This month, October 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War, variously known as the October War, the Yom Kippur War, and the Ramadan War. If the 1967 war created the Middle East that we still live with, the 1973 war transformed the status quo and began what became the long and still unfulfilled peace process.
The second article in this issue deals directly with one of the enduring mysteries of the war itself, while the first bridges much of the intervening era by studying the Egyptian military elite in the Mubarak years. The rest of the issue includes a study of the Tunisian Revolution, an assessment of Saudi Arabia’s energy future, and a policy article addressing the Egyptian Revolution and its aftermath.
That first article, Hicham Bou Nassif’s “Wedded to Mubarak: The Second Careers and Financial Rewards of Egypt’s Military Elite, 1981–2011,” studies the military elite during the three decades of Husni Mubarak’s rule. Many of those senior officers came to prominence during the 1973 war (and Mubarak’s own performance as air force commander helped make him Anwar Sadat’s vice president). The war also restored the reputation of the Egyptian Armed Forces, badly sullied in the 1967 defeat. The article itself details the post-career rewards awarded to the senior officers in the Mubarak years.
In the second article, Israeli historian Uri Bar-Joseph, who has become one of the most prolific students of the 1973 war, offers some new material from recently declassified testimony about the mysterious “special means of collection,” which was supposed to give early warning of Egyptian war preparations, but failed to do so. Although the actual nature of the “special means” remains classified (whereas the identity of Israel’s human intelligence informant in Egypt has been credibly identified as Ashraf Marwan), Bar-Joseph offers new detail from the Agranat Commission investigation, much of it not previously available.
Our third article, by Michele Penner Angrist, is a study of the Tunisian Revolution, focusing on the role of mass civic protests and the coming together of Islamists, secularists, and labor unionists to oust the old regime.
The fourth article, by Gawdat Bahgat, examines the shifting nature of the energy needs and policies of the US and Saudi Arabia and the strategic and policy implications for both countries.
In this issue’s Policy Essay, former Australian ambassador to Egypt Robert Bowker offers us “Egypt: Diplomacy and the Politics of Change,” an article which had to be updated frequently over the past summer in order to keep pace with events.
In our lengthy Book Review article, Charles D. Smith reviews a number of new books on the “Arab Spring.” In addition, there are the usual range of book reviews and our quarterly Chronology.
I also need to address an issue arising from a book review in our Spring 2013 issue. The review, on p. 319 of that issue, was of Ethan Chorin’s Exit Gaddafi: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution. The Journal had been told that the author of the review had previously commented on the book online, we did not understand [End Page 507] that had constituted a formal review. In fact, the reviews were substantially the same and this violates the long-standing taboo against reviewing the same book in more than one place. This has provoked a complaint from Ethan Chorin. The error was inadvertent on our part, and we have taken action to clarify our book review policy and letters to reviewers to preclude any possibility of a repetition. While we feel the review itself was not inappropriate, its having previously appeared in substantially the same form certainly was. The Middle East Journal apologizes to Dr. Chorin and regrets the incident.
Let me also take this opportunity to remind our readers that The Middle East Institute website (http://www.mei.edu) contains a wide range of opinion and reportage, constantly expanding, and also that I myself blog daily at the MEI Editor’s Blog, http://mideasti.blogspot.org. [End Page 508]