INTRODUCTION Egypt and Syria, the two biggest military powers in the Arab world, have announced the formation of a unified political command setting the seal on detents after more than a year of antagonism.
INTRODUCTION Egypt and Syria, the two biggest military powers in the Arab world, have announced the formation of a unified political command setting the seal on detents after more than a year of antagonism. The announcement, made on Friday (4 February) came one day after a brief visit to Cairo by the Syrian Foreign Minister, Abdel Halim Khaddam. It coincided with the appearance of the United Nations Secretary General, Dr. Kurt Waldheim, at the start of a Middle East tour.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Khaddam arrived in Cairo with a personal message from the Syrian President, Hafez Al-Assad, to the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Last year the two leaders had sharply different views on handling the Middle East crisis and the civil war in Lebanon.
But they were reconciled at two Arab summits by the end of the year, and the Syrian leader visited Cairo last December. The new command in the 10-man body is made up of the two Presidents their deputies and premiers, and foreign and defence ministers.
Its formation marks the second major detente between Egypt and Syria in less than twenty years. The two nations merged into the United Arab Republic in 1958, but the union collapsed within three years. The new situation comes in the middle of intense diplomatic activity, centred in Cairo, to reconvene the 1973 Geneva Middle East peace conference to bring about a permanent Arab-Israeli settlement.