by Oded Yinon, translated by Israel Shahak | KIVUNIM / Palestine with Provenance | February 1982
Commentary: This essay originally appeared in Hebrew in KIVUNIM (Directions), A Journal for Judaism and Zionism; Issue No, 14--Winter, 5742, February 1982, Editor: Yoram Beck. Editorial Committee: Eli Eyal, Yoram Beck, Amnon Hadari, Yohanan Manor, Elieser Schweid. Published by the Department of Publicity/The World Zionist Organization, Jerusalem.
This essay was translated into English by Israel Shahak, an anti-Zionist Israel Jew, and disseminated on 13 June 1982 -- a week after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon on 6 June 1982, but several months before the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.
Abstract: In the course of the Nineteen Eighties, the State of Israel will have to go through far-reaching changes in its political and economic regime domestically, along with radical changes in its foreign policy, in order to stand up to the global and regional challenges of this new epoch. The loss of the Suez Canal oil fields, of the immense potential of the oil, gas and other natural resources in the Sinai peninsula which is geomorphologically identical to the rich oil-producing countries in the region, will result in an energy drain in the near future and will destroy our domestic economy: one quarter of our present GNP as well as one third of the budget is used for the purchase of oil. The search for raw materials in the Negev and on the coast will not, in the near future, serve to alter that state of affairs.
(Regaining) the Sinai peninsula with its present and potential resources is therefore a political priority which is obstructed by the Camp David and the peace agreements. The fault for that lies of course with the present Israeli government and the governments which paved the road to the policy of territorial compromise, the Alignment governments since 1967. The Egyptians will not need to keep the peace treaty after the return of the Sinai, and they will do all they can to return to the fold of the Arab world and to the USSR in order to gain support and military assistance. American aid is guaranteed only for a short while, for the terms of the peace and the weakening of the U.S. both at home and abroad will bring about a reduction in aid. Without oil and the income from it, with the present enormous expenditure, we will not be able to get through 1982 under the present conditions and we will have to act in order to return the situation to the status quo which existed in Sinai prior to Sadat's visit and the mistaken peace agreement signed with him in March 1979.
Israel has two major routes through which to realize this purpose, one direct and the other indirect. The direct option is the less realistic one because of the nature of the regime and government in Israel as well as the wisdom of Sadat who obtained our withdrawal from Sinai, which was, next to the war of 1973, his major achievement since he took power. Israel will not unilaterally break the treaty, neither today, nor in 1982, unless it is very hard pressed economically and politically and Egypt provides Israel with the excuse to take the Sinai back into our hands for the fourth time in our short history. What is left therefore, is the indirect option. The economic situation in Egypt, the nature of the regime and its pan-Arab policy, will bring about a situation after April 1982 in which Israel will be forced to act directly or indirectly in order to regain control over Sinai as a strategic, economic and energy reserve for the long run. Egypt does not constitute a military strategic problem due to its internal conflicts and it could be driven back to the post 1967 war situation in no more than one day.
The myth of Egypt as the strong leader of the Arab World was demolished back in 1956 and definitely did not survive 1967, but our policy, as in the return of the Sinai, served to turn the myth into "fact." In reality, however, Egypt's power in proportion both to Israel alone and to the rest of the Arab World has gone down about 50 percent since 1967. Egypt is no longer the leading political power in the Arab World and is economically on the verge of a crisis. Without foreign assistance the crisis will come tomorrow. In the short run, due to the return of the Sinai, Egypt will gain several advantages at our expense, but only in the short run until 1982, and that will not change the balance of power to its benefit, and will possibly bring about its downfall. Egypt, in its present domestic political picture, is already a corpse, all the more so if we take into account the growing Moslem-Christian rift. Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel in the Nineteen Eighties on its Western front.
Egypt is divided and torn apart into many foci of authority. If Egypt falls apart, countries like Libya, Sudan or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt. The vision of a Christian Coptic State in Upper Egypt alongside a number of weak states with very localized power and without a centralized government as to date, is the key to a historical development which was only set back by the peace agreement but which seems inevitable in the long run.
The Western front, which on the surface appears more problematic, is in fact less complicated than the Eastern front, in which most of the events that make the headlines have been taking place recently. Lebanon's total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precendent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unqiue areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel's primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi'ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today.
Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.
The entire Arabian peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia. Regardless of whether its economic might based on oil remains intact or whether it is diminished in the long run, the internal rifts and breakdowns are a clear and natural development in light of the present political structure.