Isabella Ginor & Gideon Remez: Sadat didn't expel Soviet "advisors"

Historians in the News

To the Editor:

Re “Who Killed Ashraf Marwan?,” by Howard Blum (Op-Ed, July 13):

In a forthcoming study, we present new evidence confirming the assumption that Ashraf Marwan was deployed by the Egyptian authorities to convey disinformation, to Britain as well as to Israel.

Our study includes a cable from a British military attaché in Cairo dated July 22, 1972, four days after President Anwar el-Sadat announced what became fixated in Western and Israeli perceptions as “the expulsion of Soviet advisers.”

We established that this was not a unilateral Egyptian move, but a voluntary withdrawal, and that the Soviet servicemen who left Egypt were not advisers. They were mainly the personnel of the integral Soviet military formations that had been stationed in Egypt since the war of attrition in 1969-70.

The actual advisers mostly remained to prepare Sadat’s cross-canal offensive in October 1973.

The British attaché quoted Mr. Marwan — while requesting that the source “should be fully protected” — as stating “in strict personal confidence” that “all the Soviet advisers had left Egypt” by the time of their conversation.

Mr. Marwan’s message was evidently ascribed high credibility. It thus formed a very effective part of a concerted Egyptian and Soviet effort to create the false impression that the advisers, rather than the Soviet units, were being expelled because of Moscow’s refusal to support Sadat’s war aims.

This in turn reinforced “the Concept” in the Israeli military leadership that Egypt was incapable of going to war, a belief that had such disastrous results on Yom Kippur of 1973.

Isabella Ginor
Gideon Remez
Jerusalem, July 13, 2007

The writers are the authors of a book about the Six-Day War.

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