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Arabs Divided on Indian-pakistani War

The Indian-Pakistani war has seriously embarrassed the Arab world and has brought out differences hitherto obscured by the united Arab front against Israel, observers here noted today. The only Arab country supporting India outright is Iraq. The reason for Baghdad’s anti-Pakistan position, according to Israeli circles, is Pakistan’s close friendship with Iran with which Iraq is at bitter odds.

Saudi Arabia on the other hand has accused India of aggression and is supported in its charges by Morocco, Libya and Jordan which identify with a brother Moslem country. The irony of this is that the Bengla Desh of East Pakistan who are fighting for independence with India’s support are also Moslem, the Israeli circles noted.

Egypt finds itself in an awkward position. The Soviet Union, the military and political mainstay of Egypt, supports India. Furthermore, there is a long tradition of friendship between Cairo and New Delhi stemming from the close relationship between the late Indian Premier Nehru and the late President Nasser of Egypt. But that is regarded in Egypt now as a personal relationship of the past not in force today.

Both Egypt and Yugoslavia voted with the majority of the United Nations General Assembly for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of forces. Egypt therefore has assumed a position of fence-sitting with almost comic sidelights. A Cairo radio commentator analyzing the situation said Egypt regretted the war and wished both sides “success.” No sides have been taken so far by Algeria, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, Tunis, Kuwait, Yemen and South Yemen.

Israel explains its UN vote for a cease-fire and withdrawal by its position that no political status quo should be changed by force. Israeli circles rationalize that in 1967 it was Egypt which attempted to alter the status quo and was defeated by an Israel exercising its right of self-defense. They say the status quo which has existed since the 1967 Six-Day War can be changed through negotiations but not by force.

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