To What Extent Did the Arab States Alter the Balance of Power in the Region as a Result of the 1973 War

To what extent did the Arab states alter the balance of power in the Region as a result of the 1973 War

The true extent in which the Arab states altered the balance of power as a result of the 1973 war is a complex and controversial topic to competently remedy, in order to provide a full and articulate answer to this question, it is first important to observe which Arab states were involved in the 1973 war. The main contributors to the 1973 war were Egypt, Syria and Israel, of these the Egyptians being the main Arab contributor. However, there were also several other ???behind-the-scenes???[1] communities including Libya, Morocco, Lebanon to name but a few. Another important factor to consider when attempting to answer a question concerning change in the balance of power, would be to define the term ???balance of power??? and look at what exactly this involves. I will be looking majoritively at the political balance of power, as well as the military/economic and psychological balance of power, between and integrated in each of the contributors as a result of the 1973 war. Throughout the course of this essay, I will using a number of sources including books, websites and journal articles, the main sources I will be using include Calvin Goldscheider??™s, Israel??™s changing society,[2] I have chosen this book because I believe it to be a comprehensive guide of which the focus is significantly on the conjunction of population processes, ethnicity and nation-building, I found it particularly interesting to look at the socio-economic development of Israel, specifically in relation to the ethnic diversity of the Jews and Arab populations. I found this essential to understand the impact of change in the balance of power as a result of the 1973 war. In addition, I will also be using Jillian Schwedler and Deborah J. Gerner, Understanding the contemporary Middle East[3], This edition looks at the numerous political, cultural, social and economic debates that support the complex territorial disputes ongoing in the Middle East.

During this essay, I will be looking at the Arab state of Egypt in particular, its role and impact on the balance of power and the 1973 War. A significant proportion[4] of changes from a political point-of-view for Egypt, and consequently the rest of the region, happened during the lead up to the war, and directly resulted in the subsequent change in the balance of power in the region. I will be looking at whether Sadat??™s influence and objectives determined, or pre-determined, this alteration in the balance of power. Additionally, I will be looking at the result of the 1973 war and the impact it had on the state of Egypt, Israel and the influence of the super-powers. It is my belief that the 1973 war had devastating effects on the balance of power within Israel and significantly changed the pre-existing order in many, if not all, of the Arab nations in the region. Following on from this, I also believe that due to the involvement of other nations such as Britain, France, the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Nations, the 1973 war also influenced international politics on a much larger scale than first anticipated by this question, I plan to investigate this further.

A political balance of power began to shift even before the 1973 War. The British, French and Israeli Government alliance opposing Sadats Egyptian political objectives[5] encouraged Sadat to perceive a Western alliance as significantly important in efforts of negotiation with Israel. As a result within a period of six months, Sadat had pursued his own alliances and successfully gained support from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco and Lebanon[6], actively encouraging support due to commitment and obligation to Arab culture[7]. Sudats use of ???soft power???[8] and persuasion secured support from, not only other Arab states, but also gained the support of the Organisation of African Unity through their denunciation of Israel, as well as attaining support from over 100 countries reclaim lost territories[9]. Sadat??™s alliance-creating lead to the formation of the Federal Arab Military Command of Egypt, Syria and Libya and allowed the option of joint offensive attack from two fronts and the opportunity to alter the balance of both political and military power in the conflict. Despite the success of Sadats alliance formations, unfortunately they were argued to be insufficient to achieve his political objectives[10].

Super-power involvement both during and following the war are debatably important factors concerning the balance of both political and military but also economic power. By Sadats own accord he was going to war with, or without, arms support from the Soviet Union[11]. Sadat was fully prepared to instigate war alone, however acknowledged the strategic superiority accomplished from direct support from Syria, thus enhancing their chances for success[12]. Sadat believed that Soviet military support would continue regardless of primary approval, and decided that the Egyptian military would favour ???limited objectives???[13]. Russia made attempts to restrain the Arab states from blatant military action by means of slowing down delivery of arms and additionally, increased diplomatic effects. However, in order not to jeopardise their Middle East position, Russia reluctantly dropped their opposition to the use of force[14]. Whilst the Soviet Union was preoccupied with its own position in the Middle East, Henry Kissinger diligently followed and encouraged others to follow a policy of ???no war, no peace??? with the objective to eventually exile the Soviet Union from the Middle East[15]. However, Sadat felt that this approach of policy was ???haemorrhaging Arab unity???[16], and concluded that the United States was not compelled to support Egypt in the absences of force[17].

