LONDON (Sep. 9)
Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser has been forced to back down from his ambitious plan to form a unified Arab command to fight Israel, which he hoped would be empowered to move troops into Jordan, Syria or Lebanon even if there was no war with Israel, dispatches from Alexandria reported here today.
Mr. Nasser, through Marshal Aly Amer, an Egyptian who heads the unified Arab command set up to fight Israel, had insisted at the Arab summit conference, now being held in Alexandria by 13 Arab heads of state, that the command must have the right to bring Arab troops into Arab countries adjacent to Israel “in peace or war.”
But the conference adopted a resolution giving Amer the right to move military forces from one Arab country to another only “in case of war. ” It was pointed out that the resolution significantly left out the words “in peace”–showing that Nasser had lost his main move to station foreign Arab troops in Syria, Jordan or Lebanon even, if there was no war with Israel.
Another resolution adopted by the summit conference today provides that the combined Arab nations represented agreed to spend up to $14,000,000 annually to strengthen the armed forces commanded by Amer. Observers here as well as in Egypt pointed out that the sum for such strengthening of the unified forces is very small.
TUNISIA PROPOSES ‘DEFENSE’ METHODS AGAINST ISRAEL
Mohamed H.E. Heykal, editor of Al Ahram, a newspaper considered very close to Nasser, conceded that “the conference is facing difficulties.” It is no secret that the difficulties embrace at least two points. One is that Jordan and Lebanon fear giving Nasser the right to place Arab troops on their soil unless there is war with Israel. The other is that they do not want to switch from Western types of armaments, to Soviet types.
The conference dealt today with another proposal, introduced by Tunisia, calling for two lines of “defense” against Israel Tunisia wants the unified command to establish one force comprised of the armies of the states bordering Israel, and another “free-wheeling” force made up of armies from countries like Egypt and North African lands that do not have an Israeli border.
As seen here, the main difficulty at the conference is that Nasser is facing a dilemma. He must either denounce his fellow Arab rulers who will not accept his hegemony as “reactionary.” Or he must announce some kind of paper “agreement “which would, in fact, show up his own defeat at the conference.