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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
OFFICE OF NATIONAL ESTIMATES
SUBJECT: The Expulsion fromome Consequences for the Soviets
u.-jjt th* Soviet role in the Kiddle East has been one of spreading influence, increasinq presence and ever more csnbitious aim. The Soviets met occasional setbacks and proceeded opportunistically, by fits and starts, but the trend woe unmistakably in their
Vast few weeks have
checked this trend in sharp and dramatic fashion andthough it is too early to be confident inudgment
8Uod%ffxcultn.es elsewhere in the region. These developments must be raising serious questions in Moscow about the premises cn which Soviet policy has rested. ecent ONEhe Russian OusterCauses and2nalyzed the situation from the Egyptian point of view. This assessment.does the same thing from tne Soviet standpointboth in terms of the Soviet experience in Egypt and its broader implications.
This memorandum was prepared by the Office'of national Estimates and discussed with other components of the CIA, who are in general agreement with ite judgments.
1. It now seens clear that when the withdrawal of Soviet military personnel from Egypt has been completedemnant of the Soviet presence will remain; in both size and scope it will have been drastically reduced. The overall relationship, In which military ties have playedentral part, has obviously also been greatly affected, though this is in flux and it may be some time before the character of what Sadat hasnew stage" in Soviet-Egyptian relations Is apparent. Both sides have an interesteeing that the former relationship is not totally destroyed, yet there is room for further deterioration. In any event, the Russiansong way to come backgypt and their prospects there an'd in the Middle Easthole no longer look nearly as bullish as they once did.
The Soviets did their share to bring about this result.
pervasiveness of the Soviet military presence was an affront
to Egyptian national pride, and the Soviet military were frequently
clumsy and overbearing toward their Egyptian counterparts.^Much
of the Soviet activity at Eovotisn ports and air bases served
Soviet, not Egyptian, interests; the Soviets were increasingly
exercising local control over those Installations and turning them
into exclusive enclaves. The Russians constantly reminded the
Egyptians that they were far from ready for another round_of fighting with the Israelis andjainns that this was one 'of the last things they, the Russians, wanted to see happenThe Egyptians concluded, no doubt rightly, that Moscow was regulating the flow of military supplies with this In mind and was thus robbing the Egyptians of the ultimate right to decide whether to fight or.seek peace.
were other sources of Egyptian resentment. One
was the substantial and much-publicized spurt-in the Migration of Jews from the USSR to Israel. The USSR's growing closeness to Iraq, signified by the Soviet-Iraqi Treaty of Friendship, and* Moscow's unsuccessful'attempts toimilar arrangenent wj_th Syria, also bothered Cairo. It sow in these developments an erosion of Egypt's special relationship with Moscow and probably evidence of the broad scope of Soviet almshe Middle East.
sone extent, such frictions and suspicions wereeven normal, feature of the Soviet-Egyptiansomeone more secure domestically and less erratic thanmight have counted less heavily against the Russians, the Soviet dilemma was real and in the endand Egyptian interests overlapped but were not Identical.
The Egyptians saw the US-Soviet summit meeting as emphatic confinea-tion of this fact and as final proof that the USSR could and would do very little to help them recover their lost lands. The Russians had nottrong enough foundation in Cairo to bear the weight of this failure.
5. The Soviets have never felt secureelationship which depended so heavily on military support and the exigencies of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They haveess tenuous and less hazardous basis for their presence in Egypt. At the same time, they have been trying to reinsure and to build for the future by strengthening their influence in other radical Arab states. They .. have also-seen enough of Sadat to know that he is not their man. Nevertheless, the Soviet-Egyptian Treaty of Friendshipust have seemed to the Russians to have brought some order and control Into the relationship. Economic links had been growing, too. Prickly and unpredictable as Sadat might be, it must have seemed to the Soviets that he needed them more than they needed him. They were uneasyperhaps increasingly sobut they could not have expected to be hit as hard as they were.
he Soviets have managed to ride out previous setbacks in Egypt and elsewhere in the Third World. And their position has
not collapsed as it did in Indonesia, Ghana, and more recently,he Sudan. Yet Egypt has meant more to them than these other ^states. They extended themselves much further there in terms of aid given and military risks taken and in return had gained, or at least hoped they had gained, comntensurately in International power and prestige.
7. The Soviet withdrawal will have an adverse impact on Soviet navalparticularly naval airapabilities, present and potential, in the Mediterranean. The full extent of this Impact is not yet measurable. But thereittle likelihood In present circumstances that any of the other Arab littoral statesill provtde .the-Soviets with substitutes for the full array of facilities in Egypt froa which they were conducting maritime reconnaissance, electronic monitoring and ASW operations in support of the Soviet Mediterranean naval force. The Soviets apparently still have access to repair and resupply facilitiesgyptian ports which permits them to extend the patrol life of" their ships and submarines in the Mediterranean. They will, however, certainly be using these facilitiesore restricted basis (and itoubtfululler use of Syrian facilities would do more than take up sore of the slack, even if the Syrians were willing to offer them). The Soviets will, in any case, recognize (as the
influential Heikal of al Ahram has reminded them) that the remaining facilities in Egypt can also be withdrawn and cannot be confidently counted on for military-planning purposes.
