Riccardo Lancioni: The War for Sinai

Riccardo Lancioni
Ed. Chillemi
pp. 112

The Yom Kippur War was a highly technological conflict, in which the Tzahals (the Armed Forces of the State of Israel), at least in the initial phase, were forced into the defensive, taken by surprise by the joint Egyptian-Syrian offensive in southern Sinai. and on the Golan Heights to the north (the entire Israeli intelligence apparatus was "distracted" by the search for the Munich bombers).

The work of Riccardo Lancioni - an officer of the Navy and an analyst of Geopolitics - fills a gap that has lasted almost half a century. In fact, "The War for Sinai" is the first organic literary work on the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1973 written by an Italian author.

Lancioni starts from the genesis of the conflict, or the Six Day War fought in June 1967. On that occasion, the State of Israel did not wait for the Arab attack but prevented it by hitting the Egyptian air bases first, thus destroying the ground , hundreds of aircraft and preventing any possibility of reaction by Nasser's forces. The Syrians had the same fate on the Golan, unable to stem the offensive of the Tzahals, who could have a well-trained armored corps, effective plans and, above all, complete dominion of the skies.

The Six Day War ended with Egypt's complete loss of the Sinai Peninsula. The so-called begins War of Attrition. To protect itself from the next conflict, practically safe given the tenor of the statements of the Arab League, Israel begins to build field fortifications in the Sinai. "Modern Israel intended to build its safety guarantee with concrete, steel, barbed wire and mines". The plan drawn up by the political-military summit of the Jewish State (called Villages) "Was based on the assumption that the Egyptians would undertake the crossing actions near their main road arteries".

In practice it was a static defense, consisting of small fortifications (Linea Bar Lev). A defensive strategy that history had already proved to be unsuccessful. The Israeli front line forces were supposed to contain the Egyptian advance, pending the arrival of the reservists who would launch the counterattack. With this strategy, the first lines would have been deprived of the possibility of an immediate reaction, subjecting them to the serious danger of an encirclement maneuver. A state like the Israeli one, with very little territorial depth and surrounded by enemies, certainly cannot limit itself to containment actions.

In contrast, the Egyptians began to receive equipment and instructors from the Soviets. Also the organization chart of the Armed Forces based on the war experiences previously had. The various arms were prohibited from any form of autonomous initiative and had to accept complete subordination to the new General Staff, created on the Soviet model. The goal was to be able to operate in a combined and multi-armed way.

On September 28, 1970, President Nasser, the "father" of modern Egypt, died. He was succeeded by Sadat, for the new leader of the Arab world the war was only the instrument of a larger project aimed at involving the two superpowers. His plan was to attack in order to generate a new crisis and arrive at a favorable solution without annihilating Israel. He gave up acting in 1972 because the Indo-Pakistani war would have stolen the international spotlight from him, however one more year of preparations will prove decisive for the success of the offensive in the Sinai. Despite the initial uncertainties and errors, the Israelis were able to react (also thanks to the supply of equipment by the Americans) and reverse the situation, however the strategic success of the Arab League was undeniable.

The Yom Kippur War had a great impact on Israeli politics and public opinion, including international. First of all it dispelled the myth of the invincibility of the IDF and its intelligence services, but above all it made it clear to the ruling class of the country that the Arabs could be a formidable enemy and that a few thousand losses among the military cannot be tolerated, given the low demographics of Israel.

Tiziano Ciocchetti

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