How is this timeline so far?

  • Great

    Votes: 42 44.7%
  • Good

    Votes: 37 39.4%
  • Okay

    Votes: 9 9.6%
  • Bad

    Votes: 1 1.1%
  • Implausible

    Votes: 5 5.3%

  • Total voters
Chapter XVIII: Old vs New
As Cianci’s position as the world’s number, one crime boss was secured his popularity grew. The economy had recovered to where it was before the recessions of the 70s and more Americans were employed than ever before. Criminals were being thrown in jail and Cianci had proven to resist the reactionary views on abortion and economics the conservatives tried to get him to support. He was the most popular president since Kennedy at the time and there was no doubt that he’d win re-election.


Vander Jagt at the 1984 RNC introducing President Cianci.

Still, someone had to be the Democratic nominee. Former President Jackson had died in 1983 after suffering an aortic aneurysm at his home in Everett Washington. Shortly after his death, the primaries began officially. Without a former president to play the role of kingmaker several candidates scrambled to launch their campaigns. The first was Senator Birch Bayh who was considered the candidate that could take down Cianci. Bayh was a New Dealer like Jackson and also had written the most constitutional amendments of any non-founding father, with the 27th (Equal Rights Amendment), 25th, and 26th amendment under his belt there was no doubt he’d be an effective president. His problem was that labor unions were unenthusiastic about his campaign and key members of the Jackson administration such as former Secretary of State Jeane Kirkpatrick disliked his broadly anti-war views.

Kirkpatrick tried recruit a more hawkish candidate but very few wanted to run for president, and she wasn’t about to endorse a far-right racist like Larry McDonald. After around a month of searching for a hawkish candidate who wasn’t a racist asshole like McDonald Kirkpatrick resigned herself to defeat. When she woke up on September 5th, 1983, she received a call from a reporter. “Yes sir, what do you need?”

“What’s your opinion on former Vice President Fred Harris’s run for president?”

Kirkpatrick had just woken up and quickly snatched the paper from the kitchen table. On the front page it read ‘Harris announces bid for president. Calls for a “century of the common man”’

“No comment,” she said unenthusiastically. She had disliked him during his term as vice president due to his anti-war beliefs and felt like he should’ve been dropped from the ticket for someone who would have appealed to the Midwest like Walter Mondale or John Glenn. As she sat there, she reviewed the choices for America. A cowboy populist, a standard New Dealer, a racist, and a bombastic idiot who lucked out after Laxalt was murdered in New Zealand of all places. Seeing the choices before her she wondered if there was any other Americans who felt the same way? She quickly came to the conclusion there must be a silent majority as millions voted for Jackson in 1976 and 1980. What was with this belief that Kirkpatrick began to plan a run for president.


"America must be the policemen of the world. If we surrender our duty to the Soviet thugs, we'll see decades of darkness consume the free world." Excerpt from Kirkpatrick's presidential campaign announcement.

The first debate was on November 14th, so she had some time and quickly secured endorsements behind the scenes. These included former governor Patrick Lucey, senators Donald Stewart, Lloyd Bentsen, Fritz Hollings, and academic Irving Kristol. At first when she announced her campaign on October 11th, she was met with not any concerns over her support for authoritarian regimes but over her gender. She was the first female Secretary of State and the media only really speculated over how historical it would be for her to become the first female nominee for a major political party.

Still, it gave her campaign publicity and it allowed her to gain some footing in the primary. Her platform was similar to both Harris and Bayh’s on social and economic issues. Supporting the ERA fervently and supporting universal healthcare. What came under attack was Kirkpatrick’s brazenly authoritarian and sadistic foreign policy. She supported increasing the nuclear weapons stockpile by 500 ICBM nuclear missiles, suspending aid to the Italian military, an invasion of Nicaragua, and placing an additional 50,000 soldiers in Europe in retaliation for the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union. The platform wasn’t even supported by the Republican Party who felt like it took things too far. Kirkpatrick did manage to tap into the vicious anti-communist crowd who’s concern over stopping communism was above the human rights they claimed to support.

