WASHINGTON (Jul. 22)
President Nasser of Egypt, placed in a perilous position by American, British and Soviet refusal to finance the construction of the Aswan Dam, may embark on a military adventure against Israel to distract attention from his failure to carry out the highly-publicized Aswan Dam project.
Such a possibility was taken into consideration here today following the receipt of news from Moscow that Dmitri Shepilov, Soviet Foreign Minister, had indicated yesterday that the Soviet Government would give sympathetic consideration to requests for aid from Egyptian industry but is not inclined to provide aid for the building of the Aswan Dam.
It was feared in Washington that after the blunt refusal by the State Department last Thursday evening to help Egypt build her projected $1,300,000,000 Aswan high dam on the Nile, Col. Nasser would turn to Moscow for such help. The Soviet Foreign Minister’s statement in Moscow yesterday confirmed the opinion of Washington circles which said that Russia was unlikely to undertake such a heavy financial, technical and industrial drain on her resources as the construction of the Aswan Dam would involve.
(The New York Times reported from Moscow today that despite Mr. Shepilov’s statement, diplomats there did not rule out entirely the possibility of Soviet aid on the Aswan project. They pointed out that Col. Nasser is expected in Moscow in mid-August and at that time the entire question of Soviet relations with Egypt will be reviewed. Questions of economic and possibly military aid will be discussed.)
MAY TRY TO SAVE HIS PRESTIGE BY EXPLOITING ISRAELI ISSUE
With no outlook of obtaining foreign aid for the dam project and therefore, with no solution of his basic economic problems in sight, Egyptian President Nasser might be tempted to save his prestige amount his own people, as well as among the Arabs in other countries, by exploiting the Israeli issue, it was thought in diplomatic circles here.
Reports reaching Washington during the week-end leave no doubt that the withdrawal of American and British offers to help Col. Nasser build the Aswan Dam has already undermined the confidence in him which prevailed in some of the Arab countries where he was considered the champion of Arab nationalism. These reports also indicate that his political enemies at home–of whom there are many–may seize the opportunity to undermine his popularity in Egypt and to charge him with ineffectiveness.
Under such circumstances, some observers in Washington fear that the way out for Col Nasser might appear to be as the Arab champion against Israel. However, it is believed certain here that a second round of fighting between the Arab countries and Israel almost certainly would bring Western forces back into the Middle East, and this would annul Col Nasser’s achievements in ousting the British forces from Egypt, which brought him so much glory among the Arabs.
An organization calling itself the “National Committee for Security and Justice in the Middle East.” today called the withholding of U.S. funds from Egypt’s Aswan project “sheer lunacy” and something “which can well turn out to be disastrous to the American national interest.” The group includes personalities who have associated themselves with anti-Zionist activities. Among them are Alfred M. Lilienthal, of the American Council for Judaism.