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

2625. Subject: Egyptian Perceptions of U.S. Motives in Middle East.

1. My contacts with Egyptians at various levels since USG veto of Security Council resolution on Mid-East on July 262 have led me to conclude that GOE thinking has now crystallized on following theory to explain USG intentions and actions in Middle East:

2. Egyptian officials believe that USG has concluded that its interests in area can be best served by arming Israel and Iran as military surrogates and keeping Arabs, particularly Egypt, weak and divided. [Page 258] Iranian military power can be used, if necessary, to preserve US oil interests in Persian Gulf. Israelis are being strengthened so that they can continue to occupy Egyptian territory, dissipate Egyptian energies, force Egypt to direct scarce economic resources to defense budget, and distract GOE from possible anti-U.S. role in the area by keeping it preoccupied with Israeli aggression. USG strategy is thus viewed by Egyptians as effort to block peace efforts and keep Israeli boots on Egyptian necks in order to distract Egypt from possible future moves against U.S. interests. To further this objective, USG is also attempting to promote internal division within Egypt and is taking steps to weaken Egypt economically. Latest example cited to us by several official Egyptians is cancellation of USG participation in FAO program for school lunches in rural area of Egypt (State 156142).3

3. Even the more sophisticated Egyptians have decided this theory is only reasonable explanation of USG veto and continued heavy U.S. economic, political, and military support for Israel. If USG means what it says about achieving a political settlement, it would be relatively easy, they reason, for USG to apply enough pressure on Israel, through U.S. control of Israel’s economic and military lifelines, to bring about more flexibility in Israel’s negotiating posture. Fact that we have not done so can only mean that USG is not interested in a settlement, but is interested in curbing Egyptian power through use of Israel as chosen instrument.

4. USG condemnation of Israel on UNSC airliner diversion resolution is considered window dressing, because USG refused to consider sanctions that would have put teeth into Security Council condemnation and made it something more than a verbal exercise.4

5. In absence of any indication of USG pressure on Israel, GOE will probably react to this perception of USG intentions by intensifying its efforts to lash out against U.S. interests. Effort is now apparently under way to solicit cooperation of Saudi Arabia and Gulf States in applying pressure on U.S. oil interests and utilizing Arab financial reserves in ways that would undercut U.S. international monetary objectives. Fortunately for U.S., Egyptian need for Saudi economic support has given Saudis the upper hand in negotiating with Sadat and has apparently [Page 259] enabled Faisal to moderate Sadat’s inclination to strike out at United States economic interests. In order to bring about a rapprochement with Faisal, Sadat has had to agree to go along with Faisal’s more moderate approach to the use of oil as a political weapon. The Saudis have apparently intervened with Sadat on behalf of the American proposal on SUMED and we have received reports that Sadat has agreed to support Faisal’s oil diplomacy at the upcoming Arab meetings at Algiers.

6. On more parochial issues, such as American cultural interests in Egypt and USINT’s freedom of action, the Saudis will have little interest, and we may be in for some difficult days ahead.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Jerusalem, Jidda, London, Moscow, Paris, Tel Aviv, and USUN.
  2. See Document 80 and footnote 5 thereto.
  3. Not found.
  4. On August 15, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 337 (1973), which condemned the Israeli Government for the forcible diversion and seizure by the Israeli Air Force of a Lebanese airliner from Lebanon’s air space. The Council called on the International Civil Aviation Organization to take account of the resolution when considering measures to safeguard international civil aviation against these actions, and called on Israel to desist from all acts that violated Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and endangered the safety of international civil aviation. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1973, p. 252)