She quickly became the conservative option in the Democratic Party as McDonald was ridiculed as a racist lunatic who was a member of the John Birch Society. Kirkpatrick was viewed as the only rational conservative Democrat in the mix. Harris despite being a fellow member of the Jackson administration attacked her political views as a threat to world peace. He made clear he was an anti-communist but not one willing to create another Panama in Nicaragua. Furthermore, he and Bayh attacked her refusal to denounce the OPN and JNP’s crimes against humanity in El Salvador. Her support for funding the OPN despite their war against the Catholic Church swiftly angered the large Catholic bloc in the Democratic Party. Even Polish Americans, the most fervently anti-communist group in the Democratic coalition refused to vote for her. The Polish community hated both the communists and the fascists slaughtering Jesuits and bishops in Latin America. Needless to say, her main power was in the South who opposed the march of communism and could give less of a damn about the atrocities in Latin America.

The Iowa caucus to the surprise of very little people was a Bayh victory. Him being from the Midwest easily gave him the advantage and he was popular in the region. Harris came in second 5% behind Bayh with 33% of the vote and Kirkpatrick came in third with a respectable 20% of the vote. In New Hampshire Harris pulled off a victory over Bayh, Kirkpatrick, and McDonald with an impressive 40% of the vote. He was aided by the endorsement of former governor Hugh Carey whose endorsement decisively rallied the Catholic vote to Harris. The rest of the primaries were close. In South Carolina Harris won off a coalition of African Americans, college students, rural voters, and the urban poor. Next McDonald won his only primary in the state of Georgia. Due to his home state advantage, he was able to eke out a win over Kirkpatrick and Harris who split the anti-McDonald vote. Even in more conservative states such as Mississippi and Alabama he got crushed. Former governor George Wallace and Governor William Baxley both endorsed Harris and black and poor voters turned out in masse for Harris in both states, effectively crushing the competition which was split between McDonald and Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick did manage to win Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee where conservative Democrats endorsed her bid for the presidency. Meanwhile Harris swept most of New England off of Catholic and black voters. In the West he blew out Kirkpatrick and Bayh due to his populism appealing to the poor and small farmers.


Harris campaign button (1984).

Bayh’s main strength was in the Midwest where his pragmatic progressive ideals were very popular. He easily won most midwestern states minus Minnesota whose large unions swung in favor of Harris and Ohio that went to Harris for similar reasons. He also dominated the mid-Atlantic states and west coast that were very receptive to his staunch social progressivism. Women turned out in droves for him as the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment easily made him a favorite of feminists and in fact most voters. But it wasn’t enough. California was close and Bayh needed a crushing win to overcome Harris’s delegate lead. He came close but unfortunately for him the victory was followed up with several Harris victories in the west that allowed him to regain a decent lead. Furthermore, Kirkpatrick won the state of Washington by a razor thin margin over Bayh and Harris due to her relationship with the deceased president. By the time the convention came around in Boston no candidate had a majority of the vote. Both Bayh and Harris wanted the presidency and neither Kirkpatrick nor McDonald were willing to rally behind either candidate.

The differences between Harris and Bayh were merely regional and in their rhetoric. Both were social democrats who wanted to implement universal healthcare and fight against racism home and abroad. Both supported sanctioning South Africa so besides them both wanting to become president there wasn’t an issue between each other. Wanting to avoid a contested convention both Bayh and Harris sat down to negotiate. Harris clearly had the advantage over Bayh due to his delegate lead and the negotiations were swift. Bayh endorsed Harris and pledged his delegates to him in exchange for a renewed push to abolish the electoral college if Harris became president. Harris gleefully accepted and despite the media hyping up a contested convention one never came. Next came finding a good vice president. Harris looked to Bayh’s support base to find a possible candidate who’d appeal to them. He also wanted a historic pick, feeling like it could give him more momentum heading into election day. Many wanted him to pick Geraldine Ferraro due to her Italian heritage and liberal record, but Harris decided against her. Senator Elizabeth Holtzman on paper was a good choice. A woman, Jewish, and a fighter in the Senate. But she was too liberal considering Harris was known for being a liberal firebrand. Three days before the convention he made his decision. Lindy Boggs of Louisiana.

A moderate liberal who was known for advocating the ERA but being able like Harris to appeal to conservative constituents. Sure, she was pro-life, but Harris promised to be a pro-choice president who dampened any serious opposition to his candidacy.

