.. and.” Thus, the “War of Attrition” broke out, where Egypt attacked, through artillery Israeli forced dug along the canal. The result was Israeli air response which virtually destroyed the Egyptian Artillery. During this time, the Israeli Military was supplied by the Nixon Administration, because it supposedly regarded Israel as a bulwark against Soviet expansion in the area. Nassar, seeing that his chances were few, flew to Moscow and asked the Soviet Union to establish an air defense system manned by Soviet pilots and anti-aircraft forces protected by Soviet troops. To obtain this aid, Nassar agree to grant the Soviet Union control over a number of Egyptian airfields as well as operational control over a large portion of the Egyptian.
Although recent and possibly future analysis may see otherwise, it currently seems that the Soviet Union took a calculated risk of possible superpower confrontation over the Middle East. It seemed possible at the time, that the two superpowers were using these two countries as pawns in their larger game. But, when Nasser returned, he and the Israelis accepted the Rogers Plan, and in August of 1970, the fighting halted along the Suez Canal, and a 90 day truce began. This truce was criticized once again by some of the Arab powers, including the Newly formed PLO, who openly advocated the removal of Nasser from power. This led to a conflict between the PLO and Egypt, and many PLO members were expelled from Egypt.
During this time, Egypt desiring a true, in conjunction with Jordan attacked PLO and other territory bases in order that they would not jeopardize the treaty. During this time, when Nassar was attempting to bring the PLO together once again with the rest of the Arab world, Nassar became sick and died. When Nasser died, it became apparent that his successor, Anwar as Sadat, did not intend to be another Nasser. As Sadat’s rule progressed, it became clear that his priority was solving Egypt’s pressing economic problems by encouraging Western financial investment. He wished to regain relations the United State, hoping for US investment into his country, and pushed the idea of peace as a means for prosperity.
On February 4, 1971, Sadat announced a new peace initiative with Israel, that called for peace in return for a partial withdraw from Sinai. A timetable would then be set for Israel’s withdrawal from the rest of the occupied. Egypt would reopen the canal, restore diplomatic relations with the United. Sadat’s initiative fell on deaf ears in Tel Aviv and in Washington. According to sources at the time, the State Department still viewed Egypt as a threat in the cold war conflict. Internally, the Egyptian economy was being steadily drained by the confrontation with Israel. Economic problems were becoming more serious because of the tremendous amount of resources directed toward building up the military since the June 1967 War, and it was clear that Sadat would have to demonstrate some results from his new policy.
In the last half of 1972, there were large-scale student riots, and some journalists came out publicly in support of the students. Thus, Sadat felt under increasing pressure to go to war against Israel as the only way to regain the lost territories. On October 6, 1973, Egyptian forces launched a successful surprise attack across the Suez Canal. The Syrians carried out an attack on Israel at the same time. For the Arabs, it was the fasting month of Ramadan, and for Israel it was Yom Kippur. The next day, President Nixon formally asked Congress for emergency funds to finance the massive airlift of arms to Israel that was already under way. During this time, the Major Oil producers in the region cut back production to the United States as an embargo because of these actions.
Israel was able to counterattack and succeeded in crossing to the west bank of the canal and surrounding the Egyptian Army. Sadat appealed to the Soviet Union for help. On October 22, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 338, calling for a cease-fire by all parties within twelve hours in the positions they occupied. Egypt accepted the cease-fire, but Israel, alleging Egyptian violations of the cease-fire, completed the encirclement Army to the east of the canal. The Soviet Union was furious, believing it had been double-crossed by the United States.
On October 24, the Soviet ambassador handed Kissinger a note from Brezhnev threatening that if the United States was not prepared to join in sending forces to impose the cease-fire, the Soviet Union would act alone. Luckily the UN sent a force there to enforce the cease-fire. Meanwhile, Syria felt betrayed by Egypt because Sadat did not inform his ally of his decision to accept the cease-fire. Two days after Sadat, Syria accepted the cease-fire as well. The Israelis, however, paid a heavy price for merely holding their attackers to an inconclusive draw. The war had a devastating effect on Israel’s economy and was followed by savage austerity measures and drastically reduced living standards.
For the first time, Israelis witnessed the humiliating spectacle of Israeli were seen on Arab television. Also, for the first time captured Israeli hardware was exhibited in Cairo. Sadat’s prestige grew tremendously. The war, along with the political moves Sadat had made previously, meant that he was totally in control and able to implement the programs he wanted. He was the hero of the day. In 1977 the outlook for peace between Israel and Egypt was not good.
