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Bandung paper by farah

  1. 1. Egypt at Bandung:A Transformation in Cold War Relations Farah Osman 900071389 POLS 430 Dr. Ezz El-Arab 1
  2. 2. Abstract: This paper examines the effects of the Bandung Conference on Egypt’s role inthe Cold War, with a primary focus on the years between 1955 and 1958. Following anextensive background on the conference and its context, an examination of its effects onEgypt’s relationship with the Communist bloc, the Western bloc and the Third bloc isoffered. Through the usage of secondary sources, the bulk of which were written in theyears following the conference, this paper will show how Bandung drew Nasser into thearms of the Soviet Union, led to the deterioration of relations with the West andeffectively created the Third bloc. In doing so, and with a focus on the political andeconomic aspects of the aforementioned relationships, this paper sheds light on Nasser’sCold War policy during this timeframe and explains why these relationships unfolded inthe way they did. 2
  3. 3. Outline I. Introduction • Thesis: this paper will seek to examine the effects of the Bandung Conference on Egypt’s role within the Cold War. It will highlights how Bandung served as a turning point in that it drew Egypt closer the Communist bloc, further away from the Western bloc, and essentially created the Third bloc.Contextualizing Bandung II. The neutralist debate I. Nasser and the US II. Nasser and regional security pactsThe Bandung Conference III. The Bandung Conference (on April 18 to 24, 1955) IV. Nasser in BandungEgypt and the Communist Bloc V. Sino-Egyptian Relations VI. Egypt and the Soviet UnionEgypt and the Western Bloc VII. Nasser’s new views on the West VIII. Western reactions to Bandung IX. The Aswan Dam Debacle X. Suez Crisis XI. The Eisenhower Doctrine:Egypt and the Third Bloc XII. Third Bloc Rising XIII. The “Big Three” XIV. The birth of non-Alignment XV. Conclusion 3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. “What can we do? We can do much! We can inject the voice of reason into worldaffairs [and] mobilize all the spiritual, all the moral, all the political strength of Asia andAfrica on the side of peace.1” These inspirational words were uttered by PresidentSukarno of Indonesia in his opening address at the Bandung Conference of 1955, andembody the optimism with which this conference was viewed. While the Bandungconference indubitably had wide-ranging effects on all those in attendance, it was adefinitive turning point in Egypt’s role within the Cold War matrix. This paper willtherefore seek to examine the effects of this conference on Egypt’s role in the Cold War,with a primary focus on the Bandung era between 1955 and 1958. Firstly, Egypt’srelation to the Communist and Western bloc prior to the Bandung Conference will beexamined. This will be followed by a detailed account of the Bandung Conference – itsobjectives, influences and outcomes. At this point, the impact of the conference onNasser himself as a leader will be highlighted, followed by an explanation of the effect ofthe Bandung Conference specifically on the Communist bloc, the Western bloc andfinally the Third bloc. The overarching theme of this examination will be that it was theBandung Conference that drew Nasser into the arms of the Soviet Union, led to thedeterioration of relations with the West and effectively created the Third bloc.Contextualizing Bandung In order to aptly understand the roots of the Bandung Conference, it is imperativeto examine the regional political concerns in the years preceding it. Arab states gainingindependence following WWII found themselves born into a polarized internationalcontext – defined and controlled by Cold War dynamics. Consequently, there was an1 Bregie van Eekelen, Shock and Awe: War of Words, (Santa Cruz, California: New Pacific Press), 114. 5
  6. 6. ongoing debate in neighboring Arab states regarding whether as newly independent statesthey should remain neutral or align themselves with either of the Cold War blocs2. The short relationship between Nasser and the US prior to Bandung was markedby turmoil. The Free Officers coup of 1952 was hailed with optimism from the US due totheir seemingly friendly attitude towards the West. Despite this optimism, Nasser wasinitially skeptical about an alliance with the US that required Egypt to make concessionswithout firm prospects of US aid. However, Nasser remained willing to cooperate withthe West on his own terms and proposed Western help in building defense forces3. Thisclearly signifies the fact that prior to Bandung, contrary to the belief that he was fiercelyanti-Western throughout the entirety of his political career, Nasser was not ideologicallyopposed to an alliance with the West but rather wanted to ensure that it was to Egypt’sadvantage. This is evident in a statement given by Nasser following the Anglo-Egyptiantreaty of 1954 assuring a New York Times correspondent that “there is nothing standingin the way of […] good relations with the West4”. This explicit acceptance of a Westernalliance was affirmed by a Revolutionary Command Council press statement thatidentified the Soviet Union as the major threat to the Middle East5. This proves that in thepre-Bandung years, Egypt had no intention of an alliance with the Communist blocwhatsoever. Despite these positive aspects of Egyptian-Western relations, long and futile2 Georgiana G. Stevens, “Arab Neutralism and Bandung,” MEJ, 11:2 (1957), 140.3 Elie Podeh, “The Drift towards Neutrality: Egyptian Foreign Policy during the Early Nasserist Era, 1952- 55,”MES, 32:1 (1996), 162.4 Ibid, 164.5 Ibid, 164. 6