The Progressives under Gravel who left the Democratic Party once again met in Chicago to put forward a ticket. The problem was that they had much fewer supporters than in 1980. Gravel gave tepid support to the 4th iteration Progressive Party but was busy dealing with financial issues in Alaska. The convention in Chicago was a mess as socialists, Trotskyites, and environmentalists clashed over who to nominate. Some wanted Eugene McCarthy, but his anti-immigration stances thoroughly pissed off the convention and soon after he endorsed the Libertarian nominee, Ed Clark. Others wanted mayor Bernie Sanders, but he politely rejected the offer. Finally, the convention compromised and selected activist and 1980 vice presidential nominee Ralph Nader as their nominee and selected Michael Harrington as his running mate. Compared to 1980 the Progressives collapsed. They had won 5% of the vote last time and were now polling at a high of 2% and a low of less than 1%.

At the same time the Democrats and Progressives were trying to find effective tickets Cianci considered himself lucky to not have to go through another brutal primary season. He had managed to silence most of the conservative Republicans through a mix of cutting taxes and blackmail so at first, he didn’t worry. But discontent amongst the conservatives within the party were prominent. Two particular examples were Phil Crane and Pat Buchanan. Both hated Cianci’s moderate approach and viewed him as liberal in disguise and a fat cat who got rich off high taxes while sitting in a comfy chair as Americans were still struggling to make ends meet. They met in D.C on July 5th, 1983 and agreed something needed to be done. Taking direct inspiration from Reagan’s primary challenge against Rockefeller they both decided that Buchanan would challenge Cianci.


Pat Buchanan campaigning in New Hampshire.

On August 25th he announced his intention to primary Cianci. Buchanan’s speech instantly destroyed any chance at winning more than 20% of the vote in any state. He derided the popular president as a left-wing sympathizer whose decision to leave Jackson’s healthcare reforms intact was a giveaway to the “socialist Democrats.” Furthermore, he attacked the economy as a house of cards that due to government corruption would collapse and cause unimaginable pain and suffering. Now the latter statement proved prophetic (even though he was referring to welfare and government regulations). Buchanan’s campaign was easily brushed aside by Cianci who used the RNC and his allies (which included 97% of the Republican caucus). Buchan’s best state was in the Libertarian stronghold of New Hampshire where he won an impressive 23% of the vote. It was helped by Senator Meldrim Thompson’s neutrality during the primary but soon after endorsed Cianci as the reasonably conservative candidate in the race. He denounced Buchanan as a saboteur and a useful tool for the Democratic Party. After New Hampshire Buchanan’s campaign was ignored by the media for being essentially a vanity project that they viewed as boosting his own ego rather than having any legitimate concerns with Cianci.

The conventions went as expected. Cianci and Vander Jagt were renominated with little opposition (with twenty delegates going to Buchanan). The keynote speaker was Senator Shirley Temple Black of California who praised Cianci’s first term as a continuation of Laxalt’s legacy and a new dawn for America. One which saw a record recovery for the economy and an unprecedented crackdown on crime. Unbeknownst to her the speech would come back to haunt her for the rest of her life.


Senator Black's giving the keynote speech to the RNC.
Don't think I've ever actually seen a President Fred Harris TL. Sad to say it seems we never will. Love the update!
Thank you! As much as I’d like Harris to become president he won’t be elected (not much of a spoiler since the economy is mostly recovered and Cianci’s has had no major scandals).

Is Vander Jagt gonna try and convince Cianci to repeal the 22nd Amendment like he did OTL?
He’ll suggest it in the 1984 presidential election chapter and it’s going to blow up in his face spectacularly.
India maybe? Wonder how a more radical China close by and a more interventionist USSR is going to affect them.
India would be a good country to cover. In the China chapter that I'm writing (and taking a break from due to writers' block) I planned to have the situation escalate as the Naxalite's are more radical and get a lot of weapons. That combined with Sanjay Gandhi being still alive and the heir apparent to Indira provides several paths for me. Spoiled rich kid psychopath vs insane idiots was too interesting of a scenario to pass up. Though I'm still debating how far I want to take the crisis as TTL is already really dark.
So far, the next chapters will be about:

XIX: The Middle East
XX: Aparteid states in Africa
XXI: China and the Naxalite's in India
XXII: Back to the US for the 1984 election
XXIII: More trouble in Italy
Huh, I just thought of something: has Cianci funded far-right terrorism in East Germany too?
I'm not aware of it being prevalent in East Germany so no. Unlike Italy, he has a vested interest in Italy for being a part of his heritage. Germany has yet to piss him off due to being under a moderate social-democratic government so he has neither the excuse nor the want to fund some random far-right terrorist organization.

