VII. The Contemporary Period, 1945–2000 > E. The Middle East and North Africa, 1945–2000 > 2. Military, Diplomatic, and Social Developments
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
2. Military, Diplomatic, and Social Developments
Steep rise in average life expectancy throughout the region, from about 35 years to nearly 60 years. Most of these gains came from a reduction in mortality rates, which declined as people improved their diets, acquired better medical care, raised their standard of living, and became more educated.  1
Emigration of approximately 1 million North Africans (almost entirely from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) to France. Most worked in semiskilled or unskilled occupations such as construction, mining, and the service sector.  2
1945, March 22
Proclamation of the covenant of the ARAB LEAGUE (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen). The league soon founded committees to oppose Israel and to support North African independence movements. It added North African states, including Sudan, in the 1950s and 1960s.  3
The uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians (of a prewar population of 1.3 million) from the territory that became the state of Israel. All Arabs who fled during the war of 1948 were later barred by Israeli authorities from returning to their homes. The refugees eventually settled in Jordan (400,000, mainly in the West Bank), the Gaza Strip (150,000), and Syria and Lebanon (150,000). The other 600,000 Palestinians who did not relocate were distributed among Israel (150,000), the Gaza Strip (50,000), and the West Bank (400,000).  4
1947, March 12
Announcement of the Truman Doctrine by the U.S., which pledged to provide economic and military assistance to Greece and Turkey to help these countries resist Soviet pressures and encroachments. The U.S. thereby replaced Britain, which was facing financial difficulties, as the chief source of foreign aid to these countries.  5
1948, May 15
ARAB ATTACK ON ISRAEL, which had proclaimed its independence on the previous day. Five Arab armies engaged Israeli forces: Egyptian troops (about 10,000) from the south moved into the Negev desert, the Arab Legion of Transjordan (about 4,500) into the West Bank, Iraqis (about 3,000) alongside the Arab Legion, and token forces from Syria and Lebanon into the north. The Israelis had an estimated strength of 62,500: the Hagana at 55,000, the Palmach (regular troops) at 3,000, and the Irgun at around 4,000.  6
Of the Arab armies, only the Arab Legion, which captured the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, achieved any significant successes. The Syrians turned away after inconsequential border skirmishes. The Egyptians performed badly and held on to only the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops overall were more disciplined and better supplied and, unlike the Arabs, had the additional advantage of fighting under a unified command. The combat was fierce, and casualty rates were high. Israeli forces suffered over 6,000 dead. The Arabs lost over 2,000 men from the regular armies, together with an unknown number of Palestinian irregulars.  7
By the end of the war, Israel held 80 percent of the territory from the original Palestine mandate. In contrast to international wishes expressed in the UN plan of 1947, no Arab Palestinian state had come into existence. All land not held by Israel was either in the possession of Jordan (the West Bank) or under Egyptian administration (the Gaza Strip). Hostilities came to an end through a series of armistices, which disengaged the combatants without terminating the technical state of war between them. Israel first concluded a cease-fire with Egypt (Feb. 24, 1949), then with Lebanon (March 23, 1949), Jordan (April 3, 1949), and Syria (July 20, 1949). Yet the peace was fragile. Incidents along the borders were frequent, mainly caused by the activities of Palestinian guerrillas, who received encouragement from the Arab countries that hosted them. Even the most explicit terms of the armistices were not always observed. The most flagrant case was the Jordanian refusal to admit Israelis into east Jerusalem for visits to the Jewish holy places.  8
Creation by the Arab League of the Government of All Palestine, based in Gaza. It was set up ostensibly to govern the Palestinian territory still under Arab control. In reality, its chief purpose was to thwart the Jordanian absorption of the West Bank, occupied by the Arab Legion.  9
Sept. 17
Assassination of UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte by Zionist terrorists.  10
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.