Yom Kippur War

International Effects of the Yom Kippur WarThe Arab-Israeli War of 1973 was an armed conflict between Israel and the Arab countries of Egypt and Syria, fought during the month of October 1973. Egypt and Syria initiated the conflict to regain territories that Israel had occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967. Although both sides suffered heavy losses during the 1973 war, Israel retained control of the territories. Because the conflict began on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and took place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the war is also called the Yom Kippur War by Israelis and the Ramadan War or the October War by Arabs.Although it brought about no significant changes to territorial boundaries, the 1973 war and its aftermath had far-ranging effects on the participant nations and their relations with world superpowers. Egypt moved steadily away from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which had provided military and economic aid to Egypt since the 1950s, and into a closer relationship with the United States. Syria emerged from the war as the staunchest defender of Arab rights and the closest Middle Eastern ally of the USSR. In Israel, the war increased criticism of the country’s leaders, who eventually resigned. Finally, the war signaled an increased commitment by the United States to negotiate and guarantee Arab-Israeli agreements. Such agreements would center on the return of Israeli-held lands to Arab control, in exchange for Arab recognition of Israel and security guarantees.The long-standing conflict between Jews and Arabs over control of historic Palestine had resulted in wars in 1948, 1956, and 1967. The Arab opposition to the Jewish state of Israel included neighboring Arab states and, after 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a political body working to create a state for Palestinian Arabs. In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel gained control of the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, previously controlled by Egypt; the Golan Heights, formerly belonging to Syria; and the West Bank and East Jerusalem, formerly administered by Jordan. Later that year, the United Nations (UN) adopted a resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from these areas in exchange for Arab recognition of Israel’s independence and security. However, neither side met these conditions, and cross-border attacks and reprisals continued. In 1969 Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser launched a campaign on the Suez Canal known as the War of Attrition. The conflict, which did not escalate into a full-scale war, ended with a U.S.-brokered cease-fire in 1970.In the early 1970s Nasser’s successor, Anwar al-Sadat, pushed for Israeli withdrawal through diplomatic means, while simultaneously preparing Egypt’s military for war. Each year the UN passed resolutions calling for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. Israel refused to withdraw, and the United States suffered criticism from the international community for its support of Israel. Meanwhile, the stalemate continued. Arab nations generally refused to negotiate until Israel withdrew. Israel, which refused to withdraw without guarantees of peace and security, fortified its positions in the occupied Arab territories.Neither the United States nor Israel believed that Arab forces could challenge Israel’s proven military power. The USSR, which had supported the Arab nations during previous wars with Israel and had resupplied Egypt militarily, knew that Egypt was preparing for war, but underestimated Sadat’s commitment to use a military option against Israel. Furthermore, neither Washington nor Moscow was fully aware of the profound differences in policy between the Egyptian and Syrian leaders. Although the ultimate goal for both leaders was to regain their territories from Israel, Sadat was willing to combine military means with the initiation of a diplomatic process, whereas Syrian president Hafez al-Assad did not want to sign any agreement with Israel that might recognize Israel’s legitimacy. Sadat, unlike Assad, also was willing to orient Egypt’s foreign policy away from the USSR and toward the United States. With mounting economic pressures at home, Sadat believed that the United States, rather than the USSR, would help Egypt more in the long term.Despite these differences, mutual frustration and impatience with the diplomatic status quo led Sadat and Assad to plan an attack in collusion. Because the two Arab leaders were focused more on their own particular national

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