  7. 7. attempts at securing US aid negatively impacted Nasser’s view of the West. In 1954, asEgyptian hopes of US assistance soared, Nasser envisioned an independent Arab blocthat would receive Western arms in exchange for not recognizing the communist People’sRepublic of China6. However, the US continued to deprive Nasser of aid, presumably dueto his refusal to sign a written agreement with the US or allow an American supervisoryteam on Egyptian soil7. In February 1955, David Ben Gurion launched an Israeli attackon the Egyptian position in Gaza, causing Nasser to bombard US ambassador HenryByroade with aid demands. As Nasser prepared to leave for Bandung a year later, heasked for a definitive statement from Byroad concerning US aid and was given nothing8.Therefore, Nasser went to Bandung harboring feelings of resentment and disappointmenttowards the US. The years prior to Bandung were also characterized by debates concerningregional defense pacts. Seeing as how the Middle East is of strategic importance for amultitude of reasons, including its proximity to the Soviet Union, the Western bloc wasattempting to sponsor regional defense pacts to protect against communist infiltration.While some recognized the need for Western arms and protection early on (such as Iranand Iraq), others such as Egypt were more hesitant about allowing Western-sponsoredpacts that may infringe on their sovereignty9. With Nasser assuming the presidency,however, the West believed the tides would turn and Egypt would willingly cooperate indefense arrangements under their auspices. To their dismay, they soon realized that there6 Bary Rubin, “America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957,” PSQ, 97:1 (1982), 81.7 Ibid, 83.8 Ibid.9 Georgiana G. Stevens, “Arab Neutralism and Bandung,” MEJ, 11:2 (1957), 141. 7
  8. 8. was no change in Egyptian policy. This was rooted in Nasser’s believe that it was toodifficult for Egypt to participate in Western-sponsored pacts, as it would be condemnedby public opinion and viewed as a perpetuation of Western occupation. The BaghdadPact – which would ultimately include Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and Britain – wasconsequently opposed by Egypt. Nasser believed this threatened to marginalize Egypt, asIraq replaced the Suez base as the hub of regional defense10. Despite discontent in theformative months of the Baghdad Pact, Nasser expressed his concern that being toocritical of the pact would ostracize US11. Therefore, while clearly opposed to a Western-defense pact in terms of its infringement on national sovereignty and concern that itdeprived Egypt of its source leverage over the West, Nasser was still prioritizing the hopeof positive relations with the West above said opposition. While Egypt was clearlyWestern-oriented prior to the Bandung conference, these relations would soon drasticallychange.The Bandung Conference The Bandung Conference took place on April 18 until April 24, 1955 in Bandung,Indonesia. This monumental conference brought together 29 representatives of Africanand Asian states together in order to promote Afro-Asian economic cooperation andmutual interests12. Sponsored by Indonesia, India, Myanmar (present-day Burma), Ceylon(present-day Sri Lanka), and Pakistan, Bandung was rooted in a need to share in thedecisions affecting their countries, dissatisfaction with Western domination of world10 Elie Podeh, “The Drift towards Neutrality: Egyptian Foreign Policy during the Early Nasserist Era,1952-55,”MES, 32:1 (1996), 162.11 Ibid, 168.12 Georgiana G. Stevens, “Arab Neutralism and Bandung,” MEJ, 11:2 (1957), 142. 8
  9. 9. affairs, desire to ease tensions between the People’s Republic of China with the West andother Asian countries, and opposition to colonialism13. These goals were a naturaloutgrowth of the context within which the conference took place – in the midst of a waveof African decolonization and a growing division between Communist nations andWestern democracies. Therefore, the objectives of Bandung were to: promote goodwillamongst states in attendance, consider socioeconomic and cultural problems that thesestates face, consider problems that are unique to Afro-Asia (such as national sovereignty,racism, colonialism), and view their position within the international community in orderto allow them to contribute to world peace and international cooperation14. Whileundertaking these noble vows, the delegates also emphasized pursuing a middle groundin the Cold War, respect for territorial sovereignty and respect for human rights. While the attendees managed to reach consensus on a multitude of topics, therewere two major debates throughout the conference. The first debate was whether Sovietpolicies should be censured along with Western colonialism. Following extensive debate,delegates decided to condemn colonialism in all its manifestations15. This meantopposition to colonialism and neocolonialism by European powers, the US and the SovietUnion. Constituting a hallmark of history, this was the first time Soviet imperialism wasmentioned and Cold War rivalry was equated with European imperialism. This wouldhave significant effects on the emergence of a Third World bloc in the years followingthe conference. The second debate that took place centered on the issue of alignment and13 "Bandung Conference." Encyclopedia of the Cold War. Ed.. (New York: Taylor & Francis Group).14 Georgiana G. Stevens, “Arab Neutralism and Bandung,” MEJ, 11:2 (1957), 144-146.15 See Seng Tan and Amitav Acharya, Bandung Revisited: the Legacy of the 1955 Asian-African Conference for International Order, (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press), 7. 9
