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By John W. Amos II

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Extra resources for Arab–Israeli Military/Political Relations. Arab Perceptions and the Politics of Escalation

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In many ways t h e October 1973 War is a replay of t h e earlier June War. In their assessment of the e v e n t s leading up t o O c t o b e r , of t h e consequences of t h e a t t a c k , and its a f t e r m a t h , Arab spokesmen consistently refer to t h e 1967 situation. When tension in t h e Golan Heights e s c a l a t e d into a series of ground and air b a t t l e s b e t w e e n Israeli and Syrian forces in N o v e m b e r / D e c e m b e r 1972, all sides - Syrian, Egyptian, and Israeli - likened t h e situation to t h a t of t h e Spring of 1967.

Each Arab government is acutely sensitive, t h e r e f o r e , t o the possibility of internal subversion. The threshold of t o l e r a n c e for t h r e a t perception is very low. At t i m e s this sensitivity borders on paranoia: the government of Iraq reportedly went so far as to disarm its own garrison in Baghdad out of fear of a possible coup. Politically, these conflict ridden societies present Arab leaders with the necessity of continuously balancing off group demands. Or, if lack of resources forecloses this option, of e i t h e r repressing t h e s e demands by force and then censoring news r e p o r t s , or of diverting domestic discontent outward onto other Arab world or international t a r g e t s .

In particular they had a t t e m p t e d t o dominate a l Sa'iqa, t h e Syrian organized Palestinian unit, and utilize it to a c c e l e r a t e a t t a c k s on Israel In addition, they had also managed to convince commanders of Syrian regular units to engage in a more a c t i v e confrontation with Israeli forces, along with al-Sa'iqa units. In September, Syrian regular a r m o r e d units operating with PLA/alSa'iqa units moved into 3ordan t o aid e m b a t t l e d Palestinian insurgents. Al-Asad and his colleagues refused t o p e r m i t Syrian a i r c r a f t (there was, of course, considerable outside pressure on t h e Syrian government t o limit its involvement, anyway) t o give air support t o t h e s e units.

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