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September 19, 2018 No.
7677

Senior Saudi Journalist On Anniversary Of 1973 War Between Israel And The Arabs: Some Arabs Still Haven't Learned The Lessons Of The War

On October 7, 2017, on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the 1973 war between Israel and the Arabs, the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published an article by its former editor, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, in which he praised then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for leading the Arabs to "their only victory over Israel" and then leveraging that victory to sign a peace treaty with Israel. In the article, titled "There Are Those Who Have Not Learned from the October War," Rashed also criticized some Arab and Iranian leaders for not drawing the right conclusions from the war and for thwarting the opportunity to expand the Egypt-Israel peace agreement into a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians as well. He claimed that, to this day, these rulers distort history in order to cover up their failures.


Logo on an Egyptian website – Day of Honor – October 6, 1973 (Image: dotmsr.com, October 6, 2017) 

The following are translated excerpts from the article.[1]

"[In the 1973 war] the Jewish state lost about 3,000 soldiers, more than 8,000 were wounded, 1,000 of its tanks and [military] vehicles were damaged or destroyed, and about 100 of its fighter jets were eliminated. [As a result of the subsequent peace treaty,] it lost most of the land that it took control of six years previously in an easy blitzkrieg war. This is the short story of the 1973 October War – [which is] a big [deal], considering that [Egypt was] contending with a country of [military] superiority.

"Wars are political actions whose purpose is not to defeat the enemy. The achievements of [the 1973] war were expressed in a change in perception on both sides of the Suez Canal. Israel [was] a strong, developed country with a dangerous military plan [aimed at] expansion, living with a perpetual sense of assured superiority from the time of its victory in the 1967 war. However, the October War changed most of the variables in this equation. From that day until today, Israel's plan has been to defend what remains of what it attained during the 1967 war. Israel learned its lesson, and so did Egypt, although there are Arabs who to this day have not drawn the necessary conclusions… in Qatar, in Iran, and [under the rule of] what remains of the tyrannical regimes in Syria and Iraq. If not for the 1973 war, we may have never regained Sinai and the Suez Canal, and Israel's appetite for expansionist adventures may not have been sated were it not for that defeat.

"The October War was a unique milestone that caused a sea change in the relationship between the two sides, via a change in the perception of the balance of power [between them]. After the war, both sides recognized that there are no guaranteed victories. Within the Jewish state, many assumptions were shattered. However, [the war] failed to enlighten many of the Arab regimes that were hostile to Egypt, who misunderstood the war and its consequences. Anwar Sadat remains an important historical figure, from a political and a military perspective, and this war was but one chapter in his history. Egypt entered the war in a difficult political and military situation, only six years after the June [1967] War that wiped out most of its arsenal and its zeal. [Sadat's] advisors [at the time] no doubt attempted to dissuade him from this risky adventure against a country with an immense arsenal of advanced weaponry…

"The war was a victory over the [Israelis'] convictions and smugness resulting from their sense of superiority, [and it caused Israel] for the first time to lose confidence, become more humble and withdraw [from Sinai] – when [previously] it always sought to expand. Following the 1973 War, Israel did not wage further expansionist wars, and that was the end of the dream of 'Greater Israel.' All of Israel's subsequent wars were wars of defense against the PLO in Lebanon and later that against the Iranian Hizbullah.

"In the October War Egypt defeated Israel, but Israel won on the Syrian front, gaining additional territory that it gave back following negotiations and an agreement signed with Hafez Al-Assad, the late Syrian president. This was not [really] an agreement on the separation of forces and the reorganization of the border, as it was described at the time, but rather [an agreement for] ending the direct war between Damascus and Tel Aviv. Despite this, officials of the [Syrian] Ba'th [Party] waged a misinformation campaign against Egypt for signing the Camp David Agreement. Unlike them, Sadat was a realistic politician, who leveraged the victory as [part of] a greater plan. Were it not for the threats of the Saddam [Hussein] regime in Iraq and the Assad [regime] in Syria, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader at the time, would have joined the Camp David talks, and that war would have yielded a final peace agreement. [All this would have happened] if the regimes in Syria, Iraq, and Libya hadn't joined forces against Egypt, and if it weren't for the betrayal committed by the Islamic organizations that assassinated Sadat, the man who had released them from the cages in which the late president Gamal Abdel Nasser had confined them.

"Egypt was victorious in the October War, but sadly the Arabs missed the opportunity to benefit from their only victory over Israel. To this day, some among them still try to distort the history of the war and the events that followed it, so as to cover up their failures and their political positions that subsequently proved to have been mistaken."

 

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 7, 2017.