  10. 10. defense pacts. Two camps formed with regards to the question of alignment with rivalblocs. The first, led by India, Indonesia, Ceylon, Burma and Egypt, favored abstentionfrom great power military alliances. These military alliances were criticized for beinginstruments of great power domination that threatened the sovereignty of newlyindependent states. Egypt was a fervent supporter of this notion as an extension of itsprevious discontent with the Baghdad Pact and fiercely campaigned against bloc-alignment. On the other hand, countries that were already engaged in Western-sponsoreddefense pacts or planning to in the near future (such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Pakistan)justified alliances by invoking the right of individual or collective self defense16. Despitethis polarization, many in attendance began to identify with Nehru’s view of defensearrangements merely furthered the interests of superpowers at the expense of statesovereignty. The conference ultimately accepted the right of individual and collectiveself-defense, while calling for “abstention from the use of arrangements of collective self-defense to further the interests of the big powers.17" Even though a compromise wasreached, this debate resulted in further polarization in the Middle East about the issue ofneutralism and nonalignment, with Egypt returning even more staunchly opposed to thevery existence of the Baghdad Pact. The impact of the Bandung conference was extensive and wide-ranging.However, two aspects must be mentioned due to their importance in transformingEgypt’s relationship with the Communist bloc, Western bloc and Third bloc. Firstly, theBandung conference led to an unprecedented emergency of “Pan”-ideologies that16 Ibid, 717 Ibid, 8. 10
  11. 11. transcended nationalist and pointed to internationalism18. This not only significantlyaffected Nasser, who would later become one of the main proponents of pan-Arabism; italso facilitated the creation of an international Third bloc. Furthermore, Bandung servedas an affirmation and extension of a double standard inherent in Asian neutralism –expecting the worst from the West and giving the East the benefit of the doubt19. Whilethis blatant double standard may seem incongruent with the definition of neutralism, ithas a logical basis, seeing as how previously colonized countries maintained an anti-Western sentiment and underdeveloped countries of the time tended to be vaguelysocialist20. While the Bandung conference in itself had a significant impact on all those inattendance in terms of policy orientation, its effects on Nasser himself are of significantimportance.Nasser in Bandung Nasser emerged out of Bandung, his first international conference since seizingpower, as a dynamic and secular Third World leader who was deified for his courageousstance against the West. Professing the meeting was a turning point in his politicalunderstanding; Nasser credits the Bandung conference for the realization thatnonalignment was the only means through which Egypt could navigate the treacherouswaters of the Cold War21. Additionally, Nasser met several leaders there with whom heforged relations that would greatly affect Cold War policy in the Bandung era. For18 Nazli Choukri, "The Non-Alignment of Afro-Asian States: Policy, Perception and Behavior," CanadianJournal of Political Science, 2:1 (1969), 6.19 Georgiana G. Stevens, “Arab Neutralism and Bandung,” MEJ, 11:2 (1957), 149.20 G.F. Hudson, "The Neutrals and the Afro-Asians," World Today, 20:12 (1964), 543.21 Elie Podeh, The Quest for Hegemony in the Arab World: the struggle over the Baghdad Pact (Leiden: Brill Publishing), 147. 11
  12. 12. example, his meeting which Chinese leader Chou En Lai en route to, and during, theconference laid the foundation for Sino-Egyptian relations and tackled the possibility ofreceiving military aid from the Soviet bloc – both of which would define Egypt’srelationship with the Communist bloc following the conference. What was of greatersignificance, however, was its effect on Nasser’s persona. As one of the most popularleaders at Bandung, both inside and outside the Conference halls, Nasser could be seenwaving to the crowds and signing autographs for children eagerly awaiting hisappearance22. Applauded for his role in arriving at compromises between pro-Westernand neutral camps at Bandung, Nasser was elected chairman of the committee chargedwith selecting and formulating resolutions23. This clear position of dominance and theadmiration with which fellow delegates viewed him changed Nasser’s perceptions of hisown role – a grander, more expansive and international role. This validation would asserthis prominence at home, but more importantly influence his relations with theCommunist and Western blocs. Upon his return, Nasser was hailed as the champion ofAsia and Africa. Nasser’s former colleague and rival in the RCC Khalid Muhi al-Dinrecalled Nasser’s ascendancy by stating, “I immediately sensed that things had changedgreatly. In the past we used to address him as ‘Gamal’, but now I found everyoneaddressing him as ‘chief’”24. Officially making Egypt synonymous with Nasser, theBandung conference elevated Nasser’s status domestically and internationally, while alsoendowing him with a formidable conviction that he would no longer be subject to the22 See Seng Tan and Amitav Acharya, Bandung Revisited: the Legacy of the 1955 Asian-AfricanConference for International Order, (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press), 12.23 Ibid.24 James P. Jankowski, Nassers Egypt, Arab Nationalism and the United Arab Republic, (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.), 66. 12
