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Some Haven’t Learned from the October War | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ariel Sharon (2nd R) confers with comrades during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, October 10, 1973. Reuters

The Jewish state suffered heavy losses: almost 3,000 soldiers were killed, 8,000 were injured, 1,000 tanks and other destructive machinery were lost while 100 military air crafts went down.

It also lost possession over one of the largest lands it has seized six years prior to a rather easy and opportunistic war. This is a brief overview of the October 1973 war.

Wars are political activities, and their aim is not only to defeat the enemy. And the outcome of that war is that it has changed perceptions on the banks of the Suez Canal.

Israel is a strong and advanced state, which possesses a dangerous military and expansion project.

It lived a sense of permanent superiority and content ever since winning the war in 1967, but most of the elements of this equation have changed in the October War.

From then till now, Israel’s mission has become to protect whatever it has gained from the six-day war.
Israel has learned its lesson and so did Egypt, yet some Arabs haven’t. They are the ones you see in Qatar, Iran and remaining torn regimes in Syria and Iraq.

Perhaps the Sinai Peninsula and the Suez Canal would not have returned to Egypt if the 1973 war wasn’t waged, and perhaps Israel’s hunger for expansion would not have been put to an end without that defeat.

The October War resulted in a major difference in relations between both sides as it adjusted the power balance. After that, both sides knew that there is no such thing as guaranteed victories.

It dismissed many axioms inside the Jewish state, however, it failed to enlighten anti-Egypt Arab states, which misunderstood the war and its outcomes.

Former Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat remains one of the history’s most prominent figures, politically and militarily. This war is only one of his many achievements.

Egypt entered the war in critical political and military circumstances; only six years after its defeat in June – a war that stripped Egypt of its arsenal and enthusiasm.

Sadat’s advisers certainly attempted to dismiss the pursuit of such a dangerous mission against a state having a massive arsenal of advanced weaponry.

It is wrong to compare both countries in terms of size and population, such as some commentators have said continuously.

Despite Israel’s smaller population when compared to Cairo alone, yet it has a bigger army. This is because most Israelis are trained and qualified soldiers for war if we count the army back-ups and the rest of the soldiers as the state demands that all those between the age of 17 and 49 should fight when needed, amounting up to 1.5 million individuals today.

This makes their numbers greater than that of the Egyptian army, who stood at half a million at the time.

Despite the difference in numbers, Israel lost then. The war came as a victory for faith, a victory over arrogance and superiority, a victory spurred for the first time a sense of insecurity among Israelis. It echoed conviction of humility and retreat after a constant desire for expansion.

After the 1973 war, Israel did not wage an expansionist war again. The dream of a “Greater Israel” was over. The following wars that Israel was engaged in were about defending itself against the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon, and then against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

In the October War, Egypt was victorious over Israel while the latter was the winner in the Syrian front as it seized more territory, which it later returned via negations in its agreement with late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.

The agreement was not on separating forces and reordering borders as it was described, but it was an end to the direct war between Damascus and Tel Aviv. Even so, Baathists launched a false propaganda war against Egypt because it signed the Camp David Accords.

Sadat was a realist politician, who was different from them. He developed the victory to become a greater project. If it weren’t for the threats by President Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and Assad regime in Syria, the Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat would have been part of the accords.

That war could have also come to a final peace agreement if it weren’t for Syria, Iraq and Libya’s conspiracy against Egypt and the treason of Islamic groups that assassinated Sadat – the man who released them from Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Naser’s prison.

Egypt won in the October War, yet it is quite unfortunate that the Arabs lost it as an opportunity to capitalize on their only victory over Israel.

To this day, there are those who are trying to distort the war’s history and the events that followed it to cover up their defeats and their political stances, which later proved futile.