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1973 YOM KIPPUR WAR
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Anwar Sadat replaced Nasser as Egypt's President. In 1971, he began the process that changed the nature of the Middle East, when he spoke of possible peace and recognition of Israel. While Sadat's conciliatory tone raised hackles among despots and the Arab street, it was also an example of realpolitik. 1971 was a year of great change. Henry Kissinger was involved in the Paris peace talks, discussing détente with the Soviets, and preparing for the recognition of Red China. It was a new era of diplomacy. Sadat, to his credit, decided at first to get on the winning side of it. Sadat was looking for a way to get the occupied territories returned by the Israelis. The Israelis refused. Sadat then found himself drawn into the vortex of war and hate that envelops the Arab world. He said war was inevitable, and that he was willing to sacrifice 1 million soldiers. Think about that! 

Using the United Nations, which had continued to be an anti-Israel forum, Sadat made threats in an effort to get the Nixon Administration to force Israel's acceptance of the Arab interpretation of Resolution 242, calling for complete Israeli withdrawal from the pre-1967 territories.

Sadat maintained diplomatic aggressiveness on this issue with European and African states. He invited the Soviets to exert influence in the region. It is very important to understand the implications of this "invitation." Had Israel not demonstrated that they were a major military power, the Soviets likely would have already had tanks rolling through the area, exerting their unique form of "hegemony." The Soviets contemplated providing offensive weapons to cross the Suez Canal. Since Kissinger had them tied up with arms reduction talks, they had to scale their efforts back. Kissinger's ability to maintain the "10 ring circus" of multi-triangulated diplomacy, each deal affecting other deals, all in the best interests of the United States, remains the greatest act of pure diplomatic achievement in modern history. Thanks to the Nixon/Kissinger approach, the Soviets rejected Sadat's demands for arms. Sadat expelled about 20,000 Soviet advisers.

Sadat continued to threaten, but the Kissinger plan created complacency in U.S.-Israeli circles. In October, 1973, during Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar - Egypt and Syria attacked. Thousands of Israeli soldiers and civilians, fasting as part of the ritual and in peaceful contemplation, were rousted into action. The Egyptian-Syrian forces equaled all of NATO's manpower. They massed on borders. 180 Israeli tanks faced 1,400 Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights. 80,000 Egyptians at the Suez Canal attacked fewer than 500 Israeli defenders. The Yom Kippur War was a modern version of David vs. Goliath.

Nine Arab states and four non-Middle Eastern nations aided the Egyptian-Syrian attack. Iraq transferred a squadron of Hunter jets to Egypt while deploying a division of 18,000 troops with hundreds of tanks in the central Golan. On October 16 they attacked from there. Iraqi's Soviet-supplied MiGs flew over the Golan Heights.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait underwrote the operation and committed troops, including brigade strength of 3,000 sent to Syria, "defending" the literal "road to Damascus." Violating international law, Libya sent French Mirage fighters to Egypt. For two years prior, Moamar Qhadafi had provided Cairo generous funds to pay for Soviet weapons.

Algeria sent fighters and bombers, an armored brigade, and 150 tanks. 1,000-2,000 Tunisian soldiers occupied the Nile Delta. Sudan stationed 3,500 troops in southern Egypt. Morocco sent three brigades to the front lines, including 2,500 men to Syria.

Lebanese radar aided Syrian air defenses while letting Palestinian terrorists shell Israeli civilians. Palestinians joined the Southern Front with the Egyptians and Kuwaitis.

Jordan's King Hussein was an honorable man. Unfortunately, this is a rarity in Arab politics. He had been kept in the dark by his neighbors, but was "forced" to send the 40th and 60th Armored Brigades to Syria or face charges of "treason." If only that word, without the "t," carried weight in this part of the world. Alas.

 Assisting the "road to Damascus," Jordan routed Israeli positions along the Kuneitra-Sassa road on October 16. Three Jordanian artillery batteries participated in the assault, spearheaded by 100 tanks.

For two days, Israel mobilized and repulsed the invaders, in the process counter-attacking deep in Syria and Egypt. The Arabs were re-supplied by the Soviets. Despite Kissinger's warnings, they thought the Arab attackers were sure winners and wanted in on the fun. This miscalculation is one of the most concrete, identifiable landmarks in the anatomy of their eventual loss in the Cold War. Golda Meir begged Nixon for help. The U.S. responded with an airlift of vital supplies and weaponry for their ally. This turned the tide. In the aftermath, Egypt's ally, the United Nations, did everything in their power to maintain the integrity of Egypt as a functioning diplomatic entity in the wake of defeat that could have made it something less; a rogue state, an anarchist state, or even an extension of Israeli territory.

The Soviets took a hard line when it looked like the Arabs would win. So did U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, who was a war criminal serving as a Nazi officer in the Balkans during World War II. The U.S. barred him from entering America. The U.N. loved him.

Res ipsa loquiter.

 On October 22, with the Israelis now in a position to wipe out their enemies, the Security Council adopted Resolution 338 calling for "all parties to the present fighting to cease all firing and terminate all military activity immediately." Israeli forces had just cut off the Egyptian Third Army. The only thing saving the lives of thousands of Egyptian soldiers was the pure benevolence and goodwill of the State of Israel. Despite holding back even while fighting a defensive war, Israel achieved complete victory. For the Arab world, it was not just about the political ramifications. Israel is a tiny country that occupies a fraction of the Middle East. The small amount of land captured in 1967 and 1973 hardly makes much real difference. Palestinians are all-but despised by their Muslim brethren as stupid, lazy and incompetent nomads. They had achieved nothing for over 1,000 years in Palestine. In a little over 10 years Jewish refugees from Russia had become their overseers.

What infuriates the Arabs is that they have been shown to be inferior time and again, forced to wallow in their incompetence. Their great need to kill has been foiled by their superiors. It does not take Sigmund Freud to see why a confluence of events, circumstance and the nature of some men combine to make this place such a cauldron.       

The Yom Kippur War is thought to be a victory, but in many ways it was not. Israel was no longer the "underdog," a role of great position in the international community. The United Nations would spend the next 15 years doing everything in its power to bring it down. Arab desire to achieve peace was virtually eliminated.

 

 

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