  13. 13. whims of Cold War dynamics, but would commit steadfastly to an independent foreignpolicy within the Cold War.Egypt and the Communist BlocSino-Egyptian Relations Nasser’s meeting with Chinese premier Chou En-Lai in Bandung served as thefirst step in promoting Sino-Egyptian relations. Post-Bandung, China opened its gates toemissaries from all over the world. This led to heightening of Sino-Egyptian interactionin the Bandung era through official and private missions of exchange. In 1956, Egypttook a historical step by becoming one of the first countries in the region to formallyrecognize the People’s Republic of China. This recognition was followed by a significantincrease in Communist Chinese diplomatic and economic activities in Egypt. Interactionwith China further intensified in 1958 with the establishment of the PermanentOrganization of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity25. The benefits of Sino-Egyptianrelations for Egypt, forged due to the Bandung conference, were two-fold: political andeconomic. While communist China gained Egypt’s support for its claim to Taiwan and itsseat in the UN, Egypt gained Chinese support on most Arab issues including, but notlimited to, the Palestinian conflict, opposition to Western imperialistic designs in thearea, and French colonial presence in north Africa26. Furthermore, during the Suez Crisisof 1956, China offered to send 280,000 volunteers to help the Egyptian forces in theircampaign against the West. While political and military support aided Egypt, it was theeconomic relationship forged with China as a result of Bandung that was most25 Joseph E. Khalili, “Communist China and the United Arab Republic,” Asian Survey, 10:4 (1970), 310.26 Ibid. 13
  14. 14. significant. On August 22, 1955, China signed a three-year trade agreement with Egyptunder which payment should be affected in transferable sterling or in any other currencyacceptable to both parties27. Furthermore, Egypt’s recognition of China was accompaniedby a barter agreement under which 45,000 tons of Egyptian cotton was exchanged for2,500 tons of Chinese steel28. In the years between 1955 and 1957, Sino-Egyptian trade increased from $28 million to $63 million annually29. Seeing as how China’s traderelationship with Egypt was mainly as a market for cotton exports, by March 1958 Chinawas third amongst countries to which Egypt exported cotton30. The effects of Bandung onSino-Egyptian economic relationships were not only significant, but long lasting as well.Even with the decline in Egyptian exports to China from 1957 until 1963 – following theend of the Bandung era - Chinese exports remained almost constant, a testament to thefavorable balance of trade with China. Therefore, Bandung had a positive effect on Sino-Egyptian relations that were favorable to Egypt. While significant in itself, Sino-Egyptianrelations’ post-Bandung also brought Egypt within the orbit of the Soviet UnionSoviet-Egyptian Relations While it may seem odd that a conference that denounced Soviet imperialismwould lead to a closer alliance with the Soviet Union, the Bandung conference left Nasserdisillusioned with the West, and adamant in his pursuit of an independent Cold Warpolicy. During the conference, Nasser asked Chou En Lai to contact the Soviet Union27 Ibid, 315.28 Ibid.29 Joseph E. Khalili, “Communist China and the United Arab Republic,” Asian Survey, 10:4 (1970), 315.30 Ibid, 314. 14
  15. 15. about an Egyptian request for arms. As Egypt became increasingly aware of Sovietwillingness to provide Egypt with necessary military needs, and due to inheriting theaforementioned Asian double standard, serious Soviet-Egyptian talks began followingBandung. In July 1955, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitri Shepilov arrived inEgypt to negotiate a possible arms agreement. The subsequent arms deal was guised as atransaction between Egypt and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic – a Soviet satellite31.The Czech arms deal of September 1955 granted Nasser between 120 and 200 MiGfighters, 200 medium and heavy tanks, 35 twin-engine bombers and much more. Thesignificant of this arms deal is not solely military, but signifies a marked move towardsthe Soviet Union32. Furthermore, this was hailed by the Egyptian public as a sign ofliberation from Western patronage and manifestation of Egypt’s independent foreignpolicy. This monumental step in Egyptian history, which has repercussions on Cold Wardynamics in the entire region, could not have been possible without the BandungConference. Along with the Czech arms deal, which opened up the Soviet arsenal to Egypt andsignified military cooperation, the Bandung era was characterized by political andeconomic cooperation. In June 22nd, 1956, a joint communiqué was issued between theSoviet Union and Egypt expressing desire for all-around cooperation. Furthermore, thatsame year, the Soviet Union supported Egypt during the Suez crisis by sendingdiplomatic notes to Britain, France and Israel threatening use of force in order to restorepeace. Further agreements of cooperation were reached on a multitude of issues such as:peaceful use of atomic energy in 1956, cultural cooperation in 1957 and economic and31 Bary Rubin, “America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957,” PSQ, 97:1 (1982), 84.32 Ibid. 15
