The Soviets began a thrust in midyear 1970 that deepened their military involvement in Egypt. According to Rodman, they did this by “flying combat air patrols over the Suez Canal and manning the missile batteries against Israeli planes” in the Egyptian-Israeli War of Attrition.
The United States, in turn, augmented its arms sales to Israel, convincing Egypt’s new president, Anwar Sadat, that America held all the cards and was the only force that could possibly influence prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Gartoff says that the ensuing disillusionment with his Soviet backers over the provision of advanced weapons, as well as the perceived inadequacy of Moscow’s diplomatic and military support, led Sadat to expel “the approximately 20,000 Soviet military advisers and technicians in Egypt, as well as the Soviet reconnaissance aircraft based there, and [he] sharply curtailed any Soviet use of military facilities in his country ….
Sadat had decided that he could not rely on the Soviets to help him recover occupied Egyptian territory. Meanwhile, he prepared for a limited war with Israel as a means of reopening the occupation issue.
Like Cuba in 1959, Egypt transferred loyalty from one superpower to another in the midst of the Cold War conflict, and, gradually, the US replaced the Soviets as Egypt’s main military supplier.
As the US gained influence in Egypt and the Middle East, the superpower sought to exclude the Soviet Union from regional affairs, particularly from the evolving peace process.
Although Egypt’s shifting allegiances did not prevent — and may, in fact, have spurred — the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Sadat’s actions ultimately contributed to the successful negotiation of a peace agreement for the Middle East.
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