A special press interview by Mr. Abdel Halim Khaddam, Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, about the Sinai Agreement

publisher: الوثائق الفلسطينية العربية 1975، مؤسسة الدراسات الفلسطينية Palestinian Arab Documents 1975, Institute for Palestine Studies

Publishing date: 1975-10-09


After Kissinger left the region following the signing of the Sinai Agreement on the first of September last year, returning to New York, he met with some American senators. He told them that there were secret agreements in addition to the announced agreement. On the second day, an Egyptian denial was issued challenging the existence of any secret agreement other than what was announced. Events continued, and the US administration leaked the secret agreements to some American newspapers to achieve the following objectives:

1 – To confirm that there are secret agreements, and to link them to the announced agreements.

2 – That the US administration wants to transform the commitments made under the secret appendices into international agreements. Therefore, these agreements were leaked and the matter was pushed for discussion in Congress in preparation for the transformation of the commitment of the US administration into a commitment of the US state after Congress approval. Especially since the legal advisor to the US State Department stated in a statement that these commitments are equivalent to an international agreement, and the legal body in Congress confirmed this. Hence, the goal, as I said, is to transform the messages from the US administration into international commitments that the US administration adheres to.

In fact, some of these appendices were announced, and some were not, because when the US Secretary of State was asked to disclose all secret agreements, he asked Congress members to suffice with what had been published so as not to embarrass President Sadat in front of the Arabs. It is noteworthy that these secret agreements between the Egyptian government, Israel, and America are not the first of their kind. There have been several agreements that were not announced along with the initial separation agreement, including the following:

1 – The commitment of the Egyptian government to open the Suez Canal for navigation.

2 – Allowing “Israeli” shipments to pass through the Suez Canal, as stated in the secret agreement announced by Congress, which included the following:

“The United States government will not expect ‘Israel’ to begin implementing the agreement until Egypt fulfills its commitment under the January 1974 agreement to lift the second disengagement by allowing all ‘Israeli’ shipments to ‘Israeli’ ports and through the Suez Canal.”

3 – The commitment of the Egyptian government to work on lifting the oil embargo on America.

4 – Other political commitments related to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the political campaign against “Israel.”

In fact, these appendices serve as the American guarantee for the implementation of the Sinai Agreement, as these secret appendices first transformed the American commitment to supporting “Israel” from mere statements or declarations into a legal commitment undertaken by the United States with a series of commitments related to economic, military, and political matters. Thus, the argument of those who imagined the possibility of separating American policy from Israeli policy fell apart, as these secret appendices came to link American policy with Israeli policy, not the other way around. In the economic field, for example, the United States pledged to provide economic assistance as follows:

First: Financial aid.

Second: Oil assistance related to oil and energy, including commitments to secure oil and ensure its delivery.

Third: Assistance in establishing an oil reserve by building tanks that can accommodate “Israel’s” needs for one year, noting that the known maximum reserve for oil in the world is for a period of six months.

There are also military commitments. The US government has pledged to fully and continuously meet “Israel’s” needs for military equipment, weapons, and supplies, especially highly sophisticated strategic weapons such as the Pershing missiles with a range of 750 km, and F-16 aircraft that have not been armed by the US military so far. In addition, the United States has committed to establishing a supply bridge to “Israel” with weapons and equipment in case of emergency. The total US commitments over the next five years amount to $15 billion, leading some members of Congress to say that if the United States has to pay for withdrawing from an area representing five percent of the total area of Sinai, what price would it have to pay for a comprehensive withdrawal?

There are also political commitments, as the total commitments outlined in the secret appendices serve as a guarantee for the security of “Israel.” The United States has pledged to consult with “Israel” in the event of any Egyptian breach of any agreement provisions, and to take corrective action without specifying how the breach is understood. It is enough for “Israel” to claim a breach and for the United States to accept it, thus committing to take action against Egypt.

The United States, under the secret appendices, also pledged to prevent any Security Council resolution deemed detrimental to or altering the agreement. Therefore, the United States committed to exercising its veto power to prevent international intervention, represented by the Security Council, from correcting any injustice inflicted upon the Arabs. Thus, by virtue of this agreement, the United States positioned itself alongside “Israel” to confront international organizations.