Also due to this week being finals for school, I won't be able to post a chapter this week. So, my apologies in advance.
Crossword Puzzle

I saw @Vidal's post in his test thread where he made a crossword puzzle for his timeline idea. Again sorry for there not being a chapter. Spring break is this week so I most likely won't have one up for this week. So I thought this would be a good little thing to do as it'll hopefully be fun.
Huh, I just thought of something: has Cianci funded far-right terrorism in East Germany too?
The East German security state was insanely comprehensive and the Iron Curtain ITTL is probably stronger than ever. There are many things you can fuck around with - but Warsaw Pact security regimes in general and the Stasi on its own turf are not among them. The Gladio program was also only intended to defend Western Europe and the periphery - it was never viable as an offensive asset, and previous attempts to incite chaos in the Warsaw Pact were rolled up entirely by the early 50s. There was a period when the early CIA tried to destabilize Albania and to use Nazis with war experience in the Baltic to build resistance movements - they learned pretty quickly that it didn't work.

Interestingly, the East Germans had their own interest in the fascist underground - the Socialist Reich Party, probably the most successful neo-Nazi mass formation, got Stasi funding both as a way to discredit the West and as a potential asset. Its leader, Ernst Otto Remer - absolute POS - ended up at a pretty common far-right position that Soviet authoritarianism was preferable to American liberalism as an option for Europe and that if the Red Army entered West Germany he'd "open the gates and point them towards France". They also smuggled Nazis into the Arab world - particularly Egypt and Syria - as technical and military advisors to the nationalist regimes. Turnabout is fair play.

On the other hand, there's a lot of suggestive evidence that not just the Italian far-right, but also the Red Brigades, were CIA assets or at least working with them to try and neuter Eurocommunism. The Aldo Moro assassination, for instance, was almost certainly an op.
Chapter XIX: The Hurricane of Change
By 1983 the Iranian Civil War was still burning bright. Hussein’s gamble though was paying off somewhat, not for him but for the PRRI. At a time when the Islamists looked like they could breakthrough and seize Tehran Hussein managed to prevent that with his invasion. Furthermore, the Islamists felt the brunt of the invasion as Hussein viewed them as the greatest threat and they lacked any mountainous terrain to use as a redoubt like the PIF. Instead, they had to fight on two fronts on open terrain in the oil fields. Their only saving grace was support from the USAAF and massive influx in weaponry from the UK, US, and France. Khamenei made clear that if Hussein was going to try and take Yazd there’d be so much blood that the Iraqi army would be used to tasting metal in the air.

AK-47s were handed out to militia members and civilians in the warpath of Hussein and the PIF. Even Hezbollah was given machine guns and frag grenades so they could kill more PIF soldiers and hopefully force Rajavi to agree to a cease fire through inflicting as much casualties as possible. The decision would come to blow up in their face later but for now it seemed like a good investment. There was some protest from the UK but for the time being Jenkins only cared about stopping Hussein from steamrolling Iran. The battle of Bandar-e Mahshahr had been raging for around nine months. The coastal city had originally been controlled by the PRRI during the early stages of the war, but the socialists were quickly demolished by Islamist militias in a series of surprise attacks. Now the city of 100,000 faced a bloody battle between the Islamists and the wrath of Saddam Hussein. In total the civilian population had been depleted to 40,000 people with 31,000 fleeing and 29,000 civilians being killed. Even after nine months the battle was still a stalemate. Hussein had still not crushed the Iranians morale or armies and now Shias in Iraq were starting to get rebellious with there being a riot in Basra that had to be crushed by the military. By January of 1983 things were heating up for Iraq. Israel had been a loyal ally who gave him weapons and intelligence but that was no match for the Soviet-NATO airstrikes that killed scores of Iraqi soldiers each week.


Iranian artillery bombarding Iraqi positions.

Still, Prime Minister Begin managed to keep Hussein in check. He didn’t want Hussein giving the US an excuse to investigate who gave Iraq weapons. He was fine having China take the heat and plus Hussein had managed to prevent either side from outright victory so as far as Israel was concerned the war was going in their favor. Israel’s failure to make peace with Egypt though came back to haunt them. With the 1978 peace accords blowing up the two nations still hated each other, with Begin refusing to return the land occupied by Israel to Egypt unless they were given a favorable peace offer. To further worsen relations Syria (an Egyptian ally) had intervened in Lebanon around the same time in order to safeguard Israel from Islamic militias.

