performance of its agriculture.
(v) Israel's military superiority remained unchanged, and the Arab side was not in a position to settle the dispute by force.
(2) Moves of the Soviet Union and the United States
The Soviet Union began to show moves to promote close relations with its southern neighbors by taking such measures as Premier Kosygin's visit to Iraq (from April 6 to 10, 1972), the conclusion of the Soviet-Iraqi treaty of friendship and cooperation, and Chairman Podgorny's visit to Turkey (from April 11 to 17, 1972). Despite Egyptian President Sadat's visit to the Soviet Union immediately after these events (from April 27 to 29), these Soviet moves were considered as something different from its past Egypt-oriented Middle East policy. In contrast to the subsequent cooling-off of its relations with Egypt, Iraqi President Bakr's official visit to the Soviet Union (in September), which promoted Soviet-Iraqi cooperation in the economic and military fields, and the Soviet Union's moves for a rapprochement with Syria were conspicuous, It is believed that the Soviet Union will continue making efforts to increase its influence over the Middle East, while taking into consideration effects of Egypt's declining diplomatic influence.
As for the United States, it can be said that its diplomacy in 1972 put emphasis on its relations with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China and on the Vietnam problem. In the Middle East, there was some progress in U.S.-Arab relations, such as the resumption of diplomatic relations with North Yemen and Sudan (in July 1972) and the exchange of protecting missions with Iraq (in August 1972), However, no concrete results were forthcoming.
(3) Cooling-off of Soviet-Egyptian relations
On July 18, 1972, President Sadat announced the withdrawal of the Soviet military advisory mission and Soviet experts in Egypt. The decision was made as a result of discord between the Soviet Union and Egypt over aid in weapons. As for the background of the decision, it is believed that President Sadat found it necessary to cope with the people's sentiment by taking a tough attitude toward the Soviet Union because the people were dissatisfied with the deadlock in the Middle East situation, and especially there was an anti-Soviet feeling in the military.
The size of the withdrawal plan reportedly was between 15,000 and 20,000 Soviet military personnel, but about 1,000 of them actually remained in Egypt.
Despite the cooling-off of Soviet-Egyptian relations, the situation in international politics did not turn to Egypt's advantage, and it still needed military and economic aid from the Soviet Union. Therefore, Egypt tried to readjust its relations with the Soviet Union through visits to the Soviet Union by Prime Minister Sidky (in October 1972) and Presidential Advisor Hafy Ismail (in February 1973). Soviet-Egypt relations were being normalized, although they were not so close as they had been up to July 1972.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Hassan El-Zayyat visited China in March 1973. At around that time, the Soviet newspaper Izvestia criticized Hasanein Haikal, the editor of Al-Ahram, by name. It can be said that the Egyptian Foreign Minister's visit to the People's Republic of China and the Soviet newspaper's criticism revealed the state of Soviet-Egypt relations.
(4) Military situation
The following are the major developments in the military situation in the Middle East after April 1972.
(A) Israel took retaliatory military actions against radical Arab guerrillas. After the Tel Aviv Airport massacre on May 30, 1972, Israeli troops attacked Arab guerrilla bases in Lebanon and Syria. Following the Munich incident on September 5, 1972, the Israeli Air Force bombed the territories of Lebanon and Syria, and Israeli troops invaded the southern part of Lebanon.
(B) The Arab guerrillas became generally weak partly because of more rigid controls over the guerrillas in Lebanon. However, this caused the "Black September" and other radical elements to resort to violent acts.
(C) Syria's response to Israeli attacks was fiercer compared with other countries.
When the Vietnam cease-fire agreement was concluded in Asia after the turn of 1973 and international concern over the problem of peace in the Middle East increased, Israeli troops on February 21 made a surprise attack on a refugee camp in northern Lebanon and Israeli Air Force planes shot down a Libyan civilian plane. Tension mounted as a result and it was feared that the Arab side, especially Libya, might take retaliatory action. However, a military clash was averted because Egypt and Libya acted with prudence and international public opinion, including the United States, was critical of Israel. The Khartoum case caused by the Black September (from March 1 to 4, 1973, in which three persons, including the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, were murdered) revealed complicated relations among the Arab nations. After a series of these incidents, there was no rise in military tension on the whole between the Arab nations and Israel.
(5) Active diplomatic moves over the Middle East problem
After the conclusion of the Vietnam cease-fire agreement early in 1973, expectations for a positive U.S. diplomatic initiative on the Middle East problem increased. Amid this situation, Egyptian Presidential Advisor Hafez Ismail visited the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States, while Egyptian Defense Minister Ahmed Ismail Aly visited the Soviet Union. (King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir visited the United States.)
