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137. Memorandum From Secretary of State Kissinger to President Nixon1

SUBJECT

  • Information Items

Middle East Situation: Israeli forces continued their offensive for the second straight day today, attempting to clear all Syrian forces from the Golan Heights and to reduce the Egyptian bridgeheads on the east bank of the Suez Canal. Israeli spokesmen have sounded a note of caution, stating that the initiative has not yet passed to their forces and that they are not dealing with an enemy that can be easily defeated.2

Syrian Front: Despite Syrian counterattacks throughout the night of October 8, the Israelis claim to have maintained their positions. This morning Israeli forces again took the offensive to clear the remaining Syrian troops from positions on the Golan Heights. Large numbers of Israeli aircraft have been in the air over the region. The Israelis also claim to have destroyed from one-fifth to one-third of the Syrian armored inventory of about 1,500 medium tanks. Fighting on the front may drag on for several more days, depending on the Israeli objectives and Syrian resistance.

Egyptian Front: On the Suez Canal, the Israelis do not appear to have yet launched a major ground offensive but are continuing with large-scale air attacks. During the night of October 8, the Egyptians continued to reinforce their units on the east bank and claim to be driving further inland. The Israelis say they have sunk three Egyptian missile boats in the Mediterranean and several other boats in the Red Sea. Meanwhile, [less than 1 line not declassified] the Israelis may have begun heliborne commando raids against targets as far west as Bilbays Airfield near Cairo. Cairo claims to have raided the Bala’im oil fields on the east side of the Gulf of Suez, setting some wells on fire and sinking an oil rig.

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Last night’s special session of the UN Security Council adjourned without reaching any decision.3 The U.S. split with the Soviet Union and China on how to stop the fighting, proposing that Israel, Egypt, and Syria halt military operations and return to the old cease-fire lines. China demanded that the Council condemn Israeli acts of aggression and called for Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories. Soviet Ambassador Malik said the Security Council could not make a decision without a clear-cut statement from Israel of its readiness to withdraw all of its troops from occupied territories.

[1 paragraph (1½ lines) not declassified]

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 55, President’s Daily Briefings, President’s Daily Briefs, Oct. 1–15 Oct., 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Contains Codeword. A stamped note on the memorandum reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. A note in the margin in Nixon’s handwriting reads: “K—Sound a note of caution re expecting an early end. Indicate—because of huge Arab buildup fighting could go on for a month or so.”
  3. See footnote 2, Document 127.