Echoes of the 1973 Petroleum Crisis
Will war in the Middle East disrupt the global oil markets?
On October 6, 1973, a group of Arab nations, led by Egypt and Syria, staged a Pearl Harbor–like attack on Israel on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the most holy day of Judaism. Israel was able to ward off the invaders with the support of several Western nations and maintained control of the strategic Golan Heights in the north—territory that Egypt and Syria had hoped to capture. The war ended on October 25 with a stunning, total Israeli victory.
Of course, the recent horrific invasion of Hamas into Israel reminded historians of the attack that kicked off the Yom Kippur War. In fact, it happened 50 years and one day after the start of that war in 1973.
One of the important results of the war in 1973 was that it brought the Arab nations together as never before. Although the unity was manifested partially in the military conflict, it became increasingly evident that the Arab world’s bid for power was going to be based on its control of some of the world’s major oil resources. In a new show of unity, the Arab world, on October 19, 1973, reduced its production of oil below the previous norm and attempted to retaliate against nations that supplied arms to Israel, principally the United States and the Netherlands.
The U.S. found itself under economic assault by Arab nations.