It seems that both the Arab side and Israel tried to reconfirm their positions through these visits to the United States and the Soviet Union prior to the U.S.-Soviet summit talks that followed. Both the United States and the Soviet Union merely listened to the arguments of the parties concerned and assumed the position of keeping options open for the future. It can be said that these visits basically helped prepare the ground for active diplomatic moves for a settlement of the Middle East problem.
(6) Petroleum problem
(A) Participation in management by oil-producing countries
Moves over the petroleum problem centering around the oil-producing countries in the Near and Middle East became even more active than in the preceding year, and the situation throughout the world regarding the petroleum questions changed greatly.
The negotiations for participation in management started in February 1972 between Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum Ahmed Zaki Yamani, who represented the six oil-producing countries on the Arabian (Persian) Gulf (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia), and the major international oil companies, resulted in the conclusion of the Riyadh Agreement in January 1973, although Iran dropped out in the course of the negotiations. In the past, the oil-producing countries used to obtain revenues in the form of royalties and income taxes from the international oil companies operating in their countries. The Riyadh Agreement is intended to change this relationship so that the oil-producing countries also can participate in the management of the petroleum companies.
Their participation this time was limited to petroleum development and exploitation with the distribution and sale of petroleum excluded, In the words of Minister of Petroleum Yamani, it was an "Islamic-Catholic marriage" between the oil-producing countries and international oil companies (this particular wording is construed as meaning that the arrangement is of Islamic style because the oil-producing countries have a majority share of 51 per cent and is compared to a Catholic marriage in that it does not allow a divorce). The three major points in the Riyadh Agreement were as follows:
(a) The rate of participation of the oil-producing countries in 1973 will be 25 per cent, and the rate will be increased at an annual rate of 5 per cent from 1917 until it reaches 51 per cent in 1982.
(b) Compensation from the oil-producing countries to the petroleum companies will be made on the basis of book value with due consideration to price increases between now and the time of original investment.
(c) The oil-producing countries will sell back to the petroleum companies a certain percentage (which will decline year after year) of crude oil which it can sell on its own (the percentage of such oil is the same as the rate of their participation) and sell through the international oil companies. (The prices of crude oil to be sold back will be determined by each country according to type of oil.)
(B) Changes in petroleum supply system
The Riyadh Agreement is significant in that the governments of the oil-producing countries emerged as direct suppliers of petroleum in addition to the international oil companies, which were up to then the only direct suppliers of petroleum to the world, and this requires a major change in the world's oil supply system. In this context, it can be said that relations between Japan, which depends on crude oil from the Middle East for more than 80 per cent of its total consumption of petroleum, and the four oil-producing countries of Saudi Arabia, which has a quarter of the world's known oil reserves and produces more than 5 million barrels per day, Iran, the second largest producer of petroleum in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, have become more important than ever.
Iraq almost completed the nationalization of the international oil companies except BPC (Basra Petroleum Co.), which was the only international oil company that remained.
The oil-producing countries in northern Africa, such as Algeria and Libya, carried out participation programs separately from those countries on the Persian Gulf. Algeria nationalized 51 per cent of French oil interests in 1971, and it now sells about 80 per cent of the country's total output of petroleum by itself. Libya nationalized BP (British Petroleum) in 1971. Later, it concluded a 50-50 agreement with ENI of Italy. It was negotiating its demand for an immediate 50 per cent participation in management with the Oasis group which had the largest oil-producing operations in Libya.
(1) Progress in Africanization
The African countries were faced with economic difficulties which stemmed from their dependence on a small number of primary industry products, and the economic gap between them and the advanced countries was widening. In this situation, there were moves toward Africanization, which were aimed at economic development not by foreigners but by the Africans themselves, centering around the former British colonies.
Such moves included Uganda's order to deport non-Ugandan Asians (in August 1972), Nigeria's Nigerian Enterprise Promotion Law (in February 1972), the Ghanian Government's declaration on participation in gold and diamond mining (in December 1972). All these measures called for one or all of the following: African capital's participation in enterprises, compulsory employment of Africans and reservation of specific economic sectors for the Africans, although there were differences in degree. It is considered that success or failure of such moves depends on how the African countries will solve the shortages in capital and talented personnel.
The former French colonies also took moves toward the Africanization of their economies, but they were not so conspicuous as those in the former British colonies. In the former French colonies, there were Africanization moves of a different nature. They had maintained close relations of cooperation with France in various fields, including the monetary, financial and cultural fields, since their independence. In recent years, however, Madagascar, Mauritania, the Congo and Niger moved to lessen their dependence on France by changing their relations with France, and negotiations were being held among the countries concerned for this purpose.
President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire vigorously carried out a movement of seeking "genuineness" on the occasion of changing the name of his country from the Congo to Zaire in October 1971. Zaire changed personal names and place names into the African style and decided on the Africanization of general commercial activities in January 1973.
How such moves throughout Africa will affect the domestic problems mentioned in (2) below deserves attention.
(2) Domestic developments in African countries
In 1972, there were changes of government in Ghana on January 13, in Madagascar on May 25 and in Dahomey on October 26 in which the military took over power from the civilian governments. Attempted coup d'etats occurred in the Congo in February, in Sierra Leone in March and in Burundi in April. Many of the other countries where such an event did not occur also were faced with such problems as antagonism between different tribes and unemployment and inflation caused by economic difficulties. The stabilization of domestic politics continued to be the greatest problem for the African countries.
To solve this problem, the governments of various countries tried to pacify the disputing tribes and promote economic development. It is considered that the one-party system, or the establishment of a military dictatorship system, in many African countries was a means of coping with problems arising from tribal antagonism, and that the Africanization mentioned in (1) above was an attempt to foster a sense of nationalism above tribal sentiment.
(3) Relations among African countries
In 1972, there was a dispute between Uganda and Tanzania, which stemmed from an armed invasion of Uganda (in September), and a border dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, But both disputes were settled through the mediation of the Organization of African Unity and their neighboring countries. Relations between Zaire and the Congo Republic and between Guinea and Senegal improved.
The need for cooperation among the African countries has long been recognized ever since they began to acquire independence. In recent years, moves for a reorganization of regional cooperation became active in Western Africa. There were two major movements, one centering around Senegal and the Ivory Coast and the other centering around Nigeria. President Mobutu of Zaire carried out his diplomacy of visiting neighboring countries, seeking the development of new relations.
(4) Relations with non-African countries
It seems that the People's Republic of China, which returned to the international arena through its participation in the United Nations after the completion of the Cultural Revolution, put emphasis on Africa in its aid diplomacy, In November 1972, it concluded an agreement on economic and technical cooperation with Nigeria. It concluded a similar agreement with Zaire in January 1973 and gave loans totaling $100 million. It also gave loans on favorable terms and steady technical cooperation to other Black African countries. It is considered that China's aid diplomacy, coupled with its way of doing things which is attracting the attention of Africans, will become a factor that will cause China's influence in Africa to increase in the future. It is believed, however, that China will not intensify its political maneuvering because of past experiences.
The United States and the Soviet Union also have great interest in Africa, and it is believed that they will continue to give the region considerable aid in the future. Among the former suzerain countries, France was holding negotiations for adjusting its relations as mentioned in (1) above. But its close relations with its former colonies in the social and economic fields, which have been fostered over many years, will not collapse easily.
On the other hand, many African countries welcomed aid from any country from the standpoint of the principle of nonaligned neutrality, and tried to maintain their independence by being careful not to become too dependent upon aid from any particular country or group of countries.
(5) National liberation movement
Reports indicated that national liberation movements in Portuguese Guinea, Mozambique and Angola intensified. Amilear Cabral, a leader of the liberation movement in Portuguese Guinea, was assassinated (in January 1973) at a time when it was expected that Portuguese Guinea would soon declare its independence, and developments in the situation in the area assumed greater importance.
As for the Southern Rhodesia issue, the Pearce report revealed in May 1972 that the so-called "settlement proposal" could not be accepted by all of the people, and thus moves toward reaching a settlement was disrupted. Amid this situation, Southern Rhodesia closed its border with Zambia in January 1973 on the ground that guerrilla activities of the national liberation movement based in Zambia had intensified. (However, the transport of Zambia copper for export through Southern Rhodesia was expected to continue.) Tensions between the two countries mounted further when Zambia banned the transport of its copper through Southern Rhodesia as a retaliatory measure. Although Southern Rhodesia clarified later its intention of reopening its border Zambia continued to keep it closed and sought aid from various countries for necessary funds to divert the Southern Rhodesian route for transporting its copper to other countries (especially through Tanzania). Zambia's posture of confrontation was significant in that developments in the situation in that area would greatly affect the future of the national liberation movement in southern Africa.
(6) South Africa's apartheid problem
Under its apartheid policy, South Africa continued to promote its "bantustan" policy ("bantu" means black people while "stan" means state). (The policy regards the black people as belonging to eight different nations and is intended to enable them to build separate states for the different nations in an area which accounts for one-seventh of South Africa's total area.) Among the Black African countries, Ghana and Madagascar, which cooperated in the policy of "a dialogue with South Africa" (a policy intended to solve racial discrimination by degrees through talks with the Government of South Africa), came to assume a stern attitude toward South Africa after changes in government. And members of the Organization of African Unity were forming a group of countries which were taking a tough stance on other southern African problems as well.
to table of contents