  16. 16. technical cooperation in 1958. Furthermore, on May 15, 1958, a joint declaration wasissued expressing Soviet-Egyptian desire to strengthen relations on the basis of mutualrespect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. This declaration also outlined a dedicationto noninterference in each other’s affairs and peaceful resolution of international affairs.These agreements are indicative of a strong Soviet-leaning during the Bandung era. Thiswas further exacerbated by a Soviet offer in June 1956 to finance the construction of theHigh Dam, supplemented by offers of technical assistance throughout the building of thedam. While this was a significant economic assistance, a survey of Soviet bloc assistancethroughout the Bandung era further affirms the extent of Soviet-Egyptian economic ties.Along with financing the High Dam, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, East Germanyand Hungry financed several other heavy industry and basic industry projects33.Furthermore, trade with the Soviet bloc constituted one-third of Egypt’s foreign trade,with the balance of trade clearly in Egypt’s favor. The Soviet bloc’s long-term tradeagreements granted Egypt L.E. 230 million in credit facilities as well as loans of L.E. 186million34. Distant maturity rates, low rates of interest and payment in cotton ensured thatloans were not burdensome on the Egyptian economy and could be utilized immediatelywithout concern. Along with economic assistance, the Soviet bloc also undertook the taskof training and educating Egyptian engineers and technicians35. The aforementionedSoviet and Chinese assistance not only solidified the Communist bloc as Egypt’s greatestally in the Bandung era, but signifies a strengthening of relations with said bloc in all33 Anouar Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society, (N.p.: Random House), 241.34 Anouar Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society, (N.p.: Random House), 241..35 Ibid, 242. 16
  17. 17. aspects – political, economic, educational – as a result of the Bandung conference.Nasser and the Western Bloc While bringing Nasser significantly closer to the Communist bloc, the Bandungconference inversely resulted in the deterioration of relations between Nasser and theWest. Prior to Bandung, Nasser was viewed by the US as a pro-Western moderate whowould not pose a threat to Western interests in the region. Following Bandung, however,there was a noticeable shift in Nasser’s stance. Whereas the tone of pre-Bandung rhetoricwas conciliatory, with an emphasis on the peaceful aspects of neutralism, Nasser returnedfrom Bandung with a rhetorical undertone of Soviet support36. Simultaneously, due to hisemergence as an international figure in Bandung and his newfound persona, Nasserreturned more confident in his dealings with the West, and the disillusionment he feltprior to Bandung was now manifested in a more independent foreign policy. Bandungalso endowed Nasser with a legitimate basis for adopting an even firmer stance againstthe Baghdad Pact, as he believed the conference outlined abstention from defense pactsof this kind. As opposed to the watered-down resistance he exhibited before theconference, Nasser staunchly opposed the pact following the conference and set out toestablish defense pacts with neighboring Arab countries that excluded Western powers,such as the Arab Solidarity Pact of January 1957 with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan37.The validation Nasser received at Bandung also empowered him enough to give the USan ultimatum – unless he obtained US arms unconditionally, he would turn to Moscow.Oblivious to the extent to which Nasser’s persona had been affected by Bandung, US36 Bary Rubin, “America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957,” PSQ, 97:1 (1982), 83.37 James P. Jankowski, Nassers Egypt, Arab Nationalism and the United Arab Republic, (Boulder: LynneRienner Publishers, Inc.), 66. 17