Sadat experienced a particular military high as a direct result of his decision to suspend the Soviets from the position of power in the Middle East. The military fully supported the absences of the Soviet influence and gave their full support to Sadat, whom used this and the political will of the Egyptian population to create an essence of power[18]. Arguably one of the most political and economic decisions made by Sadat, which completely unsettled the traditional balance of power in the Region, was to use oil as a weapon in the battle with Israel. A cut back on Arab oil production forced the Japanese and the majority of the European Economic Committee to support Arab position[19]. Sadat also acknowledged the United States dependency and consumption demands of Middle East petroleum and realised that oil could persuade the United States interest in the outcome of the war[20].

As a result of the 1973 War, the balance of power in Israel was significantly altered. It is my belief that there are four main consequences of the 1973 war that impacted upon Israel??™s power dominance. Firstly, as a result of the 1973 war Israel lost the image of an invincible enemy, this shook the countries self-confidence and furthering this caused doubt about the competence of the Labour elite in the eyes of the Israeli population. Secondly the Agranat Commission Report of 1974, which main objective was to determine responsibility for Israel??™s military unprepared ness, when Egypt and Syria launched their surprise attack. This report implicitly blamed Israel??™s military and in particular called for the dismissal of the Army Chief of Staff, David Elazar. When at report was published in 1974, Prime Minister Meir, took full responsibility and as a result handed in her resignation on 11th April 1974[21]. The resignation of Prime Minister Meir, left a leadership gap in Israel and my third point concerning the balance of power in Israel concerns the appointment of the first Rabin Government. This Government was formed in 1974 by Yitzhak Rabin, who had also been Chief of General Staff during the 1967 six day war. Yitzhak Rabin first established the principle of ???territories of peace??? during disengagement agreements with Egypt and Syria[22]. The devastating effects of the 1973 War were obvious in the state of Israel, more than 6,000[23] troops were killed or wounded and loss of equipment meant that Israel desperately need foreign support. Additionally the decline of production and exports as a consequence of mobilization, totalled approximately $7 billion[24], a similar amount as Israel??™s gross national production for an entire year, resulting in Israel being in desperate need for more tanks, planes and ammunition. Israel turned to the United State for help and after three days of deliberation the US Nixon administration agreed to provide Israel with full replacement of all its losses, and this support set in motion a shift in American policy that would consolidate the US-Israel relationship. As a result of the Yom Kippur war American over took France as Israel??™s largest arms supplier and quadrupled[25] its foreign aid to the country.

The effects of the 1973 War were very detrimental on Israel, however Egypt also experienced alterations in its balance of power as a result of the Arab involvement in the 1973 War. Despite having suffered severe losses during the duration of the war, the losses were not as severe as they had been in 1967. Of the combined strength of over 200,000[26] in Egypt??™s second and third armies approximately 8,000[27] men were killed in combat, Egypt also lost more than 200 aircraft, 1100 tanks and additional weaponry, vehicles and equipment[28]. However, despite limited territorial gains, there were five main results impacting upon the balance of power within the region, which are arguably positive for the region of Egypt. Firstly, regardless of the actuality that neither side had won a clear cut victory, for the Egyptians it was a victory none-the-less, as they had excelled during the first few days of the war removing the Israeli national security doctrine and also managed to increase Sadats popularity[29]. Which following years of economic problems directly related to the significant resources being invested in the Military since 1967, Sadat had been under increasing pressure to justify the extra expenditure by going to war with Israel. This increased popularity, provided Sadat with a much more unchallengeable governance of the Egyptian State and the opportunity to instigate reforms that he felt were necessary[30]. The highly debateable ???victory??? Egypt experience during the first few days of the war, succeeded in increasing Egyptian morale and general confidence the population had in the land and in the Government[31]. In 1977, following the United Nations organised cease-fire, Sadat visited Israel, becoming the first Arab leader to do so[32]. This incident, which previously had been completely unheard of, resulted in Egypt implicitly recognising Israel as a state. This act jump-started the peace process and in 1979 the Israel-Egypt peace treaty was signed[33].

It is important to recognise that, although this movement in Egypt??™s relation with Israel can be considered as a positive step forward, many in the Arab community were outraged at Egypt??™s peace with Israel and accordingly Egypt was forcibly expelled from t he Arab League[34].
The final consequence of the 1973 war that impacted up the region of Egypt and challenged the balance of power is Egypt??™s relationship with the Soviet Union. A visibly high dependency formally witness, both economically and historically, was ultimately changing as increased support during the 1973 war was located through regional Arab communities such as; Iraq, Jordan, Libya etc.

