309. Intelligence Note Prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research1
SYRIA: MOVING TOWARD 242?
Egypt’s acceptance of the cease-fire on October 22 caught Syrian President Asad by surprise. At the time, the Syrian forces seemed on the point of launching a counteroffensive. After some delay, however, Asad overcame the opposition in the Syrian Baath and accepted the cease-fire.
He tried to rationalize this decision in a major speech on October 29. Syrian acceptance, he said, was based on Soviet assurances that Israel would withdraw from Arab territories and honor Palestinian rights. Claiming significant military successes for the Arabs, he stated that Syria was determined to resume the war if Arab aims were not met.
Otherwise, Asad’s tone was remarkably conciliatory. His characterization of Resolution 338 as the result of “Arab resolve” contrasts sharply with Syria’s long-time rejection of Resolution 242. He did not criticize Egypt for its unilateral acceptance of the ceasefire, nor did he even mention US military resupply of Israel. He left the impression that Syria may be prepared to follow Sadat’s lead toward a peace conference. His unaccustomed failure to flay the US may indicate that Syria has joined Egypt in looking to the US as an important agent in the settlement process.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1178, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East—1973 Peace Negotiations, Nov. 1, 1973 through Nov. 5, 1973. Secret. Drafted by Albert A. Vaccaro, cleared by Curtis F. Jones, and released by David E. Mark in INR/Near East and South Asia. A typewritten notation on the report reads: “This report was produced by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Aside from normal substantive exchange with other agencies at the working level, it has not been coordinated elsewhere.”↩