LAUSANNE (Aug. 30)
Egypt’s refusal to make peace with Israel unless a “security zone” is established in southern Palestine — a sort of buffer Arab state between the two nations — has turned attention to the fact that the whole Middle East is rearming.
The Arab states’ answer to the U.N. Conciliation Commission has once again stressed the fact that the military situation in Israel is dominated by uncertainty about her frontiers. Many observers at the Lausanne meetings of the Commission think there is a deal between Cairo and Washington. They say it appears clear that Egypt’s insistence is based on American assurances of support for such a “security zone” in southern Palestine.
It was reported here today that Col. Yigal Yadin, the real driving force of the Israel Army, who recently returned from his European tour, has resumed his old position as chief of military operations. Out of Col. Yadin’s tour came the decision to follow the Swiss military pattern in Israel, although with important modifications. Conscription, training and the reserve are on the Swiss pattern. So are the fortified frontier settlements whose inhabitants can turn into integrated military units in a matter of hours.
On such a basis the Swiss have called up 20 percent of the population in a general mobilization. In Israel the proportion will be less but the armed forces, in case of war, will probably exceed 200,000 with women included, although present plans are more modest and specialized — more within present means. The primary purpose of the new army pattern seems to be to ensure that every Israeli knows his job in case war comes and can handle one weapon or another with efficiency.
ARABS FORTIFY VILLAGES AROUND JERUSALEM; MILITARY POSSIBILITIES SURVEYED
In Arab Palestine a “national defense movement” has been started, a kind of auxiliary force for the Arab Legion, with recruiting under way. Amman announces that Arab frontier villages have already been fortified. They include 30 villages in the south between Jerusalem and Hebron. Arms and ammunition will be distributed to volunteers after training, but they must sign a declaration “not to sell them”.
Egypt, like Israel, is attempting to build a specialized army with independent armored brigades and supporting air forces. Some armor and artillery have already been purchased by Cairo but it is estimated here that Egypt will need at least two years to reorganize her forces.
If the Iraqi Army is to be reorganized, it will have to be restocked and rearmed from the bottom up. Although some equipment has been received from Britain, Iraq has a long pull to regain the position it held militarily before the Palestine war.
The Syrians, under Field Marshal Zayim, planned the biggest Arab army in the Middle East. But Zayim is dead and Syria has lost the possibility of French supplies as a result of Zayim’s murder. The Turkish military mission under General Azim Orbay may now find the task of reorganizing the Syrian Army a good deal more difficult and lengthy.
Finally, in any military survey of the Middle East, there is Transjordan which is now engaged in trying to persuade the British Government to increase its annual subsidy to meet the higher cost of keeping an army. Transjordan would like to double its present force of 9,000 and it wants up-to-date armor and planes to overshadow any force that Israel might produce.