Middle East Reappraisal

December 12, 1973

Report Outline
Changed Assumptions After 1973 War
Global Impact of Arab Oil Diplomacy
Role of Superpowers in Middle East
Special Focus

Changed Assumptions After 1973 War

New Pride and Unity Among Arab Countries

The latest war in the Middle East may be remembered as the war that broke the myths that three previous encounters between Israel and her Arab neighbors had built up. One casualty of the October 1973 fighting was the belief in Israeli invincibility which had prevailed since Israel's lightning victory during the Six Day War in June 1967. It was clear when the latest fighting stopped that the Israelis again had scored a major military triumph. Israeli troops occupied a large enclave west of the Suez Canal, leaving the Egyptian Third Army stranded on the east bank. In Syria, Israeli soldiers moved far beyond the 1967 cease-fire lines, advancing to within 20 miles of the capital city of Damascus.

But Israel's failure to win a decisive victory, the success of the initial Egyptian and Syrian strikes into Israeli-occupied positions in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, and the high toll of Israeli casualties,laid to rest the assumption that the Israelis were supermen who could not be beaten in battle. Despite their later setbacks, the Arabs proved that they could fight and fight well. “No matter what happens in the desert, there has been a victory that cannot be erased,” Egyptian President Anwar Sadat declared in a speech before his country's National Assembly on Oct. 16. “According to any military standard, the Egyptian armed forces have realized a miracle. The wounded nation has restored its honor; the political map of the Middle East has changed.”

The key to Arab successes on both the military and diplomatic fronts has been an unprecedented display of solidarity, symbolized by the Arab summit conference in Algeria on Nov. 26–28. The man most responsible for the new sense of Arab fraternity is Egyptian President Sadat. Since coming to power in 1970, following the death of Gamal Abdel Nassar, Sadat has been busy mending political fences with his fellow Arabs, such as Syrian President Hafez Assad and Jordan's King Hussein. On Aug. 29, 1973, Sadat signed an accord with Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Kaddafi proclaiming “the birth of a new unified Arab state.”

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Mar. 02, 1984  American Involvement in Lebanon
Nov. 12, 1982  Reagan's Mideast Peace Initiative
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