The Consequences of the Six Day War

The Six Day War was a war between words and deeds. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was an enthusiastic Arab leader who had only projects for his ideology without the effective means to implement them. He tried to bite more than he could chew. Either out of military ignorance, excessive zeal or dependence on good luck, he tried to confront Israel, which was a superpower in the region considering its air superiority.

While the war was a “Naksa” or setback for the Arab countries involved in that war, mainly Egypt, Jordan and Syria, it must be seen as an epic victory for Israel. In a short time, it fought three countries much bigger than it in population and surface. Israel got more than it hoped for as it acquired more land, creating international tension in the region. That made it in a stronger position. The dream of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser just evaporated. His dream of Arab Unity was replaced by Arab frictions. “Wiping out” Israel changed into “Bigger Israel”. That gave just boost to Israel, which became seen as a victim of “Arab aggression”.

Forty years on, the landscape of the Middle East changed a lot. Egypt, which was Israel’s enemy number one and an ally of the Soviet Union became one of the first allies of the USA in the Middle East. It “befriended” Israel after the signing of the Camp David Peace Agreement. Israel returned Sinai to Egypt but Sharam Sheikh is a favourite tourist destination of the Israelis. Moderate Arab states, especially in the Gulf changed from Bedouin societies to opulent modern ones by showing moderation and distancing themselves from open confrontation with Israel.

But the Palestinians were left to pay for the consequences of the Six Day War. Since 1948, many had to leave their homeland. They are still torn between the internal Palestinian political frictions and Israel refusal to grant them an independent state.

Israel got many military victories in its wars but at the same time, it made a lot of enemies. It is obliged to keep on a constant state of alert as it is threatened from inside and outside. Its forces are the most active ones as they are constantly embroiled in confrontation. The Six Day War is apparently over but its consequences are lingering.

Israel signed peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt. It signed the Oslo Accord with the PLO (Fattah). Despite all this, the Six Day War is still lingering in a different form. It was possible for Israel to create an unpredictable situation in six days. But it failed along with its Arab opponents to establish permanent peace throughout the forty years that followed one of the most famous wars in modern history.

On a final note:

The Arab Israeli conflict was advantageous to many Arab dictatorial regimes as it was exploited by them to hush any opposition. One interesting remark is that after the second major war with Israel in October 1973, there were no coups in the Arab countries, especially in Syria, Egypt whose regime came to power through coups.

It might be possible that Arab regimes in the Middle East benefited from this conflict as it was in the interest of the superpowers and Israel to deal with regimes whose leaders they know well and who could keep their countries stable. It could have been worse if Arab countries remains plunged in coups leading to civil wars.

In a way, Israel was a blessing in disguise for many regimes. The Israeli card became for them a joker they could play in different way

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