ANNIVERSARY – The 1973 war between Israel, Egypt and Syria

Egyptian soldiers praying salah6th October 1973

On this day in history:

The 1973 war between Israel, Egypt and Syria.

Since its formation in 1948, the reality of Israel’s military strength has been shrouded by a mythical aura of invincibility. Interestingly such myths have not been actively expressed by Israel, but have been given life by the actions of the treacherous Muslim rulers.

Israel’s performance in the wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 against the Muslims in the region has long been seen as confirmation of Israel’s military superiority. In light of this apparent superiority and its seizure of Muslim lands, it is argued that direct military conflict with Israel is not a viable course of action for the Arab states, creating the necessity of entering into negotiations. The direct consequence of such a move has been the acceptance of Israel’s sovereignty through plans such as the peace process.

The 1973 War

An examination of the October 1973 war launched by Egypt and Syria against Israel shows that the aims were limited and never included the liberation of Palestine. The aims never even included the liberation of the Golan Heights which were designed to be restored as part of a peace treaty between Syria and Israel. The aims were to solidify the positions of Anwar Sadat and Hafez al-Assad who were relatively new leaders in countries prone to military coups. Sadat in particular was vulnerable given the fact that he had succeeded the charismatic Nasser.

Mohammed Heikal the respected editor of Al Ahram from 1957 – 1974, who witnessed the war, explained the extent of Anwar Sadat’s underlying motives in his book ‘The Road to Ramadhan’ where he cites Sadat’s mood in the run up to the war. Heikal quotes one of Sadat’s generals, Mohammed Fouwzi who gave the analogy of a samurai drawing two swords – a long one and short one in preparation for battle. Fouwzi said that this battle would be a case of the short sword, signifying a limited battle for certain motives.

Anwar Sadat had no intention of having a protracted war of liberation with Israel. This is why he sought peace with Israel whilst commanding a winning position in the war. In the first 24 hours of the war Egypt smashed through Israel’s much heralded Bar-Lev fortifications east of the Suez Canal with only 68 casualties. Meanwhile 2 Syrian divisions and 500 tanks swept into the Golan Heights and retook some of the land captured in 1967. In two days of fighting Israel had lost 49 aircraft and 500 tanks. In the midst of this Sadat sent a message to US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in which he said that the objective of the war was ‘the achievement of peace in the Middle East and not partial settlements.’ The message went on to state that if Israel withdrew from all occupied territories Egypt would be prepared to participate in a Peace conference under UN or neutral auspices.

Thus despite having an immense strategic advantage Sadat was in the mood for negotiations at such an early stage. Sadat’s refusal to press home his initial advantage and his delay in launching the second Sinai offensive allowed Israel to mobilise, with aid from the US and she began to seize back lost territory. Hostilities formally came to an end on 25th October 1974.

All the wars with Israel best illustrate how the Muslim rulers have never seriously fought Israel with the intention of liberating Palestine. All the aforementioned examples illustrate the reality behind the myths which the Ummah has been led to believe. The real treachery has been committed by the insincere rulers who have collaborated and helped create the myth of Israeli superiority, kindling it, nurturing it and maintaining it. The wars that the Arab world fought, show that the Muslim countries have never singularly nor collectively fought Israel with the intention of destroying it.

Each of the wars was conducted in order to meet specific objectives, none of which were to liberate the land of Palestine and eliminate Israel. Hence the objective of seriously threatening Israel was never an aim, despite the unquestionable strength of the combined Arab armies.