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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:21 AM
Silicit Silicit is offline
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Yom Kippur War - Israeli First Strike?

I am a newb to this alternate history hobby but here is a 'what if' I argued about with a friend I'd like to run past you guys -

POD -

1) Suppose that on evening of October 5, a leaked CIA document is leaked in the New York Times and Le Monde saying Syria intends war on October 6.

2) King Hussein's warning on Sept 25th hits Golda Meir's gut feeling. On October 4th, Zvi Zamir meets with Ashraf Marwan and finds his allegations of imminent Syrian attacks convincing. On the morning of October 6th, these factors cause Meir to err on Elazar's, not Dayan's side.

Golda Meir gives the order to launch a preemptive strike on the Syrians as recommended by David Elazar. She believes the possible break down in relations with America are worth it to prevent the Syrian, likely Syrian-Egyptian assault.

The Israeli plan would mobilize the entire Air Force and four armored divisions, a total of 100,000 to 120,000 troops. The IDF would attack Syrian airfields at noon, Syrian missiles at 3:00 p.m., and Syrian ground forces at 5:00 p.m.

How would this conflict play out? How would it affect Arab-Israeli relations for the next several years?

*OP Edit for American and French foreknowledge of the attack.

Last edited by Silicit; December 14th, 2011 at 12:45 AM.. Reason: changed OP
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:26 AM
CaliBoy1990 CaliBoy1990 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silicit View Post
I am a newb to this alternate history hobby but here is a 'what if' I argued about with a friend I'd like to run past you guys -

Suppose that on morning of October 6, after warnings by King Hussein of Jordan and members of her own staff, Golda Meir gives the order to launch a preemptive strike on the Syrians as recommended by David Elazar. She believes the possible break down in relations with America are worth it to prevent the Syrian, likely Syrian-Egyptian assault.

The Israeli plan would mobilize the entire Air Force and four armored divisions, a total of 100,000 to 120,000 troops. The IDF would attack Syrian airfields at noon, Syrian missiles at 3:00 p.m., and Syrian ground forces at 5:00 p.m.

How would this conflict play out? How would it affect Arab-Israeli relations for the next several years?
Hey there! TBH, I can't imagine the Soviets being too happy about this but at the same time, I doubt neither the U.S. or Russia would want to get directly involved since the Saudi oil fields weren't in any danger from either side.
Israel might take a beating but it's likely they'd probably win in the long run, at least to a point.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:30 AM
Reichenfaust Reichenfaust is offline
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Russians definitely not happy, but the Americans wouldn't be too enthusiastic about it either. Technically Israel can say through intel, and the warnings of other nations that they were justified in a first strike, and spin it as they are not going to let another "Fascist" regime take advantage of Israeli citizens.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:36 AM
Snake Featherston Snake Featherston is offline
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If Israel had the ability to make a first strike, Egypt probably would have scotched the war, their deception effort was too well-planned to risk a war direct into the teeth of a prepared Israeli defense. In any event Israel did not think any attack was likely before 1975 and none of their discoveries of Egypt's build-ups changed their mind on this so you need a POD the size of a wart on Godzilla to make this change.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:37 AM
Silicit Silicit is offline
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I altered the OP for French and American foreknowledge of the attack to focus more on Israeli-Arab issues.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:41 AM
Silicit Silicit is offline
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Originally Posted by Snake Featherston View Post
If Israel had the ability to make a first strike, Egypt probably would have scotched the war, their deception effort was too well-planned to risk a war direct into the teeth of a prepared Israeli defense. In any event Israel did not think any attack was likely before 1975 and none of their discoveries of Egypt's build-ups changed their mind on this so you need a POD the size of a wart on Godzilla to make this change.
King Hussein's warning on Sept 25th hits Golda Meir's gut feeling. On October 4th, Zvi Zamir meets with Ashraf Marwan and finds his allegations of Syrian intents convincing. On the morning of October 6th, these factors cause Meir to err on Elazar's, not Dayan's side.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:52 AM
Snake Featherston Snake Featherston is offline
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Originally Posted by Silicit View Post
King Hussein's warning on Sept 25th hits Golda Meir's gut feeling. On October 4th, Zvi Zamir meets with Ashraf Marwan and finds his allegations of Syrian intents convincing. On the morning of October 6th, these factors cause Meir to err on Elazar's, not Dayan's side.
They had opportunities to see this build-up through the entirety of 1973, and actually predicted an attack in the autumn, which made the Egyptians appear to stand down. Again, you literally need God himself to hold a big neon sign and say "Hey, this army here's going to invade you" to get them to change their mind. They saw the build-up proceeding, and Egypt suckered them fair and square and an actual skirmish with the Syrians further played into Egypt's hands. So I mean this, there must be one hell of an Egyptian screw-up for Israel to realize this means an attack in 1973, not 1975.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 12:54 AM
Silicit Silicit is offline
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Thumbs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snake Featherston View Post
They had opportunities to see this build-up through the entirety of 1973, and actually predicted an attack in the autumn, which made the Egyptians appear to stand down. Again, you literally need God himself to hold a big neon sign and say "Hey, this army here's going to invade you" to get them to change their mind. They saw the build-up proceeding, and Egypt suckered them fair and square and an actual skirmish with the Syrians further played into Egypt's hands. So I mean this, there must be one hell of an Egyptian screw-up for Israel to realize this means an attack in 1973, not 1975.
Big Neon Sign = CIA leak.

The OP was about Syria, not Egypt.

Warts. Have a nice day.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 01:05 AM
Snake Featherston Snake Featherston is offline
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Originally Posted by Silicit View Post
Big Neon Sign = CIA leak.