  18. 18. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles believed this was a bluff. By the time Dullesrealized Nasser was sincere in his ultimatum, the Czech arms deal had gone through.Aswan Dam Financing and Project Omega Increasingly aware of Egypt’s Soviet leanings post-Bandung, the US resorted toinvolvement in Aswan High Dam financing as a means of ascertaining good relationswith Egypt. The financial commitment by the US, Britain and the World Bank was rootedin the belief that, as stated by Treasury Secretary George Humphrey, “if the West doesnot do, the Soviet bloc will38”. However, the US was outraged by Nasser’s recognition ofcommunist China. While Nasser believed that this act would convey to Washington hisnew independent and neutralist foreign policy, the US considered it an attack on theirCold War interests and US legislators were no longer willing to aid Egypt. Following astatement by the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Joseph Canon toDulles in which he explains, “we will not approve one cent for any dam in Egypt”, theUS revoked their financing of the High Dam39. It is important to note that, while Congressional debate regarding financing thedam was occurring, Dulles was drafting an informal policy towards Nasser’s Egypt inMarch 1956. Project Omega, as it came to be called, realigned Middle East policytowards the marginalization of Nasser. This was a direct response to Egyptian Sovietleanings, and was meant to show Nasser that he would seize to receive any favorabletreatment from the US if he continued to cooperate with the Soviet Union. Dullesproposed doing this through restricting Eisenhower’s 1954 Food for Peace Program and38 Bary Rubin, “America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957,” PSQ, 97:1 (1982), 87.39 Ibid. 18
  19. 19. other forms of economic aid, as well as actively delaying and eventually cancellingAswan Dam financing40. Dulles hoped Project Omega would strike a balance betweenreprimanding Nasser and undermining his regional dominance, while still avoiding anopen break with Egypt that would drive it into the arms of the Soviet Union. Parallel toUS policy responding to Nasser’s Soviet support, Britain was responding by adopting ahardened policy due to tits belief that Egypt was the root of anti-British activity in theArab world. Further enraged by Nasser’s opposition to the Baghdad Pact and his attemptto foil British plans to incorporate Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, Britain hoped to overthrowNasser41. As Project Omega and the British policy were being formulated, and the USwas on its way to revoking dam financing, Nasser threatened to resort to Sovietfinancing. Not only did the latter happen, Nasser did the unimaginable in response to theacts of the Western bloc and nationalized the Suez Canal in the “spirit of Bandung”42.The Suez War The nationalization of the Suez Canal, regarded by Egyptians and Arabs at largeas a courageous blow to Western imperialism, resulted in the Suez War of 1956 – adefining moment in Egypt’s relationship with the West. Following the nationalization,Britain, France and Israel conspired to launch a tripartite aggression. The US disagreedwith this invasion and wanted to avoid war at all costs. It also resented Anglo-Frenchattempts at implicating the US and specified its primary concern as the continuation of40 Ibid, 88.41 Bary Rubin, “America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957,” PSQ, 97:1 (1982), 99.42 Georgiana G. Stevens, “Arab Neutralism and Bandung,” MEJ, 11:2 (1957), 148. 19
  20. 20. peaceful operation of the canal43. US unwillingness to intervene was based on the beliefthat Western-Arab confrontation in Suez would surely benefit Soviet interests in theMiddle East. Therefore, along with the Soviet Union, the US forced the withdrawal oftripartite forces and played a major role in securing Nasser’s political success. Whilesupport and intervention in the Suez Canal by communist China and the Soviet Unionresulted in the strengthening of ties, this was not the case with the US. The result of theSuez War was devastating on Western bloc relations with Egypt. Along with destroyingBritish credibility and crippling the Baghdad Pact, it resulted in US resentment towardsNasser. Following the war, the CIA, White House and State Department were fiercelyanti-Nasserist and became convinced that he was a Soviet tool44. This belief, coupled withheightened fears that Egypt’s Soviet leaning would have a ripple effect across the region,played a role in the birth of the Eisenhower Doctrine.The Eisenhower Doctrine Following the Suez Crisis, which posited Nasser as the ultimate Arab and ThirdWorld hero, president Eisenhower felt the need to replace the power vacuum left byBritain and France in the region and off-put Nasser’s dominance. This resulted in thecreation of the Eisenhower doctrine – a US attempt to mobilize the Middle East againstthe perceived Soviet-Egyptian threat. Under this doctrine, the US promised to helpnations protect their independence and integrity against armed aggression fromCommunist – or communist-dominated – countries45. While no specific reference was43 Bary Rubin, “America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957,” PSQ, 97:1 (1982), 89.44 Ibid.45 Bary Rubin, “America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957,” PSQ, 97:1 (1982), 89. 20
  21. 21. made, the Eisenhower Doctrine was aimed at Egypt and Syria. Eisenhower hoped that byextending a helping hand, he would provide Arab regimes with an alternative to pro-Soviet Nasserism. Egypt viewed this as an attack by the US, and issued an officialresponse on February 1957 declaring a policy of positive neutralism, and reaffirming thebelief that the defense of the Arab should come from within the Arab national rather thanunder the sponsorship of either power bloc46. This signified the final deterioration ofEgypt’s relations with the Western bloc in the Bandung era.Nasser and the Third Bloc When examining the effects of Bandung on the relationship between Egypt andthe Third bloc, one is faces a peculiar situation. Whereas Bandung resulted in gravitationtowards the Western bloc and away from the Soviet bloc, it effectively