Furthermore, the US government also pledged not to engage in any actions or proposals perceived by “Israel” as detrimental to its interests and will work to thwart others’ efforts in this direction. This is a new guarantee that the United States commits to ensuring political and economic protection for “Israel” against any international move to punish it for failing to implement UN resolutions.

This agreement has made “Israel” an indirect member of NATO, as the United States, through its commitment under the appendices, guarantees the security of “Israel” against any threats, especially from major states. Naturally, US mediation will necessarily involve the involvement of the NATO alliance it leads. Hence, the US commitment places the world at the possibility of a world war if the security of “Israel” is endangered. The United States has not made such a commitment even to its closest allies.

Any dispute that arises between “Israel” and any other Arab country is not the right of the Egyptian government to intervene in. This contradicts what the Egyptian government used to claim, that if it signs any agreement with the enemy, it will include a provision canceling the agreement in case of a conflict between “Israel” and any Arab country.

Naturally, some officials in Egypt might say that this is an American commitment and has nothing to do with us. The response to that is that the United States, which acted as a mediator and guarantor for the implementation of the agreement, is the one interpreting the texts in dispute. The publication of these appendices, immediately after the announcement of the agreement, was to confirm the connection between the agreement and the appendices. This was expressed by the US Secretary of State in a press conference held three weeks ago, stating that “Israel” would not have signed the agreement with Egypt without the commitments made by the US administration towards it.

This text has nullified the commitment of the Egyptian government in the Joint Arab Defense Treaty and confirmed the withdrawal of the Egyptian government from the conflict arena with the “Israeli” enemy, confirming the Sinai Agreement.

An important point is that the United States, under the agreement, committed to the “Israeli” understanding of the rights of the Palestinian people when it expressed this in paragraph 13, which states:

“The United States government shares the “Israeli” position that negotiations will be directed towards Jordan for a comprehensive peaceful settlement.”

This contradicts all United Nations resolutions, especially those issued in the twenty-ninth session last year, and contradicts the claims made by some officials in Egypt regarding alleged commitments they obtained from the American side to recognize the Liberation Organization and secure the rights of the Palestinian people.

The appendices granted “Israel” freedom of maritime and aerial navigation from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. This confirms what is stated in the second clause of the Sinai Agreement that both parties commit to lifting the military blockade against each other. This strategic advantage granted to “Israel” by the appendices and the agreement contradicts the sovereignty rights of all countries bordering the Red Sea, especially the sisterly countries of Yemen, in addition to Morocco. One might ask the following question: If the Egyptian government sees it as its right to act in Sinai, considering such action as an Egyptian matter, then how could it justify interfering with the sovereignty of other Arab nations?

As indicated in the first secret appendix, the United States, the Egyptian government, and “Israel” have all committed to matters not only related to the development of the Arab-Israeli conflict but to the entirety of this conflict. Thus, “Israel” has received two prices under the Sinai Agreement: the first price paid by the Arab nation through the consequences of the agreement and its appendices, and the second price paid by the American people through the commitments undertaken by the US government. If the Egyptian government disagrees with these appendices, which the US Secretary of State considered as part of the agreement, as did “Israel” and Congress, then the Egyptian government should move to cancel the Sinai Agreement. Some Egyptian officials protested against providing “Israel” with Pershing missiles, yet one wonders about the value of this protest since it was not accompanied by any tangible response, at the very least, the cancellation of the agreement.

*It was clear since the end of the war that there were American and Israeli efforts to undermine the results of the October War.

The most important of these results was the change in global public opinion as a binding force compelling “Israel” to implement United Nations resolutions. “Israelis” realized that convening a Geneva conference in light of the results of the October War would lead to forcing “Israel” to commit to withdrawing from all occupied territories and recognizing the rights of the Palestinian people. Hence, the American-Israeli maneuver emerged to prevent the convening of this conference under favorable conditions for the Arabs. The United States resorted to its well-known policy step by step to dismantle the Arab stance incrementally and to create favorable conditions for “Israel” militarily, politically, and economically step by step. This fact was confirmed by the second appendix of the secret agreement, which stated in the first paragraph:

“The Geneva Peace Conference will be reconvened at a date coordinated between the United States and “Israel.”

This statement implies America’s prior commitment to the Israeli position, as well as turning the Geneva conference into an “Israeli” conference. Here we ask: Is it now possible to accept the United States’ presidency of any conference like this conference? And is it acceptable for the Arabs, after this text, to participate in a conference decided by the United States and “Israel”?

