October Liberatory War Day, on October 6, is a public holiday in Syria commemorating the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The war is notable for the Arab world’s small victory in coaxing Israel to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Despite the heavy Arab casualties and Israel’s relentless counterattack, the war was halted by a United Nations-brokered ceasefire, which paved the way for Israeli peace talks with Egypt. This culminated in a formal peace treaty between the two states in 1979 and a renewed hope for peace in the region, a notion that would prove to be easier said than done.
History of October Liberatory War
The Middle East experienced incredible tension from the 1950s to the 1970s. Arab states such as Egypt and Syria would wage numerous wars against the Jewish state of Israel, which they believed did not have the right to occupy traditionally Arab land that belonged to Palestine.
The peak of this geopolitical conflict came in 1967 when Israel would annex several Egyptian, Lebanese, and Syrian territories after their victory in the Six-Day War. This included the highly crucial Sinai Peninsula, which belonged to Egypt and was an important economic stronghold for the region.
In an attempt to regain control of the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 6, 1973, during Yom Kippur. The Arab side was initially successful in taking back control of Sinai. However, a spectacular counterattack by Israel forced Egyptian troops to retreat.
The Yom Kippur War or the October Liberatory War as it is called in Syria had far-reaching implications for both the Arab states and Israel. The Arab states felt that their initial gains had helped vindicate their humiliation in the Six-Day War. Meanwhile, Israel realized that it was no longer feasible to keep engaging in military conflict with its neighbors.
The war ended in November 1973 through a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations and the United States. While the Arab effort to take Sinai was unsuccessful, the war led Israel to commence peace talks with its neighbors, particularly with Egypt. As a result, the Camp David Accords were signed in 1978, and an official Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was officiated in 1979. These treaties paved the way for Egypt to reclaim the Sinai Peninsula, finally achieving the long-sought victory.
In Syria, the Yom Kippur War is seen as a watershed moment in re-establishing their territorial sovereignty. Thus, it is celebrated as an official holiday in the country.
October Liberatory War timeline
Israel's victory in the Six-Day War results in its annexation of Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, and Lebanese territories.
The October Liberatory War begins and lasts for two weeks.
In September, Israel and Egypt sign the Camp David Accords.
The Sinai Peninsula is returned to Egypt following the Egypt–Israel peace treaty.
October Liberatory War FAQs
What were the casualties of the Yom Kippur War?
Egypt suffered 5,000 to 15,000 casualties, while Syria incurred 3,000 to 3,500 casualties. Other warring parties, such as the Iraqi supplementary forces, saw 278 deaths. However, Israel lost around 2,656 to 2,800 soldiers and had 7,000 wounded. While lower than the Arab casualties, the figure was three times larger than their losses during their Six-Day War victory.
Why did the United States help Israel fight the Yom Kippur War?
The main reasons why the United States supported the Israeli war effort are held against the backdrop of the Cold War. At the time, Arab states like Syria and Egypt enjoyed Soviet support, and the United States saw this as a potential threat to the region. As a result of the American involvement, the Arab states moved to ban further oil exports to the country, which led to the 1973 oil crisis.
How did Arab forces breach the Bar-Lev line?
The Bar-Lev Line was a chain of fortifications built by Israel along the Suez Canal following their victory in the Six-Day War. Known for its well-designed system of roads, it was considered impenetrable and was a celebrated piece of Israeli military design. However, during the Yom Kippur War, Egyptian forces managed to overrun the line in the space of two hours due to the surprise nature of the attack and the overwhelming number of soldiers involved. This contributed heavily to Israel’s initial losses during the war before their counterattack.
How to Observe October Liberatory War
Fly the Syrian flag!
It is a day of liberation! To commemorate it, fly the Syrian flag high and wide to show your national pride.
Read up on the conflict
To understand why the October Liberatory War was so crucial in the Arab–Israeli conflict, spare some time to read up on the history of the decades-long conflict. Doing so can help you form a better understanding of why it happened and why its effects are still felt today.
Celebrate with your brethren
For the Syrian diaspora, October Liberatory War Day tends to be celebrated with cultural events and public gatherings. Celebrating with your fellow Syrians will ignite a sense of pride in your homeland and make you appreciate what it means to be Syrian.
5 Interesting Facts About The Israeli–Arab Conflict
A step towards geopolitical peace
Egypt is the first Arab country to recognize Israel as an independent state in 1979.
A looming presence still lingers
Some of the territories Israel annexed in 1967, such as Syria's Golan Heights and the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, are still occupied by Israel today.
A testament of Arab unity
Egypt and Syria formed a large political union that essentially functioned as a unitary state from 1958 to 1971, named the United Arab Republic.
The wounds are still visible
Syria has not yet established formal diplomatic relations with Israel nor recognized its nation status.
It kept the United Nations busy
From 1967 to 1989, the United Nations Security Council adopted 131 resolutions concerning the Arab–Israeli and Israeli–Palestinian conflicts.
Why October Liberatory War is Important
It is a day that honors resilience against occupation
The October Liberatory War is celebrated in Syria as a moment that finally bore fruit in their fight against Israel. The small gains achieved in this war were enough to assert their claims against further occupation. Thus, it is a day celebrating the Arab world's resilience in taking on aggressors who threaten to destabilize the region’s peace.
It is a war that paved the way for peace
The war is seen as the catalyst of peace between Israel and the Arab states. Though Israel continues to engage in a more localized conflict with Palestine, the geopolitical progress made due to the October Liberatory War should not be understated. It shows that peace is possible even between bitter enemies.
The day is a celebration of Arab unity
The October Liberatory War is also a testament to the unity of Arab nations. The fact that Egypt was joined in the war by Syria, as well as the sharing of spoils, demonstrates the importance of brotherhood and togetherness when facing challenges. It's always nice to lend a helping hand to your brethren in need, and victory is sweeter when shared.
October Liberatory War dates