Also known as the October War and the Ramadan War, this conflict was initiated by Egypt and Syria on October 6, 1973, as a surprise attack on Israel during the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur and the Muslim month of Ramadan. It was motivated by a desire among Arab states to regain territory taken by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967, particularly the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. The initial stages of the war caught Israel off guard, but they were able to regroup and mount a strong defence. The war ended with a ceasefire brokered by the United States and the Soviet Union. Israel returned the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and in exchange Egypt recognised Israel as a legitimate state - the first Arab country to do so.
It had a profound impact on the region and the seismic waves were felt across the world. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, it's been described as a proxy war between the US and the Soviet Union with Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries imposing an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military. This became a key contributor to the energy crisis of 1973, felt particularly in Britain.
Commentators have made comparisons between the surprise attack by Hamas on the 7th of October 2023, with that first surprise attack made by the Arabic coalition in the Yom Kippur War. Today, Dan is joined by Dr Alexander Burns- Assistant Professor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Historian of the eighteenth-century Atlantic World, American Continental Army, and Military Europe to look at those comparisons and run through a play-by-play of the 1973 conflict and its impact on the region and global order.
Produced by Dan Snow, Mariana Des Forges and edited by Dougal Patmore