Fake history: Sadat expelled the Soviets

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tags: USSR, Anwar Sadat



Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez are associate fellows of the Truman Institute, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Related Link  Kissinger also Gave Away Israeli Secrets to the Russians By  Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez

Next Tuesday (July 18) marks the 45th anniversary of an extraordinary event in Middle Eastern, indeed global, annals – or rather, an exemplary case of deception that should serve as a cautionary tale and object lesson for practitioners and students alike.

Open any history book and you’ll read that on this date in 1972, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat stunned the world by announcing the expulsion of the Soviet advisers (or experts, or technicians) that had been assisting his armed forces. They are usually described as all the Soviet personnel in Egypt, and their number is given at 15,000. Their “ouster” is attributed to the détente process between the Soviet Union and the United States, which climaxed at the Moscow summit meeting of May 1972

As part of a global understanding, the USSR denied Sadat the offensive weaponry and political backing he needed to launch an offensive across the Suez Canal for the recapture of Sinai, which Israel had held since the Six Day War in 1967. The resulting rift, which heralded Sadat’s shift from the Soviet to the American camp, is considered one of the greatest US achievements in the Cold War, and is credited mainly to the architect of détente, US statesman Henry Kissinger. All this has become all but axiomatic: most works don’t bother to provide references.

There’s just one minor problem with this universally accepted account: it never happened. It’s among the conventional concepts that are challenged in our new book The Soviet-Israeli War, 1967-1973 (Hurst/Oxford University Press).

The “expulsion” story should have been suspect even at the time: the number of Soviet advisers – individual officers attached to Egyptian formations – never approached even a third of 15,000. It should have been definitively discredited when, just before the Egyptian offensive was unleashed on Yom Kippur, October 6, 1973, the USSR evacuated the dependents of the same advisers who had ostensibly been banished already.

And yet the canard persists. How it was inculcated is as intriguing as the actual doings of the Soviets in Egypt before and after Sadat’s gesture.




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