In conclusion, the 1973 war resulted in a drastic change in the balance of power, the most obvious being the political change experienced in Israel and Egypt, but in addition the military and psychological changes I have identified in this essay. The most predominant psychological change was the impact of the 1973 war on the Israeli national security doctrine of invincibility following the success of the 1967 war, and this can be argued as the Arab states greatest achievement[35]. Politically, the vast amount of support Sadat managed to ascertain for the 1973 war, from both Arab states and international sponsors was ultimately a huge accomplishment for Egypt and displays a certain level of diplomacy. Regardless, of whether Sadat achieved his initial, political objectives, the 1973 war increased Sadats popularity, allowing him the opportunity to continue working on specific objectives. The changes experienced by Israel, can be argued as being far less positive[36], in fact the majority of the changes were debatably detrimental to Israel, its self confidence was shattered, The Agranat Commission looked for someone to blame, Prime Minister Meir resigned, leading to a complete overall of the Israeli political structure. The 1973 war also increased Israel??™s dependency on the United States for both supplies and financial support. However, the long-term impression of the 1973 war, saw Sadat??™s unorthodox visit to Israel, acknowledging it as an independent state, and providing the foundation for unity and peace between the regions, ensuing in the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty, albeit saw Egypt excluded from the Arab League. Ultimately, there are several factors which need to be taken into consideration to determine the extent of which the Arab states altered the balance of power in the region as a result of the 1973 war, too many by far to be able to reach a concise and definite view in a 2,000 word essay, however the general points I have touched upon have provided a basic understanding of the initial balance of power and the transforms taking place as a result of the 1973 war, perhaps even before the war had truly taken place. I believe that it is obvious that there was a definite change in the balance of power experienced by not only the Arab states but, also by Israel and the super powers involved.
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[1] Phebe Marr, Egypt at a crossroads, pxiii.
[2]Calvin Goldscheider, Israel??™s Changing Society, Second edition, 2002, pp43-52
[3] Jillian Schwedler and Deborah J. Gerner, Understanding the Contemporary Middle East, Third edition, 2008, pp137&153
[4]Craig Gordon, Force and statecraft, p187.
[5] Robert J. Pranger, Egypt during the Sadat years, Volume 12, Number 2, Spring 2001, pp. 123-126
[6] Steven D. Strauss, The complete idiots guide to world conflicts, Alpha Books, 2002, P34
[7] Ibid.
[8] El Hassan Badri, The Ramadan War, 1973, p19
[9] Jillian Schwedler and Deborah J. Gerner, Understanding the Contemporary Middle East, Third edition, 2008, pp137&153
[10]El Hassan Badri, The Ramadan War, Reading 4, p16.
[11] Kumaraswamy, P.R, Revisiting the Yom Kippur War, 2000, p56
[12] John Lewis Gaddis, Containment and the logic of strategy, 1987, p38
[13] Robert J. Pranger, Egypt during the Sadat years, Volume 12, Number 2, Spring 2001.
[14] Calvin Goldscheider, Israel??™s Changing Society, Second edition, 2002, pp43-52
[15] Alistair Horne, Kissinger: 1973, the Crucial Year, Simon & Schuster, 2009, p295
[16] Craig Gordon, Force and statecraft, 1995, p 221.
[17] The Yom Kippur War, Reading 2, pp47-48.
[18] Bard O??™Neil, The October war: A political military assessment, reading 1, p31
[19] Ibid., p32
[20] Ibid., p31
[21] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/weather/world/middle_east/article4164420.ece
[22] Mehran Kamrava, The modern Middle East: a political history since the First World War, University of California Press, 2005, p393.
[23] Itamar Rabinovich Jehuda Reinharz, Israel in the Middle East: documents and readings on society, politics, and foreign relations, pre-1948 to the present, Second edition 2008, pp369-381
[24] Viktor Levonovich, On the battlefields of the cold war: a Soviet ambassadors confession, Penn State Press, 2003, p248
[25]The insight team of London Sunday Times, ???Sadat decides on war???, Chapter 3 in the Yom Kippur War, 1974.
[26] Taylor, A.R, The Arab Balance of Power; Syracuse University Press, 1982, Syracuse, NY
[27] Yitschak Ben Gad, Politics, lies, and videotape: 3,000 questions and answers on the Mideast crisis, SP Books, 1991, p159
[28] Ibid., p160
[29] John Lewis Gaddis, Containment and the logic of strategy, 1987, p37
[30] Calvin Goldscheider, Israel??™s Changing Society, Second edition, 2002, pp43-52
[31] Anwar Sadat Biography, http://www.ibiblio.org/sullivan/bios
[32] Jillian Schwedler and Deborah J. Gerner, Understanding the Contemporary Middle East, Third edition, 2008, pp137&153
[33] John Lewis Gaddis, Containment and the logic of strategy, 1987, p38
[34] Calvin Goldscheider, Israel??™s Changing Society, Second edition, 2002, pp43-52
[35] Bard O??™Neil, The October war: A political military assessment, reading 1, p31
[36] Itamar Rabinovich Jehuda Reinharz, Israel in the Middle East: documents and readings on society, politics, and foreign relations, pre-1948 to the present, Second edition 2008, pp369-381

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