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67. Telegram From the U.S. Interests Section in Cairo to the Department of State1

1619. Subject: Likelihood of Middle East Hostilities. Ref: Cairo 1421 (Notal).2

1. During recent weeks we have received several indications that Sadat has informed high level visitors to Egypt that he intends to launch a military operation against Israel some time in June or July. We still believe that his principal purpose in making these statements is to influence the United States to take more vigorous action with respect to the Middle East.

2. As we study the indicators available to us, however, we are led increasingly to believe that Sadat has no clear idea of what he is going to do. He is certainly aware of the fact that his talk of war unaccompanied by action raises serious questions about his credibility, but his general mood of anger and frustration leads him to make ill-advised war-like declarations to his official visitors which he himself may well believe at the time that he makes them. Subsequently, however, he perceives the disadvantages of such course of action and finds some excuse, such as a new diplomatic initiative, for accepting the recommendation of his more moderate advisors. As these diversionary tactics are played out with no evident progress towards Egypt’s basic goal of recovering its land, he becomes more frustrated and the cycle is repeated.

Greene
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Jidda, Tel Aviv, Tripoli, and USUN.
  2. In telegram 1421 from Cairo, May 14, Greene reported that Sadat’s failure to achieve the major and overriding objective of Egyptian foreign policy, recovery of occupied Egyptian territory, was a continuing embarrassment. Sadat believed that Egypt’s only hope of stopping Israeli expansion and recovering occupied land was to engage the support of powers stronger than Israel, and he thought that the United States was the key to the solution of his problem. Sadat’s current saber-rattling was designed to raise apprehensions within the U.S. Government that war was imminent and would be harmful to U.S. interests. Thus, he hoped to convince the United States to persuade Israel to become more flexible in its settlement terms. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy Files)