The two nations did not get along before and the Lebanese Civil War only worsened their relations. Clashes between the Israeli backed South Lebanon Army (SLA) and the Syrian backed Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The war in Lebanon quickly became an international quagmire as Egypt quickly flooded their allies, Al-Mourabitoun with machine guns and explosives to aid their campaign against the IDF. But no country expected how bad the quagmire would be. Egypt and Syria figured they could weaken the IDF through turning Lebanon into their Vietnam. But on February 14th things took a turn for the worst when a bomb exploded in the Israeli city of Arish. The small city of 110,000 people was symbolic for being one of the main hubs for the Israeli army in the occupied Sinai Peninsula. This made it a prime target for PLO members to attack and in conjunction with Al-Mourabitoun they planned to strike a military depot that housed one hundred-eighty IDF soldiers. At 2:12 PM on February 14th, 1983, the fire in the Middle East had gasoline poured on it. A truck bomb rammed into the depot which held soldiers and ammunition and the clear blue sky suddenly had a cloud of dust. In less than a second two-hundred forty-nine people were killed, including 60% of the garrison in Arish. The bombing horrified the Israelis and international observers, and it didn’t take long for the PLO and Al-Mourabitoun to take responsibility.


Aftermath of the Arish bombing (1983).

In retaliation the Israeli air force bombed numerous PLO positions in Lebanon, including ones manned by the Syrian army. Scores of militants, Syrian soldiers, and Lebanese civilians were killed, and the Arab world was outraged. Hafez al-Assad called for Israel to be expelled from Lebanon in a fiery speech in Damascus that only escalated tensions.

Furthermore, Sadat ordered 100,000 soldiers to mobilize in case a war broke out further spooking Israel. Tensions in the Levant were so concerning to the United States that Cianci called al-Assad, Sadat, and Begin in an attempt to mediate the crisis but a renewed offensive by Islamic forces against Iraq distracted him. Then there was Operation Gladio which he had to keep a secret and give funds to P2 all while balancing money laundering and bribery. Needless to say, his mediation didn’t help the situation and the state department delegation was explicitly pro-Israel.

At the same time the US diplomat to Syria was telling al-Assad to not attack Israel the SLA in Beirut orchestrated a horrifying massacre of two thousand Muslim refugees in South Beirut. Defenseless women and children murdered as Israeli soldiers stood by. Egypt and Syria rushed to condemn the act and asked the US how they could tolerate Israel supporting a group responsible for such a crime against humanity. The US had no answer.

The final spark wasn’t a massive battle between Israeli and Syrian forces. That was Hafez al-Assad’s medical emergency. On April 3rd he was rushed to the hospital with a blood clot due to complications from Phlebitis. The next day the IDF bombed a Syrian position in the Beqaa Valley. Syrian soldiers were stationed there to train PLO soldiers and secure the region from SLA forces. The airstrike was meant to dislodge the training camps and soften up the Syrian-PLO forces for the SLA. The airstrike ended up killing thirty people including nineteen Syrian soldiers. al-Assad attempted to run the country from his hospital bed against the wishes of his doctors. His anger was unparalleled. Now was the time to take a stand. Meetings were held in a Damascus hospital instead of a war room and he ordered more soldiers to be sent to Lebanon the same day. The meeting was mainly an angry tirade by al-Assad as his generals took notes and his brother began to plan his next move. Two days later al-Assad against the advice of his doctors he left the hospital and returned to his home. There him, his staff, and his brother discussed how much more soldiers they would send to the meat grinder of Lebanon.

Shortly after the meeting al-Assad would collapse. The next day the junta which included the military and his brother Rfiaat al-Assad. Rifaat al-Assad immediately announced himself the acting president of Syria as Hafez was in a coma and over the day his condition only worsened. Using the outpouring sympathy for his brother Rifaat’s ambition to become president of Syria was closer to reality than ever before. At that point it was more destiny to Rifaat than a mere dream that kept him awake at night. But now he knew he had to take the opportunity to become president. With his allies in the military, he shifted units in Damascus and swiftly secured the streets. Rifaat managed to secure an alliance with Minister of Defense Mustafa Tlass on the basis of wiping out Israel once and for all. On April 6th, Hafez al-Assad’s heart stopped beating and despite the best efforts of doctors his heart was never restarted. The same day Rifaat’s loyal soldiers outside of Damascus moved in. What was meant to be a swift coup by Rifaat and Tlass soon enough became an obvious quagmire. Rifaat was more than just an uncharismatic brother of the president who was unpopular with several lightweight members of the military. No, he was much more than that. He was a symbol of secular oppression to the Islamists in the South of Syria and an apostate who was a member of the blasphemous Alawite branch of Islam.

