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The evolution of the crisis in Lebanon during the past eighteen months has provided striking evidence of a major change in the Middle East since Nasser’s death. As that country plunges ever deeper into its morass of manipulated violence, Egypt, for two decades the central actor in Arab politics, is conspicuous by its absence from the scene. Things have not always been so. In the Lebanese-Palestinian clashes of 1969, Cairo imposed its solution. Similarly, following the ‘Black September’ of 1970 in Amman, Nasser on the eve of his death called the combatants together in the Egyptian capital. Egypt’s present withdrawal into itself is evidently one aspect of a new regional strategy on the part of Sadat and his government. This isolationism is designed to permit other forms of alliance, which in turn are seen as a vital element in the search for a different solution to the country’s problems to that proposed by Nasser. Paradoxically, the withdrawal forms part of what Sadat terms his ‘open-door’ policy.
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