The OP was about Syria, not Egypt.

Warts. Have a nice day.
The same Syria that did have a battle with the Israelis right before the outbreak of the war, and which Israel fully expected a large-scale battle with? Israel was looking for a war with Syria, they were utterly stunned by Egypt.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 07:05 AM
Riain Riain is online now
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When the news broke and then turned out to be correct Israel would gain far more political capital than it did IOTL. It would look like the victim and the party in the dispute seeking peace.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 07:51 AM
Unconsensual Unconsensual is offline
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Well it was also a problem of economics, a mobilization in Israel will cause the economy to grind to a halt whereas Egypt with it's larger population could afford multiple "large scale exercises " by the border. Egypt due to it's larger manpower pool can choose when to fight , Israel short of a first strike can't.

Last edited by Unconsensual; December 15th, 2011 at 07:56 AM..
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Old December 15th, 2011, 09:38 AM
Linkwerk Linkwerk is offline
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It's also important to remember that if Israel had struck first in 1973, full US support was not assured. The resupply of Israeli forces by the US was contentious enough OTL, with several European nations denying overflight rights, but in a TL where Israel started the war, the United States might not be politically able to give the Israelis the huge level of resupply that they did OTL. It's important to remember that the level of unqualified and total US support for Israel that exists today did not exist in 1973. Israel was an important chess piece for the US in the middle east, but it was still a chess piece and an all-out resupply effort is not certain.

Now, the airlift didn't make any difference on the battlefield- it came too late for that- but it made a huge difference politically and in terms of Israeli mindset. With resupply assured it allowed the Israelis to behave much more confidently in the peace negotiations.


As for Egypt, I'm not sure if they would still act or not if the Israelis mobilized and hit Syria first, but I would say yes. The canal crossing was too well-planned and too politically important not to do, although with Syria on the ropes early, it's more likely that Egypt will stick to it's original plan for a smash-and-grab attack for the canal and then ask for peace.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 03:40 PM
rohala rohala is offline
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Ok a thing some people here seem to not realise.
Fro Israel to strike it needs to mobilise its reservists. Mobilisation takes even in optimistic estimates at least a few days, if only for the reservists to be properly absorbed in their units. Otherwise you risk sending them to battle in sub-optimal conditions. Now the problem with it is not only does it take some time but it is also detectable by anyone.
So, yes, Israel may be able to attack first if it wants to, but it won't be a surprise.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 04:25 PM
Vladimir Vladimir is offline
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If Israel mounted such an attack, the Syrian military would be heavily damaged. The forces it needed for an offensive in the Golan Heights would be damaged beyond immediate repair, and it would lose its capability to seriously try to take the Golan.

Egypt would likely still attack, hoping to quickly capture the Bar-Lev Line and hold it. Historically, Syria appealed to Egypt for an attack to put pressure on Israel after Israeli troops were at the gates of Damascus, which led to a massive tank battle in the Sinai that the Egyptians lost. In this scenario, Syria might have put similar pressure on Egypt for an attack. On the other hand, Egypt might have called off its attack plans, seeing how Syria was now out of the war and that Israel knew of the Arab attack plans.

If Egypt attacked, I think it would go a lot like the way it historically did. They would capture the Bar-Lev Line, dig in, and repel repeated armor and air attacks, while simultaneously losing a few air and naval engagements. However, they would run into serious trouble when Israeli reserves began arriving. They would be facing the full might of the Israeli army. Their commandos, who were sent behind the lines to disrupt Israeli reserves, would probably suffer even more heavily than historically did, and they historically took a beating.

Israel would be desperate to dislodge the Egyptians before a ceasefire was imposed, understanding that without any Israeli gains, Egypt would be seen as the winner. Historically, the Egyptians ventured beyond their missile shield in a massive armored offensive to divert Israeli pressure away from Syria. After the Israeli army crushed them, it then exploited a gap between the Egyptian Second and Third armies to break through, cross the canal, invade Egypt, send paratroopers in to destroy Egypt's anti-aircraft missile shield and then carry out heavy airstrikes, occupy a good part of Egyptian territory, and encircle much of the Egyptian force entrenched on the Israeli side of the canal. My guess is that this is exactly what Israel would have done, albeit earlier without the Sinai tank battle. It probably would have ended up much like the way it did in OTL, with both armies entangled and heavy losses on both sides.

I am fairly confident that the US would have still supplied weapons to Israel. It was not in US interests to see Israel defeated. Even though Israel did not preempt, Kissinger still urged Nixon to "let them bleed a little". Nixon, however, sent weapons to Israel after Golda Meir hinted that if Israel was in danger of losing, it would go nuclear. Historically, by the time major US arms shipments began arriving, Israel was already breaking through, so even without US arms shipments, Israel would still probably meet great success. However, restoring the Israeli Army to its pre-war strength would take some more time.

Both the US and USSR would be furious with Israel, and there would be calls for sanctions. The Soviets would threaten to intervene, and the US would move to block them, as happened historically. Israel would be heavily criticized around the world for striking first. Some Western countries might impose sanctions on Israel, though the US would probably veto UN sanctions, as Nixon and not Kissinger ran the White House.

Last edited by Vladimir; December 16th, 2011 at 06:21 AM..
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Old December 15th, 2011, 06:58 PM
Riain Riain is online now
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What are people thinking when they talk about a pre-emptive strike? I understand it to be air attacks rather than spoiling attacks or the start of invasions by ground forces. The plan was to attack SAMs to give the IAF freedom of action.
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