Al-Ahram Weekly Online   4 - 10 October 2012
Issue No. 1117
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

A victory celebrated

Celebrations of the victory in the October War this year will be somewhat different from usual, reports Amirah Ibrahim

Click to view caption
Egyptian troops begin crossing into Sinai and take Isreali POWs

For almost four decades, Egyptians have been used to witnessing annual celebrations in October to mark the anniversary of the 1973 War, when Egypt achieved victory over Israel in a war that started on 6 October and lasted for almost three weeks in the Sinai Peninsula.

Late president Anwar Al-Sadat, who waged the war against Israel, established the tradition of celebrating the military victory each year, and he was keen on attending a large military parade along with aides, top state officials and prominent figures at the Cenotaph for the Unknown Soldier in Nasr City. Sadat also invited close Arab leaders to witness the military parade.

However, on 6 October 1981, Sadat was assassinated while attending the annual military parade by the militant Islamist Al-Jihad group. The annual military show was then suspended by former president Hosni Mubarak, who had survived the assassination of Sadat with a slight injury to his hand.

Mubarak replaced the parade with a ceremony in which roses were placed at the Sadat memorial. In the evenings, he used to attend an event at the military social club in Cairo. During the three decades that Mubarak ruled Egypt, military commanders followed the president in placing roses at the memorial as tokens from each of the country's governorates.

Now that the 25 January Revolution has ended military rule, bringing the first president with no military background to office, celebrating the October War victory has a different taste to it, though it will maintain its main outlines.

President Mohamed Mursi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood group, is now the commander of the Armed Forces, and 10 days ago he held a meeting with the members of the former ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in order to discuss preparations for the celebration of the 6 October victory.

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told the press that Mursi was keen to send a message to the Egyptian people about the positive role the military had played in aiding the revolution and preserving its achievements. According to Seif Abdel-Fattah, one of the president's consultants, Mursi is set to address the nation on TV on Saturday.

"The speech will focus on the president's achievements during his first 100 days," Abdel-Fattah stated.

The Armed Forces' Moral Affairs Department will continue to hold its usual celebrations this year. A three-day festival will be organised on the Nile in Maadi, where the public will be invited to attend a military show by naval and air force units.

Attendees will receive free gifts dropped by aircraft and enjoy free tours by military boats on the river. A musical performance will take place at night on each day.

Military personnel will distribute souvenirs in each governorate, including the North and South Sinai governorates and the three Suez Canal governorates, all secured by the second and third armies.

The seven governorates in the Nile Delta are secured by the central military zone, the Upper Egypt governorates by the southern military zone, and the northern and western military zones are responsible for the rest of the country. Military commanders are set to place roses at monuments to the unknown solider at the headquarters of each zone.

The Moral Affairs Department has also produced six documentary films, the longest of which at three hours long acquaints the new generation of young military officers with the lessons of the October War.

A military source told Al-Ahram Weekly that the film included testimonies by 60 Israeli military commanders and politicians at the time of the war assessing the achievements of the Egyptian military.

The source also revealed that a shorter movie will be broadcast and will include sections from the longer version.

"The six films include two short ones about two late military commanders who played major roles in the October War victory, Lieutenant-General Saad Al-Shazli, former military chief of staff, and Field Marshal Abdel-Ghani Al-Gamasi, chief of military operations during the war.

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