98. Special National Intelligence Estimate1

SNIE 35/36–73

ARAB-ISRAELI HOSTILITIES AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS2

Précis

Heavy fighting is almost certain to be short in duration—no more than a week. Neither side is logistically prepared for lengthy hostilities. The Israelis have the strength to blunt the Syrian offensive capability [Page 286]within a few days and, as quickly, to push the Egyptians back across the canal. Fighting on a lesser scale, say an artillery duel across the canal, however, could be more prolonged.

The hostilities pose serious threat to American interests. All Arabs, even those most well disposed to the US, will press Washington to be at least even-handed, if not to join in sanctions against Israel. The more radical states—Libya, Syria, and Iraq in particular—will be strident in attacking the US. They will not limit themselves to oratory and maneuvers in the UN but will also foster moves against US personnel and property in their own countries and elsewhere. Even moderates like Kings Husayn and Faysal will be under increasing pressure to distance themselves from the US.

Some interruption of oil supply to the West is likely, whether through Arab government action or through sabotage of oil facilities. Libya is almost certain to be the first to retaliate against Western oil interests. Particularly if the fighting does not end immediately, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are likely to limit oil production and may join in a general oil embargo. Though this would most hurt Western Europe and Japan in the first instance it would also aggravate the present supply problems in the US. The Arabs would hope that the West Europeans and Japan would press the US to bring influence to bear on Israel.

The Soviets will have to give political support to the Arab side, but they are following a cautious policy and would probably be willing to concert with the US in dampening tensions.

[Omitted here is the body of the estimate.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–94, WSAG Meetings, Meetings, Originals, 1973. Top Secret; Umbra. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense participated in the preparation of this estimate. The Director of CIA submitted this estimate with the concurrence of all members of the USIB except the representatives of the AEC and FBI who abstained on the grounds that it was outside their jurisdiction.
  2. This Estimate has been reviewed by the USIB Agencies at the working level. It has not been reviewed by the USIB itself. [Footnote in the original.]