Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
8 - 14 October 1998
Issue No.398
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Current issue | Previous issue | Site map

October reflections

October reflections

In an unprecedented three-day symposium organised by the armed forces, experts, academics and intellectuals took stock of the October 1973 War, discussing the military, political, economic and social dimensions of the victory. Participants spoke about the 1967 War, the War of Attrition that followed, preparations for the October offensive and the consequences of the war, concluding with a discussion of the ways and means of preventing another war in the region.

Symposium recommendations from the military committee suggested the creation of a "regional communications centre", to be based in Cairo, to receive and disseminate information about military developments in the region with the aim of confidence- building. At the same time, participants stressed the necessity of strong and effective armed forces to "keep the peace" and maintain the balance of power in the region so as to avoid the eruption of conflict.

The military committee believed that despite the current "obstacles and difficulties", comprehensive Arab national security is a "cornerstone" of joint Arab determination to prevent the eruption of a new war in the region. Participants supported the participation of the Egyptian forces in peace-keeping efforts under the umbrella of the United Nations, and an increase in military cooperation with other countries through joint exercises, visits, dialogue and an exchange of expertise.

The political committee noted that "peace should remain the strategic goal of Egypt" and that the principle of security and secure borders should be the aim of all countries in the region. Egypt should continue to play a pivotal role in the affairs of the Middle East and should draw up an effective political programme that could realise President Hosni Mubarak's aim of a Middle East free from all weapons of mass destruction. Also, the committee said, there is a pressing need to convene an international conference on combating terrorism and to consolidate efforts to eradicate the dangers of war and its consequences.

The economic committee emphasised the importance of self-reliance in developing the Egyptian economy, less dependence on foreign aid and a greater role for private enterprise. Recommendations stressed the necessity of working towards a common Arab market and declared support for Egypt's efforts in this connection. Participants affirmed the importance of using "chambers of economic cooperation with Middle Eastern countries" to achieve a comprehensive and just peace in the region and recommended increased cooperation with the Third World to defend common economic interests.

The social committee recommended "the greatest amount of financial and moral support for consolidating social security in Egypt" and called on intellectuals and writers to instill Egypt's basic values in their audience. The committee believed that the October War proved that the individual is a "pivotal player" in the successful implementation of policy, "requiring a comprehensive strategy to care for the individual during all the stages of his or her lifetime". Participants emphasised the importance of making sound choices for leadership posts since they "play an important social and moral role that is necessary for social progress".

In his concluding remarks, the symposium's chairman Mustafa Khalil said that the three days had aimed to "nurture the dynamic spirit of the October War in the hearts and minds of the coming generations. And they succeeded".