Czechoslovakia and the Six-Day War
Czech sources on the 1967 Arab-Israeli War
Shortly after the humiliating defeat suffered by Egypt during the June 1967 War – also known as the Six-Day War – delegations from all over the Eastern bloc hurried to Cairo in an attempt save the pro-Soviet regime of Gamal Abd al-Nasser. After the Israeli army destroyed the Egyptian army in less than six days, Nasser's regime seemed to be economically, militarily, and ideologically bankrupt. Still, the Soviets regarded their relations with Egypt highly and considered it the most important country in the Third World. Indeed, shortly after the war, the chairman of the Soviet Communist party, Leonid Brezhnev, explained to a colleague that although Nasser had shown himself capable of making serious errors of judgment, everything should be done to support him and stabilize his regime. Accordingly, Soviet, Polish, East-German, Bulgarian, and Czechoslovak delegations of high-level officials rushed to Cairo in order to understand what had happened and to find out what could be done.
Czechoslovakia was particularly close to the Nasser regime. Ever since the large arms deal that they concluded with Egypt in September of 1955 – a deal that broke the Western monopoly on arms supply to the region– the Czechoslovaks had maintained close relations with the Egyptian army and trained Egyptians officers in facilities in Czechoslovakia and Egypt.
In 1967, just prior to the Six-Day War, Czechoslovakia and the United Arab Republic were in the midst of negotiating another arms deal. The following documents show the Czechoslovak Communist Party's quick response to the oubreak of the war and efforts to ensure that the two country's latest agreement was not scuttled in the aftermath of defeat:
The text above in an excerpt from "Assessing the Damage: The June 1967 Czech Delegation to Egypt" by Guy Laron.
Thank you to Jan Koura who selected and obtained the following new documents and to David Růžička who translated them for CWIHP. Jan Koura would also like to thanks Ondřej Crhák and other members of the Cold War Study Group (Charles University) for a help with archival research and preparation of this post.
- Draft Resolution of the 37th Session of the CC of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, 'The Near East Situation and Our Further Approach'
- Explanatory Report summarizing the situation
- "Preliminary Findings Regarding the Reasons for the United Arab Republic's and the Arab States' Defeat"
- "Information about Czechoslovak economic relations with the United Arab Republic and the Syrian Arab Republic"
- "Fundamental Lessons Learned from the Aggression and Proposals for Further Steps"
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