BRUSSELS (Jan. 17)
A former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia said here that the Soviet Union has informed the Reagan Administration that it intends to maintain its presence in the Middle East and will continue to supply arms and support to Syria “in an unlimited way” to further that objective.
According to Robert Neumann, an American expert on the Middle East, “The Soviets would not hesitate to escalate the conflict (in Lebanon)?f there was a threat against Syria. Moscow is determined to remain in the area and will not allow itself to be excluded.”
Neumann made his remarks at an international conference on the future of NATO and global security organized in Brussels by the Georgetown University Center for Strategic Studies. The session last Saturday was chaired by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Neumann maintained that the multinational force presently in Beirut faces a “growing crisis” that is liIce ly to reach a climax in the next 2-3 months. He urge the withdrawal of the U.S. marines as well as the French, Italian and British contingents of the MNF from Lebanon. The Lebanese authorities, he said, must institute political reforms.
“The United States must withdraw the marines … or will be forced by domestic pressures to withdraw as the failure of American policy become more dramatic,” Neumann declared. He suggested that the Europeans could have an important, positive impact on the Palestine Liberation Organization and might encourage and facilitate a larger role for Egypt in the peace process.