created the Thirdbloc. The Bandung conference served as a landmark in the emergence of Third Worldbloc – aimed to promote political and diplomatic autonomy of less developed countries inthe face of Cold War politics47. The gathering of Third World countries indicated thatAfro-Asian nations were capable of articulating their desire for more autonomycollectively in a manner consistent with international diplomatic norms48. Furthermore,these nations directly addressed the pressures placed upon them to participate in US-Soviet rivalry. Viewing Cold War dynamics as a continuation of a long tradition ofWestern-dominated diplomacy, delegates at the Bandung conference proposed the46 James P. Jankowski, Nassers Egypt, Arab Nationalism and the United Arab Republic, (Boulder: LynneRienner Publishers, Inc.), 102.47 "Bandung Conference." Encyclopedia of the Cold War. Ed.. (New York: Taylor & Francis Group).48 Ibid. 21
  22. 22. creation of an alternative international order49. Therefore, it served as the first seriouschallenge by the Third World to the existing Cold War dynamic. Due to theaforementioned facts, the Bandung conference signified the debut of the Third World onthe international stage. Third World countries, arising from a long history of dominationand political suppression, would no longer be passive recipients but active participants inglobal politics. The series of meetings that took place between Afro-Asian nations in theBandung era, all of which Egypt played a prominent role in, serve as a testament to theformation of a cohesive Third Bloc. An example of this is the Afro-Asian People’sSolidarity Conference that took place from December 1957 until January 1958. Thisconference, which brought together 45 African and Asian countries and included theSoviet Union and China, met in Cairo in order to emphasize their unity on overcomingunderdevelopment and neo-imperialism50. Through the formation of the Third bloc,Nasser had finally found a place within which he could emerge as an international leader.From early on in his political career, Nasser was committed to the belief that Egypt’splace in the world was positioned between three congruent circles of influence – Arab,African and Muslim. The Third bloc, therefore, endowed him with an arena where allthree circles coexist and where Egypt could become an international leader. Due to hisprominence and popularity during the Bandung conference, the resulting Third blocwould naturally place Nasser in a position of leadership.“The Big Three” The Bandung conference also affected Nasser’s relationship with the Third bloc49 Ibid.50 Georgiana G. Stevens, “Arab Neutralism and Bandung,” MEJ, 11:2 (1957), 149. 22
  23. 23. as it created the relationship between the “Big Three” of the Nonaligned Movement -Nehru, Nasser and Tito. Although Nehru and Nasser’s relationship predates Bandung, itwas during that conference that their political relationship was solidified. Furthermore,Nasser’s commitment to the neutral doctrine during Bandung caught the attention ofYugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito. This resulted in successive Yugoslav missions toEgypt throughout 1955, culminating in an official visit between Nasser and Tito inSeptember of that year. During this meeting, both leaders established a friendship on thebasis of the Bandung principles51. The following year, Nehru, Nasser and Tito met at theBrioni meeting in order to outline common convictions and the major theses of whatcame to be known as positive neutralism. This included commitment to peace throughworldwide collective security, the disappearance of imperialism, belief that nonalignmentwould ease global tensions and increase international cooperation52.. Consequently, theBrioni meeting would serve as the foundation of nonalignment53.The Birth of Nonalignment The principles of Bandung inspired the creation of the Non-Aligned Movementthat was established in 1961 to challenge the Cold War spheres of influence. Whilenonalignment is traditionally viewed as a replacement to Bandung’s neutralism, thedouble standard and Soviet-leanings that originated in the Bandung era continued wellinto the era of nonalignment. A study of the votes cast by the 50 nonaligned states on the56 Cold War issues discussed in the UN General Assembly between 1960 until 1963 are51 Ibid, 151.52 Anouar Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society, (N.p.: Random House), 226.53 Ibid. 23
  24. 24. indicative of the perpetuation of the aforementioned trends during nonalignment54. Byexamining the way in which officially nonaligned states voted, the study differentiatesbetween which countries were Western-oriented, Soviet-oriented, or truly nonaligned.This study depicts Egypt as one of twenty-five Soviet-oriented nonaligned states – aqualification based on the fact that Egypt cast a majority of their positive votes (97%) in amanner identical to the Soviet Union55. This clearly shows that Egypt’s Soviet-leaningsduring the Bandung era remained a defining element of its nonaligned policy. The Belgrade Conference of 1961, the equivalent of Bandung to the Non-AlignedMovement, hosted by Tito in coordination with Nasser brought together 25“uncommitted chiefs of staff”56. Similar to the Bandung conference, in which 13 of thedelegations present were Soviet-oriented states, the Belgrade conference was attended by15 Soviet-oriented states57. Consequently, this resulted in the