New U.S. Policy on Arming Arabs Received with Mixed Feeling

The disclosure here that Iraq is to be the only Arab state that will receive arms from the United States under the new Mutual Security program was received here today with mixed reaction. Under the new program, the Administration does not plan to grant free arms to Israel or to any neighboring Arab states except Iraq.

This decision is being interpreted as a key development in the re-appraisal of Middle Eastern policy which was promised by the Administration last December. In some circles it is believed that the Administration decided to limit the arms program because of the unfavorable reaction which arose on all sides. There was a lukewarm reception in neighboring Arab countries and strong opposition in Israel. Widespread Congressional concern developed on the advisability of putting arms into the Near East in advance of an Arab-Israel settlement.

(In New York, Jewish circles concerned with Israel affairs describe as gratifying the statement by Congressman Alvin M. Bentley, Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that the Administration will not extend arms aid to Arab states bordering on Israel. Jewish leaders expressed the view, however, that arms to Iraq although she does not border on Israel is still unwise, especially in view of her consistently truculent attitude and repeated threats.)

The Administration is trying to justify singling out Iraq for arms because of its oil resources and its strategic location, because of its new alliances with both Pakistan and Turkey, and because Iraq’s frontier is not contiguous with Israel. Since appropriations for specific countries are not earmarked in the legislation, it is highly doubtful that there would be any Congressional drive to eliminate the authorization for this purpose.

On the other hand, critics of the Administration policy point out that the Administration’s program offers no certain guarantee that the military balance will not be upset. Iraq is in a position to receive arms not only from the United States but from the United Kingdom, which has adhered to the Turkish-Iraqi treaty. Iraq could transmit some of its arms to other Arab countries. In addition, the United Kingdom has a long-standing agreement to provide arms to Jordan. This problem will not be adequately met, it is believed, until there is a change in the attitude of the Arab states towards Israel or until Israel is enabled to enter into some kind of defense arrangement with the U.S.

In many circles there is growing belief that an America-Israel defense treaty may be the most effective instrument not only to guarantee against renewed hostilities in the area but to promote stability and to maintain the balance of strength.

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