Neither Syria nor Iraq seen* rti^pospd af the moment to foUow Egypt's lead by cutting back ties with Moscow. They might, in fact, now see fewer dangers to themselves in doing business with the Russians simply because it has been shown that they can be gotten rid of. They might also reason that they are nowosition to obtain additional favors from Moscow on the cheap. 8ut to the extent that the Egyptian experience is seen as aof the limits of Soviet power, the Soviets must look less awesome to the other Arabactor in the area.
Whether the setback in Egypt will produce political recriminations within the Soviet leadershipoint'on which, at this stage, not much can usefully be ventured. That it has caused bitterness and even anxiety in Moscow there can be little doubt. Some in positions of influence-may see it as one of the prices paid for the current policy of detente and ask whether the price is worth paying. Certainly, by any reckoning, the Egyptian misadventure, coming on top of the embarrassing agricultural shortages which have developed, must count as,one of the most serious present liabilities for Brezhnev and his political allies.
But thisbe partly offset by relief at the prospect of an easing of an amis burdenilitary comitment which have
been questioned at lower party levels. At the same time, the credit which Moscow is likely to win abroad for having shown good sense and military restraint in the Arab-Israeli context should do it some good, particularly in Its relations with the US and the Europeans, and thereby help the leadership's domestic position.
SovUt Policy Options in tht Middle East
10. The status quo ante Julynot -likely to be restored soon, if ever. How the Russians proceed from here will depend to some extent on what the Egyptians do and say, for the Russians are not without their own sensitivities. Already, by continuing to expose their grievances against the Russians openly, the Egyptians have begun .to produce some cracks in the stolid public front Moscow had'adopted after the expulsion order,and the Soviets are now'beginning to respond with some heat. Oncerocess of verbal give-and-take could, whatever the Intent of the two sides, make it more difficult for them to control their next moves.
ut the Soviets would seem to have'three general courses open to them. The first of these would be for Moscow to distance
itself from Cairo, letting its military and economic ties with Egypt wither over time, and giving reduced priority to its position in the Middle East generally. Seeing itself treatedhipping-boy by the Egyptians and much of the effort and expenditure of the last fifteen years gone to waste, Moscow must experience some urge to do this. But Moscow's commitment tolobal role and its belief in the high strategic importance of the Middle East is unlikely to lead it in this direction.
second course wouldunitive policy aimedthe Sadat .regime to heel or even ousting it. Moscowcurtail or end the flow of military and economicactively work against Cairo politically andMoscow could try to organize Sadat's overthrow fromthis wouldamble for the Russians, on the kind ofthey usually do not care for, since the means availablefor this purpose are probably scarce at best, in general,
the chances that the Russians could succeedolicy of pressures and covert manipulation would appear to be slight and the cost of failure high.
third course, one whichore InMoscow and more in accord with the reflexes of its
policy-making bureaucracy, would be to attempt to ride out the
present difficult period. Moscow might believe that at this
delicateard line on its part would merely serve to
deepen the estrangement and encourage Egypt to move further to
the right in Its domestic policies and in the direction of firm
non-alignment In Its international position; it could also hurt
the Russians with the other radlcal'Arab states. At the same
time, the Soviets might suppose thathey remain patient, the
natural political and social trends within Egypt, their substantial
Involvement in Egypt's economic development and trade, and the
intractability of the Arab-Israeli conflict will sooner or later
force Egypt back toward the USSR. In pursuingolicy,
Russians would probably continue to deliver new military equipment al ready contracted for by the Egyptians and spare, parts for that
in economic assistance, though Cairo might very well find the Russians turning stingier in terms of assistance given andterms demanded.
14. Even if this course, the most likely one, is chosen,s hard to believe that the Soviet relationship with Sadat can ever be the same again or that the Russians will soon again beood to bestow lavish military or economic assistancen the
scale of the past five yearson the Egyptians. To do so would be to reward them for their abuse and perhaps to encourage others to behave similarly. The Soviets will not wish Sadat.well, if they ever did, nor will they want to give him aid and comfort in his domestic difficulties. And while, as has been said, they would probably not want to risk failure in an attempt to bring about his downfall, it is entirely believable that they would be willing to give him an extra push if he seemed to be slipping. ;
15. For the same reasons that they are not likely to go
back entirely on their other commitments- to the Egyptians, the Russians can be expected to remain strong advocates of the Arab positionis Israel. They no doubt believe that their international stature and the influence that remains to them in the Arab world assuresignificant voice in the affairs of the area. They may, in addition, now feel less inhibiterf about opening up channels of communication with the Israelis. They will, in any event, continue torominent role inwith respect to an Arab-Israeli dispute. They could suppose that influence lostairo, in some part because of the detente in US-Sov1et relations,ffset by influence gained in Washington.
