The Yom Kippur War Should Be Remembered as a Great Israeli Victory

Sept. 18 2018

On October 6, 1973, a surprise attack launched simultaneously by Syria and Egypt caught the Jewish state woefully off guard—and not only because much of the country was in synagogue, or fasting. The defense establishment had missed or flat-out ignored warning signs of an impending war, and in the first few days of the conflict Israel’s existence seemed seriously threatened. This led to bitter postwar recriminations that have remained salient in the country’s collective memory. But, to Eyal Zisser, far more significant was the war’s outcome:

In very short order, the IDF launched a counterattack that took it to the outskirts of Damascus and the west bank of the Suez Canal and a mere 62 miles from Cairo, the Egyptian capital. Additionally, the Egyptian Third Army was completely besieged by Israeli forces, on the verge of utter collapse and surrender.

At that very point in time, on the precipice of the enemy’s complete ruination, the war ended. The enemy had been stopped in its tracks, pushed back, severely pummeled and was staring at annihilation. Due to extenuating diplomatic considerations, however—among them, for example, the lack of awareness on the Israeli side of just how close the enemy was to its breaking point—the Israeli government ceded to U.S. pressure and agreed to a cease-fire.

Israel’s military victory was strategically significant. A direct line stretches from the Yom Kippur War to the Camp David Accords with Egypt. It’s likely that a peace deal of such magnitude would never have been attained had Egypt’s political and military echelon not felt the weight of Israel’s force and determination [and] become convinced that Israel could not be defeated on the field of battle. The quiet that has persevered on the Golan Heights for over 40 years—including Damascus’ self-restraint every time the IDF attacks on its soil—is [also] due to the results of the Yom Kippur War and the steep price paid by the Syrians.

For several years now, however, Israel has elected to ignore these unprecedented images of victory and instead to sink [into] sorrow and despair [reflecting] the fiascos and failures of the war’s first days. The Soviets didn’t conduct themselves this way after World War II, which caught them off guard and exacted a horrific price; and it’s not how the Americans choose to remember the end of their war against Japan, which began in total surprise and failure at Pearl Harbor and also exacted a heavy price.

[Likewise], there is no reason for the younger generation of Israelis to be raised on an imaginary story of defeat, and there’s no reason to forget the most important lesson from that war—that determination and military might are necessary to survive in our region and to attain the peace for which we all yearn.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Camp David Accords, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Yom Kippur War

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy