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Cairo-moscow Pact Goes Far Beyond Pacts Signed by USSR with Non-communist States

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Israel’s first official assessment of the Soviet-Egyptian 15 year treaty of friendship and cooperation, signed in Cairo May 27, is that the pact goes far beyond any ever signed by the Soviet Union with a non-Communist state and in fact strikingly resembles the treaties governing Moscow’s relations with the Warsaw Pact nations. The assessment was offered in a Policy Background paper issued by the Israel Embassy here. No similar detailed analysis of the treaty has been issued so far in Jerusalem. (In Jerusalem, it was reported today that Premier Golda Meir is expected to deliver her delayed political report to the Knesset on Tuesday. It will cover the visit of Secretary of State William P. Rogers on May 6-7 and developments since then, including the new Soviet-Egyptian 15 year treaty of friendship and cooperation. The principles underlying Mrs. Meir’s report were reportedly discussed at today’s Cabinet meeting.) The Embassy appended the official text of the treaty to its policy paper. Some Israeli and Western sources have expressed the belief that the treaty contains secret clauses spelling out in detail certain elements treated only generally or not at all in the released version of the pact. According to the Embassy assessment, “For the Soviet Union the treaty with Egypt represents an important landmark. Its terms do not merely formalize an existing status-quo of Russian assistance and cooperation; they grant Moscow the legality of presence and a say in the affairs of Egypt for the next 15 years.”

In the Israeli view, the Soviet, by this treaty, has achieved “what it has long sought, namely the political consolidation of its presence in the Middle East by winning a long term legal title to intervene in the affairs of the region’s dominant Arab state, Egypt, irrespective of who controls the reins of government in Cairo and in a manner that transcends the Israel-Arab conflict.” The assessment continued: “Hence the absurdity of the suggestion that were Israel but to risk making unilateral concessions this would inevitably bring about a slackening of the Soviet grip over Egypt and an Egyptian movement away from the USSR towards the West… The Soviet Union’s massive investment in Egypt and the political course it has pursued transcend the conflicts with Israel and have throughout been predicated, in the first instance, upon its own power interests. Egypt is of crucial importance to the USSR strategy in the Middle East because it is the advance base for the initiation of future power moves as the opportunities arise… What it (the Soviet Union) seeks through its own involvement in the political-military process is the maintenance of conditions for its own prestige and power by supporting Egypt and the other Arab countries in their effort to achieve a settlement on their terms: total Israeli withdrawal; mass Arab influx into Israel; sealed borders; an international force; international guarantees.”

The Embassy paper noted that the new treaty in substance and scope is radically different from the Moscow agreements with non-Communist states whose territories are contiguous with the Soviet frontiers. These treaties are essentially limited to the demands of Russian national security. “What makes the treaty with Egypt so unprecedented and far-reaching is its resemblance to the treaties governing the relationships between Russia and the Warsaw Pact states,” the paper noted. “A comparison of the language and pattern of the Egyptian treaty with, for example, the treaty between the USSR and Czechoslovakia of May, 1970, shows a sufficiently striking similarity to infer that the document signed in Cairo was at least drafted in Moscow by Soviet policy planners.” The Israeli paper issued here contained an obvious warning to the U.S. Government. It stated that any settlement between Israel and Egypt was contingent on the perpetuation of the present cease-fire which “in turn is dependent upon the maintenance of the balance of power on two levels,” military and political. “The preservation of Israel’s defensive credibility in face of the commitment undertaken by the Soviet Union in the treaty, to extend the supply of weapons to Egypt for an indefinite period… Of equal importance to the maintenance of the arms balance as a factor in preventing the renewals of hostilities is the necessity to ensure a political deterrent posture of such credibility that would prevent any miscalculation on the part of the Soviet Union, leading it to believe that it might enjoy a greater freedom of military action than it has had until now.”

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