What was the Egyptian purchase of Soviet arms in 1955?
In 1955 the first Egyptian-Soviet arms deal took place, disguised as a Egyptian-Czech transaction, an event which had a seriously destabilizing impact on the regional arms race. Egypt was able to purchase some two hundred tanks and other weapons after which the Tripartite Agreement of 1949 collapsed. France, motivated tohelp Israel by Egypt’s support of Algerian rebels, sold about two hundred tanks to Israel.
The Egyptian-Czech arms deal of 1955 signalled the gradual opening up of the whole Soviet arsenal first to Egypt and subsequently also to Syria and to Iraq. Huge arms deals between the oil-producing states particularly Saudi Arabia – and the US have resulted in a flood of arms, which Israel had to take into account, in spite of American assurances that they were not intended for use against Israel. France, which at one time had been Israel’s main, indeed only, supplier of military hardware, has meanwhile sold equivalent, or more modern equipment, to certain Arab states including Iraq. Immediately after Nasser made his 1955 arms deal, Israel appealed to the United States ? not for a gift of arms, but for the right to purchase them. The U.S. recognized the need to maintain an arms balance, but it referred Israel to France and other European suppliers. It was not until 1962 that the United States agreed to sell Israel its first significant American system, the HAWK anti-aircraft missile.