Instead of laying down their weapons the junta fought back and the bloodiest battle of the 1980s would begin. The same day the Sunni Islamists in the South of Syria declared war on the Rifaat Regime with additional aid from dissident members of the Syrian military. Their leader, Sa’id Hawwa went as far as to declare a jihad against the Syrian government. The Islamic Republic of Syria (IRS) was declared on April 23rd, 1983, and immediately became the main opposition to Rifaat. The Syrian Civil War had begun.


Pro-Assad soldiers in Tartus surveying the bombed-out city.

The Islamists promised to end the brutality of the Assad family, destroy the corruption that Rifaat had spread into every corner of the government, and put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. The Islamists and Ba’athists were swiftly divided on religious and cultural lines. The IRS was composed of the poor, rural folks, Sunni Muslims, and lower officers of the military who despised Rifaat and the Ba’athists who were Alawite, middle class, secular, urban, and composed of the main commanders in the military apparatus. While the Ba’athists had more experience, they were more susceptible to corruption and standard infantry soldiers and lower officers abandoned the Syrian military to join the IRS army, which makes that experience useless if no one’s going to follow your commands. The Islamists marched on Damascus and engaged Rifaat’s soldiers head on. While they suffered heavy casualties it managed to spook the Ba’athists forces. Into retreating to North of the city. Luckily Rifaat and Tlass fled to Aleppo before they could be hung from a lamppost but unfortunately, they didn’t die in Damascus like the hundreds of thousands they would send to be slaughtered.

Rifaat seeing his capital, the most important city in all of Syria on the verge of falling to Islamic radicals decided to take the least sane and most sadistic option. On March 1st, 1983, one of the most horrifying atrocities in the history of the Middle East was committed. At high noon with the sun beating down at the soldiers who were locked in house to house fighting planes flew overhead and the soldiers ducked for cover. They heard a loud bang but no explosion. Some brave but idiotic men looked outside to see if any buildings were destroyed but only found people choking on a yellow-brownish cloud. The wind blew towards the building and within minutes the people hiding inside rubble and buildings were choking on the same mist. Mustard gas was deployed against IRS soldiers in an atrocity that shocked the world. More gas was deployed against soldiers and civilians in IRS territory in an attempt by Tlass and Rifaat to end the war swiftly and reinstall the fear of God into the Syrian people. Instead, it only provided pure rage for the people of Syria, many of which figured out that the reign of terror of the Assad family could only be ended through revolution.

In Israel Prime Minister Begin reacted in horror to the unfolding brutality in Syria. Both Hawwa and Rifaat incited a vicious antisemitic rage against the Jewish population of Syria. Hawwa was out of pure hatred, wanting to see what he viewed as a colonial project who occupied rightful Syrian territory whipped of the map. Tlass and Rifaat had similar views and found antisemitism a perfect way to gain popularity. They accomplished this by waging a propaganda campaign that blamed Israel for the civil war and by extension of the Jewish population. Ironically the IRS and Syrian Mujahideen used similar rhetoric except against Rifaat. With militia leader Mohammad Riad al-Shaqfeh denouncing the Assad regime as puppets of Israel who failed to push the heretics out of the Levant.

As crimes against Jewish people increased by tenfold, as radical militias from both sides attacked Jewish Syrians and soon enough Israel took notice.

