The Reasons behind the Arab Defeat in 1967 War
The war is a great lesson as well as a challenge for the entire mankind. Even the word “war” entails anxiety, fear, and tragic memories of the past. The Six-Day War is the third Arab-Israeli war, which took place throughout the six days (from 5th to 10th June 1967), during which Israel has managed to defeat the army of Syria, Egypt, Jordan and other Arab countries. Israel went to war with five states (it bordered directly with three of them), and by causing a preemptive strike against the armies of the enemy, which were far superior by the number of weapons and soldiers, achieved a stunning success. Militarily, Israel won a landslide victory, and the Arab coalition was defeated. It should be noted that the Arab world has suffered a severe loss. Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jordan, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. In total, Tel Aviv gained control over the territory, exceeding 3.5 times the pre-war area of Israel.
The defeat of the Arab countries has become deafening slap for their leadership and community. It was the reason that foreign policies of defeated countries became largely determined by the desire to take revenge for the humiliating loss. The main point of the political program of the Arab countries, adopted by the pan-Arab summit in Khartoum in August 1967, was the policy of the three “no’s”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.
Despite the military superiority, the Arabs lost the Six-Day War. The blame for the defeat fell on the Egyptian command, who led the military actions on the Syrian and Jordanian fronts. Right-wing elements in the command of the army were unable to fulfill their patriotic duty.
The core reason of the Arab defeat was their low tactical skills as well as great military organization of their rivals. Moreover, many researchers consider incompetence and bungling of the Arab states as a reason for the Israel’s victory. Despite the fact that Arab army had modern hardware, their officers were appointed on political loyalty instead of merit; that is why their tactic schemes were weak.
As for the number of military equipment and manpower, Arab countries greatly outnumbered Israel, because the weapon of the Arab armies was higher in quantity. Arab armies were equipped with first-class Soviet weapons, while Israeli army was equipped by Czech, American, French and British arms, which were partly obsolete. Arab states had larger strategic resources and were able to wage a long war, which Israel could not afford. However, the Arab countries had no coherent plan for war or interstate coordinating body. In fact, it should be mentioned that the United Arab Command existed only formally. The fog program of “the persistent conduct of the defensive operations” lying at the heart of the war plans was created in individual countries. Indeed, the armies of five different countries had no single effective strategy.
The reasons behind the Arab defeat in 1967 war were: poor quality of Arabic command at all levels, geographical and political division of the Arab armies, the impossibility of strategic maneuvers on the part of the Arabs. The adoption of a reasonable risk allowed Israeli to use maximum force at the first impact. Israel held the expectation that after the first successful strike Arabs` resistance will be paralyzed, and they could not organize an effective counterattack.
Huge amount of work has been done by the Israeli intelligence (Mossad), which gathered detailed information about the army and military-technical potential of Arab States. Moreover, a few days before the invasion, Israeli planes made massive demonstrative flights along the border of Egypt, so the Egyptian gunners and pilots were used to it.
The total set of measures has allowed the Israelis to mislead the command of the Arab armies and achieve operational surprise at the beginning of the Six-Day War.