The United States committed in the second paragraph of the appendix to refusing to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization, confirming what was stated in the first appendix regarding the Israeli understanding of the rights of the Palestinian people. Is it conceivable that there are any intentions towards peace while continuing to ignore the Palestinian people and their legitimate representatives? The United States also undermined the Geneva Conference in the second paragraph by pledging to work to ensure that fundamental negotiations take place outside the conference on a bilateral basis. This means first emptying the conference and ending its missions, as well as adopting the Israeli theory of bilateral negotiations through which Arabs are marginalized, and Israel can achieve gains. Its strategy in war as well as in political work relies on isolating Arab fronts. Through this method, it has been able to achieve significant accomplishments, as evidenced in the Sinai Agreement and its appendices.

Continuing its policy, the United States pledged to vote against any initiative in the Security Council to convene a Geneva Peace Conference or to amend Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. This means that the United States will stand against the developments that emerged in international organizations and the international community, highlighting the Palestinian personality and the importance of the Palestinian people’s position in peace, in an attempt to obscure the Palestinian issue, isolate it, and turn the conflict between Israel and the Arabs from a nationalist conflict to a border dispute.

From all of these matters, the following conclusions can be drawn:

1 – The Sinai Agreement and its appendices led to the withdrawal of the Egyptian government from the arena of conflict with the Zionist enemy. The United States, under this agreement and its appendices, ensured this withdrawal.

2 – The transformation of the American-Zionist alliance, which was based on mutual interests, into an American commitment that guarantees Israel’s security, military and economic needs, and political support for a very long term. This commitment will invalidate all claims suggesting the possibility of a fundamental shift in the American stance towards the Arab-Israeli conflict.

3 – These appendices provided Israel with massive quantities of highly sophisticated weapons to impose a new phase of surrender on the Arabs, attempting to eradicate any consideration of the possibility of using force in the conflict or utilizing available economic resources against it.

Officials in Egypt occasionally stated that the agreement was a victory for the Arab cause. One may wonder where this victory lies. Is it in the huge volume of aid that the United States has committed to providing Israel over many years, or is it in lifting the blockade imposed on Israel from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, or is it in those American commitments to defending Israel’s security, politically protecting it, and adhering to its concepts regarding the Palestinian issue? Then, where does the position stated in the agreement and its appendices, both public and secret, stand in relation to the decisions of the summit conferences in Algiers and Rabat?

In the resolutions of Rabat, the following was stated:

The coordination of Arab efforts to isolate Israel politically, militarily, and economically, in various fields. Does this apply to what was mentioned in the second clause of the agreement? The commitment to the military blockade, along with what was stated in the appendices allowing Israel freedom of maritime and aerial navigation from Gibraltar to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait? Does it align with what was referred to above by allowing Israeli shipments to pass through the Suez Canal? Is it considered a victory for the Arab cause for the United States to commit to and provide such a large volume of aid to Israel?

We always wish for the Egyptian army to be strong. I share what General Gomaa said about the Egyptian army being strong and capable of carrying out its tasks, as if he, along with General Gomaa, is saying to the Arabs that the Egyptian army does not stand with this agreement, and what senior Egyptian officials say about Egypt not being able to wage war and not having compensated for its weapons is untrue.

General Gomaa wanted to give a distinguished stance for the Egyptian army regarding this agreement, as if he wants to say that we are with the line of armed confrontation, and we are ready, but it is not in our hands. This statement cannot be interpreted in any other way because with the strength of the Egyptian army and its readiness to carry out the tasks it may be assigned, accepting the Sinai Agreement and its appendices cannot be explained.

Yes, Egypt can cancel this agreement in one case, before implementation. But after implementation, this agreement will become effective under Article 9 of the agreement, which states:

“This Agreement shall enter into force upon the signing of the Protocol and shall remain in force until replaced by a new agreement.”

Therefore, the Egyptian government has bound itself, and future generations, to commitments of the utmost seriousness.

In this regard, it must be noted that top legal experts from Israel and the United States have formulated the texts in a specific and precise manner, leaving no room for interpretation or exaggeration. They have ensured that Egypt bears specific and clear obligations, and that the American people bear specific and clear obligations as well.