continuation of the doublestandard institutionalized in Bandung and endowing the conference with an anti-Westernhue. The resolutions of this conference, which Nasser played a significant role inbringing to life, coincided greatly with the resolutions passed at Bandung. Theseresolutions both criticized Western imperialism while attributing no condemnation to theSoviet Union58. The Bandung conference, therefore, resulted in the creation of a Thirdbloc that Nasser played a significant role in formulating. Furthermore, it set theunderlying premise of Third bloc views –a premise that would continue to lay the54 Theodore L. Shay, "Nonalignment Si, Neutralism No," The Review of Politics, 30:2 (1968), 231-232.55 Ibid, 235.56 G.F. Hudson, "The Neutrals and the Afro-Asians," World Today, 20:12 (1964), 542.57 Theodore L. Shay, "Nonalignment Si, Neutralism No," The Review of Politics, 30:2 (1968), 242.58 Ibid, 241. 24
  25. 25. foundation of the Non-Aligned Movement.Conclusion A close examination of the Bandung Conference clearly shows the extensiveimpact it had on Egypt’s relations with the Communist bloc, Western bloc and the newlyemerging Third bloc. This conference radically changed the lens through which the ThirdWorld, including Egypt, viewed itself and its relationships with the global forces of theCold War. While this paper covers a wide range of repercussions on Egypt’s Cold Warrelations caused by Bandung, one must realize its limitations and the further questions itraises. In terms of its time-scope, this examination focuses primarily on the Bandung erawith a brief reference to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961.Therefore, due to this limited time frame, one must question whether the effects of theBandung conference went beyond the early years of the Non-Aligned Movement.Moreover, it remains unanswered whether Egypt’s Soviet-orientation during the Bandungera was characteristic of Nasser’s presidency at large or whether it was limited to this era.Yet another limitation of this analysis is its reliance solely on secondary sources. Whilethis provide valuable information and analysis into the effects of the Bandung era,primary sources offer an unparalleled insight into the events at hand and bestow thereader with a sense of the contemporary atmosphere surrounding the events. Anadditional limitation lies in the focus of the analysis regarding the Western bloc primarilyon the US. Perhaps the examination would be strengthened by a greater analysis of howthe Bandung conference effected Egypt’s relation with other Western countries – such asBritain. Furthermore, this analysis raises a question regarding US complicity in Egypt’sSoviet-leaning during the Bandung era. While the Bandung conference instilled in Egypt 25
  26. 26. an affinity for the Communist bloc, the reaction of the US to the Bandung conference –possibly an underestimation of its importance – could have exacerbated this affinity.Therefore, this begs the question of whether this could have been avoided had the USrecognized the importance of the conference itself, and the importance of its effects onNasser and his policy. This academic work, therefore, must viewed as a stepping-stonetowards a more comprehensive analysis of this wide-spanning topic. In later stages, itmay aid the work if greater emphasis was placed on the Soviet reaction to Bandung, aswell as an increased time frame that allows determination of the longevity of Bandung’seffects. 26
  27. 27. Works CitedAbdel-Malek, Anouar. Egypt: Military Society. N.p.: Random House; First Edition, 1968. Print."Bandung Conference." Encyclopedia of the Cold War. Ed.. Ruud van Dijk. New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2008. Print.Choukri, Nazli. "The Non-Alignment of Afro-Asian States: Policy, Perception and Behavior." Canadian Journal of Political Science 2.1 (1969): 1-17. Web.12 Dec 2010. <>.Jankowski, James P. Nassers Egypt, Arab Nationalism and the United Arab Republic. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2002.Hudson, G.F. "The Neutrals and the Afro-Asians." World Today 20.12 (1964): 542-548. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <>.Khalili, Joseph E. "Communist China and the United Arab Republic." Asian Survey 10.4 (1970): 308-319. Web. 10 Dec 2010. <>.Podeh, Elie. "The Drift Towards Neutrality: Egyptian Foreign Policy during the Early Nasserist Era, 1952-1955"." Middle East Studies 32.1 (1996): 159-178. Web. 10 Dec 2010. <>.Podeh, Elie. The Quest for Hegemony in the Arab World: the struggle over the Baghdad Pact. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill Publishing, 1995.Rubin, Barry. "America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1057." Political Science Quarterly 97.1 (1982): 73-90. Web. 10 Dec 2010. <>.Shay, Theodore L. "Nonalignment Si, Neutralism No." The Review of Politics 30.2 (1968): 228-245. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <>.Stevens, Georgiana G. "Arab Neutralism and Bandung." Middle East Journal 11.2 (1957): 139-152. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <>.Tan, See Seng, and Amitav Acharya. Bandung Revisited: the Legacy of the 1955 Asian- African Conference for International Order. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2008. Print.van Eekelen, Bregje. Shock and Awe: War of Words. Santa Cruz, California: New Pacific Press, 2004. Print. 27
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