16. It Is possible that,in the settinghanging relationship with both Egypt and the US, the prospect ofonstructive role-in an Arab-Israeli settlement would have greater attraction for the Soviets than before. It seems at least as likely, however, that the Soviet position will remain unconstruc-tive: though the Soviets have long considered an Arab-Israeli nodus vivendi to be preferableew war, the Immediate military danger toes is now greatly reduced, and they might seeontinuing political stalemate the best promise of regaining Influence in Cairo. In any case, the obstacles to progressettlement remain great, and It is hard to see what the Soviets could or would be willing to do to surmount them.
Broader Implications for the Soviets in the Third World
17. The particular circumstances which led to the great increase in Soviet political and military strength in Egypt, and which have now contributed to their sharp decrease,-have been in many ways unique. Nevertheless, Moscow has viewed Egypt as crucial to Its position in the Middle East and has regarded the special relationship with Cairo as the crowning success of its policyhe area. While this was intact, other Soviet disappointments and setbacks were less noticeable. But the doubt which now hangs over
the Soviet-Egyptian relationship serveseminder that much has gone against the Russians in the Arab world in recent years.
The hopes which Moscow had for Algeria and, later, Libya have not been fulfilled; the former continues to keep the Soviets at arm's length and the latterllitantly anti-Soviet. The Sudan has turned intoead loss. The Syrians have managed to keep Soviet aid coming without accepting Soviet tutelage. Soviet influence in Yemen, which grew dramatically7as more recently declined precipitously. And In Somalia, though pro-Soviet elements are at present dominant, there are signs of underlying discontent with the Soviet connection. Only in Iraq have"the Soviets made some headway of late, but further progress there might very soon begin to cause problems for the Russians in their relations with Iran.
The Soviets can and will tell themselves that timen their sidehe Middle East and elsewhere inthe Third World, but thisn ideologicalractical political precept. The hopes once vested in so-called "revolutionary democratic" leaders, who as the Soviets rationalized, could be counted on to develop domestic and foreign policies favorable to Soviet interests, have been frequently and severely disappointed. The appeal to self-interest through the medium of military and
economic assistance, has produced nixed results. Reliance on Third World Communist parties holds little promise for Moscow. Its support for these parties has often resulted in grave damage to the Soviet position, as in the Sudan. In certainyria and Iraq, the Soviets have continued to work for greater participation of Communists in government. Nevertheless, It is evident that Moscow does not look for most local Communist parties to contribute much, if anything, to the growth of Soviet influencehe Third World in the near term. .
20. Thus, neither ideological affinity nor material
assistance hasure channel of Influence for the
,, * ** "
Soviets within the so-called "national liberation movement". They have all along underrated the national element in the slogan, and they have shown themselves lacking in sensitivity to the culturalhird World societies greatly different from their QW; Moreover, they have expected their friends ,in theworld toradualist approach to domestic and to be patient about their regional conflicts and They have also expected these states to understand that, because the USSR isroad, global policy, it must from time to time give second place to more parochial issues. Their friends In the Third World have quite naturally not seen matters the same way.
21. pits is not to suggest either that the, sovietsolicy which embraces the enti_re third(asalad days, supposed he had) or that their involvement there is likely to recede sharply. moscow has in recent years inclined more and moreifferentiated approach to'the widely scattered and diverse states covered by the term third world. the trend has also beenore selective approach to economic assistance to developing states. at the same time, the soviets have been quick to come forward with arms and other forms of military assistance, seeking in this way to gain wide political influence locally and to extend their capabilities for world-wide military operations- the. bases established by the soviets in egypta signal success for these efforts. this progress has been dramatically interrupted. we would not expect the soviets totheir effortshis direction. but the political and military complications which face them must be more evident than before. moscow will probably now, on this account, begin to give greater emphasis_tn its military planning to arrangementsfloat support) which are less dependent on the sufferance of unpredictable and uncontrolled regional states.
22. we have noted (in "the uses of soviet military power in distant5) the impressive
progress the USSR has made in the last decadeeveloping political Influence in the Third World; that itnxious to demonstrate that,orld power. It'has legitimate interests everywhere; and that Moscow now has the ability to support policies In distant areasreater capability than in earlier years to extend its military presence. Recent developments suggest, however, that stronger emphasis ought now be given to some further observations made in that Estimate,hat Soviet activitiesemote areas have not net with unqualified success and thereariety of circumstances which Impose constraints on Soviet policies, among them the complexities of the Third Worldnd the inhibitions "imposed on Moscow by Its broader objectives.Original document.