[This unsigned article is reprinted from Peking Review, #13, March 26, 1976, pp. 13-14.]
ADOPTION of the bill to abrogate the Egyptian-Soviet “treaty of friendship and co-operation” by the Egyptian People’s Assembly on March 15 was another great victory of the Egyptian people in safe-guarding their national independence and state sovereignty.
On the evening of March 14, President Sadat addressed a special session of the People’s Assembly which was attended by members of the Assembly, members of the Central Committee of the Arab Socialist Union, and senior officials and officers. The President’s speech was carried live over radio and television and was attentively followed by thousands upon thousands of people throughout Egypt.
Referring to Egyptian-Soviet relations in his three-hour speech, the President strongly condemned Soviet dealings with Egypt which he described as a “cat and mouse game.” He cited numerous facts to show deliberate Soviet stratagems in refusing to sell arms and spare parts to Egypt and repeatedly pressing for repayment of debts. He declared: “In one year, and in one and a half years at most, all the [Soviet-made] arms I have will turn into scrap iron because they are withholding spare parts for the arms and the means to overhaul plane engines.” The President angrily pointed out: “This is an economic blockade and military pressure.” At this point, members of the Assembly cried out furiously against the dirty Soviet acts. Continuing, President Sadat said: “Thus they are putting economic pressure and military pressure on me unless I go to them begging on my knees.” He then firmly declared that he would neither submit to nor kneel before Soviet pressure. At this the whole hall immediately burst into thunderous applause.
President Sadat pointed out that the Soviet Union has adopted a policy of creating Arab axes leading to Moscow ever since the Middle East October War and the shrinkage of Soviet influence in Egypt. At the same time, he added, the Soviet Union has adopted a tough line towards Egypt militarily and economically.
He stressed that Egypt refused to be affiliated to either camp because that has the quality of subordination, but sought its own national and regional interests.
The session reached a climax when the President announced he was presenting a bill to the Assembly for the abrogation of the Egyptian-Soviet treaty. Many members raised their arms and shouted: “Abrogate the treaty now!”
Outside the Assembly hall, the Egyptians who were following the proceedings through radio or television were as jubilant and excited as those in the hall.
On the evening of March 15, the People’s Assembly resumed its session to consider the report submitted by the Foreign Affairs Committee recommending the abrogation of the treaty. One after another, members of the Assembly expressed their support. Nasser Abdel Ghafour said that the treaty should be abrogated because the people wish to do so. He pointed out that the treaty has long been annulled by the Soviet side since it has not implemented any of its clauses; and having been annulled by the Soviet side, it had to be abrogated by the Egyptian side. Polis Basili said that the treaty had been dead before it was born because the Soviet Union has never been true to Egypt. Mamoun Mashali said: “The Russians alleged that there are attempts now in Egypt to undermine the achievements of the July 23 Revolution. This is an interference in our internal affairs.” He pointed out that it was the Soviets who caused-the abrogation of the treaty.
Finally, the People’s Assembly approved the bill. This resolute decision which reflects the wishes and interests of the Egyptian people has won their firm and unanimous support.
The abrogation of the treaty has become a great event in Egypt’s political life and glad tidings to the people of the whole country. An Egyptian journalist said: “The treaty gives no benefit to Egypt which signed it under pressure. Thus it must be abrogated. Egyptians are willing to keep friendly relations with those countries treating Egypt on an equal footing, but will not cooperate with a country bullying it.” An athlete hailed the abrogation as a decision “that upholds the dignity of our country and our nation.” A personage from economic circles said: “It is possible that the Soviet Union will bring more pressure to bear on us after the abrogation of the treaty, but we are not afraid. Ours is a just act which is supported by the third world and European countries. We would take effective measures to overcome any difficulties caused by the Soviet Union.”
The Egyptian press has attached great importance to the abrogation and carried related reports with banner headlines and photos. “The Egyptian-Soviet friendship and co-operation treaty has been a dead letter since it was signed,” said Ihsan Abdel Koddous, Chairman of the Board of Al-Ahram, in an article published by the Egyptian paper on March 19. The article said: “In more than one clause, the treaty reiterated the elimination of the consequences of the aggression but not even one single consequence has been removed either in Egypt or in Syria since the treaty was signed.” The treaty stipulated that the two parties should confer on all important issues, but the Soviet Union has refused to do so, it pointed out. “The treaty was thus reduced to a worthless document which the Soviet Union used only as a model for other countries to follow,” it said.
Moussa Sabry, Deputy Board Chairman of the Egyptian weekly Akhbar al-Yom, in an article on March 17 said that “the abrogation of the treaty of friendship and co-operation between us and the Soviet Union is a reply to the Soviet Union’s behaviour towards us.” The article pointed out: “The Egyptian people’s prolonged struggle and sacrifices are aimed at liberation from subordination.” “The Egyptian people cannot be the tail of any one,” it added. “Friendship does not mean trusteeship, nor does alliance mean subordination and gratitude does not entail abandonment of our principles,” it stressed. “Egypt has never been a Soviet colony, nor will it become an American one,” it concluded.
Al-Akhbar’s March 16 editorial said: “The reasons which led, after long patience, to the abrogation of the Egyptian-Soviet treaty are many. Some are related to the Soviet Union’s attitude towards Egypt and others are connected with the Soviet Union’s attitude in the Arab world.”
Exposing the truth about the Soviet Union’s attempt to weaken Egypt and do harm to the Arab nation, the editorial said: “When the Soviet Union realized that Egypt will not accept subordination, it began to seek the weakening of Egypt militarily and economically by withholding arms and spare parts supplies and preventing friendly countries from selling us what we needed in order to repair the old Russian weapons.” At the same time, it said, Moscow harassed us by demanding the repayment of debts and interest on the debts while Arab and non-Arab countries were coming to Egypt’s aid. The abrogation of the treaty is therefore in response to the desires of the Egyptian people and this ought to be a lesson to the Soviet Union, the editorial noted.
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