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EDITORIAL: The backlash from the 1973 October War

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: The backlash from the 1973 October War

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October is the anniversary month of the 1973 war between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt and Syria. So far this month we have seen events that are a little more than coincidence, that could further destabilize the region.
Firstly, there was an unarmed drone that entered Israel’s airspace from the Mediterranean Sea allegedly from Lebanese Hezbollah militants, which was quickly shot down by the Israeli Air Force.
In April 2005, another unmanned Hezbollah aircraft succeeded in overflying part of northern Israel. In July 2006, the Israeli military shot down an unarmed drone over its territorial waters operated by Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah movement.
There were also mortar attacks on Turkey recently from the Syrian border that led a vote from Turkey’s parliament to approve a retaliatory attack. The Turkish army last Saturday reportedly returned fire after fresh shelling from Syria.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan again warned Syria on Friday that it would pay “a big price” for further attacks. The warning came a day after his government had obtained a one-year mandate from parliament authorizing military raids into Syria if necessary.
Mr Erdogan said Turkey was not interested in war, but would retaliate against any violation of its security.
Last Saturday marked the anniversary of the beginning of the 1973 October War, which the Israelis call the Yom Kippur War. The Arabs have other names for it. Some refer to it as the Ramadan War because of the month of fasting in which it took place, while Syrians officially refer to it as the War Of Liberation. Whatever the name, it resulted in a humiliating defeat for Egypt.
Egypt and Syria were not able to coordinate their war efforts well enough at the time, but the October War was yet seen as a significant moment for many Arabs’ sense of pride. This anniversary is a stark reminder of how much things have changed since then.
Political rivalries between Arab states have become more pronounced, and there is no event like the October War for people to rally around. It is a real tragedy that after almost 40 years, the situation among many Arab states is still mired in fragmentation and weakness.
Arab countries not only fail to work with each other, but now mobilize their armies to quell internal unrest. During the Arab uprisings, Yemen, Libya, Syria and Egypt all used their national armies to help suppress civilian protesters.
The Palestinian Authority of 1973 is a far cry from today, with the continuing division between Fatah and Hamas. Despite the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Accords, peace with Israel is more distant than ever.
Iraq, which has been at war and under sanctions for most of the post-1973 period, is the only Arab country that lacks a strong army; and security and stability have not followed.