Czechoslovakia and the Six-Day War | Wilson Center

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.

 

Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, 'The Near East Situation and Our Further Procedure," June 17, 1967.

Attachments:

General Staff of the Czechoslovak People's Army, "Report on the Causes, the Course and the Results of the Israeli Aggression in the Near East from the Military-Political Point of View," August 1967

Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, "Report on the Czechoslovak Delegation's Negotiations in the United Arab Republic, December 12, 1967,"  

Attachments: 

 

 

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Guy Laron is a Senior Lecturer at the International Relations Department, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the author of "The Six Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East."
More posts by Guy Laron
Jan Koura is a Lecturer at Institute of General History, Charles University and a head of the Cold War Study Group at Institute of the Study of Strategic Regions (Charles University). He has been a Fulbright-Masaryk Scholar at George Washington University and a Visiting Scholar at University of St Andrews.
More posts by Jan Koura