Relations with Nasser

April 14, 1965

Report Outline
Controversies in the Middle East
Nasserism in Revolutionary Egypt
Western Relations with the U.A.R.

Controversies in the Middle East

Worsening of relations between the United States and the United Arab Republic may soon be given concrete expression by refusal of new economic assistance to that country. Contemptuous comments about American aid by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the burning of a U.S. Information Agency library in Cairo, and the U.A.R.'s open support of arms shipments to anti-Western rebels in the Congo have combined to make continuation of economic aid of any kind appear directly contrary to this country's interests.

After a dozen years in power, Nasser seems on the verge of abandoning his non-alignment policy to establish extensive ties with the Soviet Union and its satellites. Nineteen Communist delegations visited Cairo in a six-week period early this year, and trade deals were concluded with most of them. A key objective of American foreign policy since World War II has been to keep the Soviet Union from gaining a dominant position in the Middle East. What policymakers in Washington now have to decide is whether it is still possible to make foreign aid programs an effective counter to the influence of the Soviet Union in that highly strategic region.

The deterioration of U.S.-U.A.R. relations comes at a critical moment in the affairs of the hypertensive Middle East. Arab nations and Israel are at swords' points over rights to the waters of the Jordan River. Border skirmishes between Israeli forces and Syrian troops are reported in quick succession. In the past, Nasser has exercised a restraining influence over other Arab nations that want to drive the Israelis into the sea. But his increasingly bellicose stand against the West may signal a turn away from maintenance of the status quo in Israeli-Arab relations. The U.A.R.'s deep military involvement in the civil war in Yemen suggests the extent to which Nasser has departed from moderation in the conduct of foreign policy.

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