JERUSALEM (Jul. 18)
Political circles here were wary tonight over reports from Cairo that the Egyptian government has asked the Soviet Union to remove their 20,000 experts and military advisors from Egyptian soil. Official sources here pointed out that there was no official announcement of such a move to confirm the reports. The information was said to have been based entirely on “leaks” from a closed meeting of the central committee of the Arab Socialist Union, Egypt’s only political party.
(In London today, British Foreign Office sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that to their knowledge the reports are correct and the pull-out of Russian personnel has already begun. The sources said that the Arab Socialist Union endorsed President Anwar Sadat’s request to Moscow in “a mood of great frustration.” British experts estimate that there are about 20,000 Soviet military experts and advisors in various categories in Egypt. Arab sources in London expressed satisfaction at the development, except for Syrian circles which seemed bewildered at the unexpected turn of events.)
Unofficial Israeli sources described the development as historic. They noted that the last few weeks have brought reports of increasing tension between Egypt and Russia but responsible observers here have refused to predict a major crisis. If the latest reports from Cairo are officially confirmed, it would be interpreted as a major political victory for Israel, the sources said.
They claimed that Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the Sinai prior to peace negotiations while Israel’s military might grew may have contributed to the rift between Cairo and Moscow. Political circles here said it was too early to express satisfaction. They said events would have to be evaluated thoroughly and one evaluation expressed here tonight was that President Sadat sought to gain popularity with the Egyptian people by ousting the Russians.