May 1971 … Peace, not war


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On February 4, 1971, President Sadat put forward his first peace initiative .. The initiative is based on Israel withdrawing from the east of the Suez Canal and a demilitarized zone, with Egypt reducing the presence of its forces west of the canal, and Egypt, within six months, will open the Suez Canal for maritime navigation.

It seems that this initiative did not come out of a vacuum, as it was preceded by a special diplomatic effort by the President, far from the channels of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What happened was that on January 15 of the same year – approximately three weeks before the initiative was announced – Joseph Sisco, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, summoned in his office the Israeli ambassador to Washington, Yitzhak Rabin, and informed him that they had received an Egyptian proposal to enter a peace process. A close associate of Sadat went to the US Charge d’Affairs to the US ambassador in Cairo and offered him that Israel withdraw for forty kilometers east of the canal, in exchange for Egypt greatly reducing the presence of its forces west of the canal and the size of its armament, and the canal would be opened for maritime navigation. Sadat was sure that the wave of the opening of the canal would arouse the appetite of the entire West. According to the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim, Rabin considered the proposal “refreshing hopes” and deserves “serious thinking”. Thus, he informed Tel Aviv of the surprising message and welcomed it. It goes without saying that the interest of the US State Department in the Egyptian offer meant approval and blessing. The offer was a gift to the United States, as it means that the new president of Egypt is knocking on their door, despite the interruption of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and he removes the file from the United Nations and takes it to them, and he did not go To their bitter opponent, the Soviet Union, an ally of Egypt at the time.

In Israel, Moshe Dayan welcomed the Egyptian offer and saw the necessity of holding onto it, and a number of ministers supported it, but Golda Meir, the Prime Minister, refused to withdraw any soldiers before signing a complete peace treaty with Egypt, and expressed fear that after the opening of the canal, Sadat might use it to transport equipment and soldiers. Attacking Israel, and hard-line ministers backed it.

Moshe Dayan – Minister of Defense – based his position on the results of the war of attrition. This war ended with the Egyptians moving the missile wall to the edge of the canal to the west, and then the myth of Israel’s air superiority ended, as well as that this war proved the Egyptians ’ability to withstand raids in the depth. Egypt is bent on war, it will fight and will not be defeated; But Golda Meir did not listen to him. Later, he would argue that after the Yom Kippur War.

In Cairo, the matter was different. President Sadat used to move without consulting senior statesmen and without informing some of the agencies, so the General Intelligence spotted some movements and communications that were deemed “suspicious”, then it became clear that their source was the president himself, so Ahmed Kamel – Director The General Intelligence – in his memoirs about his astonishment when the matter became clear, and the president had not informed him of anything that was going on.

Vice President of the Republic, Ali Sabri, read the president’s initiative as saying that Sadat is too afraid to go to war, so he must be encouraged and pressed to sign the war decision as soon as possible. In return, the president assures him, according to what Sabri said, that he will sign the decision in Within days, and for more pressure, Sabri left his home and went to reside in his headquarters in the Air Force, where he was an advisor to the Supreme Commander for Air Force Affairs. He held the rank of “Pilot Team”, and while he was waiting for the start of zero hour, he was surprised by the president entering with Gaddafi in a federation project ( The Union of Arab Republics), and this meant taking political steps that would impede the entry of the war for at least a year. From here, he announced to Sabri that he was against this project and would stand against it, and that was a great challenge to the president, who did not accept and did not allow anything of that..

The question that imposes itself here: Were we ready and ready to go to war?

Returning to what Lieutenant General Fawzi and a number of other high-ranking officials wrote, it can be said that our forces were ready, that our armament position was good, and that there was a fear of delaying the war, because Israel was waiting for the French Mirage deal in 1972, as well as the F-planes deal. 5 »The American military, in a way that guarantees its air superiority over us, but there is another opinion that states that we have not completed all the preparation, and this is evident in the memoirs of each of the first team, Mohamed Ahmed Sadiq, the Minister of War after the events of May 71, as well as the diaries of Lieutenant General Al-Shazly and Marshal Al-Jamasy, may God have mercy on them everybody.

After the arrest of (Ali Sabry) and his trial with him and those with him, the Egyptian newspapers were filled with categorical accusations against him that he was a man of the Soviet, receiving his instructions from Moscow, and some even increased to the point of saying that he was an “agent” of the Soviet Union, he and some senior officials, and the truth is that the leadership The Soviet was satisfied with overthrowing him and the whole group.

Sadat’s peace initiative in February 71 found a warm welcome from Moscow, although the project was presented to the United States before it was presented to them, and the Soviets did not support entering a war against Israel in the May 67 crisis before the June war. They tried to arrange a direct meeting in Moscow in the presence of the Soviet leadership between Abdel Nasser and Levi Eshkol, the Israeli Prime Minister to end the dispute between Israel and Egypt, welcomed Nasser at the beginning and welcomed Eshkol, but Nasser apologized after consulting the Syrian leadership (the incident with its details was contained in Primakov’s memoirs and mentioned by the Soviet intelligence official at the embassy in Tel Aviv, during a lengthy dialogue with Russia Today channel) And it did not respond to any Egyptian official, and I inquired about it from the President’s Secretary for Information, Sami Sharaf, and his response was, “I do not know anything about this matter.” After the June War, the Soviets did not trust the ability of the Egyptians to wage a war and win it, and besides that, the Union The Soviet recognized the establishment of Israel 14 minutes after its establishment, and he was among the countries that guaranteed its existence. During the 48th war, Czechoslovakia supplied Israel with what it needed from weapons, and that was with Soviet permission and permission. Indeed, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry asked the Soviet Union in the year 47 to support Egypt’s demand in the United Nations to evacuate the English completely, when the Prime Minister Pasha was preparing to present the Egyptian demand to The United Nations, according to Egyptian Foreign Ministry documents, the Soviet response was: Do not obstruct the issuance of the decision to partition Palestine until we support you. Therefore, the Soviets were happy that Sadat had disposed of those who wanted to push him to make the decision to go to war, with an apology for everything reported in the press at that time..

The president took his decision to exempt Sabri, and he was tried, and he spent ten years in prison, he did not submit any request for pardon or reduced the period, his fate satisfied, but the fierce campaign against him, which was led by Muhammad Hassanein Heikal – whom he did not like – was harsh and wasted the man’s history completely and all What he presented to the country, for he is the one with great merit on the night of July 23, 52. He is also one of the founders of the General Intelligence Service, and he took over his administration for a period under the name of “a minister under the presidency of the republic”. Public opinion, the campaign against him, and although former President Hosni Mubarak presented his funeral, this did not clear the accusations against him. He, by many measures, transgressed and erred in his dealings with the president and attempted to incite the leaders against the president..and he was punished..but the whole file should have been placed in its political and national context, especially since the days confirmed to Sadat that peace was not possible without war. The other mistake was that Sabry had to envision (collective leadership) as they had agreed on the day of Nasser’s death, and he did not realize that Sadat regarding his competence and his role as president was tougher and strict than Nasser. He also did not realize that Nasser considered them his students, and then he could have tolerated and overlooked Some behavior, but Sadat considered him a competitor, and here the sensitivity and stalking increased.

In front of history, the whole thing raises many questions. And the conversation is connected.

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