At first Israel wasn’t too concerned about the Syrian Civil War. In fact, it was a positive for them. One of their largest enemies had collapsed into anarchy as Islamists, Secularists, and the Kurds were in a state of total war that would cripple their industry and weaken them considerably no matter who won. But the pogroms against the Jewish population prevented neutrality. Furthermore, despite Syrian soldiers leaving Lebanon to fight back at home the war didn’t get any easier. In fact, the PLO and Al-Mourabitoun were only emboldened by the collapse of Syria as they got their hands on heavy weaponry from both Islamists and the Secularists. They promptly used these weapons on IDF soldiers either in the West Bank or in Lebanon. Begin weighed his options and viewed the IRS as a threat to the security of Israel, even more than the Rifaat regime who he viewed as ran by incompetent sociopaths, a view that was correct. Begin decided to launch a military operation from the Golan Heights into Quneitra and part of Rif Dimashq to provide a safe zone for Jewish refugees and to add another buffer between Israel and the IRS. This way the Jewish people of Syria would be protected along with the Druze minority that was beginning to feel the wrath of Islamic extremists from the IRS, and Syria would be pushed further away from Israel. The operation, called Operation Kingdom Come was launched on the 3rd of April 1983. IDF artillery bombarded Islamist and PLO soldiers in Quneitra with ferocity as Minister of Foreign Affairs Yitzhak Shamir declared the IRS to be a terrorist state that was funding the PLO and was terrorizing the Jewish population of Syria. Furthermore, Shamir declared the persecution of Jewish folks in Syria as grounds for intervention in order to prevent a full-blown genocide.

The IDF easily walked into Quneitra and any opposition they faced was swiftly put down as they set up a Safe Zone for Jews and other persecuted minorities. But even at the time it was the subject of much controversy as the far-right of Israeli politics attempted to push for the settlement of Quneitra. Begin quickly shot this down along with Opposition Leader Shimon Pres as an unnecessary escalation of local tensions. After all it was only supposed to be temporary. Critics to this day call the Quneitra Safe Zone (QSZ) another colonial state created by Israel while its supporters call it a necessary DMZ zone to protect against Arab aggression and protect Jewish and Christian refugees from persecution by Syria.

But no matter the views on the QSZ it did cost Israel diplomatically as Sadat feared that giving Israel another sphere of influence in not only Syria, but Lebanon would give them a blank check to keep the Sinai Peninsula in their hands. He was already under pressure from Islamic and nationalist members of the military to strike against Israel before they could further expand but Sadat knew that he didn’t have the capacity to actually win the war without Syria.

But whether Sadat wanted war or not he knew it wasn’t a good idea. He condemned Operation Kingdom Come and the QSZ but attempted to make a secret deal with Israel. In exchange for the Sinai Peninsula, Palestinian self-determination, and the dismantling of the QSZ they would recognize Israel as a legitimate nation, allow Israeli ships free passage through the Suez Canal, and condemn the persecution of Jewish folks in Israel. But neither Sadat nor Begin were on speaking terms at the time. The two envoys attempted to relay information but neither Sadat nor Begin were able to put forward an effective compromise. CIA Director Robert McFarlane attempted to keep up the veneer of diplomacy, but McFarlane's "neutrality" was never in question. Cianci, didn't want a war not for any concern for Egypt or Israel but because it would turn one of the most vital canals into a warzone. McFarlane's advice came down to accepting Israeli hegemony in the region in exchange for most of the Sinai, with Israel keeping some of the entrenched settlements in the region. At that point peace talks collapsed and facing unrest at home Sadat figured it was time to go all in.

On May 1st, the IRS attempted to dislodge the IDF from the QSZ and despite suffering severe losses managed to kill hundreds of IDF soldiers and five hours later Al-Mourabitoun attacked Israeli soldiers in Lebanon. Thousands of soldiers were in both Syria and Lebanon and with both nations becoming quagmires for Israel Egypt felt like it was now or never to attack and reclaim the Sinai. With a peaceful solution out of sight bullets and tanks came into view for both Israel and Egypt. On May 4th, 1983, Egyptian jet fighters entered the Israeli occupied Sinai Peninsula and struck IDF defense positions. Twenty minutes later Egyptian soldiers crossed into Israeli territory and began their final attempt to take back the Sinai Peninsula.


Israeli soldiers in Ras Sedr (1984).

But unlike this time Israel wouldn't be so lenient. Israel was done with being attacked and once Shamir took over from Begin, he wasn't going to tolerate another attack from the Egyptians. The Second Arab War whether the US, Israel, Egypt, or the world knew it was going to have drastic and dire changes that neither Israel, Arabs, nor the US were prepared for.
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Christ, this is fucked. This is going to inflame literally every hot take when it comes to Middle Eastern discourse, from 'Israel has no right to exist' to 'Arabs are fundamentally unsuited to democracy' thricefold. Or maybe not, with US involvement not direct this at this point.
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