Israel still held most of Sinai, and negotiations had been at a stalemate since the second disengagement agreement in 1975. Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was a hard-liner and a supporter of Israeli expansion. He approved the development of settlements on the occupied West Bank and reprisal raids into southern Lebanon. After the food riots of January 1977, Sadat decided that something dramatic had to be done, and so on November 19, 1977, in response to an invitation from Begin, Sadat journeyed to Jerusalem, and agreed upon peace. Many Egyptians accepted peace with Israel if it meant regaining Egyptian territories. Of the Arab countries, only Sudan, Oman, and Morocco were favorable to Sadat’s trip. In the other Arab states, there was shock and dismay.
The Arabs felt that Sadat had betrayed the cause of Arab solidarity and the Palestinians. In spite of Sadat’s denials, the Arabs believed that he intended to go it alone and make a separate peace with Israel. In fact, that is what happened. In December 1977, Egypt and Israel began peace negotiations in Cairo. These negotiations continued on and off over the next several months, but by September 1978 it was clear that they were deadlocked. President Jimmy Carter had become closely involved in the negotiations.
In an effort to break the deadlock, Carter invited Sadat and Begin to Camp David. The negotiations were tense and almost broke down several times. On September 17, however, Carter announced that the Camp David Accords had been reached. They consisted of two parts, the Framework for Peace in the Middle East and the Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. The Camp David Accords made Sadat a hero in Europe and the United States.
The reaction in Egypt was generally favorable, but there was opposition from the left. In the Arab world, Sadat was almost universally condemned. Only Sudan issued an ambivalent statement of support. The Arab states suspended all official aid and severed diplomatic relations. Egypt was expelled from the Arab League, which it was instrumental in founding, and from other Arab institutions. Saudi Arabia withdrew the funds it had promised for Egypt’s purchase of American fighter aircraft. In the West, where Sadat was extolled as a hero and a champion of peace, the Arab rejection of the Camp David Accords is often confused with the rejection of peace.
The basis for Arab rejection was opposition to Egypt’s separate peace with Israel. Although Sadat insisted that the treaty provided for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arab states and the PLO saw it as a separate peace, which Sadat had vowed he would not sign. The Arabs believed that only a unified Arab stance and the threat of force would persuade Israel to negotiate a settlement of the Palestinian issue that would satisfy Palestinian demands for a homeland. Without Egypt’s military power, the threat of force evaporated because no single Arab state was strong enough militarily to confront Israel alone. The Camp David Accords brought peace to Egypt but not prosperity.
With no real improvement in the economy, Sadat became increasingly unpopular. His isolation in the Arab world was matched by his increasing remoteness from the mass of Egyptians. While Sadat’s critics in the Arab world remained beyond his reach, increasingly he reacted to criticism at home by expanding censorship and jailing his opponents. In addition, Sadat subjected the Egyptians to a series of referenda on his actions and proposals that he invariably won by more than 99 percent of the vote. For example, in May 1979 the Egyptian people approved the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty by 99.9 percent of those voting.
Sadat’s handpicked successor, Husni Mubarak, was overwhelmingly approved in a national referendum on October 24. Mubarak’s main concern in regard to the Israeli conflict was concerned to regain the Sinai Peninsula for Egypt and to return his country to the Arab fold. One of Mubarak’s first acts was to pledge to honor the peace treaty with Israel. In April 1982, the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai took place as scheduled. A multinational force of observers took up positions in Sinai to monitor the peace.
Egypt was allowed to station only one army division in Sinai. Since then, Egypt has had a decent relationship with Israel and the United States, and it has been seen by many Arab Countries as the traitor in many circumstances. It is perceivable that without the influence of the United States the peace in Israel would have been different, if not sooner. The United States, in order to push the cold war policies saw Israel and Egypt as pawn in their global game of politics. Especially in the early years, neither country saw the United States as a enemy nor as a ally, and thus depended on it for little. Yet, both countries saw the possibility of gaining resources from the great western power, or at least its enemy the USSR.
Under Carter, however the United States, perhaps for the first time, played a peace-making role in the Middle East. Perhaps Carter was being the peaceful President, or more likely he realized the need for peace in the middle east in order to lower the gas prices, and for the US to harness the immense resources of the region.