The Pittsburgh Press (June 23, 1942)
Axis junction in India possible if Germans reach Suez and go on to Aden
The experts are speculating again on the possibility that German and Japanese armies may try to effect a juncture in India. Latest theory is that the Germans will seek to reach India (if they can) via the Suez-Aden-Indian Ocean route (black arrow). This would be more feasible for Hitler, the experts say, than would a drive via Afghanistan or straight through Iran and Iraq (illustrated by light arrows). Highlights of today’s news were:
1. Nazi parachutists were reported massed on Crete for attacks to the east.
2. The British sparred with Axis forces along the Egyptian frontier awaiting a major offensive.
3. The Soviet defenders closed a gao the Nazis had made in the Red lines at Sevastopol.
Cairo, June 23 –
Japan is the new factor through which German successes in beating the British back to the Egyptian border contain a worse threat to the Allied nations than did any of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s previous successful drives across the Libyan desert.
The situation is more highly critical this time because of the position of Egypt as a stepping stone for German-Japanese junction in India, a condition that did not hold before Japan’s successful drives through Burma to the Indian border.
Some observers see German armies trying to smash their way through the Caucasus, Iran and Afghanistan to join the Japs in India. For the Germans to attempt a march across the mountainous wastes of Iran and Afghanistan to India would be an almost insuperable job.
Juicy goals in Nazi path
There is an easier way – via Egypt. That is why Field Marshal Rommel made his all-out drive across the sands of Libya. If he can continue to roll up the British and march into Egypt, he makes the great ports of Alexandria and Port Said useless for the British Mediterranean Fleet, makes the sea almost untenable for the fleet, grabs the Suez Canal and seizes control of the Red Sea clear down to Aden, the tip of Arabia.
If Aden is taken, the way is then clear for Axis vessels to sail from the Mediterranean down into the Arabian Sea, joining up with Japanese vessels plying in the Indian Ocean.
Iranian oil would then fall into their hands and the Persian Gulf would no longer be available to the United Nations for transport of war materials to the hard-pressed Russians. Supplies for China through this vital area would also be blocked.
Egypt’s role peculiar
Egypt has been in a peculiar position as regards the war. Under British pressure, it broke diplomatic relations with the Axis, but although acts of war have taken place on Egyptian territory, King Farouk’s government has not declared war.
That makes no difference to Germany, of course. About a year ago, a prize court at Hamburg rendered a decision which meant that officially Germany was in a state of war with Egypt. But aside from that, little niceties never bother Hitler. When he wanted Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway, he simply took them. He will try to take Egypt, too.
Egypt may join British
So good-looking, olive-skinned 22-year-old King Farouk has been in the hot seat. It has been charged that he is pro-Italian because his father, the late King Fuad, lived for years in exile in Italy. The charge is probably untrue. But some Egyptian politicians have been found doing Axis work. And, at times past, the Wafd Party, Egypt’s great nationalist group, has been none too friendly to the British.
But in the recent elections, the party under Premier el-Nahhas Pasha won a crushing victory and el-Nahhas has declared his allegiance to the British cause.
An odd angle of the situation today is that a real German drive across Egypt may bring the Egyptian Army into combat with Axis armies for the first time in this war.
1936 treaty a factor
So far, Egyptian troops have done none of the fighting to prevent Field Marshal Rommel’s Germans and Italians from marching into the land of the Pharaohs. This has been done entirely by British Empire forces, which, by a 1936 treaty, had the right to be in Egypt, especially to guard the Suez Canal.
But the Egyptian Army has, nevertheless, helped Britain. It took over some of the garrisons along the Suez Canal, thus releasing British troops for battle service.