the middle east and north africa
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The Middle East and North AfricaPublished online: 22 Jan 2009.
To cite this article: (1994) The Middle East and North Africa, The Military Balance, 94:1, 120-148, DOI:10.1080/04597229408460068
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/04597229408460068
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The Middle East and North Africa
Political and Security DevelopmentsTwelve months ago this section began, 'not a great deal has changed in the last 12 months'. Thisyear, however, has witnessed a new Middle East war, distinct progress towards an Arab-Israelipeace settlement and the establishment of a Palestinian autonomous entity in Gaza and Jericho.
The Yemen Civil WarThe civil war in Yemen which broke out at the end of April 1994 was the result of rivalry betweenthe southern Yemini Vice-President, Ali Salim al-Bid, and the northern President Ali AbdullahSaleh. Northern authorities, believing that al-Bid was plotting to overthrow President Saleh,identified arms caches in San'a and launched a pre-emptive attack on southern troops garrisonedin the north. The escalation from pre-emptive action to full-scale war between the two formerYemeni states was made easier by the fact that the two armies had never been properly integratedafter unification. Only a token exchange of garrisons had taken place with a southern brigadebeing located at Amran some 40km north of San'a and a northern brigade at Zinjibar 50km north-east of Aden. The northern forces were stronger in all respects, particularly manpower, althoughthe south had longer-range, but less accurate, SSM (Scud missiles were fired at San'a on two orthree occasions).
Northern troops rapidly advanced towards Aden and southern forces were unable to block theadvance in the mountainous area south of the border. Northern forces spent some timeovercoming the garrison of the southern Russian-built base at Al-Anad, 40km north of Aden,before the open desert surrounding Aden was reached. The south announced its secession fromthe unified Yemen state on 21 May 1994, but although some Middle East states supported thesouth's cause, none recognised its secession. On 7 July Aden fell, as did the eastern city ofMukallah, and to all intents and purposes the war was over. The southern leadership has fled thecountry and may attempt to organise a guerrilla movement to oppose the government. There havebeen few reports of the scale of casualties suffered in the war; on 5 June 1994 the governmentadmitted to 613 dead, 2,030 wounded with 2,100 missing or prisoners of war (these lastpresumably from the Zinjibar brigade). Total northern casualties are likely to be around doublethese figures (less the missing), while the south will certainly have suffered even more.
Arab-Israeli Peace ProcessA major step forward was taken towards an overall Middle East peace settlement when it wasrevealed at the end of August 1993 that Israel and the PLO, during secret talks held in Oslo, hadagreed formally to recognise each other. The revelation was followed in September by anexchange of letters between Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Rabin, and on 13 Septemberby the signing in Washington DC of the 'Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-GovernmentArrangements'. The key element to the agreement was that Israel would withdraw its troops andhand over administrative responsibility to a Palestinian authority in the West Bank city ofJericho and in the Gaza strip. Also agreed were: A timetable for detailed talks on, and implementation of, Israeli withdrawal. A redeployment of Israeli troops elsewhere in the West Bank to avoid major centres of Arab
population. An election throughout the West Bank and Gaza before 13 July 1994 to elect a Council. Responsibility for education, health, social welfare, taxation and tourism to be Palestinian. The formation of a Palestinian police force. Negotiations regarding the permanent status of the territories to start no later than the third
year of the five-year transitional period.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA 121
Agreement over Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security and borders would be left to thepermanent-status talks.
A serious interruption to the peace process was threatened when, on 25 February 1994, anIsraeli resident of Kiryat Arba opened fire with an automatic weapon on Palestinians prayingat Abraham's tomb in Hebron, killing some 30 people. A high level of civil disturbance ensuedthroughout the West Bank and Gaza to which not only the Army and police, but militant settlersreacted. The Israeli Prime Minister, and many others, promptly condemned the massacre. Therewere calls (including from Israeli government ministers) for the removal of 400 Israeli settlersfrom Hebron whose protection the Army said would require 1,000-1,500 soldiers. The Israeligovernment outlawed two extremist anti-Arab groups, Kahane Chai and Kach, and eventuallyagreed to the deployment of a small group of international observers in Hebron. The peaceprocess was not derailed, but the Muslim extremist group - Hamas - swore to commit five actsof revenge; by the end of July 1994 two had taken place, both involving bombs on buses.
In the event none of the originally agreed deadlines were met, but control of Jericho washanded over on 15 May 1994 and of Gaza the next day. Chairman Arafat visited Gaza in earlyJuly 1994 and on 5 July the Palestine National Authority was sworn in at Jericho. At a meetingin Rome, Arafat and Rabin agreed to set up committees to settle outstanding issues in Gaza andJericho, the expansion of civil administration in the West Bank and the problem of Palestinianrefugees in the diaspora. Jordan and Egypt were to be represented at these talks. On 7 July 1994,Arafat announced that the Palestinian National Council would convene in Gaza to amend thePLO Charter.
No substantive agreement has been reached over a peace treaty with Syria, but the processcontinues. Prime Minister Rabin has indicated that Israel would withdraw totally from the Golanand that the settlers there would be relocated, assuming acceptable military arrangements couldbe made and that a truly comprehensive peace is achieved. The Syrians have still not clarifiedwhat they mean by full peace which continues to hamper the process, but it is understood thatthey may well accept the principles of a phased withdrawal, the deployment of an internationalpeacekeeping force, and even the possibility of Syrian forces redeploying back from theirpresent front-line positions.
The most recent developments in the peace process concern Israel and Jordan. Although acommon agenda for peace talks had been signed in September 1993, no progress was made untilJune 1994 when it was revealed that Prime Minister Rabin and King Hussein had held secrettalks. Jordan and Israel agreed to set up commissions to settle the questions of sharing waterresources, environmental concerns, demarcation of borders, security including combattingterrorism and subversion, trade and economic cooperation. The first meeting took place on 18July and King Hussein and Rabin met for their first open face-to-face talks in Washington DCon 25 July 1994 when they signed a declaration that the state of war was over and pleded to forgeeconomic links. However, Jordan is unlikely to sign a formal peace treaty with Israel until anIsraeli treaty with Syria is agreed.
Successful progress towards an overall peace settlement has not inhibited Israeli militaryaction either against Hamas and other terrorists in the West Bank, or against Hizbollah inLebanon. There have been frequent air-raids on the latter's locations, and in May 1994 acommando raid kidnapped a Shi'ite leader, Mustafa Dirani, on the grounds that he could beinvolved in the imprisonment of the Israeli pilot held since 1986.
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